The book is one that I borrowed from the ASI some time ago (and will return, I promise!): it is by David G. Green and is entitled Working Class Patients And The Medial Establishment: Self-help in Britain from the mid-nineteeth century to 1948. The piece that I wish to quote comes from the Introduction to the book, and deals with the success of the friendly societies, co-operatives and other mechanisms of worker empowermen—especially as regards medical care.
It is quite long, so with no more ado, let us proceed. [Inevitably, the emphasis is mine. I have also split up some of the very long paragraphs, in order to make the piece more readable.]
Particularly striking is the success of the friendly societies, whose social insurance and primary medical care schemes had attracted at least three-quarters of manual workers well before the end of the nineteenth century. Until the 1911 National Insurance Act every neighbourhood of every town was dotted with friendly society branches, each with their own doctor, who had usually been elected by a vote of all the members assembled in the branch meeting.
In most large towns the friendly societies had also established medical institutes combining doctors' living accommodation, surgery and a dispensary. These embryo health centres employed full-time salaried medical practitioners, full-time dispensers, and nursing staff under the management of a committee elected by all the members.
The friendly societies were so successful that their arrangements for social insurance and primary medical care formed the model for the early welfare state.
As, in fact, I have recommended in the past, it should have been.
Unfortunately, of course, nothing is ever that simple—especially where vested interests are able to influence—or simply bribe—vain and venal politicians.
But this [their success], ironically, was their undoing. The 1911 National Security Act was originally seen by Lloyd George, who charted it through Parliament, as a way of extending the benefits of friendly society membership, already freely chosen by the vast majority of workers, to all citizens, and particularly to those so poor that they could not afford the modest weekly contributions. But on its way through the House of Commons the original Bill was radically transformed by powerful vested interests hostile to working-class mutual aid.
The organised medical profession had long resented the dominance of the medical consumer, and particularly resented working-class control of medical "gentlemen". The BMA were equally anxious to obtain more pay and, above all, higher status for doctors.
Working-class fraternalism also had another arch-enemy: the commercial insurance companies. They had long disliked the competition of the non-profit friendly societies and saw the 1911 National Insurance Bill as a threat to their business. They were organised into a powerful trade association, called the 'Combine'.
The BMA and the Combine formed a temporary alliance to extract concessions from the government at the expense of the friendly societies. The essence of working-class social insurance was democratic self-organisation: amendments to the Bill obtained by the BMA and the Combine undermined it. Doctors' pay had been kept within limits that ordinary maual workers could afford: under pressure, the government doubled doctors' incomes and financed this transfer of wealth from insured workers to the medical profession by means of a regressive poll tax, flat-rate National Insurance Contributions.
I am reading the rest of the book avidly, for it is, of course, rather more nuanced than the Introduction—which is, after all, essentially a summary of the exposition—but the above paragraphs give a good flavour of the whole.
The essential point to make—before one of my colleagues highlights yet more of their disgusting attempts to control us in order to gain more status—is that the medical profession have never, ever been on the side of ordinary people.
The only people that the organised medical profession give a shit about is the organised medical profession.
Most of you will have seen—in the newspapers and, in particular, on blogs written by members of the medical profession—claims that doctors should be allowed to run the NHS, because they know what they are doing. Of course they do: they want to run your lives and giving the medicos control of the NHS would give them the ultimate tool to do so. That would ensure a much "higher status for doctors" and the edict would be simple—obey us or be left to die.
If you doubt this, just take a long at some of the news stories around, especially as regards the medical profession's urgings to deny healthcare to smokers, drinkers and fat people. True, the BMA tend to side with Fake Charities more than the insurance companies these days, but the process is the same; government-funded "medical advisers"—no less effective or poisonous than Grima Wormtongue—whisper into politicians' rights ears, whilst government-funded "charities" bolster the message from the left.
Our New Coalition Overlords™ promised to take on the vested interests but, narrow-minded as they are, they seem to mean only the bankers and other huge commercial interests whose establishment status flows from the rules and regulations imposed by government.
But no mention has been made of those other vested interests: those—like the medical profession—whose power, privilege and money is propped up by the government and funded by the blood of taxpayers. There are so many of them that a stupid person might find it difficult to know where to start.
But, actually, it is really very simple: if we want decent welfare for all, affordable medical care and freedom, we need to return to "democratic self-organisation". And if we wish to do that, we have to smash and utterly destroy the organised medical profession, and grind it into the dust.
We need to return these arrogant doctors, and their associated scum (a category in which I include politicians), to beings servants of the consumer, not the masters. But whilst the doctors continue to run our medical services, and continue to bribe, bully and poison our rulers—and whilst our rulers still have the power to force us to obey these bastards—we will never be free, and we will never have a proper, functioning society.
To paraphrase P J O'Rourke, when the legislators can decide what can be bought and sold, the first thing for sale are the legislators. And the medical profession bought them a hundred years ago.
Destroy the power of the BMA and the medical profession and we can begin to struggle towards freedom. Leave them in place—poisoning public debate and raping the freedom of ordinary people in order to gain money and prestige—and we will always be slaves.