Year 2000 No. 133, August 14, 2000

Cracking Down on "Health Tourists" Has Political Aims and is Racist

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Cracking Down on "Health Tourists" Has Political Aims and is Racist

Readers' Forum: What Stand to Take on the European Union

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Cracking Down on "Health Tourists" Has Political Aims and is Racist

Last Friday, the government announced that it was to tighten the rules governing the use of the NHS by overseas residents.

This announcement is consistent with the racist hysteria that was also whipped up against "asylum-seekers" which was also a campaign orchestrated by the government and the monopoly-controlled media. It also has the aim of diverting attention from the main issue about the health service, which is that the problem with funding comes from the government. It exposes that the logic of the government has been all along to put the blame on the people for their demands on the health service. As with other "abuses" of the social services, such "abuses" are made the problem. The principle that all the claims of the people on society for their well-being should be met is nowhere to be seen.

In this sense, the move to "crack down" on "health tourists" is politically motivated. It is creating a diversion from people uniting to set their own agenda for safeguarding the future of the health service. In any case, why should those from abroad who fall ill while in this country also not receive the health care they require? The impression is created that "foreigners" are intentionally utilising health services which because they are "British" are "best". This is both racist and absurd.

The issue is not "abuse" or the reform of "reciprocity treatment". The issue must be the increased investment in the health service so that it can meet the needs of all for health care as of right. At the same time, the national chauvinist outlook and policies of the government must be condemned and opposed.

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Readers' Forum

No. 4: What Stand to Take on the European Union

(WDIE reply to reader's query, continued from issue No. 130, August 9)

Having stated our stand, and before moving on to the question of what is key to bringing about socialism, and whether the strengthening of the European Union would assist in this, we would like to underline two things about the EU.

One is that it can be accurately described as a Europe of the monopolies. In our view, the facts demonstrate that from its origin through to the present its aim has been to benefit the monopoly capitalists and has been dominated by them. This is the case whether one looks at the European Union as a whole, or whether the individual countries of Europe are considered. One could sum up this development by saying that the aim of the monopolies has been their drive for maximum capitalist profit on the one hand, and on the other to place a block on the advance of the working class and communist movement and the aim of that movement to establish socialist states. What is more, the strengthening of the EU as first an economic bloc and then a political bloc and the continuation of this as a military bloc has also a geo-political aim. In the situation where the old equilibrium between the spheres of influence of the two superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union collapsed at the beginning of the 1990s, to dominate Europe is seen as crucial by US imperialism, as well as by the European monopolies. The issue as to who should control the Balkans must be seen in this light, as should the enlargement of the EU and its expansion eastwards. Other factors are now entering the equation, such as the increasing economic and political significance of both South and East Asia. However, the geo-political truth for the big powers that the control of Europe is a precondition for their contention for global hegemony still holds good. This is a very dangerous and increasingly tense situation, and is only flimsily covered over by the many statements of good intentions from the US and European leaders.

The second point to bring out is that it would be wrong to equate the European Union with a "united Europe". Not only are there serious contradictions between the big powers and the different monopoly interests within the EU, such as Britain, France and Germany, but the political structure is being consolidated to ensure that in an enlarged EU, it is these big powers that dominate. The EU has never had any interest in the principle that all countries, big or small, should participate in international affairs with an equal voice.

As the new millennium dawned, the transnational companies through the mouths of their spokespeople were emphasising a new age of globalisation, and that everything must be subordinated to the unfettered power of the monopolies to penetrate and control markets and that success in the global marketplace was the be-all and end-all of life. In this context, a "New Direction for Europe" has been put on the agenda by the EU powers. This represents a "new direction" only in the sense that, as in the individual countries, the aims of the monopolies to counter the falling rate of profit has led to the dismantling of the social welfare state and increasingly to the policies of neo-liberalism. These policies are synonymous with cut-backs in social programmes and the gearing of all areas of the life of society to enriching the financial oligarchy. For the EU as a bloc, this translates into how to make the Europe of the monopolies better equipped to compete in the global market, to intensify its rivalry with the US and others, and how to facilitate the penetration of the big monopolies into the Balkan countries, Russia and Asia, as well as how to incorporate the Balkan and eastern European countries into "mainstream Europe". Measures are being taken to remove barriers to the development of a single market and to allow ever greater privatisation.

All this is being carried on to the detriment of national economies, to the welfare of the people and to the recognition of their rights. At the same time, an ideological offensive is being carried out to try and convince the working class and people that this is "progressive governance", and in the interests of all. This offensive could also be said to include the promotion that the worst effects of neo-liberalism and globalisation can be opposed by "social partnership" nationally and fighting to make the EU a "People's Europe". This must be considered a cruel illusion.

(to be continued)

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