Capitalism can kill you. This is what a recent study by sociologists and professors from Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found. The study, published in The Lancet, details the devastating effect capitalist counterrevolution has had on the health of workers in former socialist bloc countries.
The study was performed by bourgeois academics at some of Britain’s most prestigious universities. Despite their pro-capitalist orientation, these researchers discovered that health standards in Russia and Eastern Europe declined in proportion to the degree of capitalist reintroduction.
Mass privatization was recommended by economists such as Jeffrey Sachs as a form of “shock therapy” for the formerly socialist economies. Governments that implemented this model experienced the worst declines in health standards.
In Russia, where capitalism was embraced with a fury after the 1991 defeat of the Soviet Union, the death rate of working adults rose by 18 percent and the average life expectancy fell by five years. The death rate for Russia and Kazakhstan increased by an alarming rate of 42 percent for a period in the early 1990s. The United Nations estimates that in all 10 million people died in the transition away from socialism.
The negative impact of capitalism on the health of workers is well documented. The findings of this study are new because the authors essentially conclude that those countries that retained some of the vestiges of socialism—state industries, a government safety net and strong trade unions—suffered the least.
The Economist magazine, Sachs and others in the capitalist intellectual scene have harshly attacked the study. They have attempted to divert attention away from the class nature of capitalism’s attack on workers in this part of the world by promoting the laughable theory that the decline in health standards is solely attributable to increased alcohol consumption and an unhealthy diet. The attacks are an inevitable part of ruling class propaganda, which denies what many workers have always known—capitalism kills.
The socialist legacy of quality health care
Free quality health care for all has been one of the major achievements of socialist revolutions. The Soviet Union established the early benchmarks for socialized medicine’s achievements following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
Soviet health care was a comprehensive system that provided factory clinics, industrial hygiene programs, neighborhood polyclinics and local hospitals at no cost to the patient. The Soviet health care system was recognized for the great strides it made in battling infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and typhus fever, which had periodically ravaged workers and peasants in czarist Russia.
Medicine in the socialist countries was so effective that it pressuredmany European capitalist countries to concede some of its features when workers made demands for access to health care.The counterrevolutions that swept across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1991 reversed the gains workers had made in health care under socialism.
The Cuban revolution lives on as an example of achievements in health care in a society where the goal is socialism.In 1960 revolutionary physician Che Guevara outlined the aims of Cuban health care in his essay “On Revolutionary Medicine.” Since that time Cuba’s system has developed into a shining example of what can be accomplished in providing health care, even in a relatively poor country, with socialist organization.
Article 50 of Cuba’s Constitution establishes free health care as a right of all citizens. World Health Organization statistics demonstrate the superiority of its system. Cuba’s infant mortality rate of five deaths per thousand live births is lower even than in the much wealthier United States, where there are seven deaths per thousand. Cuba has twice as many physicians per capita as the U.S. Life expectancy in Cuba is 16 years higher than the average in its region.
Socialist organization of medical care in Cuba has accomplished all this while spending just $251 per capita on health care annually.
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