The following article first appeared in Revolution Internationale, the publication of the ICC's section in France. Although many of the references are to specifically French phenomena, the basic points made in the article apply equally to the creation of the National Health Service in Britain as well as other systems of social welfare put in place after the Second World War. The ruling class wanted to justify the carnage of the conflict and to prepare workers for the ferocious exploitation of the reconstruction period. In the same way, the current moves towards dismantling the National Health Service and other aspects of the 'Welfare State' are by no means a particular policy of Blair's New Labour or a wish-fulfilment for Howard's Tories. As the introduction to the article in RI puts it, "with its new plan to 'safeguard social security', the Raffarin government is once again preparing to reduce the social wage. It's the turn of health to be cut in this new plan of austerity, after the significant attacks on retirement pensions last spring and on unemployment pay last January. Far from being a national specificity, these attacks are developing and generalising to all capitalist countries which set up the Welfare State at the end of the Second World War because they needed reasonably healthy workers to undertake the reconstruction of the economy. The present attack on the welfare system in France, as in Germany some months ago, and as in Britain for some years now, means the end of the Welfare State and explodes the myth of 'social gains'. This attack reveals that, faced with the deepening of the economic crisis and the development of massive unemployment, the bourgeoisie cannot continue to maintain the majority of the workforce. The survival of capitalism demands an intensification of the productivity of labour, the hiring of the cheapest workforce possible, while reducing the cost of its maintenance. For the great majority of proletarians, it is uncertainty and misery that faces them now - in some cases even death, as we saw at the time of the heat wave last summer in France".