In two vigorous contributions to Freedom (December 1988 and January 1989) the Anarchist Communist Federation supported the National Health Service, a system under which the state imposes compulsory payments for medical services. The Editors of Freedom added their voice in the December issue, describing the present system, under which the coercive powers of the state can be brought to bear on anybody managing to avoid making their medical payments, as “a step in the right direction.”
Anarchists supporting compulsion by the state! What is going on here? Had these views come from neophytes it would have been easy to think that they did not understand what anarchism stands for, but the ACF forms a substantial part of the movement, rooted deep in its history, and the Editors of Freedom speak for the longest-established anarchist journal. These people know what they are talking about; we have to take what they say as an authentic expression of anarchist ideas. And they are saying that we ought to be deprived of a freedom enjoyed until quite recent times, the freedom not to pay for medical services.
The only way to make sense of this is by recognising anarchism to be more than a mindless, one-eyed, tunnel-vision drive for immediate freedom in disregard of all wider issues. Where medical services are concerned the way to anarchist freedom goes via acceptance of control. Ideally this would be self-control by all concerned; failing that, control by an external agency; even, under present circumstances, the state. To reject this would be to say that the ACF and the Editors of Freedom do not understand anarchism and that, to use another man’s phrase, is absurd.
Continue reading Angles on Anarchism by George Walford (1991):
Class Politics; an Exhausted Myth | Anarchy Renamed | Why So Few? | Gnostics as Anarchists of Old | The Two-Sided Anarchist | The Higher the Fewer | The Anarchist Police Force | Even Worse | In the Beginning | The Competitive Co-operators | I. Q. Against Anarchism | Anarchism in Series | Friendly Reason | Anarchist Research | Are They Not Anarchists? | The Trouble With Success | Of Governments and Gardens | The Poll Tax Lesson | Healthy Freedoms | The Conventional Artist | Underground Activity | The Cretan Egoist.