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About this book

Compassion traces the ways in which various societies across the globe have responded to the vulnerable among them from early human history to the present. Along the way, Alvin Finkel assesses the impacts of economic developments, colonialism, political arrangements, gender, race, and social class in influencing how different peoples have defined the rights of individuals and communities facing hardship.

From Russia to Iran, from Scandinavia to Vietnam, this book looks at how social policy has been shaped by global social forces such as capitalism, imperialism and neoliberalism and analyses why different countries and regions diverged in their ways of dealing with inequalities and social needs.

This is a valuable resource for students on History, Sociology or Social Work degrees taking modules or courses on the History of Welfare/Social Policy or Global History.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Why Study Social Policy as a Global Phenomenon?

Abstract
When a Communist-led Left Front was elected in West Bengal in 1967, many capitalists sought to relocate their assets rather than risk confiscatory taxation by the new government. India made capital exports difficult and the wealthy who hoped to move money abroad often received help from missionary organizations in return for charitable donations. Several businessmen approached Mother Teresa, leader of a network of Catholic charities in Calcutta and international symbol of compassion, and she used the church’s relative autonomy from the state to move vast amounts of capital from West Bengal to Western countries in return for generous contributions to her charities.Mother Teresa devoted her life to aiding victims of destitution: abandoned children, lepers, the aged poor. Many wealthy individuals contributed funds to her causes. By contrast, the Left Front embodied a perspective which located the roots of poverty in colonialist social structures, not individual failings or bad luck. For them, wealthy capitalists were the problem, not the solution, to poverty and charities merely provided band-aids as treatment for social failings. Capital lost to West Bengal thanks to churches searching for extra funds for their charitable operations limited the ability of the Bengali state to make social changes.
Alvin Finkel

Social Policy From Early Humanity to Bismarck

Frontmatter

2. Sharing Versus Domination: Social Policy from 200,000 BCE to the Middle Ages

Abstract
For many scholars, early human history was a war of each against all. Psychologist Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined is a prime example. Cultural anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson challenges many archaeological examples cited by Pinker. Examining the entire archaeological record for “prehistoric” societies in Europe and the Near East, Ferguson suggests evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists have assumed that humans are warlike by nature and have exaggerated evidence of violence in early human history. He writes: “Is there archaeological evidence indicating war was absent in entire prehistoric regions for millennia? Yes.” He suggests that pessimists project constant warfare in Europe and the Middle East after 3000 BCE to the early history of humans. In fact, “War sprang out of a warless world.” Similarly, unequal, authoritarian societies sprang out of a cooperative, equal world.
Alvin Finkel

3. Charity and Poor Laws Versus the Moral Economy, 1000–1850

Abstract
So spoke John Ball, an excommunicated radical priest in Kent, to peasants and townsfolk who rose against their social betters in 1381 during the Wat Tyler revolt, an uprising led by a soldier that spread from Kent across the south-east counties and into London. Such Christian communist sentiments appalled the authorities who displayed the severed bodies of both men and other captured rebel leaders throughout the capital city to warn other potential rebels of their likely fate. Anti-hierarchical perspectives were fuelled by harsh policies followed by governments and aristocrats as the feudal system crumbled, yielding to an emerging capitalist system that rejected notions of mutual obligation that feudalism embraced at least theoretically. Violent responses from the masses to perceived injustices would gradually compel both state authorities and social elites to devise policies to pacify the people while imposing social controls over their behaviour. The Poor Laws legislated in England and paralleled throughout Europe originated in efforts to meet these two related objectives.
Alvin Finkel

4. Empire and Social Policy

Abstract
In 1770, the Bengal rice crop failed after a severe drought. Ten million Bengalis, about a third of the population, died while the British East India Company, which took control of Bengal five years earlier, provided four thousand pounds’ worth of relief, a pittance. The Company forbade private merchants from exporting rice or grains from unaffected areas into drought-stricken areas. It seized boats suspected of importing food. Meanwhile, the Company, which assessed heavy land taxes on local people to force them to grow the commercial crop for the Company rather than focus on subsistence crops, used force to collect the year’s taxes. In early 1771, local aristocrats who failed to collect sufficient land taxes were punished by both dispossession and imprisonment. The Great Bengal Famine lasted till 1773.
Alvin Finkel

5. Social Insurance and Social Policy in Europe, 1850–1914

Abstract
In 1871, as the Prussian military reached the Parisian outskirts after defeating France in the Franco-Prussian War, Parisians revolted against both the invader and the French political establishment. They established the Paris Commune, an elected grassroots urban government dominated by socialists and radical republicans hoping to fulfil crushed dreams of 1789 and 1848. During its short existence, the Commune decreed separation of church and state, had cooperatives of their former workers operate closed factories, and shuttered pawnshops because they exploited workers. Alarmed by this apparently communist uprising, Prussia allowed the French military to retake Paris via a murderous attack on Commune defenders. The French government then executed thousands and sent thousands more to prison or exile.
Alvin Finkel

6. Social Policy Before 1914 in Former European Colonies

Abstract
In the Spanish era, nuns and priests operated schools, hospitals, and orphanages in Argentina, leading efforts to protect abandoned and destitute children. Freed of Spanish influence, the new Argentinian government promoted secularization of these institutions. Beginning in 1823, the government gave grants to upper- and middle-class secular women, generally volunteers, to build and operate social institutions, and women’s leadership in organizations dedicated to promoting health, education, and social well-being was only infrequently challenged for the next century and a quarter. Only in Buenos Aires, where the Patronato de la Infancia was established in 1892 to coordinate services for children, were staff and volunteers placed under supervision of male bureaucrats. The Argentinian welfare women volunteers were particularly active from 1880 to 1914 when extensive immigration, accompanied by extreme poverty, led to frequent child abandonment. Women headed municipal, immigrant, and religious committees that received federal, state, and municipal subventions for workshops, orphanages, juvenile reform schools, and milk programmes. Buenos Aires was the most generous municipality, providing free medical care to the indigent and education for future mothers. Elsewhere the women volunteers mainly relied on private donations. The numbers of children in their care rose quickly in the early 1900s as legislators, responding to the rise of juvenile delinquency, pushed for institutionalization and reforming of troublesome children. Little thought was given to why families either abandoned children or failed to keep them out of trouble.
Alvin Finkel

Social Policy from World War One to the Cold War

Frontmatter

7. Social Policy in the Interwar Years

Abstract
The Austro-Hungarian Empire of the Habsburgs had counted 55 million inhabitants. The government of the new, postage-size nation-state of Austria, a country of 6.5 million people, had no capital funds for reconstruction. Its citizens had lost all their savings. Only conservative governments were elected nationally from 1919 to 1934 because rural Austrians rejected Social Democratic collectivism. The latter nonetheless easily won in urban centres. In Vienna, with about 2 million people, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won municipal elections with about 60 per cent of the vote and provided activist governance from 1919 to 1934 when a fascist coup destroyed socialist achievements. The city was considered a state-level government within Austria and could levy taxes. Its first task was to deal with a post-war famine caused by the Allies maintaining the wartime blockade throughout the winter of 1918/19. The government pleaded for international help and tens of thousands of Viennese children were sent abroad temporarily. There had been no construction during the war, and though the SDP froze rents, workers were living in overcrowded, dilapidated homes. The municipal Socialists focused on creating state-owned but cooperatively managed housing estates.
Alvin Finkel

8. World War Two And The Cold War, 1939–1980: The Capitalist World

Abstract
In 1964, a Conservative-appointed royal commission in Canada recommended phased implementation of a comprehensive health care programme: first, universal prepaid hospital and physician care (the former had already been established in 1957), and then universal pharmaceutical care coverage, dental coverage for children, home care for all who required it, and long-term care for those unable to live in their own homes. That report reinforces a common trope of the post-war period: a historical compromise between capital and labour that ushered in middle-class consumerist societies with full employment and ever-expanding cradle-to-grave social programmes that reduced social inequalities dramatically. But a single fact taken out of long-term context can easily mislead. Yes, some Canadian Tories, after studying health issues in their country, favoured imitation of a system legislated by a British Labour government in 1948. But the elected Tory MPs regarded them as heretics. The business organizations that appeared before the Commission opposed universal medical insurance as did the major professions that might be covered—doctors, dentists, and pharmacists (nurses’ organizations were neutral). The Liberal minority government elected by the time the Commission reported was compelled to implement “medicare” if only to appease the social democratic party whose votes they required to govern. They implemented phase one in 1968, offering funds to all provinces that established a plan which embodied principles of comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and public administration. By 2017, though usually in office, the Liberals had not implemented any other Commission recommendations and they gradually reduced the federal portion of medicare payments from 50 per cent to 20 per cent. Elaborate medical coverage promised by all Canadian political parties since 1945 proved elusive.
Alvin Finkel

9. The Communist World, 1945–1991

Abstract
Ekaterina Sergeevna lived her whole life in communal dwellings in Leningrad/St. Petersburg, beginning with her birth during Stalin’s rule and continuing beyond the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In communes, families had their own bedrooms but shared living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and washrooms. Interviewed in the post-Soviet period, she spoke fondly of her various living arrangements. She grew up in “Far North House,” a commune of polar explorers. “All the families there were like one big family. We were good friends, and children went to each other’s birthday parties, because all the parents worked of the same organization, they all went on Far North expeditions, it was a very interesting life.” She remained in communal housing after her marriage and upon divorcing in 1971, moved into a commune in a prestigious Leningrad district with her two children and stayed there after her children had grown. Thirty-three people lived in the commune when she moved in. She remained positive about her long-time home, comparing it favourably to life in separate-family apartment complexes that the Soviets built in large numbers from the 1950s onwards.
Alvin Finkel

10. The Post-Colonial World, 1945–1990

Abstract
“Kerala’s extensive nursery and school feeding programs, ration shops, and the generally greater access to health care combine with the overall lower birth rates to make it unnecessary for families to choose life for one child and death for another.” This Indian state of 34 million failed to reach the average GDP per capita of India in 2015, but surpassed the rest of India in its social statistics, which rivalled “developed” nations. Its successes demonstrated the falsity of assumptions that dizzying economic growth is a precondition for longer, healthier, more secure lives. The leadership provided by elected Communists demonstrated that they could produce better results for poor people in less-developed countries than Communist dictatorships.
Alvin Finkel

Social Policy Under Neoliberalism

Frontmatter

11. Neoliberalism and Advanced Capitalism

Abstract
When the UK National Health Service (NHS) began operations in 1948, the government announced that the service was available to everybody, though individuals could opt for private service. Those who registered with the NHS were guaranteed “as and when required, the care of a family doctor, the skill of a consultant, laboratory services, treatment in hospital, the advice and treatment available in specialised clinics (maternity and child welfare centres, tuberculosis dispensaries and the like), dental and ophthalmic treatment, drugs and surgical appliances, midwifery, home nursing and all other services essential to health.” All those services would be provided “free to all” and integrated to guarantee access.
Alvin Finkel

12. Post-Communism

Abstract
A Bulgarian survey in 1994 revealed that only 25 per cent of Christian Bulgarians, 17 per cent of Turks, and 12 per cent of Pomaks were negative about communism. The Pomaks are Slavic Muslims in mountain regions of southern Bulgaria. They mainly worked in lead–zinc mines and related industries during the Communist period. An ethnographer who interviewed Pomaks in the early 2000s found that most remembered Communism “as a time of economic growth and social stability, even if secured at the cost of their Muslim traditions.”State provision of childcare allowed women to work outside the home but gave the state a chance to imbue children with socialist and atheist ideas. When Communism collapsed in Bulgaria after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, many women had minimal or no maternity leave. Child allowances were tiny. With medicine and hospitalization now privatized, many families could not afford babies and gave them to orphanages. Abortion was too expensive for many to contemplate.
Alvin Finkel

13. Neoliberalism and Underdeveloped Countries

Abstract
In Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in 2001, ten-year-old Ramon Canez was supervising six younger siblings, five under five in their one room in a metal barracks housing many families. Two-year-old Laurita was immobile; her “thin, bent legs were welded with rickets from malnutrition.” Five-month-old Beni was in danger of a similar fate. Ramon did not know how to prepare a bottle for Beni. Beni had a deep cough but his parents could not administer the three-times-a-day medicine when they were away and, afraid that Ramon might overdose Beni, had forbidden him to give it. Martita’s teeth were rotted from bottle mouth, the result of having a sweetened bottle in her mouth for hours at a time. Ramon’s mother sold cooked food in the street 12 hours a day, six days a week. His electrician dad worked similar hours. The house had no amenities. The parents spent nothing on themselves but could not feed their family and buy needed medicine without both working long hours and not paying for childcare. “As a result, their children’s health, basic development, and education were all being sacrificed.”
Alvin Finkel
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