Essence of the Anti-Social Offensive

  Pauline Easton

January 7, 2023 rally on Parliament Hill

The system called a social welfare state was dismantled when the neo-liberal anti-social offensive was launched alongside free trade in the mid 1980s. The essence of the anti-social offensive was not bad policies of the left- or right-wing governments and it is not the sum of its features which include "bad policy decisions," privatization, corruption, conflicts of interest, or that crimes are committed against the people by depriving them of health care facilities and humane treatment. All those things have indeed taken place but its aim was and continues to be to restructure the state so that all barriers to the ability of narrow private interests to usurp the decision-making powers of the state and abscond with the wealth of the people are eliminated.

Even the functions of the civil service and public sector are carried out by narrow private interests. Vicious attacks against unions have gone hand in hand with the passing of self-serving laws to justify stealing pension monies, EI funds and any other monies available to the working people to look after their well-being such as injured workers' compensation funds. The social welfare state and social contract under it have now been dismantled and vicious fights are taking place between rival factions of the ruling class itself to do whatever they can get away with to pay the rich.

The first wave of assault on society was done in the name of paying down debts and eliminating deficits. Between 1986 and 1991, the federal government cut $35 billion from transfer payments for health, education and welfare to the provinces. During the same period, the federal government alone paid more than $422 billion to the rich in the form of interest payments on the debt. This was tantamount to paying the original debt inherited after World War II at least forty times over. The federal government then announced it would pay $88.5 billion in interest charges in the following two years.

Government at that time simply wanted to take more money by cutting back on services, privatizing and eliminating workers' defined pension plans in favour of defined contribution plans where they could increase the size of funds available to themselves.

Laws were passed such as those criminalizing deficits or defrauding workers of their pension funds, injured workers of funds which belonged to them by right, and so on. It was a form of criminal fraud to cover up the real aim to pay the rich, not to reform the health care system to meet a social aim, let alone the needs of modernizing a health care system based on the principle of universality or people's needs and the needs of society itself.

The propaganda that paying down debts and deficits for the betterment of society would have "trickle down effects" was exposed when the rich got richer and the poor poorer and more numerous. The propaganda was and continues to be self-serving and deliberate lying to cover up the aim of paying whatever narrow private interests have seized the decision-making powers of the state at any time. Big Pharma during the pandemic, the U.S. war machine's demand for critical minerals and mining rights on Indigenous lands and more spending on U.S. armaments, or money to private developers in the name of meeting housing needs, are all par for the course.

Historical fraud was committed when the aim of society to serve the public good was changed without the permission of Canadians. To this day as concerns health care, the same people who changed it, speak as if the aim remains what it was in the past -- universality. Then they say their schemes to pay the rich are all lawful even though they make up the laws as they go along. Their only dilemma today is not to fix the broken health care system but to crush the opposition to their moves to remove any limitations contained in previous legal frameworks on their ability to act with impunity. Everything they do they claim is legal no matter how much they violate their own laws and interpret them self-servingly.

The fraud of the Trudeau government is not simply providing a false bill of goods peppered with false promises to cover up crimes and block opening society's path to progress. Their ultimate argument is to declare that the past can be turned into the present by changing it after the fact, such as declaring they are guided by the principle of universality in health care funding. Their present is not contingent on the actual situation as it exists but on ahistorical abstractions presented as self-evident truths which they claim tell us what is necessary.

The fraud is to deliberately ignore the concrete needs of society and the people and, most importantly, leave the people out of the equation and deliberation altogether. This makes their pretense to governance that represents the will of the people a real block to sorting out any problems facing the people and their society.

Governments who provide a false bill of goods argue that individuals are not one with their collectives and that their individual and collective interests do not have to be harmonized with the general interest of society. All it proves is that the individuals who have usurped the reins of power are not fit to government and  that it is up to the people to provide the definition of the principle of universality and what is required to affirm the right of Canadians to healthcare.

Providing Canadians with the health care services they need is a number one priority today and it starts by providing health care workers with the wages and working conditions they are demanding.

Health Care Is a Right!
All Out to Uphold the Rights of Health Care Workers!

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 2 - February 2023

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