An excellent essay which pinpoints the underlying causes of societal disintegration and the breakdown of traditional social support systems. Capitalism destroys local community and sustainability in order to bring all resources (human and otherwise) into the global “free market”. People, cultures and ecosystems are then fed into the conveyor belt of profit extraction as they become commodities in the labor market, consumerist culture, and natural resource market. The onslaught has been global and its destruction is seen everywhere, especially in the rise of mental illness in America:
“…We are today disengaged from our jobs and our schooling. Young people are pressured to accrue increasingly large student-loan debt so as to acquire the credentials to get a job, often one which they will have little enthusiasm about. And increasing numbers of us are completely socially isolated, having nobody who cares about us….”
“The rising popularity of the consumerist life-model has been imported from the West or rather imposed by the globalization of Western standards… conspicuous consumption had been cut off from the task to satisfy survival needs and put in the service of positional rivalry and cut-throat competition for social standing, renown and prestige.”
~ Prof. Zygmunt Bauman
Addiction is big business and obscuring its roots is its ideological handmaiden. Despite the incessant chanting that everything that happens to you is solely your fault, social ills do have social roots.
We need not lay this “personal responsibility” mantra solely at the feet of neoliberal ideologues, for such beliefs pervade capitalist society, even among those who are critical of capitalism’s excesses. New age philosophy, for example, routinely blames the individual for all manner of personal misfortunes and overemphasizes personalities at the expense of collective effort.
An episode of Oprah that featured Nelson Mandela saw Oprah Winfrey repeatedly tell the former president that he had accomplished so much by himself; she was oblivious to his protestations that he could not have brought an end to apartheid except as part of the collective movement of which he was a part. On the personal level, a friend still angrily recounts an incident…
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