Why Opponents of Capitalism Should Oppose Publicly Funded Healthcare

One of my friends who I would describe as Marxist made a post on Facebook exclaiming that yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling was a good step but the endgame is a publicly funded single-payer healthcare system. I found it strange that an opponent of capitalism would advocate for a publicly funded healthcare system.

Let’s consider for a moment one of the most often brought up criticisms of capitalism by Marxists. According to Marxism the laborer/capitalist relationship is exploitative. The capitalist is said to exploit the laborer by taking a portion of the laborer’s productive capacity, which is kept by the capitalist as profit. Under this criteria a publicly funded healthcare option must also be seen as exploitative. Instead of the capitalist taking a portion of the laborer’s productive capacity the state is. The only effective difference, under Marxism, between the capitalist/laborer relationship and the state/laborer relationship would be who is performing the exploitation.

This is one of those inconsistencies in Marxism that is usually overlooked by its advocates. Somehow a capitalist that takes a potion of a person’s productive capability is an exploiter while a state that takes a portion of a person’s productive capability is benevolent. I never understood this belief and no Marxist has ever been able to adequately explain it to me. Of course not all communists follow such absurdities, on the topic of healthcare I turn to an anarcho-communist (the only kind of communist I respect, even though I disagree with them) named Peter Kropotkin. Kropotkin wrote Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution where he correctly observed the generally cooperative nature of animal life, specifically humans. He concluded that humans beings are cooperative and that cooperation among a species is necessary for survival.

History demonstrates Kropotkin’s point as the voluntary solution reached by humans to help those in need was mutual aid. There was never a need for the state to enter the healthcare market and in fact their entering the market is what caused it to be the mess it is today. Before the state there were mutual aid societies that individuals voluntarily joined to pool their resources for the good of the membership. New members who were down on their luck were accepted into these societies without demands for payment as it was understood the members would begin paying once they got back on their feet.

Any state controlled healthcare system is exploitative because the relationship between the state and laborer, unlike the relationship between a capitalist and laborers, isn’t voluntary. If an individual fails to pay into a state controlled system they find themselves the victim of kidnapping or even violence if they should choose to resist. I’m not sure how a person who believes capitalism to be an exploitative system can support a publicly funded system of any sort.