[Excerpted from chapter 2 of Compulsory Medical Care and the Welfare State (1950)]
Obligatory health insurance started moderately enough — in Prussia. Compulsion under a law of 1845 was left in the hands of municipal administrations, with no government subsidy involved and no contributions from employers. The antisocialist law of 1878 suppressed many of labor’s voluntary associations for sickness benefits. The next step was the governmentalization of the associations’ functions.
It was no mere accident that the ideological forefathers of Nazism, Adolf Wagner and Eugen Dühring, happened to be the “brain trusters” behind Bismarck’s “nationalistic socialism to end international socialism,” using his own terms. When, on January 1, 1884, his compulsory sickness scheme went into operation it literally started a new era — a new age in the history of welfarism.
Bismarck’s role in modern history is rarely spoken of nowadays. Undoubtedly, his political and administrative “genius” has shaped history down to our times. His revolutionary innovation in welfare policy was preceded five years before, in 1879, by the imposition of a protective tariff that started Europe’s internecine commercial warfare which endures to this day. And it was followed by the introduction in 1889 of universal military service covering even the middle-aged manhood. This started a rearmament race leading into total wars with the objective of annihilating entire nations.
The shrewd Iron Chancellor — the dictator in constitutional disguise, quoting M.J. Bonn’s epigram — meant to kill several birds with one stone when he embarked on his program of appeasing labor. The reason, announced in the November 17, 1881, message of Kaiser Wilhelm I, to offer something positive to labor, not merely the repression of socialists by police force, may have been born of genuine worry over the unrest of the working classes due to the long depression that had engulfed Europe since 1875. But the true motive has been pointed out in the penetrating Bismarck biography (Vol. III, pp. 370–71) of Erich Eyck:
To his mind the State, by aiding the workers, should not only fulfill the duty ordered by religion, but it should obtain in particular a claim on their thankfulness, a gratitude that was to be shown by loyalty to the government and by loyal progovernment votes in elections.
In other words, it was the old-fashioned attempt of the monarchy to ally itself with the plebs against the “aristocracy” in between the two. However, the social-insurance legislation did not stop the Marxists from returning in increasing parliamentary strength. The attempt to subdue the socialist movement by appeasement ended in a political fiasco.
Examining a microcosm can shed light on the larger reality. I have chosen to analyze a small mountain hamlet, Chagoti Ghar (Chergotah), located some forty kilometers east of Khost city in eastern Afghanistan in a time frame separated by eight and a third years – November 23rd 2001 and March 24th 2010. Both times, two Afghan civilians perished as a result of foreign occupation fire. In both instances, the U.S corporate media was silent. Both times, to pierce the veil of silence spun by the American military industrial media information complex (MIMIC) a person had to turn to independent, regional media; in November 2001 to the Peshawar-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency and in March 2010, to the Kabul-based Pajhwok Afghan News. Those killed in 2001 perished during morning prayers and those obliterated in 2010 succumbed after sundown. A women and girl were martyred in November 2001 and a teenaged couple was killed in March 2010. A Bush air strike killed two in 2001 and an Obama ground attack did the same in 2010.
BBC Monitoring Central Asia Unit
Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring
November 23, 2001, Friday
“American aircraft bomb areas in eastern Afghanistan”
SOURCE: Afghan Islamic Press news agency, Peshawar, in Pashto 11:49 GMT 23 Nov 01
Text of report by Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency
Peshawar, 23 November: American aircraft bombed Khost this morning, and one woman and a girl were martyred as a result.
During the Morning Prayer, American war planes bombed the house of a tribal leader, Haji Mohammad Naim Kochi, 20 km to the south of the Khost bazaar in Khost Province. One bomb fell on another house, and as a result one woman and a girl were martyred. Haji Mohammad Naim Kochi helped the Taliban government. And in 1992 he also worked in the previous mujahidin government…
The latest stunner from the CIA and the Obama administration via Wikileaks. To wit:
This classified CIA analysis from March, outlines possible PR-strategies to shore up public support in Germany and France for a continued war in Afghanistan. After the Dutch government fell on the issue of dutch troops in Afghanistan last month, the CIA became worried that similar events could happen in the countries that post the third and fourth largest troop contingents to the ISAF-mission. The proposed PR strategies focus on pressure points that have been identified within these countries. For France it is the sympathy of the public for Afghan refugees and women. For Germany it is the fear of the consequences of defeat (drugs, more refugees, terrorism) as well as for Germany’s standing in the NATO. The memo is a recipe for the targeted manipulation of public opinion in two NATO ally countries, written by the CIA. It is classified as Confidential / No Foreign Nationals.
In the 20th century, Detroit, Michigan, symbolized American industrial might. Today it symbolizes the off-shored economy.
Detroit’s population has declined by half. A quarter of the city — 35 square miles — is desolate with only a few houses still standing on largely abandoned streets. If the local government can get the money from Washington, urban planners are going to shrink the city and establish rural areas or green zones where neighborhoods used to be.
President Obama and economists provide platitudes about recovery. But how does an economy recover when its economic leaders have spent more than a decade moving high productivity, high value-added middle class jobs offshore along with the Gross Domestic Product associated with them?
Some very discouraging reports have been issued this month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There have been record declines in both jobs and hours worked. At the end of last year, the U.S. economy had fewer jobs than at the end of 1997, 12 years ago. Hours worked at the end of last year were less than at the end of 1995, 14 years ago.
A truism perhaps, but before resorting to brute force and open repression to halt the “barbarians at the gates,” that would be us, the masters of declining empires (and the chattering classes who polish their boots) regale us with tales of “democracy on the march,” “hope” and other banalities before the mailed fist comes crashing down.
Putting it another way, as the late, great Situationist malcontent, Guy Debord did decades ago in his relentless call for revolt, The Society of the Spectacle:
“The reigning economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation. From automobiles to television, the goods that the spectacular system chooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly reinforcing the conditions that engender ‘lonely crowds.’ With ever-increasing concreteness the spectacle recreates its own presuppositions.”
And when those “presuppositions” reproduce ever-more wretched clichés promulgated by true believers or rank opportunists, take your pick, market “democracy,” the “freedom to choose” (the length of one’s chains), or even quaint notions of national “sovereignty” (a sure fire way to get, and keep, the masses at each others’ throats!) we’re left with a fraud, a gigantic swindle, a “postmodern” refinement of tried and true methods that would do Orwell proud!
Most people can’t resist getting the details on the latest conspiracy theories, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. At the same time, many people quickly denounce any conspiracy theory as untrue … and sometimes as unpatriotic or just plain ridiculous. Let’s not forget all of the thousands of conspiracies out of Wall Street like Bernie Madoff and many others to commit fraud and extortion, among many crimes of conspiracy. USA Today reports that over 75% of personal ads in the paper and on craigslist are married couples posing as single for a one night affair. When someone knocks on your door to sell you a set of knives or phone cards, anything for that matter, do they have a profit motive? What is conspiracy other than just a scary way of saying “alternative agenda”? When 2 friends go to a bar and begin to plan their wingman approach on 2 girls they see at the bar, how often are they planning on lying to those girls? “I own a small business and am in town for a short while. Oh yeah, you look beautiful.”
Conspiracy theory is a term that originally was a neutral descriptor for any claim of civil, criminal or political conspiracy. However, it has come almost exclusively to refer to any fringe theory which explains a historical or current event as the result of a secret plot by conspirators of almost superhuman power and cunning. To conspire means “to join in a secret agreement to do an unlawful or wrongful act or to use such means to accomplish a lawful end.” The term “conspiracy theory” is frequently used by scholars and in popular culture to identify secret military, banking, or political actions aimed at stealing power, money, or freedom, from “the people”.
To many, conspiracy theories are just human nature. Not all people in this world are honest, hard working and forthcoming about their intentions. Certainly we can all agree on this. So how did the term “conspiracy theory” get grouped in with fiction, fantasy and folklore? Maybe that’s a conspiracy, just kidding. Or am I?
Skeptics are important in achieving an objective view of reality; however, skepticism is not the same as reinforcing the official storyline. In fact, a conspiracy theory can be argued as an alternative to the official or “mainstream” story of events. Therefore, when skeptics attempt to ridicule a conspiracy theory by using the official story as a means of proving the conspiracy wrong, in effect, they are just reinforcing the original “mainstream” view of history, and actually not being skeptical. This is not skepticism, it is just a convenient way for the establishment view of things to be seen as the correct version, all the time, every time. In fact, it is common for “hit pieces” or “debunking articles” to pick extremely fringe and not very populated conspiracy theories. This in turn makes all conspiracies on a subject matter look crazy. Skeptics magazine and Popular Mechanics, among many others, did this with 9/11. They referred to less than 10% of the many different conspiracy theories about 9/11 and picked the less popular ones; in fact, they picked the fringe, highly improbable points that only a few people make. This was used as the “final investigation” for looking into the conspiracy theories. Convenient, huh?
In fact, if one were to look into conspiracy theories, they will largely find that thinking about a conspiracy is associated with lunacy and paranoia. Some websites suggest it as an illness. It is also not surprising to see so many people on the internet writing about conspiracy theories in a condescending tone, usually with the words “kool-aid,” “crack pot,” or “nut job” in their articulation. This must be obvious to anyone that emotionally writing about such serious matter insults the reader more than the conspiracy theorist because there is no need to resort to this kind of behavior. It is employed often with an “expert” who will say something along the lines of, “for these conspiracies to be true, you would need hundreds if not thousands of people to be involved. It’s just not conceivable.”
In 1798 Thomas Jefferson secretly drafted another declaration few people know about…
by Derek Sheriff
Most Americans know that Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of “The Declaration of Independence”, the most important of all our founding documents.
Yet few of them have even heard of another document that I would say might be the second most important declaration he ever wrote: The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. He drafted them secretly while he was serving as vice president. It was written in response to the hated Alien and Sedition Acts which were passed under the Adams administration during an undeclared war with France.
The acts authorized the president to deport any resident alien considered dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States, to apprehend and deport resident aliens if their home countries were at war with the United States, and criminalized any speech which might defame Congress, the President, or bring either of them into contempt or disrepute. You could compare it to the Patriot Act, but really it was much worse. Either way, The Alien and Sedition Acts were probably Thomas Jefferson’s worst nightmare.
Some people are surprised to learn that in response to these acts, Jefferson did not hold up the First Amendment in protest. Rather he invoked the Tenth Amendment, which states that:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Essentially, he argued that by passing and enforcing the Alien and Sedition Acts, the federal government had over stepped its bounds and was exercising powers which belonged to the states.
In other words, the Alien and Sedition Acts were acts of usurpation.
For Europe’s poorest countries, European Union membership has long held out the promise of tranquil prosperity. The current Greek financial crisis ought to dispel some of their illusions.
There are two strikingly significant levels to the current crisis. While primarily economic, the European Economic Community also claims to be a community, based on solidarity — the sisterhood of nations and brotherhood of peoples. However, the economic deficit is nothing compared to the human deficit it exposes.
To put it simply, the Greek crisis shows what happens when a weak member of this Union is in trouble. It is the same as what happens on the world scale, where there is no such morally pretentious union perpetually congratulating itself on its devotion to human rights. The economically strong protect their own interests at the expense of the economically weak.
The crisis broke last autumn after George Papandreou’s PASOK party won elections, took office and discovered that the cupboard was bare. The Greek government had cheated to get into the EU’s euro zone in 2001 by cooking the books to cover deficits that would have disqualified it from membership in the common currency. The European Treaties capped the acceptable budget deficit at 3 per cent and public debt at 60 per cent of GDP respectively. In fact, this limit is being widely transgressed, quite openly by France. But major scandal arrived with revelations that Greece’s budget deficit reached 12.7 per cent in 2009, with a gross debt forecast for 2010 amounting to 125 per cent of GDP.