Category Archives: propaganda (communism)

The NHS teddy-bear

Health service agitprop

No good crisis should go to waste, writes Dalrymple, and

the priests of Britain’s secular religion, its highly centralised National Health Service, have not been sitting on their hands.

There has been so much NHS propaganda during the Chinese flu crisis that one might have believed that the propaganda

was under central direction.

The NHS evangelicals deliberately confound the health service bureaucracy with the devotion and skill of doctors and nurses, but of course

they are not the same thing — very far from it.

Emotional kitsch

Our NHS

Dalrymple points out that the propaganda in favour of Britain’s sovietised health service

has been more or less continuous since its foundation in 1948, though it has become shriller as it departs further from reality. The purpose of propaganda is to forestall any examination of reality in favour of simplistic slogans convenient to power.

There is a striking willingness in many of the people who are the objects of the propaganda

to repeat and believe a slogan without any compulsion to do so, and without the slightest inclination to examine its truth — indeed, without any awareness of the need for such an examination.

There was no oppressive force to deter these people from inquiry,

but they preferred the comfort the slogan offered to the effort and possible discomfort of finding the truth. The idea of the NHS played the role of teddy-bear to a population with many anxieties.

People will have experienced deficiencies in the failing service — long waiting times, offhand or disagreeable interactions with the bureaucracy, etc. But

like Russian peasants who believed that the Czar knew nothing of the oppression which they suffered, and would have put an end to it if he had known, the British continued to believe that the NHS had been born with original virtue and that the defects they experienced were exceptions. Repeated scandals of gross neglect or sub-standard treatment were shrugged off.

Dog in the manger

The British, Dalrymple notes,

were inclined to believe that if the NHS was unpleasant to negotiate, at least (being more or less a monopoly) it was equally unpleasant for everyone. Fairness and justice were equated with equal misery.

He explains that

the uncritical national admiration, approaching worship, of the NHS has required the subliminal acceptance of a certain historiography: before the NHS, nothing; after it, everything. Before 1948, the poor received no treatment but were left to fend for themselves when they were sick, and more or less, to die. After 1948, the ever-solicitous state system looked tenderly after the health of the population from cradle to grave.

The NHS has had no egalitarian outcome, rather the opposite,

yet the belief in its levelling effect persists.

The NHS propaganda

has been so successful that it now accords with the sentiments of the population, a triumph that no communist regime achieved despite Herculean efforts at indoctrination. The triumph has been achieved without compulsion or violence, and ought to be an interesting case for political scientists who study the successful inculcation of political mythology.

The curse of communism

Cumberland Clark, writes Dalrymple, was

an early and ferocious critic of communism.

His

Curse of Communism was vastly more perceptive than many an apologia published at the time.

If he harped with uncomfortable insistence on the proportion of early Bolsheviks who were Jewish,

he was right about the new kind of evil that the Bolshevik state represented.

Dalrymple points out that Clark was more prescient about communism than many a celebrated Western intellectual. Clark wrote:

Wherever a dictatorship of the proletariat is set up, there will inevitably be a Tcheka, crushing freedom and happiness and living on terror and death, overriding the workers’ soviets and concentrating power in its own hands.

Cumberland Clark (1862-1941)

Clark was aware, Dalrymple says, of all that Bolshevism from the first instituted, viz.

  • terror
  • mass executions
  • famine
  • wanton destruction
  • lying propaganda
  • tyranny
  • universal spying

Dalrymple notes that Clark was clear on the means by which the Bolsheviks deceived foreign guests, much clearer than many of the guests themselves, then and for many years afterwards. Clark wrote:

They are given a cordial welcome, and special trains, luxurious lodgings, and magnificent banquets are prepared for them. They are conveyed in comfortable motor cars and attended by courteous guides, who act as interpreters. These interpreters . . . are none other than members of the Tcheka, and it is absurd to believe that a Russian would speak of his miseries to a stranger with one of the dreaded Inquisition to translate his complaint. Even were he fool-hardy enough to do so, the translation would bear a very different complexion from the original remark. . . . The Bolshevists have brought the fooling of the Socialist visitors to a fine art.

Dalrymple points to Clark’s descriptions of

the Potemkin institutions that the willingly duped visitor was shown — the technique that I observed in Albania and in North Korea more than sixty years later.

How socialism works

The Left, writes Dalrymple,

is forward-looking and judges the present not by what has existed in an imperfect past, or by what is possible for human beings given their essential and abiding nature, let alone by any deontological precepts, but by a future state of perfection that will allegedly be called into existence.

Communism was supposed to

usher in an era of such material plenty, spread not equally but according to what each man needed (as judged by himself), that Man would be all but freed from labour, and the full beauty and potential of his personality would thereafter blossom. Government would wither away; and when it did, let a thousand Mozarts bloom!

What actually happened

was so preposterously different from this adolescent Marxian nonsense that the ideology could not long survive in the hearts and minds of millions its encounter with reality.

As time went on, with no utopia (or even adequate levels of material prosperity) in the offing, propaganda

was no longer an attempt to persuade the population, but became an attempt to humiliate and thus render it docile. Perpetual shortage was represented as unprecedented abundance, either present or to come. Constant intrusion and surveillance was represented as the highest form of freedom.

The error

was to be relatively specific about what utopia would look like. Whatever material abundance meant, it could not possibly mean queueing for five hours for a few measly potatoes.