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Social relationships under neoliberalism become more and more mediated by money. Individuals become estranged to themselves in the quest to stay alive, where they lose their true existence in the struggle for subsistence That produces the level of social isolation that makes most people unhappy. At the same time in a neoliberal society people are brainwashed to have a false sense of what makes us unhappy - that success or wealth will enlighten or liberate us. What makes us happy is social connection. Good friendships, good relationships, being part of community that you contribute to. Go to some of the poorest countries in the world and you may meet happy people there, tell them about life in rich countries, and say that some people there are unhappy. They won't believe you. We do need to change our worldview, because misery is a real problem in many countries.
Neoliberalism has shaped a society where you have to sell your personality in addition to your work. The five prominent features of alienation are (Seeman, 1959).:
Alienation in the sense of a lack of power has been technically defined by Seeman as the expectancy or probability held by the individual that his own behavior cannot determine the occurrence of the outcomes, or reinforcements, he seeks." Seeman argues that this is the notion of alienation as it originated in the Marxian view of the workers condition in capitalist society: the worker is alienated to the extent that the prerogative and means of decision are expropriated by the ruling entrepreneurs". Put more succinctly, Kalekin-Fishman (1996: 97) says, A person suffers from alienation in the form of 'powerlessness' when she is conscious of the gap between what she would like to do and what she feels capable of doing.
Perceived in terms of roles, rules, and functions rather than as individuals, many workers feel more like objects than people. Marx termed these reactions alienation, a result, he said, of workers being cut off from the finished product of their labor. He pointed out that before industrialization, workers used their own tools to produce an entire product, such as a chair or table.
Social isolation refers to The feeling of being segregated from ones community. Neal and Collas (2000: 114) emphasize the centrality of social isolation in the modern world: While social isolation is typically experienced as a form of personal stress, its sources are deeply embedded in the social organization of the modern world. With increased isolation and atomization, much of our daily interactions are with those who are strangers to us and with whom we lack any ongoing social relationships.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, migrants from Eastern Europe and the developing countries have flocked to developed countries in search of a better living standard. This has led to entire communities becoming uprooted: no longer fully part of their homelands, but neither integrated into their adopted communities.
Diaspora literature depicts the plights of these migrants, such as Hafid Bouazza in Paravion. Senekal (2010b: 41) argues, "Low-income communities or religious minorities may feel separated from mainstream society, leading to backlashes such as the civil unrest that occurred in French cities in October 2005. The fact that the riots subsequently spread to Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece, and Switzerland, illustrates that not only did these communities feel segregated from mainstream society, but also that they found a community in their isolation; they regarded themselves as kindred spirits".
Normlessness (or what Durkheim referred to as anomie) denotes the situation in which the social norms regulating individual conduct have broken down or are no longer effective as rules for behaviour. This aspect refers to the inability to identify with the dominant values of society or rather, with what are perceived to be the dominant values of society. Seeman (1959: 788) adds that this aspect can manifest in a particularly negative manner, The anomic situation [...] may be defined as one in which there is a high expectancy that socially unapproved behaviours are required to achieve given goals. This negative manifestation is dealt with in detail by Catherine Ross and John Mirowski in a series of publications on mistrust, powerlessness, normlessness and crime.
Neal & Collas (2000: 122) write, Normlessness derives partly from conditions of complexity and conflict in which individuals become unclear about the composition and enforcement of social norms. Sudden and abrupt changes occur in life conditions, and the norms that usually operate may no longer seem adequate as guidelines for conduct. This is a particular issue after the fall of the Soviet Union, mass migrations from developing to developed countries, and the general sense of disillusionment that characterized the 1990s (Senekal, 2011). Traditional values that had already been questioned (especially during the 1960s) were met with further scepticism in the 1990s, resulting in a situation where individuals rely more often on their own judgement than on institutions of authority: "The individual not only has become more independent of the churches, but from other social institutions as well. The individual can make more personal choices in far more life situations than before (Halman, 1998: 100). These choices are not necessarily "negative": Halman's study found that Europeans remain relatively conservative morally, even though the authority of the Church and other institutions has eroded.
One concept used in regard to specific relationships is that of parental alienation, where a child is distanced from and expresses a general dislike for one of their parents (who may have divorced or separated). The term is not applied where there is child abuse. The parental alienation might be due to specific influences from either parent or could result from the social dynamics of the family as a whole. It can also be understood in terms of attachment, the social and emotional process of bonding between child and caregiver. Adoptees can feel alienated from both adoptive parents and birth parents.
Familial estrangement between parents and adult children is attributed to a number of biological,
psychological, social, and structural factors affecting the family, including attachment disorders,
incompatible values and beliefs, unfulfilled expectations, critical life events and transitions,
parental alienation, and ineffective communication patterns. The degree of alienation has been
positively correlated with decreased emotional functioning in the parent who feels a loss of
identity and stigma.
Attachment relationships in adults can also involve feelings of alienation Indeed, emotional alienation is said to be a common way of life for many, whether it is experienced as overwhelming, or is not admitted to in the midst of a socioeconomic race, or contributes to seemingly unrelated problems.
Because of intense group solidarity and unique daily hardships brought by combat, many veterans feel alienated from citizens, family, and friends when they return. They often feel they have little in common with civilian peers; issues that concerns friends and family seem trivial after combat.
There is a clarity of focus and purpose that comes with war that few in civilian life will ever know. Add daily doses of high adrenaline and a kind of pure loyalty among those you fight alongside, and combat is a perfect baptism into tribal brotherhood.
Afghanistan veteran Brendon O'Byrne says, "We were really close. Physically and emotionally close. It's kind of terrifying being in such an emotionally safe environment and then suddenly be expelled into an alienated, fractured society." Feeling alone and alienatedthat's scarier than bullets.
They know how to deal with bullets, and in combat they're dealing with bullets together. But now they're dealing with their loneliness, by definition, alone. It is loneliness and normlessness why so many soldiers choose to return to combat.
As filmmaker and war correspondent Sebastian Junger says, "They didn't want to go back because it was traumatic, but because it was a place where they understood what they were supposed to do. They understood who they were. They had a sense of purpose. They were necessary. All these things that young people strive for are answered in combat." War twists and shifts the landmarks by which combat veterans navigate their lives, casting light on darkened areas that for many people remain forever unexplored. And once those darkened spaces are lit, they become part of us. Veterans often see their wartime experience as the most selfless and meaningful period of their lives. In a different perspective, "even in the quiet moments, war is brighter, louder, brasher, more fun, more tragic, more wasteful. More. More of everything."
The experience of the Vietnam veteran was distinctly different from that of veterans of other American wars. Once he completed his tour of duty, he usually severed all bonds with his unit and comrades. It was extremely rare for a veteran to write to his buddies who were still in combat, and (in strong contrast to the endless reunions of World War II veterans) for more than a decade it was even rarer for more than two or more of them to get together after the war. Korean War veterans had no memorial and precious few parades, but they fought an invading army and they left behind them the free, healthy, thriving, and grateful nation of South Korea. No one spat on them or called them murderers or baby killers when they returned. Only the veterans of Vietnam have endured a concerted, organized, psychological attack by its own people. Never in American history, perhaps never in all of Western civilization, has an army suffered such an agony from its own people. The Vietnam War was a long, contentious conflict (195575) which in the mid to late 1960s started to lose political and domestic support, most notably in academia and film that often portrayed soldiers of this conflict as ignoble adding to their social alienation. That the Vietnam War was ultimately lost on April 30, 1975, furthered the sense of meaninglessness and malaise. It has been demonstrated that as the perception of community alienation increases, an individual's sense of confidence or mastery in decision making will decrease, and so too their motivation to socially engage.
One manifestation of the above dimensions of alienation can be a feeling of estrangement from, and a
lack of engagement in, the political system. Such political alienation could result from not
identifying with any particular political party or message, and could result in revolution,
reforming behavior, or abstention from the political process, possibly due to voter apathy.
A similar concept is policy alienation, where workers experience a state of psychological disconnection from a policy programme being implemented.
Self-estrangement is an elusive concept in sociology, as recognized by Seeman (1959), although he included it as an aspect in his model of alienation. Some, with Marx, consider self-estrangement to be the end result and thus the heart of social alienation. Self-estrangement can be defined as the psychological state of denying ones own interests of seeking out extrinsically satisfying, rather than intrinsically satisfying, activities.... It could be characterized as a feeling of having become a stranger to oneself, or to some parts of oneself, or alternatively as a problem of self-knowledge, or authenticity.
Seeman (1959) recognized the problems inherent in defining the "self", while post-modernism in particular has questioned the very possibility of pin-pointing what precisely "self" constitutes. Gergen (1996: 125) argues that: the traditional view of self versus society is deeply problematic and should be replaced by a conception of the self as always already immersed in relatedness. On this account, the individuals lament of not belonging is partially a by-product of traditional discourses themselves. If the self is relationally constituted, does it make sense to speak of "self-estrangement" rather than "social isolation"? Costas and Fleming (2009: 354) suggest that although the concept of self-estrangement has not weathered postmodern criticisms of essentialism and economic determinism well, the concept still has value if a Lacanian reading of the self is adopted. This can be seen as part of a wider debate on the concept of self between humanism and antihumanism, structuralism and post-structuralism, or nature and nurture.
Until early in the 20th century, psychological problems were referred to in psychiatry as states of mental alienation, implying that a person had become separated from themselves, their reason or the world. From the 1960s alienation was again considered in regard to clinical states of disturbance, typically using a broad concept of a 'schizoid' ('splitting') process taken from psychoanalytic theory. The splitting was said to occur within regular child development and in everyday life, as well as in more extreme or dysfunctional form in conditions such as schizoid personality and schizophrenia. Varied concepts of alienation and self-estrangement were used to link internal schizoid states with observable symptoms and with external socioeconomic divisions, without necessarily explaining or evidencing underlying causation. R.D. Laing was particularly influential in arguing that dysfunctional families and socioeconomic oppression caused states of alienation and ontological insecurity in people, which could be considered adaptations but which were diagnosed as disorders by mainstream psychiatry and society.(Laing, 1959). The specific theories associated with Laing and others at that time are not widely accepted, but work from other theoretical perspectives sometimes addresses the same theme.
In a related vein, for Ian Parker, psychology normalizes conditions of social alienation. While it could help groups of individuals emancipate themselves, it serves the role of reproducing existing conditions.(Parker,2007). This view can be seen as part of a broader tradition sometimes referred to as Critical psychology or Liberation psychology, which emphasizes that an individual is enmeshed within a social-political framework, and so therefore are psychological problems. Similarly, some psychoanalysts suggest that while psychoanalysis emphasizes environmental causes and reactions, it also attributes the problems of individuals to internal conflicts stemming from early psychosocial development, effectively divorcing them from the wider ongoing context. Slavoj Zizek (drawing on Herbert Marcuse, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan's psychoanalysis) argues that in today's capitalist society, the individual is estranged from their self through the repressive injunction to "enjoy!" Such an injunction does not allow room for the recognition of alienation and, indeed, could itself be seen as an expression of alienation.(Zizek, 1994).
Frantz Fanon, an early writer on postcolonialism, studied the conditions of objectification and violent oppression (lack of autonomy) believed to have led to mental disorders among the colonized in the Third World (in particular Africans) (Fanon, ( 1961).
A process of 'malignant alienation' has been observed in regard to some psychiatric patients, especially in forensic units and for individuals labeled 'difficult' or who aren't liked by at least some staff, which involves a breakdown of the therapeutic relationship between staff and patients, and which may end in the suicide of the patient. Individuals with long-term mental disorders, which may have originally stemmed from social alienation, can experience particular social and existential alienation within their communities due to other people's and potentially their own negative attitudes towards themselves and 'odd' behavior.
Differences between persons with disabilities and individuals in relative abilities, or perceived
abilities, can be a cause of alienation. One study, "Social Alienation and Peer Identification: A
Study of the Social Construction of Deafness", found that among deaf adults one theme emerged
consistently across all categories of life experience: social rejection by, and alienation from, the
larger hearing community. Only when the respondents described interactions with deaf people did the
theme of isolation give way to comments about participation and meaningful interaction. This
appeared to be related to specific needs, for example for real conversation, for information, the
opportunity to develop close friendships and a sense of family. It was suggested that the social
meaning of deafness is established by interaction between deaf and hearing people, sometimes
resulting in marginalization of the deaf, which is sometimes challenged. It has also led to the
creation of alternatives and the deaf community is described as one such alternative.
Physicians and nurses often deal with people who are temporarily or permanently alienated from communities, which could be a result or a cause of medical conditions and suffering, and it has been suggested that therefore attention should be paid to learning from experiences of the special pain that alienation can bring.
Alienation is most often represented in literature as the psychological isolation of an individual from society or community. In a volume of Bloom's Literary Themes, Shakespeare's Hamlet is described as the 'supreme literary portrait' of alienation, while noting that some may argue for Achilles in the Iliad. In addition, Bartleby, the Scrivener is introduced as a perfect example because so many senses of alienation are present. Other literary works described as dealing with the theme of alienation are: The Bell Jar, Black Boy, Brave New World, The Catcher in the Rye, The Chosen, Dubliners, Othello, Fahrenheit 451, Invisible Man, Mrs Dalloway, Notes from Underground, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus, The Trial, Waiting for Godot, The Waste Land, and Young Goodman Brown. Contemporary British works noted for their perspective on alienation include The Child in Time, London Fields, Trainspotting, and Regeneration (Senekal, 2008 & 2010b: 102-123).
Sociologist Harry Dahms has analysed The Matrix Trilogy of films in the context of theories of alienation in modern society. He suggests that the central theme of The Matrix is the "all-pervasive yet increasingly invisible prevalence of alienation in the world today, and difficulties that accompany attempts to overcome it".
See also Langman's study of punk, porn, and resistance (2008) and Senekal's (2011) study of Afrikaans extreme metal. British progressive rock band Pink Floyd's concept album The Wall (1979) and British alternative rock band Radiohead's album OK Computer (1997), both deal with the subject of alienation in their lyrics.
( Sep 17, 2017 , turcopolier.typepad.com )
Jun 16, 2020 | www.youtube.com
Dave C , 4 days agoRobert Schupp , 4 days ago
"That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it." -George Carlin
You can't just move to American cities to pursue opportunity; even the high wages paid in New York are rendered unhelpful because the cost of housing is so high.
Dingo Jones , 3 days agoDirtysparkles , 4 days ago
@JOHN GAGLIANO Cost of living is ridiculous too.Jean-Pierre S , 4 days ago
Our country has become the American NightmareJohn Sanders , 3 days ago
Martin Luther King, Jr. was vilified and ultimately murdered when he was helping organize a Poor People's Campaign. Racial justice means economic justice.Adriano de Jesus , 4 days ago
Old saying: A Recession is when your neighbor loses their Job. A Depression is when you lose your Job.Ammon Weser , 4 days ago
A lot of mega wealthy people are cheats. They get insider info, they don't pay people and do all they can to provide the least amount of value possible while tricking suckers into buying their crap. Don't even get me started on trust fund brats who come out of the womb thinking they are Warren buffet level genius in business.crazyman8472 , 4 days ago
There's a documentary about Wal-Mart that has the best title ever: The High Cost of Low CostDavid Tidwell , 4 days ago
Night Owl: "What the hell happened to us? What happened to the American Dream?"
Comedian: "What happened to the American Dream? It came true! You're looking at it."
-- WatchmenD dicin , 4 days ago
Nailed it. As a millennial, I'm sick of being told to just "deal with it" when the cards have always been stacked against me. Am I surviving? Yes. Am I thriving? No.farber2 , 4 days ago
When the reserve status of the American dollar goes away, then it will become apparent how poor the US really is. You cannot maintain a country without retention of the ability to manufacture the articles you use on a daily basis. The military budget and all the jobs it brings will have to shrink catastrophically.Michael D , 4 days ago (edited)
American trance. The billionaires hypnotized people with this lie.B Sim , 3 days ago
...and sometimes you CAN'T afford to move. You can't find a decent job. You certainly can't build a meaningful savings. You can't find an apartment. And if you have kids? That makes it even harder. I've been trying to move for years, but the conditions have to be perfect to do it responsibly. The American Dream died for me once I realized that no matter the choices I made, my four years of college, my years of saving and working hard....I do NOT have upward mobility. For me, the American Dream is dead. I've been finding a new dream. The human dream.Sound Author , 3 days ago
This is a very truncated view. You need to expand your thinking. WHY has the system been so overtly corrupted? It's globalism that has pushed all this economic pressure on the millennials and the middle class. It was the elites, working with corrupt politicians, that rigged the game so the law benefited them.
This is all reversible. History shows that capitalism can be properly regulated in a way that benefits all. The answer to the problem is to bring back those rules, not implement socialism.
- - Ended the free trade deals
- - Imposed Protective tarriffs to defend American jobs and workers
- - Lowered corporate taxes to incentivize business to locate within us borders.
- - Limited immigration to reduce the supply of low skilled labor within US borders.
The result? before COVID hit the average American worker saw the first inflation adjusted wage increase in over 30 years!
This is why the fake news and hollywood continue to propagandize the masses into hating Trump.
Trump is implementing economic policies good for the people and bad for the elitesJulia Galaudet , 4 days ago
The dream was never alive in the first place. It was always bullshit.Scott Clark , 4 days ago
Maybe it's time for a maximum wage.Siri Erieott , 4 days ago
Private equity strips the country for years! It's the AMERICAN DREAM!!!andrew kubiak , 4 days ago
A dream for 1%, a nightmare for 99%.
Globalism killed the American dream. We can buy cheap goods made somewhere else if we have a job here that pays us enough money.
Jun 12, 2020 | www.youtube.com
Krystal Ball exposes the delusion of the American dream.
About Rising: Rising is a weekday morning show with bipartisan hosts that breaks the mold of morning TV by taking viewers inside the halls of Washington power like never before. The show leans into the day's political cycle with cutting edge analysis from DC insiders who can predict what is going to happen.
It also sets the day's political agenda by breaking exclusive news with a team of scoop-driven reporters and demanding answers during interviews with the country's most important political newsmakers.
Owen Cousino , 4 days agopoppaDehorn , 4 days ago
Debt-free is the new American dream
Got my degree just as the great recession hit. Couldn't find real work for 3 years, not using my degree... But it was work. now after 8 years, im laid off. I did everything "right". do good in school, go to college, get a job...
I've never been fired in my life. its always, "Your contract is up" "Sorry we cant afford to keep you", "You can make more money collecting! but we'll give a recommendation if you find anything."
Now I'm back where i started... only now I have new house and a family to support... no pressure.
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comDJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:09 amNeoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what's wrenching society apart George Monbiot, GuardianKatharine , April 17, 2017 at 11:39 am
George Monbiot on human loneliness and its toll. I agree with his observations. I have been cataloguing them in my head for years, especially after a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness.
A couple of recent trips to Rome have made that point ever more obvious to me: Compared to my North Side neighborhood in Chicago, where every other person seems to have a dog, and on weekends Clark Street is awash in dogs (on their way to the dog boutiques and the dog food truck), Rome has few dogs. Rome is much more densely populated, and the Italians still have each other, for good or for ill. And Americans use the dog as an odd means of making human contact, at least with other dog owners.
But Americanization advances: I was surprised to see people bring dogs into the dining room of a fairly upscale restaurant in Turin. I haven't seen that before. (Most Italian cafes and restaurants are just too small to accommodate a dog, and the owners don't have much patience for disruptions.) The dogs barked at each other for whileviolating a cardinal rule in Italy that mealtime is sacred and tranquil. Loneliness rules.
And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicagochockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves.
That's why the comments about March on Everywhere in Harper's, recommended by Lambert, fascinated me. Maybe, to be less lonely, you just have to attend the occasional march, no matter how disorganized (and the Chicago Women's March organizers made a few big logistical mistakes), no matter how incoherent. Safety in numbers? (And as Monbiot points out, overeating at home alone is a sign of loneliness: Another argument for a walk with a placard.)DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:48 am
I particularly liked this point:
In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament instruct us to stand on our own two feet.
With different imagery, the same is true in this country. The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling.
Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation.
So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church.
Dec 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
Mr. Bill , November 29, 2019 at 06:18 PMEven Economists' seem to agree that the decline of labor power, the decimation of Unionism in the US, has had a devastating effect on the existing quality of life, the opportunity for economic mobility, and even longevity in the US. The society has been wringing it's hands over how to bring back the salad days of the strong middle class afforded by representative labor in the 50's and 60's.Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , November 29, 2019 at 06:48 PM
Bernie Sanders platform represents all that was lost. There really is no difference between Sanders proposals and the union contracts of yore. The election of Sanders along with a unified Congress to enact his labor friendly proposals will restore the American middle class.
And America.The Trojan horse of neo-liberal economics, and the defenestration of an independent press into an oligopoly of lies, was able sell labor arbitrage as beneficial. Underselling American production by Capitalists employing a Communist monopoly supplier of labor, at substandard income, health, safety, and environmental conditions, against American workers, was sold as benefit.RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Mr. Bill... , November 30, 2019 at 06:41 AM
Forty years later, America is unrecognizable. Reduced to platitudes, paying homage to a long lost civilization.Yep, but before we could get there we first had to believe that corporate mergers were necessary and good to achieve economies of scale rather than merely to bestow unbridled monopoly power, monopsony power, and political power upon the biggest sharks in the tank. Mergers were about owning Boardwalk and Park Place and globalization was about collecting rents. Mergers crippled unions and globalization put them out of their misery with a final death blow.RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , November 30, 2019 at 06:42 AMThe old one, two, so to speak.Paine -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , November 30, 2019 at 01:46 PMAmenPaine -> Mr. Bill... , November 30, 2019 at 01:44 PM
R.I.P.Punchy lingoRC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Paine ... , November 30, 2019 at 02:08 PM
" AN Oligarchy of lieS"
makes me jealous
Pungent indeed :
Forty years later
America is unrecognizable
Reduced to platitudes
to a long lost civilizationHow far do you live from Palm Beach, FA, the new permanent residence of our fearless orange leader?RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , November 30, 2019 at 02:10 PMSorry, the abbreviation for Florida is FL. FA must stand for something else :<)Paine -> RC (Ron) Weakley... , December 02, 2019 at 08:54 AMI winter in Zero beach fla.RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Paine ... , December 02, 2019 at 12:37 PM
Former training town
for the Brooklyn DodgersVero Beach is awesome, as is most of the FL coasts when there are no hurricanes in town. I checked Google Map and you are halfway between Daytona Beach and Ft Lauderdale and well away from that Miami place. If I lived there then I would be fishing for tuna, cobia, wahoo, and king mackerel every day.Fred C. Dobbs , November 30, 2019 at 05:55 AM2020 Democratic Candidates Wage Escalating FightRC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , November 30, 2019 at 06:59 AM
(on the Merits of Fighting) https://nyti.ms/2Ds4OIC
NYT - Mark Leibovich - Nov. 30
For all the emphasis placed on the various divides
among the candidates, the question of "to fight or
not to fight" might represent the most meaningful contrast.
WALPOLE, N.H. -- Pete Buttigieg has a nifty politician's knack for coming off as a soothing, healing figure who projects high-mindedness -- even while he's plainly kicking his opponents in the teeth.
"There is a lot to be angry about," he was saying, cheerfully. Mr. Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., was seated aboard his campaign bus outside a New Hampshire middle school before a recent Sunday afternoon rally. He was sipping a canned espresso beverage and his eyes bulged as he spoke, as if he was trying to pass off as revelatory something he had in fact said countless times before.
"But fighting is not enough and it's a problem if fighting is all you have," he said. "We fight when we need to fight. But we're never going to say fighting is the point."
In fact, these were fighting words: barely disguised and directed at certain Democratic rivals. As Mr. Buttigieg enjoys a polling surge in Iowa and New Hampshire, he is trying to prevent a rebound by Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has leveled off in the polls after a strong summer, and contain Senator Bernie Sanders, whose support has proved durable.
Both are explicit fighters, while Mr. Buttigieg, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and some others warn that Democrats risk scaring off voters by relying too heavily on pugnacious oratory, and by emphasizing the need to transform America rather than focusing simply on ending the Trump presidency and restoring the country to some semblance of normalcy.
As Mr. Buttigieg has sharpened this critique, however, he has adopted a more aggressive tone himself -- a sly bit of needle-threading that has coincided with his rise. Mr. Biden, too, has combined cantankerous language about beating Mr. Trump "like a drum" with more uplifting rhetoric about "restoring the soul of America."
As Mr. Buttigieg spoke, Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders were holding rallies in which they could scarcely utter two sentences without dropping in some formulation of the word "fight." They spoke of the various "fights" they had led and the powerful moneyed interests they had "fought" and how they would "keep fighting" all the way to the White House.
Mr. Sanders touted himself as the candidate who would "fight to raise wages" and was "leading the fight to guarantee health care" and "fight against corporate greed." Ms. Warren (fighting a cold) explained "why I got into this fight, will stay in this fight and why I am asking others to join the fight."
Every politician wants to be known as a "fighter," even the placid young mayor who has promised to "change the channel" on Mr. Trump's reality show presidency and all the rancor that has accompanied it. But Mr. Buttigieg is also fighting against what he sees as the political trope of fighting per se. He is presenting himself as an antidote to the politics-as-brawl predilection that has become so central to the messaging of both parties and, he believes, has sapped the electorate of any hope for an alternative. "The whole country is exhausted by everyone being at each other's throats," Mr. Buttigieg said.
At a basic level, this is a debate over word choice. Candidates have been selling themselves as "fighters" for centuries, ostensibly on behalf of the proverbial "you." It goes back at least to 1828, when Andrew Jackson bludgeoned John Quincy Adams, his erudite opponent, with the slogan "Adams can write but Jackson can fight." Populists of various stripes have been claiming for decades to "fight for you," "fight the power," "fight the good fight" and whatnot, all in the name of framing their enterprises as some cause that transcends their mere career advancement.
In a broader sense, though, it goes to a stylistic divide that has been playing out for nearly a year in the battle for the Democratic nomination. The split is most acute among the top four polling candidates: you could classify Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders as the pugilists in the field, whereas Mr. Buttigieg, he of the earnest manner and Midwestern zest for consensus, fashions himself a peacemaker. Mr. Biden would also sit in the latter camp, with his constant promises to "unite the country" and continued insistence -- oft-derided -- that his old Republican friends would be so chastened by Mr. Trump's defeat that they would suddenly want to work in sweet bipartisan harmony with President Joe.
For all the emphasis placed on the identity and generational partitions between the candidates, the question of "to fight or not to fight" might represent a more meaningful contrast. "This has been a longstanding intramural debate," said David Axelrod, the Democratic media and message strategist, who served as a top campaign and White House aide to former President Barack Obama. "It's what Elizabeth Warren would call 'big structural change' versus what critics would call 'incremental change.'"
He believes the energy and size of the former camp has been exaggerated by the attention it receives. "I think sometimes the populist left is overrepresented in places where reporters sometimes spend a lot of time," Mr. Axelrod said. "Like on Twitter." ...Apparently what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire stays in Iowa and New Hampshire. Here in VA, which does not primary for the Democratic Party until Super Tuesday (March 3, 2020) the only message coming through from Dems is Dump Trump. Since VA went for Hillary in 2016, then it is unlikely that voters here will hold for Trump now, but not for lack of trying among staunch Republican Party financial backers.Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , November 30, 2019 at 03:46 PM
Fortunately enough for me though is that my happy life does not hinge on national politics. VA will be a better place to live now that Republicans no longer control the state's legislature nor executive branches. Sorry about the country, but it must live with its own unique history of bad choices.Here in MA, we pay particular attention toFred C. Dobbs said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , November 30, 2019 at 03:56 PM
our cranky neighbor NH because we know how
votes will go here at home, but not there.
NH is endlessly fascinating, and remote-ish.
With four electoral votes, it has one-third
more than Vermont. That's why it's important-ish.
Overall, the six New England states have an extra
twelve electoral votes, disproportionate to our
total population. Lately all Dem, except for a
stubborn pocket in Maine.MA is also joined at the hip with NY,ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 01, 2019 at 06:14 AM
sharing about a hundred miles of border,
and much political sensibility. It wasn't
always this way (except for the border part.)
I was growing up in western NY when Robert Kennedy
was foisted upon us as a Senator, mainly from NYC.
He with considerable NYC roots, but that god-awful
'Bahston' accent. In those days, western NY was
a GOP bastion, and still is to a lesser extent.
None the less, we are still joined at the hip.
Just not over the Yankees & the Red Sox.Hillary Clinton was foisted on the "rest of NY" outside the NYC metro!Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to ilsm... , December 01, 2019 at 07:20 AM
An argument to keep the elector college.
Boston is closer to Manhattan than Springfield is to Albany.Literally, or figuratively>RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , December 01, 2019 at 06:22 AM
Boston => NYC: 210 miles
Springfield => Albany: 86 miles
(I've noticed, you often get
things wrong. Whatever happened
to 'Knowledge & Thoroughness'?Thanks. My wife is from CT. Is CT even more true blue than MA. A quandary for me as she was raised devout Republican although her mother was a public school teacher.Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to RC (Ron) Weakley... , December 01, 2019 at 10:23 AMAll of New England is blue these days, exceptPaine -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 02, 2019 at 09:00 AM
for a portion of Maine. Only one GOPerson in
Congress these days, that being Susan Collins
of Maine, soon to be up for re-election.
'Sen. Susan Collins faces a potentially
difficult reelection campaign in 2020. ... J
Although (she does not yet have a primary challenger), Collins could be especially vulnerable if she breaks with Trump -- she's the most moderate Republican in the Senate and has had lukewarm intraparty support in the past, though it improved markedly after she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court last year.' ...
Primary Challenges Might Keep These Republican Senators
From Voting To Remove Trump https://53eig.ht/36mLHguNew England has a sesionistEMichael , November 30, 2019 at 06:31 AM
The blue light federalists
The Hartford convention
pre anti slavery movement
A second source of
New england secessionist sentiment
Let's leave this beastWow, Mankiw.Paine -> EMichael... , November 30, 2019 at 08:47 AM
"How to Increase Taxes on the Rich (If You Must)"
Suffice to say the two main characters are Sam Spendthrift and Frank Frugal.
geezHousehold saving is an anachronicPaine -> Paine ... , November 30, 2019 at 08:52 AM
Activity given modern credit systems
And effective macro management of the net rate of social accumulationNew Housing and household durablesjoe -> EMichael... , December 01, 2019 at 10:50 PM
In as much as they increase
The labor productivity
Are a worthy investment
Best financed with credit
The combo of productivity increases
and substitution of market products combined cut domestic labor time dramatically
More credit powered improvement to comeHe is protecting this text book, it is in the parenthesis (if you must).Paine -> joe... , December 02, 2019 at 08:35 AM
His text book is a fraud, it explains very little about what is happening, contains nothing about irregular gains to scale, nothing about value added network effect, assumes the senate is a proportional democracy, never considers the regularity of generation default. The text should be shunned, it is ten years behind the mathematicians.I read this joe scratchPaine -> Paine ... , December 02, 2019 at 08:36 AM
Is this mental caliban
In a profound sense
A fun house reflection of myself
ProbablyBut for the North star texts of Marx and LeninJulio -> Paine ... , December 05, 2019 at 10:28 PMWe are all mulpians now.Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to EMichael... , December 02, 2019 at 07:02 AMTax the Rich? Here's How to DoFred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , December 02, 2019 at 07:22 AM
It (Sensibly) https://nyti.ms/2NsILFP
NYT - Andrew Ross Sorkin - Feb. 25, 2019
Everyone, it seems, has ideas about new tax strategies, some more realistic than others. The list of tax revolutionaries is long. ...
Whatever your politics, there is a bipartisan acknowledgment that the tax system is broken. Whether you believe the system should be fixed to generate more revenue or employed as a tool to limit inequality -- and let's be honest for a moment, those ideas are not always consistent -- there is a justifiable sense the public doesn't trust the tax system to be fair.
In truth, how could it when a wealthy person like Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of the president, reportedly paid almost no federal taxes for years? Or when Gary Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs who once led President Trump's National Economic Council, says aloud what most wealthy people already know: "Only morons pay the estate tax."
If you pay taxes, it's hard not to feel like a patsy.
A New York Times poll found that support for higher taxes on the rich cuts across party lines, and Democratic presidential hopefuls are offering plans to do it. But the current occupant of the Oval Office signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut into law, so the political hurdles are high.
Over the past month, I've consulted with tax accountants, lawyers, executives, political leaders and yes, billionaires, and specific ideas have come up about plugging the gaps in the tax code, without blowing it apart. ...
Patch the estate tax
None of the suggestions in this column -- or anywhere else -- can work unless the estate tax is rid of the loopholes that allow wealthy Americans to blatantly (and legally) skirt taxes.
Without addressing whether the $11.2 million exemption is too high -- and it is -- the estate tax is riddled with problems. Chief among them: Wealthy Americans can pass much of their riches to their heirs without paying taxes on capital gains -- ever. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, unrealized capital gains account for "as much as about 55 percent for estates worth more than $100 million." ...
The Congressional Budget Office estimates simply closing this loophole would raise more than $650 billion over a decade.
As central as this idea is to the other suggestions, it is not an easy sell. Three Republican senators introduced a plan this year to repeal the estate tax.
But this and other changes -- eliminating the hodgepodge of generation-skipping trusts that also bypass estate taxes -- are obvious fixes that would introduce a basic fairness to the system and curb the vast inequality that arises from dynastic wealth.
Increase capital gains rates for the wealthy
Our income tax rates are progressive, but taxes on capital gains are less so. There are only two brackets, and they top out at 20 percent.
By contrast, someone making $40,000 a year by working 40 hours a week is in the 22 percent bracket. That's why Warren Buffett says his secretary pays a higher tax rate.
So why not increase capital gains rates on the wealthiest among us?
One chief argument for low capital gains rates is to incentivize investment. But if we embraced two additional brackets -- say, a marginal 30 percent bracket for earners over $5 million and a 35 percent bracket for earners over $15 million -- it is hard to see how it would fundamentally change investment plans. ...
leads to more income inequality.]
End the perverse real estate loopholes
One reason there are so many real estate billionaires is the law allows the industry to perpetually defer capital gains on properties by trading one for another. In tax parlance, it is known as a 1031 exchange.
In addition, real estate industry executives can depreciate the value of their investment for tax purposes even when the actual value of the property appreciates. (This partly explains Mr. Kushner's low tax bill.)
These are glaring loopholes that are illogical unless you are a beneficiary of them. Several real estate veterans I spoke to privately acknowledged the tax breaks are unconscionable.
Fix carried interest
This is far and away the most obvious loophole that goes to Americans' basic sense of fairness.
For reasons that remain inexplicable -- unless you count lobbying money -- the private equity, venture capital, real estate and hedge fund industries have kept this one intact. Current tax law allows executives in those industries to have the bonuses they earn investing for clients taxed as capital gains, not ordinary income.
Even President Trump opposed the loophole. In a 2015 interview, he said hedge fund managers were "getting away with murder."
This idea and the others would not swell the government's coffers to overflowing, but they would help restore a sense of fairness to a system that feels so easily gamed by the wealthiest among us.
There are a couple of other things worth considering.
Let's talk about philanthropy
Nobody wants to dissuade charitable giving. But average taxpayers are often subsidizing wealthy philanthropists whose charitable deductions significantly reduce their bills.
These people deserve credit for giving money to noble causes (though some nonprofits are lobbying organizations masquerading as do-gooders) but their wealth, in many cases, isn't paying for the basics of health care, defense, education and everything else that taxes pay for.
Philanthropic giving is laudable, but it can also be a tax-avoidance strategy. Is there a point at which charitable giving should be taxed?
I'm not sure what the right answer is. But consider this question posed by several philanthropic billionaires: Should the rich be able to gift stock or other assets to charity before paying capital gains taxes? ...
Finally, fund the Internal Revenue Service
The agency is so underfunded that the chance an individual gets audited is minuscule -- one person in 161 was audited in 2017, according to the I.R.S. And individuals with more than $1 million in income, the people with the most complicated tax situations, were audited just 4.4 percent of the time. It was more than 12 percent in 2011, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported.
The laws in place hardly matter: Those willing to take a chance can gamble that they won't get caught. That wouldn't be the case if the agency weren't having its budget cut and losing personnel. ...'If you pay taxes, it's hard not to feel like a patsy.'anne -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 02, 2019 at 07:59 AM
[I heartily disagree.]
'In 1927 in the court case of Compañía General de
Tabacos de Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue
a dissenting opinion was written by Oliver Wendell
Holmes, Jr. that included the following phrase ... :
Taxes are what we pay for civilized society '
https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/04/13/taxes-civilize/If you pay taxes, it's hard not to feel like a patsy.Paine -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 02, 2019 at 08:39 AM
-- Andrew Ross Sorkin
[ What a disgraceful, shameful phrase. ]Tax talk is for star chambersPaine -> Paine ... , December 02, 2019 at 09:03 AM
In public call for spending
And back it by attacking all fuss budgets
The uncle debt load can be lightened
By sovereign rate management
It's part of uncles extravagant privilege
As global hegemonTax wealth not workFred C. Dobbs said in reply to Paine ... , December 02, 2019 at 09:20 AMOne can at least imagine that,Mr. Bill -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 02, 2019 at 04:43 PM
back in the day (long ago?),
wealth would have been taxed,
but then with the rise of the
middle-class, taxes were extended
to those who had *income* if not
much wealth. Perhaps just as the
wealthy were hiring lawyers and
accountants, and making generous
political 'contributions' to
avoid taxes generally.
A 0.25% tax on financial transactions will supply $1.8 Trillion over the next 10 years,Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , December 02, 2019 at 04:46 PMThe elimination of corporate loopholes would provide an estimated $1.25 Trillion over the next 10 years.Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , December 02, 2019 at 04:50 PMCutting the bloated military budget by 5% would provide $0.5 Trillion over the next 10 years.Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , December 02, 2019 at 04:54 PM
Returning to the Clinton top marginal tax rates would provide another $0.5 Trillion over the next 10 years.It really comes down to priorities. Are we a democracy, or not. Health care, education, etc. for the citizens, or corporate welfare for the aristocracy.anne , November 30, 2019 at 07:14 AMhttps://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1200781466604621825anne -> anne... , November 30, 2019 at 07:15 AM
Paul Krugman @paulkrugman
This New York Times article on rising mortality had me thinking about regional disparities. It's true that rising mortality is widespread, but the article also acknowledges that mortality in coastal metros has improved 1/
It's Not Just Poor White People Driving a Decline in Life Expectancy
A new study shows that death rates increased for middle-aged people of all racial and ethnic groups.
6:19 AM - 30 Nov 2019
So I did some comparisons using the KFF health system tracker https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/u-s-life-expectancy-compare-countries/ and a JAMA article on life expectancy by state in 1990 and 2016 2/
The State of US Health, 1990-2016
Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Among US States
What we see is another red-blue divide. Compare population-weighted averages for states that supported Clinton and Trump in 2016, and you see very different trends 3/
[ https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EKoJry8WoAAAU6E.png ]
This is NOT simply a matter of declining regions voting for Trump. Look at the 4 biggest states: in 1990 FL and TX both had higher life expectancy than NY, now they're well behind 4/
[ https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EKoKPKzXsAANKK9.png ]
I'm not sure what lies behind this. Medicaid expansion probably plays a role in the past few years, and general harshness of social policies in red states may matter more over time. Divergence in education levels may also play a role 5/
What's clear, however, is that the US life-expectancy problem is pretty much a red-state problem. In terms of mortality, blue states look like the rest of the advanced world 6/https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1199719100496449537Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to anne... , November 30, 2019 at 07:42 AM
Paul Krugman @paulkrugman
I was struck by one line in this article: "Life expectancy in the coastal metro areas -- both east and west -- has improved at roughly the same rate as in Canada." Indeed, the American death trip has been driven by only part of the country 1/
It's Not Just Poor White People Driving a Decline in Life Expectancy
A new study shows that death rates increased for middle-aged people of all racial and ethnic groups.
7:58 AM - 27 Nov 2019
And while the divergence is surely linked to growing regional economic disparities, there's a pretty clear red-blue divide reflecting state policies. Consider NY v. TX 2/
[ https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EKZCmPnXkAAjsOG.png ]
In 1990 Texas actually had higher life expectancy, but now NY is far ahead. Surely this has something to do with expanding health coverage, maybe also to do with environmental policies. 3/
In general, progressive US states have experienced falling mortality along with the rest of the advanced world. Red America is where things are different 4/The NYT article has a graphical mapFred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , November 30, 2019 at 07:52 AM
'Falling Life Expectancy' - that shows
death rate (age 25-64) declines in only
two states (CA & WY) with small increases
in 11 other states (OR, WA, AR, UT, TX, OK,
SC, GA, FL, IL & NY). Increases in all other
states. Hence, shorter life expectancies
in most states, regardless of region.'US life-expectancy problem isFred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , November 30, 2019 at 08:02 AM
pretty much a red-state problem.'
If so (which I doubt), it's perhaps
because most states are 'red states'.
In the northeast, which is quite 'blue',
only NY is doing reasonably well on this.
In the deep (red) south, TX, FL, SC & GA
are also doing ok. As are TX and OK.Slight correction: It's AZ, not ARJulio -> Fred C. Dobbs... , November 30, 2019 at 11:50 AM
that is in the small increase category.
In any case 8 of these 13 states are
'red' ones.How does "death rate 25-64" relate to life expectancy? I would think it measures a different thing.anne -> Julio ... , November 30, 2019 at 11:56 AMHow does "death rate 25-64" relate to life expectancy?anne -> Julio ... , November 30, 2019 at 12:02 PM
[ Think of the fierceness of AIDS in South Africa, which effected specific age ranges, and notice the change in life expectancy:
January 15, 2018
Life Expectancy at Birth for China, India, Brazil and South Africa, 1977-2017 ]How does "death rate 25-64" relate to life expectancy?anne -> anne... , November 30, 2019 at 12:03 PM
[ Similarly, by dramatically improving the care of young children China dramatically improved life expectancy. This was and remains a failing for India, even though India had a far higher per capita GDP level than China before 1980. Amartya Sen has written about this:
January 15, 2018
Life Expectancy at Birth for China, India, Brazil and South Africa, 1960-2017https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=oWL6RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Julio ... , November 30, 2019 at 12:42 PM
January 15, 2018
Life Expectancy at Birth for China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, 1960-2017 ]Anne is correct. Death rate 25-64 is throwing out the disease susceptible childhood years, the suicides and automobile accidents of early adulthood, and also access to medical care for the increased disease risks of advanced ages. What is left tells a story of alcoholism, smoking, and fentanyl mostly along with healthcare access. Employment security matters in both healthcare access and incidence of depression including adult suicide and drug use along with a tendency to engage in risky activities just to pay the bills.Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Julio ... , November 30, 2019 at 03:35 PMJAMA (& others who have done similar studies)Paine -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 02, 2019 at 09:06 AM
are just looking at data. Draw your own
conclusions? The media will draw theirs.
Fair to say, these are people dying NOT of old-age.
Americans' Life Expectancy Drops For Third Year In Row, Signaling There's 'Something Terribly Wrong' Going On https://khn.org/MTAyNTQ4Mw via @khnews (Kaiser Health News)
Americans' Life Expectancy Drops For Third Year In Row, Signaling There's 'Something Terribly Wrong' Going On
Researchers say the grim new reality isn't just limited to rural deaths of despair, but rather the numbers reflect that many different people living in all areas of the U.S. are struggling. "We need to look at root causes," said Dr. Steven Woolf, the author's lead study. "Something changed in the 1980s, which is when the growth in our life expectancy began to slow down compared to other wealthy nations."
The New York Times: It's Not Just Poor White People Driving A Decline In Life Expectancy
As the life expectancy of Americans has declined over a period of three years -- a drop driven by higher death rates among people in the prime of life -- the focus has been on the plight of white Americans in rural areas who were dying from so-called deaths of despair: drug overdoses, alcoholism and suicide. But a new analysis of more than a half-century of federal mortality data, published on Tuesday in JAMA, found that the increased death rates among people in midlife extended to all racial and ethnic groups, and to suburbs and cities. (Kolata and Tavernise, 11/26)
The Washington Post: U.S. Life Expectancy: Americans Are Dying Young At Alarming Rates
Despite spending more on health care than any other country, the United States has seen increasing mortality and falling life expectancy for people age 25 to 64, who should be in the prime of their lives. In contrast, other wealthy nations have generally experienced continued progress in extending longevity. Although earlier research emphasized rising mortality among non-Hispanic whites in the United States, the broad trend detailed in this study cuts across gender, racial and ethnic lines. By age group, the highest relative jump in death rates from 2010 to 2017 -- 29 percent -- has been among people age 25 to 34. (Achenbach, 11/26)
Los Angeles Times: Suicides, Overdoses, Other 'Deaths Of Despair' Fuel Drop In U.S. Life Expectancy
In an editorial accompanying the new report, a trio of public health leaders said the study's insight into years of cumulative threats to the nation's health "represents a call to action." If medical professionals and public health experts fail to forge partnerships with social, political, religious and economic leaders to reverse the current trends, "the nation risks life expectancy continuing downward in future years to become a troubling new norm," wrote Harvard public health professors Dr. Howard K. Koh, John J. Park and Dr. Anand K. Parekh of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. (Healy, 11/26)
Changes in midlife death rates across racial and ethnic
groups in the United States: systematic analysis of vital statistics
British Medical Journal - August 15, 2018Are death rates for 70 to 90 typesFred C. Dobbs said in reply to Paine ... , December 02, 2019 at 12:06 PM
That's where we need thinking out
Not the big 40
25 to 65
The big 40 are the main meat hunters
of the cohorts(Seen on web so must be true.)Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , December 02, 2019 at 12:19 PM
'Men 65 years and older today have an average
life expectancy of 84.3 years. Life expectancy
outcomes get even better among younger men and
women according to the CDC's data. For instance,
one in 20 women who are 40 today will live to
celebrate their 100th birthday.'(OTOH...)anne , November 30, 2019 at 07:30 AM
CDC Data Show US Life Expectancy Continues to Decline https://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20181210lifeexpectdrop.html
American Academy of Family Physicians - December 10, 2018
"The latest CDC data show that the U.S. life expectancy has declined over the past few years," said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., in a Nov. 29 statement. "Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide.
(CDC Director's Media Statement on U.S. Life Expectancy
https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/s1129-US-life-expectancy.html via @CDCgov - about one year ago)
Three new reports from the CDC indicate that the average life expectancy in the United States has declined for the second time in three years.
Deaths from drug overdose and suicide were responsible for much of the decline, with more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths reported in 2017.
As a result of overall increases in mortality rates, average life expectancy decreased from 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 years in 2017.
"Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation's overall health, and these sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable." ...
More than 2.8 million deaths occurred in the United States in 2017, an increase of about 70,000 from the previous year. Death rates rose significantly in three age groups during that period (i.e., in those 25-34, 35-44, and 85 and older) and dropped in 45- to 54-year-olds, yielding an overall age-adjusted increase of 0.4 percent. That percentage represents a rise from 728.8 deaths per 100,000 standard population to 731.9 per 100,000.
The 10 leading causes of death remained the same from 2016 to 2017: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide. Age-adjusted death rates increased significantly for seven of the 10 causes, led by influenza and pneumonia (5.9 percent), unintentional injuries (4.2 percent) and suicide (3.7 percent). Death rates for cancer actually decreased by 2.1 percent, while heart disease and kidney disease rates did not change significantly. ...
Drug overdose death rates increased across all age groups, with the highest rate occurring in adults ages 35-44 (39 per 100,000) and the lowest in adults 65 and older (6.9 per 100,000). ...
CDC Data Show US Life Expectancy Continues to Decline
https://www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20181210lifeexpectdrop.htmlhttp://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/free-market-drugs-a-key-part-of-elizabeth-warren-s-transition-to-medicare-for-allanne , November 30, 2019 at 07:33 AM
November 29, 2019
Free Market Drugs: A Key Part of Elizabeth Warren's Transition to Medicare for All
By Dean Baker
Earlier this month, Senator Warren put out a set of steps that she would put forward as president as part of a transition to Medicare for All. The items that got the most attention were including everyone over age 50 and under age 18 in Medicare, and providing people of all ages with the option to buy into the program. This buy-in would include large subsidies, and people with incomes of less than 200 percent of the poverty level would be able to enter the Medicare program at no cost.
These measures would be enormous steps toward Medicare for All, bringing tens of millions of people into the program, including most of those (people over age 50) with serious medical issues. It would certainly be more than halfway to a universal Medicare program.
While these measures captured most of the attention given to Warren's transition plan, another part of the plan is probably at least as important. Warren proposed to use the government's authority to compel the licensing of drug patents so that multiple companies can produce a patented drug, in effect allowing them to be sold at generic prices.
The government can do this both because it has general authority to compel licensing of patents (with reasonable compensation) and because it has explicit authority under the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act to require licensing of any drug developed in part with government-funded research. The overwhelming majority of drugs required some amount of government-supported research in their development, so there would be few drugs that would be exempted if Warren decided to use this mechanism.
These measures are noteworthy because they can be done on the president's own authority. While the pharmaceutical industry will surely contest in court a president's use of the government's authority to weaken their patent rights, these actions would not require Congressional approval.
The other reason that these steps would be so important is that there is a huge amount of money involved. The United States is projected to spend over $6.6 trillion on prescription drugs over the next decade, more than 2.5 percent of GDP. This comes to almost $20,000 per person over the next decade.
This is an enormous amount of money. We spend more than twice as much per person on drugs as people in other wealthy countries.
This is not an accident. The grant of a patent monopoly allows drug companies to charge as much as they want for drugs that are necessary for people's health or even their life, without having to worry about a competitor undercutting them.
Other countries also grant patent monopolies, but they limit the ability of drug companies to exploit these monopolies with negotiations or price controls. This is why prices in these countries are so much lower than in the United States.
But even these negotiated prices are far above what drug prices would be in a free market. The price of drugs in a free market, without patent monopolies or related protections, will typically be less than 10 percent of the US price and in some cases, less than one percent.
This is because drugs are almost invariably cheap to manufacture and distribute. They are expensive because government-granted patent monopolies make them expensive. We have this perverse situation where the government deliberately makes drugs expensive, then we struggle with how to pay for them.
The rationale for patent monopolies is to give companies an incentive to research and develop drugs. This process is expensive, and if newly developed drugs were sold in a free market, companies would not be able to recover these expenses.
To make up for the loss of research funding supported by patent monopolies, Warren proposes an increase in public funding for research. This would be an important move towards an increased reliance on publicly funded biomedical research.
There are enormous advantages to publicly-funded research over patent monopoly-supported research. First, if the government is funding the research it can require that all results be fully public as soon as possible so that all researchers can quickly benefit from them.
By contrast, under the patent system, drug companies have an incentive to keep results secret. They have no desire to share results that could benefit competitors.
In most other contexts we quite explicitly value the benefits of open research. Science is inherently a collaborative process where researchers build upon the successes and failures of their peers. For some reason, this obvious truth is largely absent from discussions of biomedical research where the merits of patent financing go largely unquestioned.
In addition to allowing research results to be spread more quickly, public funding would also radically reduce the incentive to develop copycat drugs. Under the current system, drug companies will often devote substantial sums to developing drugs that are intended to duplicate the function of drugs already on the market. This allows them to get a share of an innovator drug's patent rents. While there is generally an advantage to having more options to treat a specific condition, most often research dollars would be better spent trying to develop drugs for conditions where no effective treatment currently exists.
Under the patent system, a company that has invested a substantial sum in developing a drug, where a superior alternative already exists, may decide to invest an additional amount to carry it through the final phases of testing and the FDA approval process. From their vantage point, if they hope that a successful marketing effort will allow them to recover its additional investment costs, they would come out ahead.
On the other hand, in a system without patent monopolies, it would be difficult for a company to justify additional spending after it was already clear that the drug it was developing offered few health benefits. This could save a considerable amount of money on what would be largely pointless tests.
Also, as some researchers have noted, the number of potential test subjects (people with specific conditions) is also a limiting factor in research. It would be best if these people were available for testing genuinely innovative drugs rather than ones with little or no incremental value.
Ending patent monopoly pricing would also take away the incentive for drug companies to conceal evidence that their drugs may not be as safe or effective as claimed. Patent monopolies give drug companies an incentive to push their drugs as widely as possible.
That is literally the point of patent monopoly pricing. If a drug company can sell a drug for $30,000 that costs them $300 to manufacture and distribute, then they have a huge incentive to market it as widely as possible. If this means being somewhat misleading about the safety and effectiveness of their drug, that is what many drug companies will do.
The opioid crisis provides a dramatic example of the dangers of this system. Opioid manufacturers would not have had the same incentive to push their drugs, concealing evidence of their addictive properties, if they were not making huge profits on them.
Unfortunately, this is far from the only case where drug companies have not accurately presented their research findings when marketing their drugs. The mismarketing of the arthritis drug Vioxx, which increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes, is another famous example.
We can try to have the FDA police marketing, but where there is so much money at stake in putting out wrong information, we can hardly expect it to be 100 percent successful in overcoming the incentives from the large profits available. There is little reason to think that the FDA will be better able to combat the mismarketing of drugs, than law enforcement agencies have been in stopping the sale of heroin, cocaine, and other illegal drugs. Where you have large potential profits, and willing buyers, government enforcement is at a serious disadvantage.
It is also worth mentioning that the whole story of medical care is radically altered if we end patent monopolies on drugs and medical equipment, an area that also involves trillions of dollars over the next decade. We face tough choices on allocating medical care when these items are selling at patent protected prices, whether under the current system of private insurance or a Medicare for All system.
Doctors and other health care professionals have to decide whether the marginal benefits of a new drug or higher quality scan is worth the additional price. But if the new drug costs roughly the same price as the old drug and the highest quality scan costs just a few hundred dollars (the cost of the electricity and the time of the professionals operating the machine and reading the scan), then there is little reason not to prescribe the best available treatment. Patent monopoly pricing in these areas creates large and needless problems.
In short, Senator Warren's plans on drugs are a really huge deal. How far and how quickly she will be able to get to Medicare for All will depend on what she can get through Congress. But her proposal for prescription drugs is something she would be able to do as president, and it will make an enormous difference in both the cost and the quality of our health care.http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/nafta-was-about-redistributing-upwardPaine -> anne... , November 30, 2019 at 09:29 AM
November 29, 2019
NAFTA Was About Redistributing Upward
By Dean Baker
The Washington Post gave readers the official story about the North American Free Trade Agreement, diverging seriously from reality, in a piece * on the status of negotiations on the new NAFTA. The piece tells readers:
"NAFTA was meant to expand trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico by removing tariffs and other barriers on products as they were shipped between countries. The pact did open up trade, but it also proved disruptive in terms of creating new manufacturing supply chains and relocating businesses and jobs."
This implies that the disruption in terms of shifting jobs to Mexico to take advantage of low wage labor was an accidental outcome. In fact, this was a main point of the deal, as was widely noted by economists at the time. Proponents of the deal argued that it was necessary for U.S. manufacturers to have access to low cost labor in Mexico to remain competitive internationally. No one who followed the debate at the time should have been in the last surprised by the loss of high paying union manufacturing jobs to Mexico, that is exactly the result that NAFTA was designed for.
NAFTA also did nothing to facilitate trade in highly paid professional services, such as those provided by doctors and dentists. This is because doctors and dentists are far more powerful politically than autoworkers.
It is also wrong to say that NAFTA was about expanding trade by removing barriers. A major feature of NAFTA was the requirement that Mexico strengthen and lengthen its patent and copyright protections. These barriers are 180 degrees at odds with expanding trade and removing barriers.
It is noteworthy that the new deal expands these barriers further. The Trump administration likely intends these provisions to be a model for other trade pacts, just as the rules on patents and copyrights were later put into other trade deals.
The new NAFTA will also make it more difficult for the member countries to regulate Facebook and other Internet giants. This is likely to make it easier for Mark Zuckerberg to spread fake news.
* https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2019/11/29/final-terms-nafta-replacement-could-be-finalized-next-week-top-mexican-negotiator-says/Excellent worker slanted sarcasmPaine -> Paine ... , November 30, 2019 at 09:36 AM
A Dean specialty
We have no public industrial policy
Because we have a private corporate industrial policy that wants full reign
Even toy block models like
ole pro grass liberal brandishes
Warn what heppens to trade good producing wage rates when
Proximate borders open
to potential products
Built with zero rent earning
raw fingered foreign wage slavesThat isPaine -> Paine ... , November 30, 2019 at 09:39 AM
What happens to
Domestic wages rates
and job totals
Not just wages
where wage rates
are sticky down
BUT also production itself
can move south of the border
Small town and rural new England
has recovered from a protracted
farm depression in the 19th century
And two industrial depressions
in the 20th
That more or less wiped out
Now we're post industrial
Plus synthetic opiates
Higher edPaine -> Paine ... , November 30, 2019 at 09:43 AM
and uncle Sam funded
medical high Hijinx
Are our salvation sectors
For regular employable folksEngland with itsPaine -> Paine ... , November 30, 2019 at 09:44 AM
London FIRE monster core
The other post industrial laputa
Like the Manhattan Washington metroplex
Pull the plug on those two
Global value extractors
And the American northeast
and jolly ole England
An both shrivel to second class regions
A just sentence in my mindTrump has moved to FloridaRC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to Paine ... , November 30, 2019 at 12:30 PM
Big Apple watch out !"Excellent worker slanted sarcasm...
...Big Apple watch out !"
[Totally digging that comment chain from top to bottom. Made me smile :<) ]
Nov 30, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Livius Drusus , November 28, 2019 at 7:52 am
Re: The 'crisis of capitalism' is not the one Europeans think it is.
The article is basically correct but I also think that the author downplays how devastating these changes have been. It seems like he is arguing that the changes wrought by capitalism are merely a cultural problem. I think our problems are much worse than just people being uncomfortable with capitalism invading spheres of life previously left outside of the market, as important as that issue is.
I think this period is similar to the early modern period where once prosperous peasant societies were destroyed by policies like the enclosure movement. A recent article in The Guardian discussed this process.
With subsistence economies destroyed, people had no choice but to work for pennies simply in order to survive. According to the Oxford economists Henry Phelps Brown and Sheila Hopkins, real wages declined by up to 70% from the end of the 15th century all the way through the 17th century. Famines became commonplace and nutrition deteriorated. In England, average life expectancy fell from 43 years in the 1500s to the low 30s in the 1700s.
Compare this to some current trends like the fall in life expectancy in the United States.
The author was discussing Europe so perhaps that explains why he seems to see this as a cultural issue, but I believe that the United Kingdom is also seeing a rise in deaths of despair and this trend might spread to the Continent in the future if things get bad enough.
My point is that the crisis of capitalism is worse than Branko Milanović makes it out to be. I worry that focusing on things like changing family structure falls into the hands of left-neoliberals who will say that people just need to be more "progressive" and accept changes to family life, which is hypocritical given that affluent people are actually doubling down on the nuclear family model (divorce rates have been dropping among the well-educated) and the advantages it brings when it comes to life outcomes. It is galling to hear liberals talk about dysfunction among working-class people as if it were progressive while they enjoy dual income "power marriages" and make sure their children are given massive advantages in upbringing.
More generally, the biggest problem is that most people never asked for these changes, they were forced on ordinary people by elites. It is ridiculous that in the 21st century humans have to just accept massive and often devastating changes to their lives without having any voice in the decision to make those changes.
A sense of powerlessness is also driving the widespread populist anger across many countries. At one time there were powerful labor unions and left-wing political parties that spoke for ordinary people but these have either declined or disappeared altogether so people are left looking for allies and populists like Trump and Salvini are happy to benefit from their anger and desperation.
anon in so cal , November 28, 2019 at 11:41 am
""Mathematical models demonstrate that far from wealth trickling down to the poor, the natural inclination of wealth is to flow upward, so that the 'natural' wealth distribution in a free-market economy is one of complete oligarchy".
Nov 30, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
David , November 28, 2019 at 12:29 pm
I think he's confusing the commercialisation of everyday life with capitalism. The second is a result of the first looking for new ways of making money out of us, as traditional options like making things now seem less attractive. So the very fabric of life itself has now become an endless series of financial calculations, where we are all "customers" instead of citizens. Even the state now adopts the practices and the vocabulary of the private sector. But there's no reason why regulated capitalism can't coexist with traditional social patterns: it's a political choice to allow it to get its greasy fingers on some of the most important parts of our existence and turn them into financial opportunities.
The real story here is the decline of the extended family, which only really began after WW2. Previously (and in my experience up until at least the 1960s) different generations would do different things: grandparents would look after children, grandparents in turn would be looked after by younger members of the family, uncles would play football with the boys, aunties would take groups of children to the cinema. There wasn't any other way, really, in which the basic functions of life could be managed. Members of the family would often live within walking or cycling distance of each other. Much of this has now been monetised for profit, but of course only if you have the money to pay for it in the first place. We need to remember that the "nuclear family" is a very recent development and frankly, only works if you can somehow buy in the services the extended family used to provide (and people resent having to do that). And as much as anything else the rise of the nuclear family is the result of the financialisation of housing, and the destruction of public housing stocks, which together with the parallel destruction of traditional forms of community employment have frequently led to families being scattered all over the country, anywhere they can find jobs and accommodation.
I don't think globalisation has much to do with this, except as an alibi for the destruction of communities. And I do think it is relatively new, except in the sense that capitalism has always destroyed everything it touches. For example, clothing was often made within the family because ready to wear clothing didn't really arrive for ordinary people until about a century ago. Even then, unless you were wealthy, clothes would be altered to fit younger children, or modified to suit the latest fashions for adults. Likewise, well after WW2, many families grew vegetables in their back garden; and cars, washing machines and even valve radios could be repaired at home if you were reasonably handy.
PlutoniumKun , November 28, 2019 at 1:21 pm
Its an interesting feature of Asian capitalism in that its been able to 'free ride' on tight family bonds – extended families have allowed it to avoid the need to provide the sort of social safety net that even capitalists acknowledged was necessary in Europe to prevent social unrest (hence Christian Democracy). As Asian countries follow the west in gradually loosening family bonds (especially in China, where they seem far more delicate than in Japan/South Korea), etc, I'm curious to see how they'll deal with it.
Massinissa , November 28, 2019 at 1:25 pm
"(especially in China, where they seem far more delicate than in Japan/South Korea)"
I confess to not knowing as much about China as I should, or at least, not knowing much about family life there. Why do you suggest the bonds there are weaker? Some sort of systemic issue?
Danny , November 28, 2019 at 1:51 pm
"There?" Experience as a child in San Francisco witnessing classmates first of generation Chinese immigrant parents reflects the strength of patience and delayed gratification. Fifty pound three dollars sack of white rice per month, handful of wilted vegetables bought for pennies. Meat as a condiment, if at all, working jobs as waiters, busboys, or the real plum, boring job as warehouseman for government, the entire family living in one basement apartment. Clothing handed down, no car, nothing new bought. Social services and Great Society welfare provided by race or language based non-profits, or government, taken full advantage of for older parents with no reported income.
People from same village in China, possibly related, often not, pool their money, get down payment on apartment house, entire family moves into bigger apartment, basement rented to other newly arrived immigrants.
Meanwhile, affluent fourth generation American kids get high and do their own thing, pursuing a music or art career.
Fast forward fifty years. 70%+ percent of property in city owned by Chinese surnamed people. Children of original family now sitting on tens of millions of dollars of apartments, collecting huge rents out of starry eyed techbros and 'bras from Kansas.
Artists and musicians living in cars, if lucky enough to have one, or in a tent on the street.
OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , November 28, 2019 at 2:52 pm
Your argument is completely racist!
(Oh, and completely true)
Real fundamental reason for the stunning rise of Asia: their values. Hard work, savings, family, education, and current pleasures foregone in favor of future gains.
The U.S. had a really cushy time, protected by two oceans, with highly navigable rivers, lots of arable land in a temperate climate zone, and legal structures in place that fostered industrialization. That enabled us to win WW II and then write the rules afterwards: everybody else had to work hard, earn a profit, then buy dollars before they could then buy a barrel of oil. Whereas we could just print oil. Such a tailwind! Kept us ahead for decades. But alas all good things must end.
The Rev Kev , November 28, 2019 at 6:29 pm
'Hard work, savings, family, education, and current pleasures foregone in favor of future gains.'
Yep, they use to be western values which you could find in the UK, the US, Australia, etc. In a mostly free economy they were winning values and helped people work their way up the social ladder.
In the rigged economy that we have these days, they do not work so well so a lot of people have given up on them. Of course if the economy goes south in a big way, they may once again become good traits to practice.
drumlin woodchuckles , November 28, 2019 at 10:48 pm
What enabled the USSR to win WW2 in Europe?
OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , November 29, 2019 at 1:59 am
400,000 GM-made trucks didn't hurt. A massive and inhospitable, marshy terrain. A willingness to apply human cannon fodder. A military philosophy that said "quantity has a quality all its own". Willingness to scorch earth. Willingness to move more than 100,000 factories past the Urals. Dogged courage of the people.
skippy , November 29, 2019 at 3:07 am
"willingness to apply human cannon fodder"
Actually after the initial German advance was stalled the loss ratios for the Russians was better than the Allied forces.
A lot of the rest above suffers from the same optics issues.
PlutoniumKun , November 28, 2019 at 5:52 pm
In my experience China has become a much more atomised society since it embarked on its great experiment with high growth capitalism – exacerbated by the one child policy. Its a very difficult thing to measure I think, but while there certainly are very tight Chinese families, I think there are a lot of individual Chinese cast adrift in those huge cities without the cultural adaption to individualism which is normal in the west.
Some Guy in Beijing , November 29, 2019 at 2:46 am
This system is breaking quickly in Korea. The burden of caring for elders falls on the oldest son, and there's a lot of chafing at these responsibilities, especially now that women are equally represented in Korean academic and office spaces. Throw in the increasing age of marriage and childbearing and you get people aging faster than their offspring can build up a nest egg.
It's quite common to see elderly people doing bottom-of-the-barrel manual labor to survive in Seoul. In my neighborhood, an old couple living next door worked from sun-up to sun-down collecting cardboard with their moped-pulled cart. Collecting trash for recyling is almost entirely the domain of the over-50 set. Others sell vegetables on sidewalks, and some resort to Korea's various forms of sex work (I say only half-jokingly that prostitution is the bedrock of Korea's economy)
xkeyscored , November 28, 2019 at 3:04 pm
I came across this recently, sorry if it was via NC! I found it very interesting, and it's pertnent to this family stuff.
Western Individualism Arose from Incest Taboo – Researchers link a Catholic Church ban on cousins marrying in the Middle Ages to the emergence of a way of life that made the West an outlier
the church's obsession with incest and its determination to wipe out the marriages between cousins that those societies were built on. The result, the paper says, was the rise of "small, nuclear households, weak family ties, and residential mobility," along with less conformity, more individuality, and, ultimately, a set of values and a psychological outlook that characterize the Western world. The impact of this change was clear: the longer a society's exposure to the church, the greater the effect.
The West itself is not uniform in kinship intensity. Working with cousin-marriage data from 92 provinces in Italy (derived from church records of requests for dispensations to allow the marriages), the researchers write, they found that "Italians from provinces with higher rates of cousin marriage take more loans from family and friends (instead of from banks), use fewer checks (preferring cash), and keep more of their wealth in cash instead of in banks, stocks, or other financial assets." They were also observed to make fewer voluntary, unpaid blood donations.
The Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic (WEIRD) societies of Western Europe and what the authors call "their cultural descendants in North America and Australia" have long been recognized as outliers among the world's populations for their independence of thought and other traits, such as a willingness to trust strangers.
(- I'm definitely not sure about that very last bit!)
Danny , November 28, 2019 at 3:37 pm
Contrast with this:
"When brothers dwell together and one of them dies and leaves no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married to a stranger, outside the family. Her husband's brother shall unite with her: he shall take her as his wife and perform the levir's duty. The first son that she bears shall be accounted to the dead brother.."
Keeping it in the family. Bet that led to a lot of fratricides
a different chris , November 28, 2019 at 4:08 pm
No music, no art sounds great. No wonder the Chinese got to the moon first oh wait, they aren't even there yet.
Curious what you do if the brother is already married! Ok not that curious or I would try the link.
xkeyscored , November 28, 2019 at 4:28 pm
Multiple Husbands | National Geographic (the husbands are brothers)
4 minutes – fascinating. A viable birth rate control.
I've also heard of other groups where women marry brothers in regions where the men go off tending sheep and yaks etc for extended periods.
JBird4049 , November 28, 2019 at 9:33 pm
Polyandry is usually practice in places where it is **very** difficult to make a living; having multiple brothers marry one woman was sometimes the only to get the resources to have children. Otherwise, no children for anyone.
Ook , November 28, 2019 at 9:44 pm
I know of two cases where the husband died and the wife married the brother very quickly: one of these cases was my maternal grandmother, who had children already, and needed the support. This situation only seems unusual in the modern American cultural bubble.
xkeyscored , November 28, 2019 at 1:13 pm
I'd say the real crisis of capitalism, or the world economic system, isn't the rise of inequality or the commodification of life (didn't Marx claim that capitalism tears up all pre-existing social relations?).
It's the climate emergency and environmental collapse, undermining the foundations on which the entire world economy rests. Without a planet to support us, we can't do much except die, and the economy is, in a way, the sum of what we do. Death of us, or at any rate our civilisation, means death of the economy.
jsn , November 28, 2019 at 4:17 pm
My thoughts too, there are several crises converging.
One is what Milanovic is onto, which I would name the commodification of cultural reproduction, which won't end well, on top of the exhaustion of fossil fuels based industrialization cubed by climate change.
It's easy to get preoccupied by one, another or the other, but in the end they are all an integrated reaction to humanity letting it's collective Ego remake the world according to the dictates of its' collective Id. But we do now have the collective knowledge and wisdom to confront this reality through a communicative infrastructure finally broad enough to address the scope of the challenge, if we can act quickly enough.
Norge , November 28, 2019 at 1:21 pm
ewmayer , November 28, 2019 at 3:41 pm
Ugh, another amp-infested link, this one sneaky, rather than a readily-visible trailing /amp, we have 'amp' sneaked in in place of the usual 'www' at start of the URL. Thanks, evil f*ckers at Google! Here is the original uncorrupted link the Guardian article:
Winston Smith , November 28, 2019 at 7:52 am
I like the way AOC cuts through the BS
Geo , November 28, 2019 at 8:01 am
Same. She's really proving to be a welcome beacon of light illuminating the darkness that our politics has operated in for so long.
JohnnyGL , November 28, 2019 at 10:51 am
That clip of AOC is amazing. She's got a serious talent in public speaking and not just sounding good. She shows an ability to communicate important ideas and concepts that can change minds.
It's been very visible at her events for bernie, too.
Danny , November 28, 2019 at 1:53 pm
Cab drivers and bar tenders, like she was, have that skill.
inode_buddha , November 28, 2019 at 11:09 am
On the flip side of that coin, I'm pretty sure the BS doesn't like being cut thru. Will have to watch this space closely.
anon in so cal , November 28, 2019 at 11:54 am
Skeptical of AOC.
AOC voted to support Adam Schiff's H.R. 3494, which effectively constrains press freedoms and gives additional impunity to the CIA.
AOC voted against US troop withdrawal from Syria.
John k , November 28, 2019 at 3:37 pm
Maybe young and inexperienced in some cases.
Maybe pushed to go along in some cases in order to get a few crumbs from pelosi AOC base in congress remains small.
A little like complaints of Bernie maybe he's picking his fights, and maybe he's not perfect. But they're both way better than a lesser evil, and who else?
xkeyscored , November 28, 2019 at 12:08 pm
She demonstrates her ignorance and political extremism yet again.
From the abstract of " The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital ," Costanza et al., 1996 – a paper which I've heard sort of started the field of ecological economics:
For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16–54 trillion per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year.
Thus we humans, being a part of the biosphere, are collectively worth less than US$16–54 trillion per year. And Costanza's a professor and vice chancellor, with a PhD. AOC's got a measly BA, so what does she know about the value of life?
JEHR , November 28, 2019 at 1:31 pm
xkeys: You forget the /s sign? What has a "measly BA" got to do with not "know(ing) about the value of life?" Having a PhD does not necessarily mean a person knows more than a non-PhD.
I would rather hear about AOC's "ignorance and political extremism" than your take on this or any subject.
xkeyscored , November 28, 2019 at 2:12 pm
I had been wondering what this /s thing was, but I probably wouldn't have used it if I'd known. It seemed unnecessary.
Sorry if you took me seriously. I think she not only understands, but promotes the value of life. Unlike so many critters. It's great she's in there doing what she does. We need more like her – lots more, fast.
(I would like to hear from NC commenters if I've misunderstood Costanza. Does the paper really claim that humanity is worth less than $X trillion/year, as the abstract appears to imply? I've skimmed it for any unusual definitions of biosphere, but noticed none.)
Massinissa , November 28, 2019 at 2:38 pm
Don't feel bad, it is INCREDIBLY difficult to tell when people are being sarcastic on the internet because there are no verbal or gesticular cues to it the way there is in person to person contact. Thats why we use the /sarc tag to indicate sarcasm, because otherwise people may take the comment at face value. Its not required, of course, but not using it runs the risk of people taking the comment at face value, which is very easy to do because text doesn't convey context the way speech does.
xkeyscored , November 28, 2019 at 3:18 pm
Yes, I'm going to use it in future!
I thought "a measly BA" would give the game away, but as you say, it's hard to tell on the net. It so happens I'm no respecter at all of academic qualifications in and of themselves. I've known too many idiots with degrees spouting patent nonsense for that. Eg most economists (NC's economists definitely excepted!)? And vice-versa.
xkeyscored , November 28, 2019 at 3:32 pm
And I'd still love to know if Costanza really thinks it makes sense to talk about an economy without people, or if I've got it all back to front.
Massinissa , November 28, 2019 at 5:06 pm
Technically, neither Yves or Lambert are economists.
I wouldnt normally point that out, but Yves made a point of it one time.
Although, not being economists may help explain why they have such good sense!
xkeyscored , November 28, 2019 at 7:58 pm
It doesn't have to be Yves, Lambert or an economist. Just someone whose read enough of this stuff to have a handle on it. I just think it sounds utterly preposterous.
It makes some sort of sense to say that destroying 1% of the biosphere will result in $X/year loss. Could be a way of evaluating our options, for example.
That does not mean destroying 10% will result in $10 times X/year economic loss; probably more like $100 times X, whichever way you measure it.
Long before 90%, the only living things left would probably be the deep subterranean bacteria and archaea, which are relatively insulated from whatever we do to the air, land and oceans. I doubt if they'd have much room in their economy for dollars or GDP.
At 100% biosphere destruction, the earth is a lifeless planet by definition. Surely the real cost is infinite? And what conceivable meaning would a financial cost, price or value have by that stage?
pasha , November 28, 2019 at 1:45 pm
AOC is a breath of fresh air, and her ability to articulate complexity in simple terms always impresses me. she is as much an educator as a politician
Joe Well , November 28, 2019 at 7:55 am
Re: Aaron Maté on Democracy Now not talking about the faked chemical weapons scandal.
What has been happening with DN lately? It's like they're becoming a left MSNBC.
lupemax , November 28, 2019 at 8:55 am
Aaron is no longer with DemocracyNow. He now has a show "PushBack" on The Gray Zone. https://thegrayzone.com/pushback/ He also disagreed with DN about their coverage of the RussiaRussiaRussia hoax. IMHO I think DN just wants to be more about nostalgic and being more mainstream. I no longer rely on it for my news daily.
Joe Well , November 28, 2019 at 9:59 am
By "Aaron on DN" I meant, Aaron on the subject of DN.
I know this has the potential to be ageist, but I can't help wondering if this is yet another case of individuals and entire organizations "evolving" over time in a more conservative direction based on whatever pressures. The fact that The Intercept has totally eclipsed them, and in fact the entire left media, when it comes to major stories, should be a wakeup.
TsWkr , November 28, 2019 at 11:21 am
To add to that, I'd also recommend Taibbi and Katie Halper's new podcost "Useful Idiots". They've had some good guests so far, and lead the show off with some light-hearted commentary, but from a perspective outside of the acceptable range in most media.
BlueMoose , November 28, 2019 at 11:29 am
Thanks for the heads-up. Will give it a check for sure this weekend.
June Goodwin , November 28, 2019 at 12:03 pm
Yes. And krystal ball and Saager enjeti on the morning TV program rising / thehill.
OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , November 28, 2019 at 2:57 pm
I think Krystal and Saagar are doing the best political commentary anywhere. Her post yesterday about the long knives coming for Bernie from the Obama and Hilary camps is just stellar stuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfRT7rs2Ea4
Joe Well , November 28, 2019 at 1:52 pm
Anyone think we almost don't need "outlets" anymore? Just individuals you trust and follow them wherever they go.
The Rev Kev , November 28, 2019 at 6:41 pm
I think that you may have a point. If I just followed the main news outlets, I would have a totally distorted view of what was going on in the world and being led to support causes that by rights I should be totally against. I too listen to NC, Jimmy Dore, Krystal & Saager, Katie Halper, Aaron Maté, Caitlin Johnstone and a bunch of others – all of them prophets without honour.
Apr 10, 2018 | www.theguardian.com
Originally from: Seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse - Van Badham - Opinion - The Guardian
slorter, 27 Apr 2018 01:37bryonyed -> slorter , 27 Apr 2018 01:41
Both neoliberal-driven governments and authoritarian societies share one important factor: They care more about consolidating power in the hands of the political, corporate and financial elite than they do about investing in the future of young people and expanding the benefits of the social contract and common good.
Michael Yates (economist) points out throughout his book 'The Great Inequality', capitalism is devoid of any sense of social responsibility and is driven by an unchecked desire to accumulate capital at all costs. As power becomes global and politics remains local, ruling elites no longer make political concessions to workers or any other group that they either exploit or consider disposable.
At bottom, neoliberals believe in a social hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots". They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a "respectable" sounding ideology which all boils down to the cheap labor they depend on to make their fortunes.
The ugly truth is that cheap-labour conservatives just don't like working people. They don't like "bottom up" prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. "Corporate lords" have a harder time kicking them around.
Once you understand this about the cheap-labor conservatives, the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Remember, cheap-labour conservatives believe in social hierarchy and privilege, so the only prosperity they want is limited to them. They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits those who work for an hourly wage.
You also need to remember that voting the coalition out, which you need to do, will not necessarily give you a neoliberal free zone; Labor needs to shed some the dogma as well.
Yep! The neolib scum hate poor people and have complexes of deservedness.
Jun 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.
However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.
BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .
We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.
In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.
A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.
In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.
Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.
According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).
Alas, the news only gets grimmer.
Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.
More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)
World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.
We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).
The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.
There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.
Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.
The Economics of Stress
This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.
Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.
Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.
The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.
And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .
The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.
Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.
The Race Enigma
One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.
The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.
According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.
In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.
Trump's Faux Populism
The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.
White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.
The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.
As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.
This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.
And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .
Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .
Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's tweet proclaiming that "the Republican Party Will Become 'The Party of Healthcare!'"
Let me amend that: actually, they have done something. It's just not what you'd call helpful. The percentage of uninsured adults, which fell from 18% in 2013 to 10.9% at the end of 2016, thanks in no small measure to Obamacare , had risen to 13.7% by the end of last year.
The bottom line? On a problem that literally has life-and-death significance for a pivotal portion of his base, Trump has been AWOL. In fact, to the extent that economic strain contributes to the alarming suicide rate among white workers, his policies are only likely to exacerbate what is already a national crisis of epidemic proportions.
Seamus Padraig , June 19, 2019 at 6:46 am
Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception.
DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am
Trump is running on the claim that he's turned the economy around; addressing suicide undermines this (false) claim. To state the obvious, NC readers know that Trump is incapable of caring about anyone or anything beyond his in-the-moment interpretation of his self-interest.
JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am
Not just Trump. Most of the Republican Party and much too many Democrats have also abandoned this base, otherwise known as working class Americans.
The economic facts are near staggering and this article has done a nice job of summarizing these numbers that are spread out across a lot of different sites.
I've experienced this rise within my own family and probably because of that fact I'm well aware that Trump is only a symptom of an entire political system that has all but abandoned it's core constituency, the American Working Class.
sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am
Yep It's not just Trump. The author mentions this, but still focuses on him for some reason. Maybe accurately attributing the problems to a failed system makes people feel more hopeless. Current nihilists in Congress make it their duty to destroy once helpful institutions in the name of "fiscal responsibility," i.e., tax cuts for corporate elites.
dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm
Maybe because Trump is president and bears the greatest responsibility in this particular time. A great piece and appreciate all the documentation.
Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am
I'd assumed, the "working class" had dissappeared, back during Reagan's Miracle? We'd still see each other, sitting dazed on porches & stoops of rented old places they'd previously; trying to garden, fix their car while smoking, drinking or dazed on something? Those able to morph into "middle class" lives, might've earned substantially less, especially benefits and retirement package wise. But, a couple decades later, it was their turn, as machines and foreigners improved productivity. You could lease a truck to haul imported stuff your kids could sell to each other, or help robots in some warehouse, but those 80s burger flipping, rent-a-cop & repo-man gigs dried up. Your middle class pals unemployable, everybody in PayDay Loan debt (without any pay day in sight?) SHTF Bug-out bagsŽ & EZ Credit Bushmasters began showing up at yard sales, even up North. Opioids became the religion of the proletariat Whites simply had much farther to fall, more equity for our betters to steal. And it was damned near impossible to get the cops to shoot you?
Man, this just ain't turning out as I'd hoped. Need coffee!
Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am
We especially love the euphemism "Deaths O' Despair." since it works so well on a Chyron, especially supered over obese crackers waddling in crusty MossyOak SnuggiesŽ
DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am
This is a very good article, but I have a comment about the section titled, "The Race Enigma." I think the key to understanding why African Americans have a lower suicide rate lies in understanding the sociological notion of community, and the related concept Emil Durkheim called social solidarity. This sense of solidarity and community among African Americans stands in contrast to the "There is no such thing as society" neoliberal zeitgeist that in fact produces feelings of extreme isolation, failure, and self-recriminations. An aside: as a white boy growing up in 1950s-60s Detroit I learned that if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people.
Amfortas the hippie , June 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm
" if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people."
amen, to that. in my case rural black people.
and I'll add Hispanics to that.
My wife's extended Familia is so very different from mine.
Solidarity/Belonging is cool.
I recommend it.
on the article we keep the scanner on("local news").we had a 3-4 year rash of suicides and attempted suicides(determined by chisme, or deduction) out here.
all of them were despair related more than half correlated with meth addiction itself a despair related thing.
ours were equally male/female, and across both our color spectrum.
that leaves economics/opportunity/just being able to get by as the likely cause.
David B Harrison , June 19, 2019 at 10:05 am
What's left out here is the vast majority of these suicides are men.
Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm
Actually, in the article it states:
"There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last."
jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm
which in some sense makes despair the wrong word, as females are actually quite a bit more likely to be depressed for instance, but much less likely to "do the deed". Despair if we mean a certain social context maybe, but not just a psychological state.
Ex-Pralite Monk , June 19, 2019 at 10:10 am
You lay off the racial slur "cracker" and I'll lay off the racial slur "nigger". Deal?
rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am
Suicide deaths are a function of the suicide attempt rate and the efficacy of the method used. A unique aspect of the US is the prevalence of guns in the society and therefore the greatly increased usage of them in suicide attempts compared to other countries. Guns are a very efficient way of committing suicide with a very high "success" rate. As of 2010, half of US suicides were using a gun as opposed to other countries with much lower percentages. So if the US comes even close to other countries in suicide rates then the US will surpass them in deaths. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_methods#Firearms
Now we can add in opiates, especially fentanyl, that can be quite effective as well.
The economic crisis hitting middle America over the past 30 years has been quite focused on the states and populations that also tend to have high gun ownership rates. So suicide attempts in those populations have a high probability of "success".
Joe Well , June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am
I would just take this opportunity to add that the police end up getting called in to prevent on lot of suicide attempts, and just about every successful one.
In the face of so much blanket demonization of the police, along with justified criticism, it's important to remember that.
B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:44 am
As someone who works in the mental health treatment system, acute inpatient psychiatry to be specific, I can say that of the 25 inpatients currently here, 11 have been here before, multiple times. And this is because of several issues, in my experience: inadequate inpatient resources, staff burnout, inadequate support once they leave the hospital, and the nature of their illnesses. It's a grim picture here and it's been this way for YEARS. Until MAJOR money is spent on this issue it's not going to get better. This includes opening more facilities for people to live in long term, instead of closing them, which has been the trend I've seen.
B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am
One last thing the CEO wants "asses in beds", aka census, which is the money maker. There's less profit if people get better and don't return. And I guess I wouldn't have a job either. Hmmmm: sickness generates wealth.
Apr 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Mad World Remix of Moby Video (Are You Lost In The World Like Me) - YouTube
Cabreado , 3 hours ago linkGiant Meteor , 3 hours ago link
Part of the "surprise" and confusion is that our newfound communication has simply illuminated our collective ignorance and entitlement.
How far down that rabbit hole we are was seriously underestimated...
and now it's on full display.davidalan1 , 3 hours ago link
There is a lesson here I believe ..
And that lesson is, do not ever show this to the chronically depressed ..
But seriously, the ending got me to thinking. Texting and driving for one .., a suicide mission if ever there were .
And it ain't just a suicide mission, it is takin out innocents, whose only crime, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nuthin, is that important ..
But it IS akin to an addiction, and all addictions have the same basic root.
The person staring back, at the reflection in the mirror ..frankthecrank , 3 hours ago link
Well lets see. Ive been in Finance of all kinds and sales. Each day i scratch my head how we can possibly still function as a society
and im referring to just my tiny micro life. Lets see, People who dont respond to texts or emails, liars, angry, People who call me from out of nowhere like they are my best friend and go on for an hour about nothing. Business owners who are inept. Con men galore, People who are totally inept running businesses. Time wasters, losers, I could tell stories you wouldnt believe. I just dont get it.
Nothing seems normal, no one seem logical.
"...are you lost in the world like me?"
Nope. I am an educated man. I see and understand what is happening. The electorate has been dumbed down to make totalitarian government possible.
Dec 08, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Livius Drusus , December 8, 2018 at 7:20 am
I think the Internet and the infotech revolution in general have been largely negative in their impact on the world. Ian Welsh has a blog post that largely sums up my views on the issue.
Contrary to what many people say I think large organizations like governments and corporations have significantly more power now than before and ordinary people have less power. The Internet has made it easier to get information but you have to sift through tons of junk to get to anything decent. For every website like Naked Capitalism there are thousands pushing nonsense or trying to sell you stuff.
And even if you are more knowledgeable, so what? If you cannot put that knowledge to use what good is it? At best it makes you more well-rounded, interesting and harder to fool but in political terms knowing a lot of stuff doesn't make you more effective. In the past people didn't have access to nearly as much information but they were more willing and able to organize and fight against the powerful because it was easier to avoid detection/punishment (that is where stuff like widespread surveillance tech comes in) and because they still had a vibrant civic life and culture.
I actually think people are more atomized now than in the past and the Internet and other technologies have probably fueled this process. Despite rising populism, the Arab Spring, Occupy, the Yellow Jackets in France, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the DSA this is all a drop in the bucket compared to just the massive social movements of the 1960s much less earlier periods. Robert Putnam argued that television, the Internet and other technologies likely helped to produce the collapse of civic life in the United States by "individualizing" people's leisure time and personally I think Putnam is right. Civic life today is very weak and I think the Internet is partially to blame.
Mark , December 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm
And even if you are more knowledgeable, so what? If you cannot put that knowledge to use what good is it?
Agreed. If anything these more knowledgeable people had a greater audience prior to the internet. Whether you were a journalist, a great economist, a great author, or a great orator you need to persist and show intellect and talent to have your message heard wide and broad.
(This is probably a little idealistic, but I think there is truth there.)
Now you need very little of this. If your most famous asset is your attractive body you can attract a greater audience than great scholars and politicians.
Rosario , December 8, 2018 at 2:56 pm
I can't speak much on authoritarianism since whatever form it takes on today is wildly different from what it was in the past. Unfortunately, it is hard to convince many people living in western societies that they are living in an authoritarian system because their metal images are goose-stepping soldiers and Fraktur print posters.
I suppose the way I can assure myself that we are living in an authoritarian society is by analyzing the endless propaganda spewed from countless, high-viewership media and entertainment outlets. It is quite simple, if the media and entertainment narratives are within a very narrow intellectual window (with lots of 600 lb. gorillas sitting in corners) than the culture and politics are being defined by powerful people with a narrow range of interests. This is not to say that forming public opinion or preferring particular political views is a new thing in Western media and entertainment, just that its application, IMO, is far more effective and subtle (and becoming more-so by the day) than it ever was in, say, NAZI Germany or the Soviet Union.
I'd put my money down that most educated Germans during NAZI rule were well aware that propaganda was being utilized to "manufacture consent" but they participated and accepted this despite the content for pragmatic/selfish reasons. Much of the NAZI propaganda played on existing German/European cultural narratives and prejudices. Leaveraging existing ideology allowed the party to necessitate their existence by framing the German as juxtaposed against the impure and unworthy. Again, ideologies that existed independent of the party not within it. Goebbels and company were just good at utilizing the technology of the time to amplify these monstrosities.
I question that being the case today. It is far more complicated. Technology is again the primary tool for manipulation, but it is possible that current technology is allowing for even greater leaps in reason and analysis. The windows for reflection and critical thought close as soon as they are opened. Seems more like the ideology is manufactured on the fly. For example, the anti-Russia narrative has some resonance with baby boomers, but how the hell is it effective with my generation (millennial) and younger? The offhand references to Putin and Russian operatives from my peers are completely from left field when considering our life experience. People in my age group had little to say about Russia three years ago. It says volumes on the subtle effectiveness of Western media machines if you can re-create the cold war within two years for an entire generation.
In addition and related to above, the West's understanding of "Freedom of Speech" is dated by about 100 years. Governments are no longer the sole source of speech suppression (more like filtering and manipulation), and the supremacy of the free-market coupled with the erroneously perceived black-and-white division between public and private have convinced the public (with nearly religious conviction) that gigantic media and entertainment organizations do not have to protect the free speech of citizens because they are not government. Public/Private is now an enormous blob. With overlapping interests mixed in with any antagonisms. It is ultimately dictated by capital and its power within both government and business. Cracking this nut will be a nightmare.
Yes, this is an authoritarian world, if measured by the distance between the populace and its governing powers, but it is an authoritarianism operating in ways that we have never seen before and using tools that are terribly effective.
Mar 24, 2018 | www.theatlantic.com
...he decline of marriage is upon us. Or, at least, that's what the zeitgeist would have us believe.
In 2010, when Time magazine and the Pew Research Center famously asked Americans whether they thought marriage was becoming obsolete, 39 percent said yes.
That was up from 28 percent when Time asked the question in 1978.
Also, since 2010, the Census Bureau has reported that married couples have made up less than half of all households; in 1950 they made up 78 percent.
Data such as these have led to much collective handwringing about the fate of the embattled institution.
Feb 18, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Zhaupka Sun, 02/18/2018 - 14:08 Permalink
PSYOPS are interesting.
PSYOPS control U.S. Citizens who have nothing to lose; yet, U.S. Citizens deeply believe they have everything to lose when the only "objects" they truly own in this world is debt.
Look Around - Which Class were you birthed?
Which Class shall you and your family of relatives die?
Labor - Lower Class - Working Class - Get Paycheck / Job Class
Lower Lower Class - Retail / wholesale workers / laborers
Lower Middle Class - engineers, computer workers, doctors
Lower Upper Class - C-Level Managerial workers, sports celebrities, High-Net-Worth workers, etc.
Trading - Middle Class - Business Class - Get a Deal Class
Lower Middle Class - Owns business in an industry
Middle Middle Class - Operates 1 or more business in an industry
Upper Middle Class - Operates 1 or more businesses in 1 or more industries
Leisure - Upper Class - Investor Class - Let's Go Have Fun! Class
Lower Upper Class - New Billionaires.
Middle Upper Class - Multi-Billionaires invested in or own vast businesses in 1 or more vast industries
Upper Upper Class - Kings / Queens, Owners of Vast Tracts of Land on The Planet, Wealthy Post-Empire Families,
Goals of Working Class: Job, House and Car - loans, credit, debt for basics: food, shelter, clothing, transportation.
Goals of Trading Class expansion of business.
Goals of Leisure Class Enjoy Human Life. "Let's take the personal jets out for a spin today. Meet you at [Insert place on planet]."
Middle Classes (Business) and Upper Classes (Leisure) give "Vacations" and Time Off to Lower Labor Classes.
Working Classes do not have the money to associate, travel, and dine with the Trading Class (Middle).
Trading Classes do not have the money to Empire Trot with the Leisure Classes.
Income has co-relation neither to wealth, power, nor prestige. The vast majority of wealthy have little or zero income.
Common in debt U.S. Citizens stand back gawking at the great great-great-great-great-grand children of the Middle Class and Upper Class Families who have re-bequeathed and re-inherited family wealth through the centuries enjoying a life of leisure that for each generation the Common U.S. Citizens have never moved up in family wealth. General PSYOPS.
2005, prior to O elections all U.S. governments were directed by federal law to disclose their health insurance payments, fees, etc. to the U.S. Federal Government. U.S. governments Employees were also given a copy stating exactly how much the State, County, Town, City is paying for the employee. O is elected. Look at the amount spent. Nationalized Health Insurance. Simple PSYOPS.
Key: Any criticism moving this Political Operative Donna Brazille around is considered racist.
PBS and NBC, ABC, SeeBS (CBS), etc. studios featured Donna Brazille doing the political-talk show circuit.
Donna Brazille, Editor of Atlanta newspaper was shown, based on after show retakes, cameo's, script tweeking, etc., to be clear minded, fair, and articulate.
Donna Brazille had a Social Debt and Final Payment Due.
The Clintons collected Final Payment during the Presidential Elections from Donna Brazille who made payment by smuggling U.S. Presidential Debate Questions to The Clintons.
PSYOPS is interesting and work especially well with a small group of wealthy who can hire and pay for PSYOPS either in the immediate term or longer term as with Donna Brazille.
Marketing is PSYOPS all day.
United States President Trump is Not:
An ex-government employee
Not Poor <- Very Important as Big Cash is involved.
United States President Trump has a marked distain for both Factions of the State Political Party republicans and democrats and wonder if any other U.S. Citizens have the same feelings and thoughts.
Trump came forward as an American United States Citizen.
Democrats gave all the Benefits the Labor Unions fought for during the 1930's and 1940's to Illegal Aliens.
Republicans gave all the industry and jobs to foreign countries and imported pre-trained foreigners into American Jobs.
When Trump threatened to watch every polling station in the United States, if he had to, to make sure no voter fraud, at least during the one and only election he participated, State Political Party faction's democrats and republicans laughed.
The State Political Party Factions colluded to Stop Trump while running the usual rigged fake fraudulent election.
The usual United States Media Channels using the United States National Emergency Broadcast System entrusted to individual caretaker / quasi-owners to manage and maintain premises, power level, and towers, began the usual selling broadcast time to the highest bidder. The usual war over the airwaves time and again. The Hearts and Minds Meme is the warring struggle between republicans and democrats to control United States Media Channels broadcasts before, during, and after a United States Election. The usual.
24/7 PSYOPS using the owners of ABC, BBC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Reuters, U.K. Guardian, Associated Press, etc. broadcast State Party PSYOPS obfuscating Trump is winning, announced No Path to 270, and broadcast Common Citizens Protesting.
The Clintons had the White Females and the new meme: People of Color.
United States Media Channels using the United States National Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) showed White males violently protesting TRUMP one day and Black Males shown violently protesting TRUMP another day to PSYOPS Cobble Black and White Males as kin, long shot, similar voters. Don't say it, show it, persuasively.
Republicans all signed Pledges declaring in Media Channels they shall not vote for Trump and encouraged everyone to do the same. Democrats against Trump is a given. PSYOPS. Political PSYOPS.
After the election, United States President Trump asked to examine the voting rolls. The State Political Party (r&d) denied the request threatening using courts to tie up the matter and cause great usd expense through the Corrupt U.S. Judicial. SOPHISTICATED PSYOPS.
The Entire United States is Corrupt.
1. The Lawyer Amended Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence - the originals of which are all now in the dustbin of history - have successfully created these Criminal Enterprises according to the Founders:
the Corrupt House of Representatives,
the Corrupt U.S. Senate,
the Corrupt U.S. Judicial,
the Corrupt U.S. Military and its Corrupt 17 Intelligence Agencies,
the Corrupt U.S. Media (except for the 5 Independent newspapers that did support U.S. President Trump),
the Corrupt For Sale Ivy League "there is a tailored study FOR SALE PROVING [insert desire outcome here]. . . " Universities,
the Corrupt States, the Corrupt Counties, and the Corrupt Cities,
the Corrupt Republican Political Party, and
the Corrupt Democrat Political Party.
U.S. Political Government "Investigations" show the Perp Walk: Perjury after Perjured Testimony in U.S. Supreme Courts, U.S. House of Representatives, Senate Testimony. Fraud all. Only the most frightened horrified have cognitive dissonance belief remaining in U.S. Federal Government(s).
Overthrowing Governments is not done by those who work, commoners posting on internet websites, walking the streets with Pitchforks, Fire and Ropes, Protesting, carrying Placards, placing Posters, and Marching with Banners; those people in Life Long Debt Servitude (hovel&cart/house&car) usually come to gawk at the result.
Overthrowing Governments is done by extremely wealthy for differing reasons as in the Overthrowing the Government of Britain/ England / U.K. in the New World - the Free World - during the late 1700's Early 1800's with Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson knew Representative Government eventually becomes corrupt; a New Lawyered Governed Tyranny is formed.
Lawyered Representative Government Corrupts; Absolute Lawyered Representative Governments Corrupts Absolutely.
When Citizens are indebted to, fearful of, dependent on, lied to, [INSERT YOURS HERE], with government guns pointed at U.S. Citizens and Surveillance by their "elected" Representatives for each AOR using U.S. Militarized Collusive State, County, and City First Responders Type Government Patrolling Enforcement, a New Type of Governed Tyranny is formed (see 1 afore)
All U.S. Citizens are given a Legal Right and a Legal Duty.
When Lawyered Representative Governments do not do the will of the people (hint: U.S.).
". . . it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government."
- Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 2nd paragraph
The world is very different than ZH Heavy and MSM disclose.
Recent and periodic school shootings are the work of the two U.S. Political Factions democrats and republicans PSYOPS in the U.S. Political Party System.
Disclosing the real story could be considered Top Secret National Intelligence information especially with the fake social media account: Zhaupka.
- Viva De Zhaup!
Jan 28, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Philip January 27, 2018 at 11:42 pm"I feel like I was given a preview of what normal was supposed to be while growing up and it has steadily been taken away."JES , says: January 27, 2018 at 11:58 pm
I have never read a truer description of the feeling of the group of us in our late 20s. Wow.I have a brother in law who is 26, a part time musician, living at home with my mother in law. Spending time with him, I get the same sense of deep, despairing loneliness and a quiet, sad frustration. A life in paralysis, as the social rules and systems he observed growing up have dissolved before his eyes, in what feels like just a couple of years. These brave mens' posts have made me realize I need to pray hard and often for him.Axxr , says: January 28, 2018 at 12:15 amThe underbelly of this problem is the general refusal to be "tied down" by relationships or mutual obligation.Philly guy , says: January 28, 2018 at 12:23 am
Social ties are "naive" or "creepy" these days -- nobody wants to have them. Everyone is independent, everyone is "free." Even when you do have friends, you aren't able to rely on them; participation is optional and you have no right to expect a thing.
This is the endgame of liberalism that Deneen lays out. The last frontier in "freedom" is the dissolution of social bonds. Because "bonds" are, of course, the antithesis of freedom. The others have been swept away; the most personal of them remain but are being fought against on all sides.
There are no true relationships to be had. Even within the confines of marriage, partners now eye their counterpart with suspicion -- as someone who is a perpetual threat to their "freedom." Hence divorce -- the smallest issues (nevermind the larger ones that life can bring) are enough to confirm suspicions that this other person is attempting to confine and limit freedom. They "expect" too much.
It is taken for granted amongst the youth that monogamy is a myth and "unnatural," something we "didn't evolve for," that having a substantive relationship with one's parents past the age of majority is "sick" and "maladjusted," and so on.
Ironically -- and sadly -- the same young people who are so quick to defend their own "freedom and autonomy" are also hunched over drinks every weekend bemoaning the fact that they are lonely and without people to depend on.
Until the liberal ideology of the protean, autonomous self goes by the wayside, this problem will continue. It is a cultural value these days to be unencumbered by strong social ties. There is no awareness (and in fact quite the opposite, due to much ideological work) that human nature prefers them."I would never become a member of any group that would accept me as a member". – Groucho Marx. If you don't have as much community as you like, look in the mirror. A community will accept you on THEIR terms, not yours.Steven A. , says: January 28, 2018 at 12:57 amWriter #1,RealAlan , says: January 28, 2018 at 1:43 am
I've heard a lot of similar sentiments from many folks, some from surprising backgrounds. You are, perhaps ironically, not alone in feeling this way. I'm a little older than you and our demographic seems to be ground-zero for this psychic malaise.
I think your pain is real. You feel you did everything right, yet your future seems far from bright. You yearn for meaningful connections, for friends and family who will have your back. A wife who both stands on her own two feet and stands by her man when you need her. You want people you can count on. And, maybe more importantly, you want to be counted on by others. I think that these are natural desires. People want purpose. You have a need to be needed. And this is perfectly natural and understandable.
I have good news for you. You are needed. Writer #2 touches on this when he talks about the struggle our generation is facing regarding aimlessness and lack of purpose. As much of a pain as it may be, my opinion is that we all have to saddle up to fix this. And I think national politics is one avenue to approach these issues, but not the only one and, honestly, probably not the best one.
I think the solution starts with grassroots action at a local level, tending and caring for our respective communities, cultivating the very bonds we all understandably seek. The soup kitchens, the homeless shelters, local clean-up and sanitation programs, local government and chambers of commerce, small businesses, churches or other houses of worship, and local non-profits. They need consistent engagement, support and funding from young women and men. You probably don't even realize just what an outsize impact you could make at the cost of some earnest effort and a few hours a week (if not more). Rod might call this 'crunchy-con,' and the great news is that there are many progressives who would also want to engage their communities this way. Perhaps our common ground is in the commons.
And liberals aren't bad people. Really, they're not. I know many who are very close friends and family and feel greatly blessed to have them in my life. We have some quite different views on policy, but we also have much in common. We're parents. We try to raise our kids with a sense of morals (yes, there's quite a bit in common between cons and libs when it comes to basic concepts of right and wrong among children). We drink together. We joke together. Some go to my church. We like beer, ice cream, pizza, Humphrey Bogart movies, Star Wars, and Stranger Things.
So, please don't let the crazies of the 'Ctrl-Left' push you to the 'Alt-Right.' My friend, the alt-right is poison. I know that they make the extremists on the Left angry, and that seems like a small victory. But it isn't. You're better than this. Their ideas don't deserve your attention, much less your respect. The alt-right will merely sell you a map to the edge of an abyss, where an extreme Leftist will be waiting to kick you over that edge.
You probably played games as a kid where you were Indiana Jones or maybe the soldiers on D-Day fighting against the Nazis. Once you're in the abyss though, you may very well become the enemy your 8-year-old self always swore to fight against.
I share Writer #2's cautious optimism that we can fix this. But it's going to take all of us. A lot of folks out there need you. This country needs you. And I'm honestly more than happy to lend an ear if you need someone to talk to.I feel like I was given a preview of what normal was supposed to be while growing up and it has steadily been taken away.rjohnson , says: January 28, 2018 at 2:08 am
Yes. Except I feel that it has been stolen away and I'd like to be able to identify and deal with the thieves but aren't quite sure who they are and have no way to get at them."The difference, he said (again, citing studies) is that back then we had much stronger social networks. Real social networks, not social media."kijunshi , says: January 28, 2018 at 5:31 am
Rod, do you think it is possible to ever regain the benefits of these real social networks without their negative aspects (racial and gender discrimination being the most notable)?
[NFR: I don't see why not, at least in theory. But you know what definitely won't work? This left-wing-on-campus way of demanding that groups must rigidly conform to a particular left-wing model of community, or be expelled. So, if there must be ideological rigidity in the formation of social networks, then no, I don't think it can work. For example, I think men and women might well find a lot of social capital in single-sex organizations, for various reasons. I don't see why those should be off the table in every circumstance, because of discrimination. IOW, I think some forms of discrimination are normal and harmless. A feminist art collective that restricted membership only to females, for example. -- RD]I do agree with these two in many ways, but I have a message for your first commentator.No comment , says: January 28, 2018 at 6:14 am
If you want community in these times – perhaps in any time, but especially and specifically in these times – you have to build it yourself. Among all the weaknesses of how men in this culture are raised, I think this is one of the greatest. Again and again I see men in my life sort of "floating" through dumbly, eternally baffled that social relations of all types (romantic, sure, but especially *friendship*) aren't just falling into place. My husband, my brother, my father and father-in-law have all been guilty of this at some point – of them all, only my father has 'pulled himself up by the bootstraps' and created a friendship community without the specific help of a woman. The learned helplessness is really astounding.
Currently, I keep communication going between my family members – and I mean *all* of them – and most of our friend group. I can see that I am going to be the one going forward that keeps community ties intact for the Millenial generation, and maintain that vibrant community for my son to grow up in. I suppose a lot of men think this just happens because of my genitals or something. It does not. There is a checklist anyone can follow, no matter what's between the legs (or ears).
1) The lack of community and friendship will destroy you – physically, mentally, emotionally. Acknowledge this for the threat to you that it is. Accept the reality of your biology. (Being an "introvert" is NOT an excuse. Your introversion will not save you.)
2) Know that every social tie you do not personally maintain will be lost to you. Acknowledge your responsibility for your part of the equation.
3) Be ruthless with your time and effort – you cannot be everything to everybody. Decide your priorities, *and dedicate your time there*. I strongly suggest choosing people who you actively enjoy spending time with, who fulfill rather than drain you, and who add to your life. Don't overdedicate time for "duty" relationships. However, having said that
4) Social relations aren't all or nothing. I have "tiers" of relations, which I divide up by how much time I have to spend on them. For example:
a) Immediate family – I live with them, or nearly so.
b) Close friends – I personally make time to meet them at least once or twice a month, usually sharing a meal.
b-2) Coworkers – a different type of social relation, but I spend 8 hours a day with them, so this must also be cultivated carefully.
c) Temporarily distant friends – these people have the ability to be a close friend at any time, but due to circumstances are unable to meet frequently right now. Meeting is NECESSARY to maintain friendships. NO MEET, NO TALK, NO FRIEND. To keep these people in orbit, I host parties roughly once a month to which I invite anyone who can come, and provide free food. I also attend as many events hosted by them as I can. The judicious use of Facebook can assist. Semi-distant family (meet on holidays) is in this group.
d) Associates – I like most of them well enough, but we've never hung out long enough to establish a friendship connection. Distant family is in this group. Facebook is how I would know anything about what is going on in their lives, but honestly, there's diminishing returns here. I keep in contact by writing a yearly Christmas letter – I add new acquaintances every year, and am currently at 250 people for the circulation.
e) Potential new people who can be part of one of the tiers – I'm always keeping an eye out, especially for the bottom two.
5) Drop all resentment now about what others "should be doing." It's going to lock you in a torturous citadel of self-satisfied loneliness. You're going to take up the majority of work, or at least it's going to feel that way, and you need to accept that, because in the end it's all for your own benefit. However, those who do not respond in kind sooner rather than later need to be dropped a tier.
6) Mentioned above, but NEVER let things stagnate. If you don't stir the pool, the social circle rots away. Always be open to new connections, and when you see a chance, make one, even if at just the acquaintance level (which is mostly what I do nowadays).
7) Toxic people must be eliminated from your life without hesitation or reserve. Family ties should not stay your hand for even a millisecond. Having said that, if there's significant positive history there, see first if it's possible to drop them a tier or two instead. I put my parents at arms length – quietly – while they were in the thick of their divorce, but now that they've stabilized and are friendly to each other, they've come back in the top two tiers. Situations can change 🙂
8) And finally, the technique itself think carefully about what YOU can do that helps THE OTHER PERSON. Sometimes that's providing a sympathetic listening ear. Sometimes that's going hiking with someone. Sometimes that's showing up with beer and a video game. Sometimes you host a party with a really nice meal and invite a bunch of people. If something doesn't work, think harder! Clearly what you were providing wasn't helping THEM. As a parent myself, with my baby son sleeping on me as I write, perhaps you could offer to watch the children and let your friends sleep? Or at least buy them a meal when they can't leave the house. Or or look, you know these people, but try to be creative here.
9) You cannot ask anything of other people that you have not already provided to them. To bve clear: YOU CANNOT ASK ANYTHING OF OTHER PEOPLE THAT YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY PROVIDED TO THEM. No one will help you move if you didn't shift some boxes for them when they moved. No one will come over to take care of you when you are sick if you didn't at least send a meal for them when they were sick. Someone has to start the chain going – let it be you. Because who else will?
10) Last but not least – have empathy. Sometimes people just can't do it right now. Sometimes your friends' lives change, or your family member moves away for a job. Sometimes a relationship fails, sometimes the other person just lets things end. While you should certainly check in to make sure they're OK, often times it is the kind thing to step back a pace – while leaving the door open – and just let them do what they have to do in their lives. Aside from family that you live with, YOU need to be strong enough to let this happen to friends from time to time, and not to be angry or resentful about it. If it's meant to be, they'll come back to you and your friendship will revive.
There's more to the technique but this comment is long enough. Having the right psychology is 90% of the battle, anyway. Everything else you can learn from trial and error. But–young man #1– you have to DO. Complain, sure, but then turn your energy to DOING! Get those email addresses for your cousins, and from friends who have moved away! Write a holiday letter if nothing else! Or perhaps offer to babysit for your friends with kids or or look, you have to do the work here, you know these people. DO. Society sucks, yes I agree, now stop making excuses right the heck now and – DO.Remember that from the standpoint of the liberal readers of this blog we're living in the best of times in history on a cultural level, a true utopia on Earth.No comment , says: January 28, 2018 at 6:20 am
There are no golden ages in the past. The past has nothing to teach us. Diversity is a strength. Pornhub is booming. Kids are being taught transgenderisnm. Men can give birth. The religious liberty bigots are being quashed. The gun nuts are next. The blacks are better off. Whites, by deliberate design, are being made into a minority. And the white working class, and the white lower middle class, are at long last getting what they deserve. Utopia!
Never forget that the liberal commenters here are typical of the wider educated liberal community. No matter how polite, eloquent and historically informed they may seem, they're glib and superficial. Never forget that you're interacting with people who like to get on a moral high horse but believe grade school kids should be taught to pick their gender.
And, never lose sight of the most defining trait of them all of the contemporary liberal mind. They have a complete lack of empathy for anyone white who doesn't share their moral views. Black Christians and Muslims get a waiver. They're people of color. For the rest of us, they are increasingly open about not even acknowledging our basic humanity. They mean us harm.
Most of the liberal readers of this blog pay threadbare lip service to the inequality-creating and atomizing effects of capitalism as major contributors to the various problems. Nevertheless, it's hollow. They invariably side with the globalist and the neo-liberal system the exact second anyone suggests doing something about the negative effects of capitalism, such as introducing tariffs or, especially, limiting immigration to help boost wages.
All the data is there. We are about to experience some of the worst times in history, with the tip of the knife hanging over the white working and lower middle class. The alt right at least offers whites a theoretical possibility of organizing for self-defense. It's a framework for a foundation for a white Benedict option, which, however one feels about it, is clearly necessary.Shorter version: we're transitioning into the hard phase of totalitarian cultural communism. Prepare accordingly.BCZ , says: January 28, 2018 at 7:04 am@RDkijunshi , says: January 28, 2018 at 7:14 am
What book by the psychiatrist? Want. To. Read.
[NFR: "The Master And His Emissary" by Iain McGilchrist. -- RD]OK, now that I've screamed in their ear with a megaphone I get it. I really do. It's true that a Millennial's life can be crushingly lonely. At times, my own life has been that way. I moved away immediately after college to start a shiny, prestigious international career – and crashed, and burned *hard*. The shame and the stress nearly overwhelmed me. I had no friends, no family, no one to talk to. At one point I had an powerful urge to leave my apartment, get on a train, go to the end point of the train, and just walk until I collapsed seeing as it was February in the equivalent of Siberia, this could have been dangerous to my own life. I wrestled with what I should do – the feeling of failure making me think maybe I should just disappear – and then of all the things I suddenly remembered the funeral of my childhood pet the previous year, when my stoic father had suddenly wept and said he hoped he would never have to bury me. At the time I'd thought this was a bit histronic (pet was old, not very well, pets die forchrissakes), but it swayed my hand. I called a suicide helpline and was able to calm down.JonF , says: January 28, 2018 at 7:44 am
Later, I was shocked by how close to the edge I had come – me, with no previous health challenges or mental illness! I resolved right there to 'fix' my situation and never to let it happen again. And it never has. But make no mistake, it has been an uphill battle that I've had to start from scratch at least twice. Most of my free time is involved in friendship creation and maintenance, and I expect I will be doing that until I die.
I've realized and accepted for ten years or so that my generation is the one that will lose things – that we will have less than the ones who came before. But I don't despair about it – quite frankly our society has such a preposterous amount of wealth that we could lose 50% of it and still live decent lives by historical standards. Of course, the transition could be extremely rough, but I'm betting on a gradual-ish collapse. Trump may possibly be the beginning of the slide. Or not! Comparing ourselves to Rome, I take away that there have been a lot of peaks before the final collapse, and that even that collapse wasn't as fast as it seems with historical hindsight.
Also, I personally suspect that a lot of "progress" can go in the dustbin and our lives might even get BETTER. Losing the 3,000 mile Caesar salad will prioritize fresh local food. Expensive driving will lead to more walking, which will increase health. Less internet = more community. Who will be buying and trading heroin if we no longer have stocked shelves in the grocery store? The black market will turn itself to healthier ends ASAP. Crises will shatter bureaucracy, and leave the door open to better solutions. And cynical though this thought is, an actual war that genuinely threatens us would do more to knit this country back together than anything else
Is this optimistic? Extremely. But I take some solace in the fact that most of our society's problems come from having Too Much. Too Much food. Too Much stuff. Too Much national news. Too Much technology. Too Much cheap energy, which we waste at a shocking rate. Too Much independence, past the point where it's physically healthy. And yes, Too Much capitalism. I'm no Marxist but there needs to be some counterbalance. So if the excess vanishes isn't there a chance that we can put something together that better respects our own limits and that of society? I'd rather put my energy there, to be honest. I hope more Millennials join me – but I say that knowing that circumstances will likely compel them to. I'll meet them on the way down 🙂At the risk of being trite, to make a friend you have to be a friend. I have been blessed with a gift for friendship beginning with the fact that my parents (Dad, Mom and Step-mom) were all fairly sociable people so I had a good example set for friendliness at a young age. I am a bit diffident at first, but once the ice is broken I'm all in. I've pulled up stakes and moved four times and had to start over socially each time. First place to seek friends, IMO, is church, if you can find a church where the doctrine and worship styles are congenial. One of my best friends here in Baltimore is a elderly guy at St Andrews who just turned 80; he and his wife (she's home bound and ailing now alas) were the unofficial befrienders at our church; if you showed up at least twice they did not let you get out the door without an invitation to coffee and donuts with them afterward. Old Fred has helped me in several ways, such as when I was having serious car trouble and could not find anyone who could properly fix it– he knew a little hole in the wall shop that could and he ferried me back and forth to it. I repaid the favor the next year when he had open heart surgery and I took the day off so I could sit with him and his wife until they wheeled him away to the OR, and stayed with his wife until their son got off work and could join her. (oh and I HATE hospitals). Next suggestion: go out for a drink at a place that seems congenial to your tastes in people, assuming of course there's no reason you shouldn't drink. Bars may be a bad place to meet a significant other, but that's not true of meeting friends. I met a whole circle of people here that way (ditto in Akron). I had become a familiar face there on Fridays and one of them invited me to their Halloween party the first fall I was here.Andy , says: January 28, 2018 at 7:56 am
Third suggestion: Try not to lose touch with people, including family. This is where social media can actually help, if you use it right. Don't rant about politics or anything that might turn off a lot of people, just post news about your life, interesting things that happen, hobbies etc. And if you can afford to, go visit people in parts distant, especially family. I see my Michigan people twice a year, my Florida kin once a year, and family in Minnesota and Arizona every two or three years.
As an aside the guy who said "burn it all down" had my sympathy only that. Spite is not a valid foundation for politics, and yes, we all have sad and depressing times, but remember that that's local to you– it doesn't define the world. And like all else, it too shall pass.Oh for large families that have both a strong sense of place and a deep sense of responsibility toward each other.Ping Lin , says: January 28, 2018 at 8:00 amI want to push back a little on the implicit assertion that the loneliness these people are experiencing is a new phenomenon -- and more specifically, that this phenomenon is a direct result of the collapse of American Christianity (which I actually don't disagree with you is taking place).Dan Green , says: January 28, 2018 at 8:21 am
Back in the 1950's, there was a wide swath of American literature, buttressed by the reporting of the national media at the time, that there was a giant amount of loneliness and anomie that was overtaking the country. The writings of the "beat" generation, Charles Schulz's Peanuts all these were founded on the profound disconnection people were feeling in American life.
And this was before the sexual revolution, the upheaval of the 1960's, and when the American church was quite strong!
I don't want to descend into the easy cynicism of "we've all been there before, done that" -- but loneliness does seem pretty baked into our culture. At least, as long as there was no longer a frontier wilderness to tame, where simple survival outweighed any consideration of loneliness.I am a senior born of the greatest generation. Still communicate with a number of my high school classmates. We grew up in a small community northwest of Chicago. Corny as it sounds all our neighbors remained our neighbors never moving. Our small town had 16 or so taverns as a large farming community surrounded the town. Everyone visited at their favorite tavern. Nothing else to do but work.Frances , says: January 28, 2018 at 8:48 amDear Lonely,AnnaH , says: January 28, 2018 at 8:51 am
My heart went out to you. I am a 69 year old woman who grew up in a very unhappy home. My inherited personality is introspective but outgoing, but my upbringing left me with a very low opinion of myself, anxious,etc. etc. It took me a long time to become the self God made me. One of the major things I will share. At age 59, we returned to an East Asian country we had lived in before. I knew how difficult adjusting to the culture (which I love very much) is and I wanted to make it easier for other women. I started giving tours at my churches. Twice a month I took them to festivals, museums, temples, sightseeing. I started a knitting club (I can't knit and never did learn well!) and we made thousands of hats for victims of earthquakes, the homeless, Operation Christmas Child. I initiated a prison ministry (I was terribly nervous doing this) to visit and write to foreign prisoners that was the first of its kind.I blossomed! I am not special. I'm an average person and leader.
What am I saying? Look outward! Find a need! People will become your friend when you share a passion for giving to others with them. Stop thinking of yourself. When you sit next to someone at an event, don't think of yourself ask them about themselves. 2. Do something to make yourself feel manly. Having children made me overjoyed to be a woman. Help others with your God-given manly virtues. God bless and help you, Mr. Lonely.Sadly, I do not have anything else to say than this: good material for a future book of yours! Bleak, but so, so central to our lives (and will continue to be so). Sometimes I think the only institute that is capable of stemming the tide of atomization is the parish (I speak in Catholic terms).Realist (the first one) , says: January 28, 2018 at 9:26 am" a herd of sheep that have been abandoned by their shepherd, just led to the slaughter."James , says: January 28, 2018 at 9:37 am
This line resonates deeply with me, as it first occurred to me in a grace-filled moment as a student on the campus of Georgetown University back in the 1980s, as I considered myself and my peers. It forms the core of my outrage towards the institutional Catholic Church, not the line priests so much as the bishops and leaders of the Church (I say this as a devout Catholic, imperfect though I be). I have myself experienced a good deal of what these readers describe in emotional terms. There is no doubt that the Holy Catholic Faith has provided me with a rock of stability and a sure foundation for the conduct of my life, because Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and he founded a Church, not a collection of atomized individuals pursuing their own private interpretations of Scripture (or a motley collection of fragmented splinter- groups, each imposing its own brand of biblical interpretation). So the very first thing I would say is "get to know Jesus Christ" in the Church that he founded and you will find a sure friend and the Good Shepherd who will be with you all throughout your life to spiritually guide you. But in addition to this spiritual reality, there is also the emotional reality of the social vacuum in which many of us live nowadays, and this defies a ready response. I am quite fortunate at the moment, in that I have an elderly parent to care for who really needs it, and it very much nourishes me to provide this care, in both spiritual and emotional terms. But without such deep family ties, where is one to turn for emotional nourishment? One can think of volunteer work focused on those in need, e.g., visiting the elderly who are being so neglected in nursing homes, the prisoners in prisons, etc. Above all, one needs to start from humble prayer to God for guidance in these matters. Young people need to wake up and realize that there's nothing more precious than building a faith and family life, and worshipping the Living God, so that we may be happy in this life (in so far as that is possible amid the inevitable crosses of life), and inherit eternal life in Heaven after we pass on, which is the ultimate goal.Something worth mentioning – everyone on earth has felt disillusionment at various times. That is the most normal thing in the world. What I hear in these letters is that those who raised you left you woefully unprepared to cope with that reality.Elijah , says: January 28, 2018 at 9:38 am
The world and the people in it do not follow our expectations for them. They never have. No matter how perfectly one has executed a plan, navigaing a life has never been A to B to C to everlasting stability and material bliss. Your parents, even if unintentionally, gave you a great many misconceptions about the world and yourself.
In the simplest of terms – happiness is an inside job. I see at least three generations that are operating under the opposite principal at this point. How can you expect others your age to behave any differently when they were raised with the same formula for failure?
The good news is, it's never to late, and that it has nothing to do with ideology. Try *being* the friend you wish you had. Extend the hand of kindness you feel you yourself lack. Bring the light of consciousness and fairness you feel you see being extinguished in the world, have the courage and daring to find joy in the act of living, even through struggle. Understand that every other person is evolving and learning just like you, that no person enters the world fully formed and flawless, and that success, prosperity, and companionship are a process and a journey, not an event that can be marked on a calendar.
No one that has ever lived has had life 'handled' by the time they are 30, let alone in their teen years. You are at the very beginning of the adventure known as your life, and as impossible as it may be to fathom right now, your future self would likely barely recognize the person you are today.@ kijunshi – your first comment is good advice for all of us.Jim , says: January 28, 2018 at 10:08 am
I sometimes think our world suffers from a dearth of "if it's meant to be, it'll happen"-type thinking. True, you can't force a square peg in to a round hole, but there is a lot one can and should DO to improve on'es own circumstances.
At least have a go.Very interesting reading these comments. I'm in my 50's and can relate to how it has become increasingly hard in our society to stay really connected. I can especially relate to the comments how you can find yourself making all the effort to maintain a relationship.Fran Macadam , says: January 28, 2018 at 10:18 am
I'm a trained engineer who has spent more than 30 years in the Nation's space program, so appreciate our technological progress, but I worry that reductionist thinking it breeds has lead us to lose something. If we don't know how to integrate our life and work, it leads to dis-integration. I've started trying to apply some system integration learning I've had in my work and see if it can help in new ways. You can read it here, if you're interested.
Thanks Rob for providing this community and for putting yourself out there.When you post to social media to maintain a sense of community, you're creating marketing information harvested and used to manipulate you and whomever interacts with it. The more you tell, the more they have to gain control of you, making merchandise of you.
I'm thankful I have God as a friend. He gives out a version of tough love when needed, but He'll never betray me. And I don't need a smartphone, tablet or computer using Twitter or Facebook to make contact. It would be lonelier than bearable to be alienated from God, who truly does care and cares to give me the truth, at least as much as I can handle at a time. His message through Jesus in the New Testament is the most wonderful gift of friendship in the world.
When we are alienated from God, we end up alienated from nature, others and ultimately from ourselves.
Oct 27, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
DJG , October 27, 2017 at 2:34 pmScott , October 27, 2017 at 3:41 pm
Portside article about NAFTA, unions, and Canadian unions: Here is a paragraph from the underlying article at New York Magazine about the three sponsors:
On Wednesday, Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Kirsten Gillibrand announced their agreement -- and introduced legislation to ban "right-to-work" laws throughout the United States.
[NY Mag article is dated 20 Sept 2017]
The sooner we collectively kill off the feudal idea of "right to work," the better. Right now, though, we're only what -- sixty, seventy–years too late?Huey Long , October 27, 2017 at 5:06 pm
Why didn't Democrats pass legislation in 2009 to eliminate it?
It was one of the few policies that I could think of what would actually, you know, help the win elections. But then I realized the the purpose of the DNC isn't actually to win elections, it's to raise money from Wall Street, Hollywood and Silcon Valley to pay for consultants.Sid_finster , October 27, 2017 at 7:40 pm
Why didn't Democrats pass legislation in 2009 to eliminate it?
Yeah, Captain Hope'N-Change failed to deliver labor any meaningful legislation during his eight years in office.
Labor was essentially told "We put some friendly faces on the NLRB and in the judiciary. Be thankful, and forget about card check or right to work preemption."Henry Moon Pie , October 27, 2017 at 4:25 pm
" the purpose of the DNC isn't actually to win elections, it's to raise money from Wall Street, Hollywood and Silcon Valley to pay for consultants."
Money.Huey Long , October 27, 2017 at 5:16 pm
Good luck with that. The Rs ads write themselves.
And it's a bad look anyway. With the basically insurmountable barriers to organizing under the Wagner Act these days, a focus on making sure the money keeps flowing, much of it ending up in the Ds campaign coffers. How about repealing Taft-Hartley?
Maybe unions would be better off with less bureaucracy and more member participation. Do it like the Wobs: you come to the meeting, you pay your dues, you voice your opinion and you vote.a different chris , October 27, 2017 at 6:06 pm
How about repealing Taft-Hartley?
Repealing Taft-Hartley would bring back:
The Closed Shop
Common Situs Picketing
A Ban on Right-to-Work
A Ban on presidential interventions in strikes
Hopefully this happens before I die. I would absolutely love to see the yacht and learjet owning class in tears!DJG , October 27, 2017 at 6:13 pm
>The Rs ads write themselves.
They not only write themselves they've already been written and burned into the brain. True or not, there they are. So what are you risking?
The thing is the D-time is well past the point (no House, no Senate, no Pres, vanishing amount of Govs, vanishing amount of State leges..) where saying "That's not true!!" can be considered a winning strategy, even if you could show me what you've won by saying it.
How about "hell yeah that's how we feel, America rocked (when we had strong labor)". Stand up to the bully for once, again whaddya got to lose now. I often wonder what Steve Gilliard would say at this point, he always made sure that us white people realized that something was better than nothing when you were looking at absolutely nothing at all . but things have sunk so low would he still feel that what has become nothing more than an orderly, but continuous retreat should be sustained? Or is it time to dig in and really declare full throated opposition?
(like the rest of your post, just think the time to avoid things is past)
Henry Moon Pie: So? Let's repeal the Wagner Act and Taft-Hartley. And let's not pre-defeat ourselves.
Just as Lambert keeps reminding us, Who would have though five years ago that the momentum is now toward single-payer health insurance even if the current couple of bills don't pass? For years, John Conyers carried on the fight almost single-handedly. And now we have influential physicians stumping for single-payer.
Sep 17, 2017 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Isolation plays a large part in retarding study. The pleasure of learning is a noble pleasure, and like all good things, sharing what we learn with others increases its value. We are social creatures, and it is part of our nature to share the excellent. But most of the time we lack people to share the joy of our discoveries with. We are victims of the addicts of the mental lightweights who confine their reading to New York Times' bestsellers, people who lack the means to judge the merit of what they're reading, who lack the talent to articulate its virtues. They lack the standards of taste and the critical spirit required to evaluate them correctly.
Isolation has killed a lot of thinkers. I remember How Hume's book on Reelections on Human Nature fell absolutely flat after it was published yet, over time, became a classic. But popularity can kill as well. We think of how Mozart's amazing genius wowed and fascinated his audiences and followers and yet his fame resulted in him buried in an unmarked grave for the poor. Crowds are dismayingly fickle. Their interest lacks stamina.
Apparently it is the task of modern culture is to herd all of us on well traveled roads, never taking the road less traveled. Few of us explore and the few who do are not met with enthusiasm or praise or appreciation but by polite indifference mainly because your knowledge is not current or popular.
Popularity is a trap. It retains a viselike grip on the ignorant. It is sinister because it is addictive. If something is popular and makes money, then it must be successful, and if successful, it must be superior. No one asks the fans of the popular why they admire as they do. Because they assume that everyone else thinks just as they do and everyone else suffers from the same mediocre qualities of taste and narrowness of mind.
It is a hard truth that people of more talented intellectual capacity seek out people with similar temperaments and natures. That is the key to all friendship. With the right people, they come alive. They speak freely and honestly, relating facts that stimulate their listeners who then come forward with their own treasured items of memory and knowledge that stimulate and reinforce the conversation. Both sides leave the discussion strengthed and invigorated. Both are eager to hear more, learn more. Both return feeling less isolated from the ephemeral l thing tat matter so much in the world.
Oct 12, 2016 | www.theguardian.com
What greater indictment of a system could there be than an epidemic of mental illness? Yet plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness now strike people down all over the world. The latest, catastrophic figures for children's mental health in England reflect a global crisis.
There are plenty of secondary reasons for this distress, but it seems to me that the underlying cause is everywhere the same: human beings, the ultrasocial mammals, whose brains are wired to respond to other people, are being peeled apart. Economic and technological change play a major role, but so does ideology. Though our wellbeing is inextricably linked to the lives of others, everywhere we are told that we will prosper through competitive self-interest and extreme individualism.
In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament instruct us to stand on our own two feet. The education system becomes more brutally competitive by the year. Employment is a fight to the near-death with a multitude of other desperate people chasing ever fewer jobs. The modern overseers of the poor ascribe individual blame to economic circumstance. Endless competitions on television feed impossible aspirations as real opportunities contract.
Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do.
As Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett has brilliantly documented, girls and young women routinely alter the photos they post to make themselves look smoother and slimmer. Some phones, using their "beauty" settings, do it for you without asking; now you can become your own thinspiration. Welcome to the post-Hobbesian dystopia: a war of everyone against themselves.
Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing
Is it any wonder, in these lonely inner worlds, in which touching has been replaced by retouching, that young women are drowning in mental distress? A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like.
If social rupture is not treated as seriously as broken limbs, it is because we cannot see it. But neuroscientists can. A series of fascinating papers suggest that social pain and physical pain are processed by the same neural circuits. This might explain why, in many languages, it is hard to describe the impact of breaking social bonds without the words we use to denote physical pain and injury. In both humans and other social mammals, social contact reduces physical pain. This is why we hug our children when they hurt themselves: affection is a powerful analgesic. Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction.
Experiments summarised in the journal Physiology & Behaviour last month suggest that, given a choice of physical pain or isolation, social mammals will choose the former. Capuchin monkeys starved of both food and contact for 22 hours will rejoin their companions before eating. Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement.
It is not hard to see what the evolutionary reasons for social pain might be. Survival among social mammals is greatly enhanced when they are strongly bonded with the rest of the pack. It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators, or to starve. Just as physical pain protects us from physical injury, emotional pain protects us from social injury. It drives us to reconnect. But many people find this almost impossible.
It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system.
Studies in both animals and humans suggest a reason for comfort eating: isolation reduces impulse control, leading to obesity. As those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are the most likely to suffer from loneliness, might this provide one of the explanations for the strong link between low economic status and obesity?
Anyone can see that something far more important than most of the issues we fret about has gone wrong. So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain? Should this question not burn the lips of everyone in public life?
There are some wonderful charities doing what they can to fight this tide, some of which I am going to be working with as part of my loneliness project. But for every person they reach, several others are swept past.
This does not require a policy response. It requires something much bigger: the reappraisal of an entire worldview. Of all the fantasies human beings entertain, the idea that we can go it alone is the most absurd and perhaps the most dangerous. We stand together or we fall apart.RachelL , 12 Oct 2016 03:57B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 03:57
Well its a bit of a stretch blaming neoliberalism for creating loneliness. Yet it seems to be the fashion today to imagine that the world we live in is new...only created just years ago. And all the suffering that we see now never existed before. Plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness never happened in the past, because everything was bright and shiny and world was good.
Regrettably history teaches us that suffering and deprivation have dogged mankind for centuries, if not tens of thousands of years. That's what we do; survive, persist...endure. Blaming 'neoliberalism' is a bit of cop-out. It's the human condition man, just deal with it.Some of the connections here are a bit tenuous, to say the least, including the link to political ideology. Economic liberalism is usually accompanied with social conservatism, and vice versa. Right wing ideologues are more likely to emphasize the values of marriage and family stability, while left wing ones are more likely to favor extremes of personal freedom and reject those traditional structures that used to bind us together.ID236975 -> B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:15You're a little confused there in your connections between policies, intentions and outcomes. Nevertheless, Neoliberalism is a project that explicitly aims, and has achieved, the undermining and elimination of social networks in favour of market competition.DoctorLiberty -> B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
In practice, loosening social and legal institutions has reduced social security (in the general sense rather than simply welfare payments) and encouraged the limitation of social interaction to money based activity.
As Monbiot has noted, we are indeed lonelier.That holds true when you're talking about demographics/voters.deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:00
Economic and social liberalism go hand in hand in the West. No matter who's in power, the establishment pushes both but will do one or the other covertly.
All powerful institutions have a vested interest in keeping us atomized and individualistic. The gangs at the top don't want competition. They're afraid of us. In particular, they're afraid of men organising into gangs. That's where this very paper comes in.The alienation genie was out of the bottle with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and mass migration to cities began and we abandoned living in village communities. Over the ensuing approx 250 years we abandoned geographically close relationships with extended families, especially post WW2. Underlying economic structures both capitalist and marxist dissolved relationships that we as communal primates evolved within. Then accelerate this mess with (anti-) social media the last 20 years along with economic instability and now dissolution of even the nuclear family (which couldn't work in the first place, we never evolved to live with just two parents looking after children) and here we have it: Mass mental illness. Solution? None. Just form the best type of extended community both within and outside of family, be engaged and generours with your community hope for the best.terraform_drone -> deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:42Indeed, Industrialisation of our pre-prescribed lifestyle is a huge factor. In particular, our food, it's low quality, it's 24 hour avaliability, it's cardboard box ambivalence, has caused a myriad of health problems. Industrialisation is about profit for those that own the 'production-line' & much less about the needs of the recipient.afinch , 12 Oct 2016 04:03ID236975 -> afinch, 12 Oct 2016 04:22
It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat.
Yes, although there is some question of which order things go in. A supportive social network is clearly helpful, but it's hardly a simple cause and effect. Levels of different mental health problems appear to differ widely across societies just in Europe, and it isn't particularly the case that more capitalist countries have greater incidence than less capitalist ones.
You could just as well blame atheism. Since the rise of neo-liberalism and drop in church attendance track each other pretty well, and since for all their ills churches did provide a social support group, why not blame that?While attending a church is likely to alleviate loneliness, atheism doesn't expressly encourage limiting social interactions and selfishness. And of course, reduced church attendance isn't exactly the same as atheism.anotherspace , 12 Oct 2016 04:05
Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy.notherspace -> TremblingFactHunt , 12 Oct 2016 05:46So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?
My stab at an answer would first question the notion that we are engaging in anything. That presupposes we are making the choices. Those who set out the options are the ones that make the choices. We are being engaged by the grotesquely privileged and the pathologically greedy in an enterprise that profits them still further. It suits the 1% very well strategically, for obvious reasons, that the 99% don't swap too many ideas with each other.We as individuals are offered the 'choice' of consumption as an alternative to the devastating ennui engendered by powerlessness. It's no choice at all of course, because consumption merely enriches the 1% and exacerbates our powerlessness. That was the whole point of my post.Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
The 'choice' to consume is never collectively exercised as you suggest. Sadly. If it was, 'we' might be able to organise ourselves into doing something about it.According to Robert Putnam, as societies become more ethnically diverse they lose social capital, contributing to the type of isolation and loneliness which George describes. Doesn't sound as evil as neoliberalism I suppose.ParisHiltonCommune -> Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 07:59Disagree. Im British but have had more foreign friends than British. The UK middle class tend to be boring insular social status obsessed drones.other nationalities have this too, but far less soDave Powell -> Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 10:54Multiculturalism is destroying social cohesion.ParisHiltonCommune -> Dave Powell , 12 Oct 2016 14:47Well, yes, but multiculturalism is a direct result of Neoliberalism. The market rules and people are secondary. Everything must be done for business owners, and that everything means access to cheap labor.Rozina , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
Multiculturalism isn't the only thing destroying social cohesion, too. It was being destroyed long before the recent surges of immigrants. It was reported many times in the 1980's in communities made up of only one culture. In many ways, it is being used as the obvious distraction from all the other ways Fundamentalist Free Marketers wreck live for many.This post perhaps ranges too widely to the point of being vague and general, and leading Monbiot to make some huge mental leaps, linking loneliness to a range of mental and physical problems without being able to explain, for example, the link between loneliness and obesity and all the steps in-between without risking derailment into a side issue.MSP1984 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
I'd have thought what he really wants to say is that loneliness as a phenomenon in modern Western society arises out of an intent on the part of our political and social elites to divide us all into competing against one another, as individuals and as members of groups, all the better to keep us under control and prevent us from working together to claim our fair share of resources.
Go on, George, you can say that, why not?Are you familiar with the term 'Laughter is the best medicine'? Well, it's true. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, yeah? Your stress hormones are reduced and the oxygen supply to your blood is increased, so...ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 04:19
I try to laugh several times a day just because... it makes you feel good! Let's try that, eh? Ohohoo... Hahaha... Just, just... Hahahaha... Come on, trust me.. you'll feel.. HahaHAhaha! O-o-o-o-a-hahahahaa... Sharetotaram -> ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 05:00>Neoliberalism is creating loneliness.
Has it occurred to you that the collapse in societal values has allowed 'neo-liberalism' to take hold?No. It has been the concentrated propaganda of the "free" press. Rupert Murdoch in particular, but many other well-funded organisations working in the background over 50 years. They are winning.greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 04:20We're fixated on a magical, abstract concept called "the economy". Everything must be done to help "the economy", even if this means adults working through their weekends, neglecting their children, neglecting their elderly parents, eating at their desks, getting diabetes, breaking down from stress, and giving up on a family life.DiscoveredJoys -> greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 05:48
Impertinent managers ban their staff from office relationships, as company policy, because the company is more important than its staff's wellbeing.
Companies hand out "free" phones that allow managers to harrass staff for work out of hours, on the understanding that they will be sidelined if thy don't respond.
And the wellbeing of "the economy" is of course far more important than whether the British people actually want to merge into a European superstate. What they want is irrelevant.
That nasty little scumbag George Osborne was the apotheosis of this ideology, but he was abetted by journalists who report any rise in GDP as "good" - no matter how it was obtained - and any "recession" to be the equivalent of a major natural disaster.
If we go on this way, the people who suffer the most will be the rich, because it will be them swinging from the lamp-posts, or cowering in gated communities that they dare not leave (Venezuela, South Africa). Those riots in London five years ago were a warning. History is littered with them.You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. If this results in loneliness then that's certainly a downside - but the upside is that billions have been lifted out of absolute poverty worldwide by 'Neoliberalism'.concerned4democracy , 12 Oct 2016 04:28
Mr Monbiot creates a compelling argument that we should end 'Neoliberalism' but he is very vague about what should replace it other than a 'different worldview'. Destruction is easy, but creation is far harder.As a retired teacher it grieves me greatly to see the way our education service has become obsessed by testing and assessment. Sadly the results are used not so much to help children learn and develop, but rather as a club to beat schools and teachers with. Pressurised schools produce pressurised children. Compare and contrast with education in Finland where young people are not formally assessed until they are 17 years old. We now assess toddlers in nursery schools.colddebtmountain , 12 Oct 2016 04:33
SATs in Primary schools had children concentrating on obscure grammatical terms and usage which they will never ever use again. Pointless and counter-productive.
Gradgrind values driving out the joy of learning.
And promoting anxiety and mental health problems.It is all the things you describe, Mr Monbiot, and then some. This dystopian hell, when anything that did work is broken and all things that have never worked are lined up for a little tinkering around the edges until the camouflage is good enough to kid people it is something new. It isn't just neoliberal madness that has created this, it is selfish human nature that has made it possible, corporate fascism that has hammered it into shape. and an army of mercenaries who prefer the take home pay to morality. Crime has always paid especially when governments are the crooks exercising the law.excathedra , 12 Oct 2016 04:35
The value of life has long been forgotten as now the only thing that matters is how much you can be screwed for either dead or alive. And yet the Trumps, the Clintons, the Camerons, the Johnsons, the Merkels, the Mays, the news media, the banks, the whole crooked lot of them, all seem to believe there is something worth fighting for in what they have created, when painfully there is not. We need revolution and we need it to be lead by those who still believe all humanity must be humble, sincere, selfless and most of all morally sincere. Freedom, justice, and equality for all, because the alternative is nothing at all.Ive long considered neo-liberalism as the cause of many of our problems, particularly the rise in mental health problems, alienation and loneliness.MereMortal , 12 Oct 2016 04:37
As can be seen from many of the posts, neo-liberalism depends on, and fosters, ignorance, an inability to see things from historical and different perspectives and social and intellectual disciplines. On a sociological level how other societies are arranged throws up interesting comparisons. Scandanavian countries, which have mostly avoided neo-liberalism by and large, are happier, healthier places to live. America and eastern countries arranged around neo-liberal, market driven individualism, are unhappy places, riven with mental and physical health problems and many more social problems of violence, crime and suicide.
The worst thing is that the evidence shows it doesn't work. Not one of the privatisations in this country have worked. All have been worse than what they've replaced, all have cost more, depleted the treasury and led to massive homelessness, increased mental health problems with the inevitable financial and social costs, costs which are never acknowledged by its adherents.
Put crudely, the more " I'm alright, fuck you " attitude is fostered, the worse societies are. Empires have crashed and burned under similar attitudes.A fantastic article as usual from Mr Monbiot.flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 04:39
The people who fosted this this system onto us, are now either very old or dead. We're living in the shadow of their revolutionary transformation of our more equitable post-war society. Hayek, Friedman, Keith Joseph, Thatcher, Greenspan and tangentially but very influentially Ayn Rand. Although a remainder (I love the wit of the term 'Remoaner') , Brexit can be better understood in the context of the death-knell of neoliberalism.
I never understood how the collapse of world finance, resulted in a right wing resurgence in the UK and the US. The Tea Party in the US made the absurd claim that the failure of global finance was not due to markets being fallible, but because free markets had not been enforced citing Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac as their evidence and of Bill Clinton insisting on more poor and black people being given mortgages.
I have a terrible sense that it will not go quietly, there will be massive global upheavals as governments struggle deal with its collapse.I have never really agreed with GM - but this article hits the nail on the head.Taxiarch -> flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 05:42
I think there are a number of aspects to this:
- The internet. The being in constant contact, our lives mapped and our thoughts analysed - we can comment on anything (whether informed or total drivel) and we've been fed the lie that our opinion is is right and that it matters) Ive removed fscebook and twitter from my phone, i have never been happier
- Rolling 24 hour news. That is obsessed with the now, and consistently squeezes very complex issues into bite sized simple dichotomies. Obsessed with results and critical in turn of everyone who fails to feed the machine
- The increasing slicing of work into tighter and slimmer specialisms, with no holistic view of the whole, this forces a box ticking culture. "Ive stamped my stamp, my work is done" this leads to a lack of ownership of the whole. PIP assessments are an almost perfect example of this - a box ticking exercise, designed by someone who'll never have to go through it, with no flexibility to put the answers into a holistic context.
- Our education system is designed to pass exams and not prepare for the future or the world of work - the only important aspect being the compilation of next years league tables and the schools standings. This culture is neither healthy no helpful, as students are schooled on exam technique in order to squeeze out the marks - without putting the knowledge into a meaningful and understandable narrative.
Apologies for the long post - I normally limit myself to a trite insulting comment :) but felt more was required in this instance.Overall, I agree with your points. Monbiot here adopts a blunderbuss approach (competitive self-interest and extreme individualism; "brutal" education, employment social security; consumerism, social media and vanity). Criticism of his hypotheses on this thread (where articualted at all) focus on the existence of solitude and loneliness prior to neo liberalism, which seems to me to be to deliberately miss his point: this was formerly a minor phenomenon, yet is now writ on an incredible scale - and it is a social phenomenon particular to those western economies whose elites have most enthusiastically embraced neo liberalism. So, when Monbiot's rhetoric rises:flyboy101 -> Taxiarch , 12 Oct 2016 06:19the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.
"So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?"
We stand together or we fall apart.
Hackneyed and unoriginal but still true for all that.I think the answer is onlyDGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:42because of the lies that are being sold. We all want is to: (and feel we have the right to) wear the best clothes, have the foreign holidays, own the latest tech and eat the finest foods. At the same time our rights have increased and awareness of our responsibilities have minimized. The execution of common sense and an awareness that everything that goes wrong will always be someone else fault.
the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.
We are not all special snowflakes, princesses or worthy of special treatment, but we act like self absorbed, entitled individuals. Whether that's entitled to benefits, the front of the queue or bumped into first because its our birthday!
I share Monbiots pain here. But rather than get a sense of perspective - the answer is often "More public money and counseling"George Monbiot has struck a nerve. They are there every day in my small town local park: people, young and old, gender and ethnically diverse, siting on benches for a couple of hours at a time.wakeup99 -> DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
- They have at least one thing in common.
- They each sit alone, isolated in their own thoughts..
- But many share another bond: they usually respond to dogs, unconditional in their behaviour patterns towards humankind.
Trite as it may seem, this temporary thread of canine affection breaks the taboo of strangers passing by on the other side. Conversations, sometimes stilted, sometimes deeper and more meaningful, ensue as dog walkers become a brief daily healing force in a fractured world of loneliness. It's not much credit in the bank of sociability. But it helps.
Trite as it may seem from the outside, their interaction with the myriad pooches regularly walkDo a parkrun and you get the same thing. Free and healthy.ParisHiltonCommune -> SenseCir , 12 Oct 2016 08:47Unhealthy social interaction, yes. You can never judge what is natural to humans based on contemporary Britain. Anthropologists repeatedly find that what we think natural is merely a social construct created by the system we are subject to.Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:46
If you don't work hard, you will be a loser, don't look out of the window day dreaming you lazy slacker. Get productive, Mr Burns millions need you to work like a machine or be replaced by one.Good article. You´re absoluately right. And the deeper casue is this: separation from God. If we don´t fight our way back to God, individually and collectively, things are going to get a lot worse. With God, loneliness doesn´t exist. I encourage anyone and everyone to start talking to Him today and invite Him into your heart and watch what starts to happen.wakeup99 -> Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:52Religion divides not brings people together. Only when you embrace all humanity and ignore all gods will you find true happiness. The world and the people in it are far more inspiring when you contemplate the lack of any gods. The fact people do amazing things without needing the promise of heaven or the threat of hell - that is truly moving.TeaThoughts -> Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 05:23I see what you're saying but I read 'love' instead of God. God is too religious which separates and divides ("I'm this religion and my god is better than yours" etc etc). I believe that George is right in many ways in that money is very powerful on it's impact on our behavior (stress, lack etc) and therefore our lives. We are becoming fearful of each other and I believe the insecurity we feel plays a part in this.geoffhoppy , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
We have become so disconnected from ourselves and focused on battling to stay afloat. Having experienced periods of severe stress due to lack of money I couldn't even begin to think about how I felt, how happy I was, what I really wanted to do with my life. I just had to pay my landlord, pay the bills and try and put some food on my table so everything else was totally neglected.
When I moved house to move in with family and wasn't expected to pay rent, though I offered, all that dissatisfaction and undealt with stuff came spilling out and I realised I'd had no time for any real safe care above the very basics and that was not a good place to be. I put myself into therapy for a while and started to look after myself and things started to change. I hope to never go back to that kind of position but things are precarious financially and the field I work in isn't well paid but it makes me very happy which I realise now is more important.Neo-liberalism has a lot to answer for in bringing misery to our lives and accelerating the demise of the planet but I find it not guilty on this one. The current trends as to how people perceive themselves (what you've got rather than who you are) and the increasing isolation in our cities started way before the neo-liberals. It is getting worse though and on balance social media is making us more connected but less social. ShareRandomName2016 , 12 Oct 2016 04:48The way that the left keeps banging on about neoliberalism is half of what makes them such a tough sell electorally. Just about nobody knows what neoliberalism is, and literally nobody self identifies as a neoliberal. So all this moaning and wailing about neoliberalism comes across as a self absorbed, abstract and irrelevant. I expect there is the germ of an idea in there, but until the left can find away to present that idea without the baffling layer of jargon and over-analysis, they're going to remain at a disadvantage to the easy populism of the right.Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:49Interesting article. We have heard so much about the size of our economy but less about our quality of life. The UK quality of life is way below the size of our economy i.e. economy size 6th largest in the world but quality of life 15th. If we were the 10th largest economy but were 10th for quality of life we would be better off than we are now in real terms.wakeup99 -> Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:56
We need a radical change of political thinking to focus on quality of life rather than obsession with the size of our economy. High levels of immigration of people who don't really integrate into their local communities has fractured our country along with the widening gap between rich and poor. Governments only see people in terms of their "economic value" - hence mothers being driven out to work, children driven into daycare and the elderly driven into care homes. Britain is becoming a soulless place - even our great British comedy is on the decline.Quality of life is far more important than GDP I agree but it is also far more important than inequality.MikkaWanders , 12 Oct 2016 04:49Interesting. 'It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators....' so perhaps the species is developing its own predators to fill a vacated niche.johnny991965 , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
(Not questioning the comparison to other mammals at all as I think it is valid but you would have to consider the whole rather than cherry pick bits)Generation snowflake. "I'll do myself in if you take away my tablet and mobile phone for half an hour".johnny991965 -> grizzly , 12 Oct 2016 05:07
They don't want to go out and meet people anymore. Nightclubs for instance, are closing because the younger generation 'don't see the point' of going out to meet people they would otherwise never meet, because they can meet people on the internet. Leave them to it and the repercussions of it.....Socialism is dying on its feet in the UK, hence the Tory's 17 point lead at the mo. The lefties are clinging to whatever influence they have to sway the masses instead of the ballot box. Good riddance to them.David Ireland -> johnny991965 , 13 Oct 2016 12:4517 point lead? Dying on it's feet? The neo-liberals are showing their disconnect from reality. If anything, neo-liberalism is driving a people to the left in search of a fairer and more equal society.justask , 12 Oct 2016 04:57George Moniot's articles are better thought out, researched and written than the vast majority of the usual clickbait opinion pieces found on the Guardian these days. One of the last journalists, rather than liberal arts blogger vying for attention.Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 04:57Neoliberalism's rap sheet is long and dangerous but this toxic philosophy will continue unabated because most people can't join the dots and work out how detrimental it has proven to be for most of us.wakeup99 -> Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 05:05
It dangles a carrot in order to create certain economic illusions but the simple fact is neoliberal societies become more unequal the longer they persist.Neoliberal economies allow people to build huge global businesses very quickly and will continue to give the winners more but they also can guve everyone else more too but just at a slower rate. Socialism on the other hand mires everyone in stagnant poverty. Question is do you want to be absolutely or relatively better off.totaram -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:19You have no idea. Do not confuse capitalism with neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a political ideology based on a mythical version of capitalism that doesn't actually exist, but is a nice way to get the deluded to vote for something that doesn't work in their interest at all.peterfieldman , 12 Oct 2016 04:57And things will get worse as society falls apart due to globalisation, uberization, lack of respect for authority, lacks of a fair tax and justice system, crime, immorality, loss of trust of politicians and financial and corporate sectors, uncontrolled immigration bringing with it insecurity and the risk of terrorism and a dumbing down of society with increasing inequality. All this is in a new book " The World at a Crossroads" which deals with the major issues facing the planet.Nada89 -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:07What, like endless war, unaffordable property, monstrous university fees, zero hours contracts and a food bank on every corner, and that's before we even get to the explosion in mental distress.monsieur_flaneur -> thedisclaimer , 12 Oct 2016 05:10There's nothing spurious or obscure about Neoliberalism. It is simply the political ideology of the rich, which has been our uninterrupted governing ideology since Reagan and Thatcher: Privatisation, deregulation, 'liberalisation' of housing, labour, etc, trickledown / low-tax-on-the-rich economics, de-unionization. You only don't see it if you don't want to see it.arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:03I'm just thinking what is wonderful about societies that are big of social unity. And conformity. Those societies for example where you "belong" to your family. Where teenage girls can be married off to elderly uncles to cement that belonging. Or those societies where the belonging comes through religious centres. Where the ostracism for "deviant" behaviour like being gay or for women not submitting to their husbands can be brutal. And I'm not just talking about muslims here.birney -> arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
Or those societies that are big on patriotism. Yep they are usually good for mental health as the young men are given lessons in how to kill as many other men as possible efficiently.
And then I have to think how our years of "neo-liberal" governments have taken ideas of social liberalisation and enshrined them in law. It may be coincidence but thirty years after Thatcher and Reagan we are far more tolerant of homosexuality and willing to give it space to live, conversely we are far less tolerant of racism and are willing to prosecute racist violence. Feminists may still moan about equality but the position of women in society has never been better, rape inside marriage has (finally) been outlawed, sexual violence generally is no longer condoned except by a few, work opportunities have been widened and the woman's role is no longer just home and family. At least that is the case in "neo-liberal" societies, it isn't necessarily the case in other societies.
So unless you think loneliness is some weird Stockholm Syndrome thing where your sense of belonging comes from your acceptance of a stifling role in a structured soiety, then I think blaming the heightened respect for the individual that liberal societies have for loneliness is way off the mark.
What strikes me about the cases you cite above, George, is not an over-respect for the individual but another example of individuals being shoe-horned into a structure. It strikes me it is not individualism but competition that is causing the unhappiness. Competition to achieve an impossible ideal.
I fear George, that you are not approaching this with a properly open mind dedicated to investigation. I think you have your conclusion and you are going to bend the evidence to fit. That is wrong and I for one will not support that. In recent weeks and months we have had the "woe, woe and thrice woe" writings. Now we need to take a hard look at our findings. We need to take out the biases resulting from greater awareness of mental health and better and fuller diagnosis of mental health issues. We need to balance the bias resulting from the fact we really only have hard data for modern Western societies. And above all we need to scotch any bias resulting from the political worldview of the researchers.
Then the results may have some value.It sounded to me that he was telling us of farm labouring and factory fodder stock that if we'd 'known our place' and kept to it ,all would be well because in his ideal society there WILL be or end up having a hierarchy, its inevitable.EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:04Wasn't all this started by someone who said, "There is no such thing as Society"? The ultimate irony is that the ideology that championed the individual and did so much to dismantle the industrial and social fabric of the Country has resulted in a system which is almost totalitarian in its disregard for its ideological consequences.wakeup99 -> EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:08Thatcher said it in the sense that society is not abstract it is just other people so when you say society needs to change then people need to change as society is not some independent concept it is an aggregation of all us. The left mis quote this all the time and either they don't get it or they are doing on purpose.HorseCart -> EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:09No, Neoliberalism has been around since 1938.... Thatcher was only responsible for "letting it go" in Britain in 1980, but actually it was already racing ahead around the world.billybagel -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:26
Furthermore, it could easily be argued that the Beatles helped create loneliness - what do you think all those girls were screaming for? And also it could be argued that the Beatles were bringing in neoliberalism in the 1960s, via America thanks to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis etc.. ShareThey're doing it on purpose. ""If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." -- Joseph BoebbelsLuke O'Brien , 12 Oct 2016 05:08Great article, although surely you could've extended the blame to capitalism has a whole?JulesBywaterLees , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
In what, then, consists the alienation of labor? First, in the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., that it does not belong to his nature, that therefore he does not realize himself in his work, that he denies himself in it, that he does not feel at ease in it, but rather unhappy, that he does not develop any free physical or mental energy, but rather mortifies his flesh and ruins his spirit. The worker, therefore, is only himself when he does not work, and in his work he feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor, therefore, is not voluntary, but forced--forced labor. It is not the gratification of a need, but only a means to gratify needs outside itself. Its alien nature shows itself clearly by the fact that work is shunned like the plague as soon as no physical or other kind of coercion exists.
Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844We have created a society with both flaws and highlights- and we have unwittingly allowed the economic system to extend into our lives in negative ways.LordMorganofGlossop , 12 Oct 2016 05:11
On of the things being modern brings is movement- we move away from communities, breaking friendships and losing support networks, and the support networks are the ones that allow us to cope with issues, problems and anxiety.
Isolation among the youth is disturbing, it is also un natural, perhaps it is social media, or fear of parents, or the fall in extra school activities or parents simply not having a network of friends because they have had to move for work or housing.
There is some upsides, I talk and get support from different international communities through the social media that can also be so harmful- I chat on xbox games, exchange information on green building forums, arts forums, share on youtube as well as be part of online communities that hold events in the real world.Increasingly we seem to need to document our lives on social media to somehow prove we 'exist'. We seem far more narcissistic these days, which tends to create a particular type of unhappiness, or at least desire that can never be fulfilled. Maybe that's the secret of modern consumer-based capitalism. To be happy today, it probably helps to be shallow, or avoid things like Twitter and Facebook!eamonmcc , 12 Oct 2016 05:15
Eric Fromm made similar arguments to Monbiot about the psychological impact of modern capitalism (Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society) - although the Freudian element is a tad outdated. However, for all the faults of modern society, I'd rather be unhappy now than in say, Victorian England. Similarly, life in the West is preferable to the obvious alternatives.
Interestingly, the ultra conservative Adam Smith Institute yesterday decided to declare themselves 'neoliberal' as some sort of badge of honour:
http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/coming-out-as-neoliberalsThanks George for commenting in such a public way on the unsayable: consume, consume, consume seems to be the order of the day in our modern world and the points you have highlighted should be part of public policy everywhere.CEMKM , 12 Oct 2016 05:47
I'm old enough to remember when we had more time for each other; when mothers could be full-time housewives; when evenings existed (evenings now seem to be spent working or getting home from work). We are undoubtedly more materialistic, which leads to more time spent working, although our modern problems are probably not due to increasing materialism alone.
Regarding divorce and separation, I notice people in my wider circle who are very open to affairs. They seem to lack the self-discipline to concentrate on problems in their marriage and to give their full-time partner a high level of devotion. Terrible problems come up in marriages but if you are completely and unconditionally committed to your partner and your marriage then you can get through the majority of them.Aggressive self interest is turning in on itself. Unfortunately the powerful who have realised their 'Will to Power' are corrupted by their own inflated sense of self and thus blinded. Does this all predict a global violent revolution?SteB1 -> NeverMindTheBollocks , 12 Oct 2016 06:32heian555 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56An expected response from someone who persistently justifies neoliberalism through opaque and baseless attacks on those who reveal how it works. Neoliberalism is most definitely real and it has a very definite history.
A diatribe against a vague boogieman that is at best an ill-defined catch-all of things this CIFer does not like.
However, what is most interesting is how nearly all modern politicians who peddle neoliberal doctrine or policy, refuse to use the name, or even to openly state what ideology they are in fact following.
I suppose it is just a complete coincidence that the policy so many governments are now following so closely follow known neoliberal doctrine. But of course the clever and unpleasant strategy of those like yourself is to cry conspiracy theory if this ideology, which dare not speak its name is mentioned.
Your style is tiresome. You make no specific supported criticisms again, and again. You just make false assertions and engage in unpleasant ad homs and attempted character assassination. You do not address the evidence for what George Monbiot states at all.An excellent article. One wonders exactly what one needs to say in order to penetrate the reptilian skulls of those who run the system.SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56
As an addition to Mr Monbiot's points, I would like to point out that it is not only competitive self-interest and extreme individualism that drives loneliness. Any system that has strict hierarchies and mechanisms of social inclusion also drives it, because such systems inhibit strongly spontaneous social interaction, in which people simply strike up conversation. Thailand has such a system. Despite her promoting herself as the land of smiles, I have found the people here to be deeply segregated and unfriendly. I have lived here for 17 years. The last time I had a satisfactory face-to-face conversation, one that went beyond saying hello to cashiers at checkout counters or conducting official business, was in 1999. I have survived by convincing myself that I have dialogues with my books; as I delve more deeply into the texts, the authors say something different to me, to which I can then respond in my mind.clarissa3 -> SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 06:48I want to quote the sub headline, because "It's time to ask where we are heading and why", is the important bit. George's excellent and scathing evidence based criticism of the consequences of neoliberalism is on the nail. However, we need to ask how we got to this stage. Despite it's name neoliberalism doesn't really seem to contain any new ideas, and in some way it's more about Thatcher's beloved return to Victorian values. Most of what George Monbiot highlights encapsulatec Victorian thinking, the sort of workhouse mentality.
Epidemics of mental illness are crushing the minds and bodies of millions. It's time to ask where we are heading and why
Whilst it's very important to understand how neoliberalism, the ideology that dare not speak it's name, derailed the general progress in the developed world. It's also necessary to understand that the roots this problem go much further back. Not merely to the start of the industrial revolution, but way beyond that. It actually began with the first civilizations when our societies were taken over by powerful rulers, and they essentially started to farm the people they ruled like cattle. On the one hand they declared themselves protector of their people, whilst ruthlessly exploiting them for their own political gain. I use the livestock farming analogy, because that explains what is going on.
To domesticate livestock, and to make them pliable and easy to work with the farmer must make himself appear to these herd animals as if they are their protector, the person who cares for them, nourishes and feeds them. They become reliant on their apparent benefactor. Except of course this is a deceitful relationship, because the farmer is just fattening them up to be eaten.
For the powerful to exploit the rest of people in society for their own benefit they had to learn how to conceal what they were really doing, and to wrap it in justifications to bamboozle the people they were exploiting for their own benefit. They did this by altering our language and inserting ideas in our culture which justified their rule, and the positions of the rest of us.
Before state religions, generally what was revered was the Earth, the natural world. It was on a personal level, and not controlled by the powerful. So the powerful needed to remove that personal meaningfulness from people's lives, and said the only thing which was really meaningful, was the religion, which of course they controlled and were usually the head of. Over generations people were indoctrinated in a completely new way of thinking, and a language manipulated so all people could see was the supposed divine right of kings to rule. Through this language people were detached from what was personally meaningful to them, and could only find meaningfulness by pleasing their rulers, and being indoctrinated in their religion.
If you control the language people use, you can control how perceive the world, and can express themselves.
By stripping language of meaningful terms which people can express themselves, and filling it full of dubious concepts such as god, the right of kings completely altered how people saw the world, how they thought. This is why over the ages, and in different forms the powerful have always attempted to have full control of our language through at first religion and their proclamations, and then eventually by them controlling our education system and the media.
The idea of language being used to control how people see the world, and how they think is of course not my idea. George Orwell's Newspeak idea explored in "1984" is very much about this.
This control of language is well known throughout history. Often conquerors would abolish languages of those they conquered. In the so called New World the colonists eventually tried to control how indigenous people thought by forcibly sending their children to boarding school, to be stripped of their culture, their native language, and to be inculcated in the language and ideas of their colonists. In Britain various attempts were made to banish the Welsh language, the native language of the Britons, before the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans took over.
However, what Orwell did not deal with properly is the origin of language style. To Orwell, and to critics of neoliberalism, the problems can be traced back to the rise of what they criticised. To a sort of mythical golden age. Except all the roots of what is being criticised can be found in the period before the invention of these doctrines. So you have to go right back to the beginning, to understand how it all began.
Neoliberalism would never have been possible without this long control of our language and ideas by the powerful. It prevents us thinking outside the box, about what the problem really is, and how it all began.All very well but you are talking about ruthlessness of western elites, mostly British, not all.SteB1 -> Borisundercoat , 12 Oct 2016 06:20
It was not like that everywhere. Take Poland for example, and around there..
New research is emerging - and I'd recommend reading of prof Frost from St Andrew's Uni - that lower classes were actually treated with respect by elites there, mainly land owners and aristocracy who more looked after them and employed and cases of such ruthlessness as you describe were unknown of.
So that 'truth' about attitudes to lower classes is not universal!Winstons1 -> TerryMcBurney , 12 Oct 2016 06:24
What is "neoliberalism" exactly?
It's spouted by many on here as the root of all evil.
I'd be interested to see how many different definitions I get in response...
The reason I call neoliberalism the ideology which dare not speak it's name is that in public you will rarely hear it mentioned by it's proponents. However, it was a very important part of Thatcherism, Blairism, and so on. What is most definite is that these politicians and others are most definitely following some doctrine. Their ideas about what we must do and how we must do it are arbitrary, but they make it sound as if it's the only way to do things.
If you want to learn more about neoliberalism, read a summary such as the Wikipedia page on it.
However, as I hint, the main problem in dealing with neoliberalism is that none of the proponents of this doctrine admit to what ideology they are actually following. Yet very clearly around the world leaders in many countries are clearly singing from the same hymn sheet because the policy they implement is so similar. Something has definitely changed. All the attempts to roll back welfare, benefits, and public services is most definitely new, or they wouldn't be having to reverse policy of the past if nothing had change. But as all these politicians implementing this policy all seem to refuse to explain what doctrine they are following, it makes it difficult to pin down what is happening. Yet we can most definitely say that there is a clear doctrine at work, because why else would so many political leaders around the world be trying to implement such similar policy.UnderSurveillance , 12 Oct 2016 06:12
Neo-liberalism doesn't really exist except in the minds of the far left and perhaps a few academics.
Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. ... Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.
I believe the term 'Neo liberalism' was coined by those well known 'Lefties'The Chicago School .
If you don't believe that any of the above has been happening ,it does beg the question as to where you have been for the past decade.The ironies of modern civilization - we have never been more 'connected' to other people on global level and less 'connected' on personal level.John Pelan , 12 Oct 2016 06:18
We have never had access to such a wide range of information and opinions, but also for a long time been so divided into conflicting groups, reading and accessing in fact only that which reinforces what we already think.Sir Harry Burns, ex-Chief Medical Officer in Scotland talks very powerfully about the impact of loneliness and isolation on physical and mental health - here is a video of a recent talk by him - http://www.befs.org.uk/calendar/48/164-BEFS-Annual-LectureMightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 06:22These issues have been a long time coming, just think of the appeals of the 60's to chill out and love everyone. Globalisation and neo-liberalism has simply made society even more broken.ParisHiltonCommune -> MightyDrunken , 12 Oct 2016 07:19
The way these problems have been ignored and made worse over the last few decades make me think that the solution will only happen after a massive catastrophe and society has to be rebuilt. Unless we make the same mistakes again.
A shame really, you would think intelligence would be useful but it seems not.Contemporary Neo-liberalism is a reaction against that ideal of the 60sDevilMayCareIDont , 12 Oct 2016 06:25I would argue that it creates a bubble of existence for those who pursue a path of "success" that instead turns to isolation . The amount of people that I have met who have moved to London because to them it represents the main location for everything . I get to see so many walking cliches of people trying to fit in or stand out but also fitting in just the same .JimGoddard , 12 Oct 2016 06:28
The real disconnect that software is providing us with is truly staggering . I have spoken to people from all over the World who seem to feel more at home being alone and playing a game with strangers . The ones who are most happy are those who seem to be living all aloe and the ones who try and play while a girlfriend or family are present always seemed to be the ones most agitated by them .
We are humans relying on simplistic algorithms that reduce us ,apps like Tinder which turns us into a misogynist at the click of a button .
Facebook which highlights our connections with the other people and assumes that everyone you know or have met is of the same relevance .
We also have Twitter which is the equivalent of screaming at a television when you are drunk or angry .
We have Instagram where people revel in their own isolation and send updates of it . All those products that are instantly updated and yet we are ageing and always feeling like we are grouped together by simple algorithms .Television has been the main destroyer of social bonds since the 1950s and yet it is only mentioned once and in relation to the number of competitions on it, which completely misses the point. That's when I stopped taking this article seriously.GeoffP , 12 Oct 2016 06:29Another shining example of the slow poison of capitalism. Maybe it's time at last to turn off the tap?jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 06:30I actually blame Marx for neoliberalism. He framed society purely in terms economic, and persuaded that ideology is valuable in as much as it is actionable.ParisHiltonCommune -> jwestoby , 12 Oct 2016 07:16
For a dialectician he was incredibly short sighted and superficial, not realising he was creating a narrative inimical to personal expression and simple thoughtfulness (although he was warned). To be fair, he can't have appreciated how profoundly he would change the way we concieve societies.
Neoliberalism is simply the dark side of Marxism and subsumes the personal just as comprehensively as communism.
We're picked apart by quantification and live as particulars, suffering the ubiquitous consequences of connectivity alone . . .
Unless, of course, you get out there and meet great people!Marxism arose as a reaction against the harsh capitalism of its day. Of course it is connected. It is ironic how Soviet our lives have become.zeeeel , 12 Oct 2016 06:30Neo-liberalism allows psychopaths to flourish, and it has been argued by Robert Hare that they are disproportionately represented in the highest echelons of society. So people who lack empathy and emotional attachment are probably weilding a significant amount of influence over the way our economy and society is organised. Is it any wonder that they advocate an economic model which is most conducive to their success? Things like job security, rigged markets, unions, and higher taxes on the rich simply get in their way.Drewv , 12 Oct 2016 06:30That fine illustration by Andrzej Krauze up there is exactly what I see whenever I walk into an upscale mall or any Temple of Consumerism.havetheyhearts , 12 Oct 2016 06:31
You can hear the Temple calling out: "Feel bad, atomized individuals? Have a hole inside? Feel lonely? That's all right: buy some shit you don't need and I guarantee you'll feel better."
And then it says: "So you bought it and you felt better for five minutes, and now you feel bad again? Well, that's not rocket science...you should buy MORE shit you don't need! I mean, it's not rocket science, you should have figured this out on your own."
And then it says: "Still feel bad and you have run out of money? Well, that's okay, just get it on credit, or take out a loan, or mortgage your house. I mean, it's not rocket science. Really, you should have figured this out on your own already...I thought you were a modern, go-get-'em, independent, initiative-seizing citizen of the world?"
And then it says: "Took out too many loans, can't pay the bills and the repossession has begun? Honestly, that's not my problem. You're just a bad little consumer, and a bad little liberal, and everything is your own fault. You go sit in a dark corner now where you don't bother the other shoppers. Honestly, you're just being a burden on other consumers now. I'm not saying you should kill yourself, but I can't say that we would mind either."
And that's how the worms turn at the Temples of Consumerism and Neoliberalism.I kept my sanity by not becoming a spineless obedient middle class pleaser of a sociopathic greedy tribe pretending neoliberalism is the future.Likewhatever , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
The result is a great clarity about the game, and an intact empathy for all beings.
The middle class treated each conscious "outsider" like a lowlife, and now they play the helpless victims of circumstances.
I know why I renounced to my privileges. They sleepwalk into their self created disorder. And yes, I am very angry at those who wasted decades with their social stupidity, those who crawled back after a start of change into their petit bourgeois niche.
I knew that each therapist has to take a stand and that the most choose petty careers. Do not expect much sanity from them for your disorientated kids.
Get insightful yourself and share your leftover love to them. Try honesty and having guts...that might help both of you.Alternatively, neo-liberalism has enabled us to afford to live alone (entire families were forced to live together for economic reasons), and technology enables us to work remotely, with no need for interaction with other people.Peter1Barnet , 12 Oct 2016 06:32
This may make some people feel lonely, but for many others its utopia.Some of the things that characterise Globalisation and Neoliberalism are open borders and free movement. How can that contribute to isolation? That is more likely to be fostered by Protectionism. And there aren't fewer jobs. Employment is at record highs here and in many other countries. There are different jobs, not fewer, and to be sure there are some demographics that have lost out. But overall there are not fewer jobs. That falls for the old "lump of labour" fallacy.WhigInterpretation , 12 Oct 2016 06:43The corrosive state of mass television indoctrination sums it up: Apprentice, Big Brother, Dragon's Den. By degrees, the standard keeps lowering. It is no longer unusual for a licence funded TV programme to consist of a group of the mentally deranged competing to be the biggest asshole in the room.Pinkie123 -> Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:18
Anomie is a by-product of cultural decline as much as economics.Pinkie123 -> Stephen Bell , 12 Oct 2016 07:28
What is certain, is that is most ways, life is far better now in the UK than 20, 30 or 40 years ago, by a long way!
That's debatable. Data suggests that inequality has widened massively over the last 30 years ( https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/infographic-income-inequality-uk ) - as has social mobility ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts ). Homelessness has risen substantially since 1979.
Our whole culture is more stressful. Jobs are more precarious; employment rights more stacked in favor of the employer; workforces are deunionised; leisure time is on the decrease; rents are unaffordable; a house is no longer a realistic expectation for millions of young people. Overall, citizens are more socially immobile and working harder for poorer real wages than they were in the late 70's.
As for mental health, evidence suggest that mental health problems have been on the increase over recent decades, especially among young people. The proportion of 15/16 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years, from 1 in 30 to 2 in 30 for boys and 1 in 10 to 2 in ten for girls ( http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/news/increased-levels-anxiety-and-depression-teenage-experience-changes-over-time
Unfortunately, sexual abuse has always been a feature of human societies. However there is no evidence to suggest it was any worse in the past. Then sexual abuse largely took place in institutional settings were at least it could be potentially addressed. Now much of it has migrated to the great neoliberal experiment of the internet, where child exploitation is at endemic levels and completely beyond the control of law enforcement agencies. There are now more women and children being sexually trafficked than there were slaves at the height of the slave trade. Moreover, we should not forget that Jimmy Saville was abusing prolifically right into the noughties.
My parents were both born in 1948. They say it was great. They bought a South London house for next to nothing and never had to worry about getting a job. When they did get a job it was one with rights, a promise of a generous pension, a humane workplace environment, lunch breaks and an ethos of public service. My mum says that the way women are talked about now is worse.
Sounds fine to me. That's not to say everything was great: racism was acceptable (though surely the vile views pumped out onto social media are as bad or worse than anything that existed then), homosexuality was illegal and capital punishment enforced until the 1960's. However, the fact that these things were reformed showed society was moving in the right direction. Now we are going backwards, back to 1930's levels or inequality and a reactionary, small-minded political culture fueled by loneliness, rage and misery.And there is little evidence to suggest that anyone has expanded their mind with the internet. A lot of people use it to look at porn, post racist tirades on Facebook, send rape threats, distributes sexual images of partners with their permission, take endless photographs of themselves and whip up support for demagogues. In my view it would much better if people went to a library than lurked in corporate echo chambers pumping out the like of 'why dont theese imagrantz go back home and all those lezbo fems can fuckk off too ha ha megalolz ;). Seriously mind expanding stuff. SharePinkie123 -> Pinkie123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:38Oops ' without their permission...maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 06:49As a director and CEO of an organisation employing several hundred people I became aware that 40% of the staff lived alone and that the workplace was important to them not only for work but also for interacting with their colleagues socially . This was encouraged and the organisation achieved an excellent record in retaining staff at a time when recruitment was difficult. Performance levels were also extremely high . I particulalry remember with gratitude the solidarity of staff when one of our colleagues - a haemophiliac - contracted aids through an infected blood transfusion and died bravely but painfully - the staff all supported him in every way possible through his ordeal and it was a privilege for me to work with such kind and caring people .oommph -> maldonglass , 12 Oct 2016 07:00Indeed. Those communities are often undervalued. However, the problem is, as George says, lots of people are excluded from them.forkintheroad , 12 Oct 2016 06:50
They are also highly self-selecting (e.g. you need certain trains of inclusivity, social adeptness, empathy, communication, education etc to get the job that allows you to join that community).
Certainly I make it a priority in my life. I do create communities. I do make an effort to stand by people who live like me. I can be a leader there.
Sometimes I wish more people would be. It is a sustained, long-term effort. Share'a war of everyone against themselves' - post-Hobbesian. Genius, George.sparclear , 12 Oct 2016 06:51Using a word like 'loneliness' is risky insofar as nuances get lost. It can have thousand meanings, as there are of a word like 'love'.Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 06:55
To add to this discussion, we might consider the strongest need and conflict each of us experiences as a teenager, the need to be part of a tribe vs the the conflict inherent in recognising one's uniqueness. In a child's life from about 7 or 8 until adolescence, friends matter the most. Then the young person realises his or her difference from everyone else and has to grasp what this means.
Those of us who enjoyed a reasonably healthy upbringing will get through the peer group / individuation stage with happiness possible either way - alone or in friendship. Our parents and teachers will have fostered a pride in our own talents and our choice of where to socialise will be flexible and non-destructive.
Those of us who at some stage missed that kind of warmth and acceptance in childhood can easily stagnate. Possibly this is the most awkward of personal developmental leaps. The person neither knows nor feels comfortable with themselves, all that faces them is an abyss.
Where creative purpose and strength of spirit are lacking, other humans can instinctively sense it and some recoil from it, hardly knowing what it's about. Vulnerabilities attendant on this state include relationships holding out some kind of ersatz rescue, including those offered by superficial therapists, religions, and drugs, legal and illegal.
Experience taught that apart from the work we might do with someone deeply compassionate helping us where our parents failed, the natural world is a reliable healer. A kind of self-acceptance and individuation is possible away from human bustle. One effect of the seasons and of being outdoors amongst other life forms is to challenge us physically, into present time, where our senses start to work acutely and our observational skills get honed, becoming more vibrant than they could at any educational establishment.
This is one reason we have to look after the Earth, whether it's in a city context or a rural one. Our mental, emotional and physical health is known to be directly affected by it.A thoughtful article. But the rich and powerful will ignore it; their doing very well out of neo liberalism thank you. Meanwhile many of those whose lives are affected by it don't want to know - they're happy with their bigger TV screen. Which of course is what the neoliberals want, 'keep the people happy and in the dark'. An old Roman tactic - when things weren't going too well for citizens and they were grumbling the leaders just extended the 'games'. Evidently it did the trickworried -> Buster123 , 12 Oct 2016 07:32The rich and powerful can be just as lonely as you and me. However, some of them will be lonely after having royally forked the rest of us over...and that is another thingHallucinogen , 12 Oct 2016 06:59ParisHiltonCommune , 12 Oct 2016 07:01- Fight Club
We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives.
People need a tribe to feel purpose. We need conflict, it's essential for our species... psychological health improved in New York after 9/11.Totally agree with the last sentences. Human civilisation is a team effort. Individual humans cant survive, our language evolved to aid cooperation.deirdremcardle , 12 Oct 2016 07:01
Neo-liberalism is really only an Anglo-American project. Yet we are so indoctrinated in it, It seems natural to us, but not to hardly any other cultures.
As for those "secondary factors. Look to advertising and the loss of real jobs forcing more of us to sell services dependent on fake needs. ShareHelp save the Notting Hill CarnivalLafcadio1944 , 12 Oct 2016 07:03
It's importance for social cohesion -- yes inspite of the problems , can not be overestimated .Don't let the rich drive it out , people who don't understand ,or care what it's for .The poorer boroughs cannot afford it .K&C have easily 1/2billion in Capital Reserves ,so yes they must continue . Here I can assure you ,one often sees the old and lonely get a hug .If drug gangs are hitting each other or their rich boy customers with violence - that is a different matter . And yes of course if we don't do something to help boys from ethnic minorities ,with education and housing -of course it only becomes more expensive in the long run.
Boris Johnson has idiotically mouthed off about trying to mobilise people to stand outside the Russian Embassy , as if one can mobilise youth by telling them to tidy their bedroom .Because that's all it amounts to - because you have to FEEL protest and dissent . Well here at Carnival - there it is ,protest and dissent . Now listen to it . And of course it will be far easier than getting any response from sticking your tongue out at the Putin monster --
He has his bombs , just as Kensington and Chelsea have their money. (and anyway it's only another Boris diversion ,like building some fucking stupid bridge ,instead of doing anything useful)"Society" or at least organized society is the enemy of corporate power. The idea of Neoliberal capitalism is to replace civil society with corporate law and rule. The same was true of the less extreme forms of capitalism. Society is the enemy of capital because it put restrictions on it and threatens its power.Joan Cant , 12 Oct 2016 07:10
When society organizes itself and makes laws to protect society from the harmful effects of capitalism, for example demands on testing drugs to be sure they are safe, this is a big expense to Pfizer, there are many examples - just now in the news banning sugary drinks. If so much as a small group of parents forming a day care co-op decide to ban coca cola from their group that is a loss of profit.
That is really what is going on, loneliness is a big part of human life, everyone feels it sometimes, under Neoliberal capitalism it is simply more exaggerated due to the out and out assault on society itself.Well the prevailing Global Capitalist world view is still a combination 1. homocentric Cartesian Dualism i.e. seeing humans as most important and sod all other living beings, and seeing humans as separate from all other living beings and other humans and 2. Darwinian "survival of the fittest" seeing everything as a competition and people as "winners and losers, weak or strong with winners and the strong being most important". From these 2 combined views all kinds of "games" arise. The main one being the game of "victim, rescuer, persecutor" (Transactional Analysis). The Guardian engages in this most of the time and although I welcome the truth in this article to some degree, surprisingly, as George is environmentally friendly, it kinda still is talking as if humans are most important and as if those in control (the winners) need to change their world view to save the victims. I think the world view needs to zoom out to a perspective that recognises that everything is interdependent and that the apparent winners and the strong are as much victims of their limited world view as those who are manifesting the effects of it more obviously.Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 07:14Here in America, we have reached the point at which police routinely dispatch the mentally ill, while complaining that "we don't have the time for this" (N. Carolina). When a policeman refuses to kill a troubled citizen, he or she can and will be fired from his job (West Virginia). This has become not merely commonplace, but actually a part of the social function of the work of the police -- to remove from society the burden of caring for the mentally ill by killing them. In the state where I live, a state trooper shot dead a mentally ill man who was not only unarmed, but sitting on the toilet in his own home. The resulting "investigation" exculpated the trooper, of course; in fact, young people are constantly told to look up to the police.ianita1978 -> Zombiesfan , 12 Oct 2016 08:25Sounds like the inevitable logical outcome of a society where the predator sociopathic and their scared prey are all that is allowed. This dynamic dualistic tautology, the slavish terrorised to sleep and bullying narcissistic individual, will always join together to protect their sick worldview by pathologising anything that will threaten their hegemony of power abuse: compassion, sensitivity, moral conscience, altruism and the immediate effects of the ruthless social effacement or punishment of the same ie human suffering.Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 07:14The impact of increasing alienation on individual mental health has been known about and discussed for a long time.ianita1978 -> Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 08:18
When looking at a way forward, the following article is interesting:
"Alienation, in all areas, has reached unprecedented heights; the social machinery for deluding consciousnesses in the interest of the ruling class has been perfected as never before. The media are loaded with upscale advertising identifying sophistication with speciousness. Television, in constant use, obliterates the concept under the image and permanently feeds a baseless credulity for events and history. Against the will of many students, school doesn't develop the highly cultivated critical capacities that a real sovereignty of the people would require. And so on.
The ordinary citizen thus lives in an incredibly deceiving reality. Perhaps this explains the tremendous and persistent gap between the burgeoning of motives to struggle, and the paucity of actual combatants. The contrary would be a miracle. Thus the considerable importance of what I call the struggle for representation: at every moment, in every area, to expose the deception and bring to light, in the simplicity of form which only real theoretical penetration makes possible, the processes in which the false-appearances, real and imagined, originate, and this way, to form the vigilant consciousness, placing our image of reality back on its feet and reopening paths to action."
https://www.marxists.org/archive/seve/lucien_seve.htmFor the global epidemic of abusive, effacing homogenisation of human intellectual exchange and violent hyper-sexualisation of all culture, I blame the US Freudian PR guru Edward Bernays and his puritan forebears - alot.bonhee -> Ruby4 , 12 Oct 2016 09:03Thanks for proving that Anomie is a far more sensible theory than Dialectical Materialistic claptrap that was used back in the 80s to terrorize the millions of serfs living under the Jack boot of Leninist Iron curtain.RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:15There's no question - neoliberalism has been wrenching society apart. It's not as if the prime movers of this ideology were unaware of the likely outcome viz. "there is no such thing as society" (Thatcher). Actually in retrospect the whole zeitgeist from the late 70s emphasised the atomised individual separated from the whole. Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" (1976) may have been influential in creating that climate.Jayarava Attwood -> RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:37
Anyway, the wheel has turned thank goodness. We are becoming wiser and understanding that "ecology" doesn't just refer to our relationship with the natural world but also, closer to home, our relationship with each other.The Communist manifesto makes the same complaint in 1848. The wheel has not turned, it is still grinding down workers after 150 years. We are none the wiser.Ben Wood -> RossJames , 12 Oct 2016 07:49"The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,ianita1978 -> Ben Wood , 12 Oct 2016 08:13
You can't let go and you can't hold on,
You can't go back and you can't stand still,
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will."
R HunterYep. And far too many good people have chosen to be the grateful dead in order to escape the brutal torture of bullying Predators.magicspoon3 , 12 Oct 2016 07:30What is loneliness? I love my own company and I love walking in nature and listening to relaxation music off you tube and reading books from the library. That is all free. When I fancied a change of scene, I volunteered at my local art gallery.dr8765 , 12 Oct 2016 07:34
Mental health issues are not all down to loneliness. Indeed, other people can be a massive stress factor, whether it is a narcissistic parent, a bullying spouse or sibling, or an unreasonable boss at work.
I'm on the internet far too much and often feel the need to detox from it and get back to a more natural life, away from technology. The 24/7 news culture and selfie obsessed society is a lot to blame for social disconnect.
The current economic climate is also to blame, if housing and job security are a problem for individuals as money worries are a huge factor of stress. The idea of not having any goal for the future can trigger depressive thoughts.
I have to say, I've been happier since I don't have such unrealistic expectations of what 'success is'. I rarely get that foreign holiday or new wardrobe of clothes and my mobile phone is archaic. The pressure that society puts on us to have all these things- and get in debt for them is not good. The obsession with economic growth at all costs is also stupid, as the numbers don't necessarily mean better wealth, health or happiness.Very fine article, as usual from George, until right at the end he says:John Smythe , 12 Oct 2016 07:35
This does not require a policy response.
But it does. It requires abandonment of neoliberalism as the means used to run the world. People talk about the dangers of man made computers usurping their makers but mankind has, it seems, already allowed itself to become enslaved. This has not been achieved by physical dependence upon machines but by intellectual enslavement to an ideology.A very good "Opinion" by George Monbiot one of the best I have seen on this Guardian blog page.Jayarava Attwood , 12 Oct 2016 07:36
I would add that the basic concepts of the Neoliberal New world order are fundamentally Evil, from the control of world population through supporting of strife starvation and war to financial inducements of persons in positions of power. Let us not forget the training of our younger members of our society who have been induced to a slavish love of technology. Many other areas of human life are also under attack from the Neoliberal, even the very air we breathe, and the earth we stand upon.The Amish have understood for 300 years that technology could have a negative effect on society and decided to limit its effects. I greatly admire their approach. Neal Stephenson's recent novel Seveneves coined the term Amistics for the practice of assessing and limiting the impact of tech. We need a Minister for Amistics in the government. Wired magazine did two features on the Amish use of telephones which are quite insightful.maplegirl , 12 Oct 2016 07:38
The Amish Get Wired. The Amish ? 6.1.1993
look Who's talking . 1.1.1999
If we go back to 1848, we also find Marx and Engels, in the Communist Manifesto, complaining about the way that the first free-market capitalism (the original liberalism) was destroying communities and families by forcing workers to move to where the factories were being built, and by forcing women and children into (very) low paid work. 150 years later, after many generations of this, combined with the destruction of work in the North, the result is widespread mental illness. But a few people are really rich now, so that's all right, eh?
Social media is ersatz community. It's like eating grass: filling, but not nourishing.
ICYMI I had some thoughts a couple of days ago on how to deal with the mental health epidemic .Young people are greatly harmed by not being able to see a clear path forward in the world. For most people, our basic needs are a secure job, somewhere secure and affordable to live, and a decent social environment in terms of public services and facilities. Unfortunately, all these things are sliding further out of reach for young people in the UK, and they know this. Many already live with insecure housing where their family could have to move at a month or two's notice.dynamicfrog , 12 Oct 2016 07:44
Our whole economic system needs to be built around providing these basic securities for people. Neoliberalism = insecure jobs, insecure housing and poor public services, because these are the end result of its extreme free market ideology.I agree with this 100%. Social isolation makes us unhappy. We have a false sense of what makes us unhappy - that success or wealth will enlighten or liberate us. What makes us happy is social connection. Good friendships, good relationships, being part of community that you contribute to. Go to some of the poorest countries in the world and you may meet happy people there, tell them about life in rich countries, and say that some people there are unhappy. They won't believe you. We do need to change our worldview, because misery is a real problem in many countries.SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 07:47It is tempting to see the world before Thatcherism, which is what most English writers mean when they talk about neo-liberalism, as an idyll, but it simply wasn't.proteusblu -> SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
The great difficulty with capitalism is that while it is in many ways an amoral doctrine, it goes hand in hand with personal freedom. Socialism is moral in its concern for the poorest, but then it places limits on personal freedom and choice. That's the price people pay for the emphasis on community, rather than the individual.
Close communities can be a bar on personal freedom and have little tolerance for people who deviate from the norm. In doing that, they can entrench loneliness.
This happened, and to some extent is still happening, in the working class communities which we typically describe as 'being destroyed by Thatcher'. It's happening in close-knit Muslim communities now.
I'm not attempting to vindicate Thatcherism, I'm just saying there's a pay-off with any model of society. George Monbiot's concerns are actually part of a long tradition - Oliver Goldsmith's Deserted Village (1770) chimes with his thinking, as does DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.The kind of personal freedom that you say goes hand in hand with capitalism is an illusion for the majority of people. It holds up the prospect of that kind of freedom, but only a minority get access to it. For most, it is necessary to submit yourself to a form of being yoked, in terms of the daily grind which places limits on what you can then do, as the latter depends hugely on money. The idea that most people are "free" to buy the house they want, private education, etc., not to mention whether they can afford the many other things they are told will make them happy, is a very bad joke. Hunter-gatherers have more real freedom than we do. ShareStephen Bell -> SavannahLaMar , 12 Oct 2016 09:07Well said. One person's loneliness is another's peace and quiet.stumpedup_32 -> Firstact , 12 Oct 2016 08:12According to Wiki: 'Neoliberalism refers primarily to the 20th century resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.'queequeg7 , 12 Oct 2016 07:54We grow into fear - the stress of exams and their certain meanings; the lower wages, longer hours, and fewer rights at work; the certainty of debt with ever greater mortgages; the terror of benefit cuts combined with rent increases.CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 07:54
If we're forever afraid, we'll cling to whatever life raft presents.
It's a demeaning way to live, but it serves the Market better than having a free, reasonably paid, secure workforce, broadly educated and properly housed, with rights.Insightful analysis... George quite rightly pinpoints the isolating effects of modern society and technology and the impact on the quality of our relationships. The obvious question is how can we offset these trends and does the government care enough to do anything about them?school10 -> CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 08:04
It strikes me that one of the major problems is that [young] people have been left to their own devices in terms of their consumption of messages from Social and Mass online Media - analogous to leaving your kids in front of a video in lieu of a parental care or a babysitter. In traditional society - the messages provided by Society were filtered by family contact and real peer interaction - and a clear picture of the limited value of the media was propogated by teachers and clerics. Now young and older people alike are left to make their own judgments and we cannot be surprised when they extract negative messages around body image, wealth and social expectations and social and sexual norms from these channels. It's inevitable that this will create a boundary free landscape where insecurity, self-loathing and ultimately mental illness will prosper.
I'm not a traditionalist in any way but there has to be a role for teachers and parents in mediating these messages and presenting the context for analysing what is being said in a healthy way. I think this kind of Personal Esteem and Life Skills education should be part of the core curriculum in all schools. Our continued focus on basic academic skills just does not prepare young people for the real world of judgementalism, superficiality and cliques and if anything dealing with these issues are core life skills.
We can't reverse the fact that media and modern society is changing but we can prepare people for the impact which it can have on their lives.A politician's answer. X is a problem. Someone else, in your comment it will be teachers that have to sort it out. Problems in society are not solved by having a one hour a week class on "self esteem". In fact self-esteem and self-worth comes from the things you do. Taking kids away from their academic/cultural studies reduces this. This is a problem in society. What can society as a whole do to solve it and what are YOU prepared to contribute.David Ireland -> CrazyGuy , 12 Oct 2016 09:28Rather difficult to do when their parents are Thatchers children and buy into the whole celebrity, you are what you own lifestyle too....and teachers are far too busy filling out all the paperwork that shows they've met their targets to find time to teach a person centred course on self-esteem to a class of 30 teenagers.Ian Harris , 12 Oct 2016 07:54I think we should just continue to be selfish and self-serving, sneering and despising anyone less fortunate than ourselves, look up to and try to emulate the shallow, vacuous lifestyle of the non-entity celebrity, consume the Earth's natural resources whilst poisoning the planet and the people, destroy any non-contributing indigenous peoples and finally set off all our nuclear arsenals in a smug-faced global firework display to demonstrate our high level of intelligence and humanity. Surely, that's what we all want? Who cares? So let's just carry on with business as usual!BetaRayBill , 12 Oct 2016 08:01Neoliberalism is the bastard child of globalization which in effect is Americanization. The basic premise is the individual is totally reliant on the corporate world state aided by a process of fear inducing mechanisms, pharmacology is one of the tools. No community no creativity no free thinking. Poded sealed and cling filmed a quasi existence.Bluecloud , 12 Oct 2016 08:01 ContributorHaving grown up during the Thatcher years, I entirely agree that neoliberalism has divided society by promoting individual self-optimisation at the expensive of everyone else.SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 08:09
What's the solution? Well if neoliberalism is the root cause, we need a systematic change, which is a problem considering there is no alternative right now. We can however, get active in rebuilding communities and I am encouraged by George Monbiot's work here.
My approach is to get out and join organizations working toward system change. 350.org is a good example. Get involved.we live in a narcissistic and ego driven world that dehumanises everyone. we have an individual and collective crisis of the soul. it is our false perception of ourselves that creates a disconnection from who we really are that causes loneliness.rolloverlove -> SemenC , 12 Oct 2016 11:33I agree. This article explains why it is a perfectly normal reaction to the world we are currently living in. It goes as far as to suggest that if you do not feel depressed at the state of our world there's something wrong with you ;-)HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:10
http://upliftconnect.com/mutiny-of-the-soul/Surely there is a more straightforward possible explanation for increasing incidence of "unhapiness"?avid Ireland -> HaveYouFedTheFish , 12 Oct 2016 08:59
Quite simply, a century of gradually increasing general living standards in the West have lifted the masses up Maslows higiene hierarchy of needs, to where the masses now have largely only the unfulfilled self esteem needs that used to be the preserve of a small, middle class minority (rather than the unfulfilled survival, security and social needs of previous generations)
If so - this is good. This is progress. We just need to get them up another rung to self fulfillment (the current concern of the flourishing upper middle classes).Maslow's hierarchy of needs was not about material goods. One could be poor and still fulfill all his criteria and be fully realised. You have missed the point entirely.HaveYouFedTheFish -> David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:25Error.... Who mentioned material goods? I think you have not so much "missed the point" as "made your own one up" .HaveYouFedTheFish -> David Ireland , 12 Oct 2016 09:40
And while agreed that you could, in theory, be poor and meet all of your needs (in fact the very point of the analysis is that money, of itself, isn't what people "need") the reality of the structure of a western capitalist society means that a certain level of affluence is almost certainly a prerequisite for meeting most of those needs simply because food and shelter at the bottom end and, say, education and training at the top end of self fulfillment all have to be purchased. ShareAlso note that just because a majority of people are now so far up the hierarchy does in no way negate an argument that corporations haven't also noticed this and target advertising appropriately to exploit it (and maybe we need to talk about that)Pinkie123 -> Loatheallpoliticians , 12 Oct 2016 08:25
It just means that it's lazy thinking to presume we are in some way "sliding backwards" socially, rather than needing to just keep pushing through this adversity through to the summit.
I have to admit it does really stick in my craw a bit hearing millenials moan about how they may never get to *own* a really *nice* house while their grandparents are still alive who didn't even get the right to finish school and had to share a bed with their siblings.There is no such thing as a free-market society. Your society of 'self-interest' is really a state supported oligarchy. If you really want to live in a society where there is literally no state and a more or less open market try Somalia or a Latin American city run by drug lords - but even then there are hierarchies, state involvement, militias.LevNikolayevich , 12 Oct 2016 08:17
What you are arguing for is a system (for that is what it is) that demands everyone compete with one another. It is not free, or liberal, or democratic, or libertarian. It is designed to oppress, control, exploit and degrade human beings. This kind of corporatism in which everyone is supposed to serve the God of the market is, ironically, quite Stalinist. Furthermore, a society in which people are encouraged to be narrowly selfish is just plain uncivilized. Since when have sociopathy and barbarism been something to aspire to?George, you are right, of course. The burning question, however, is not 'Is our current social set-up making us ill' (it certainly is), but 'Is there a healthier alternative?' What form of society would make us less ill? Socialism and egalatarianism, wherever they are tried, tend to lead to their own set of mental-illness-inducing problems, chiefly to do with thwarted opportunity, inability to thrive, and constraints on individual freedom. The sharing, caring society is no more the answer than the brutally individualistic one. You may argue that what is needed is a balance between the two, but that is broadly what we have already. It ain't perfect, but it's a lot better than any of the alternatives.David Ireland -> LevNikolayevich , 12 Oct 2016 08:50We certainly do NOT at present have a balance between the two societies...Have you not read the article? Corporations and big business have far too much power and control over our lives and our Gov't. The gov't does not legislate for a real living minimum wage and expects the taxpayer to fund corporations low wage businesses. The Minimum wage and benefit payments are sucked in to ever increasing basic living costs leaving nothing for the human soul aside from more work to keep body and soul together, and all the while the underlying message being pumped at us is that we are failures if we do not have wealth and all the accoutrements that go with it....How does that create a healthy society?Saul Till , 12 Oct 2016 08:25Neoliberalism. A simple word but it does a great deal of work for people like Monbiot.Rapport , 12 Oct 2016 08:38
The simple statistical data on quality of life differences between generations is absolutely nowhere to be found in this article, nor are self-reported findings on whether people today are happier, just as happy or less happy than people thirty years ago. In reality quality of life and happiness indices have generally been increasing ever since they were introduced.
It's more difficult to know if things like suicide, depression and mental illness are actually increasing or whether it's more to do with the fact that the number of people who are prepared to report them is increasing: at least some of the rise in their numbers will be down to greater awareness of said mental illness, government campaigns and a decline in associated social stigma.
Either way, what evidence there is here isn't even sufficient to establish that we are going through some vast mental health crisis in the first place, never mind that said crisis is inextricably bound up with 'neoliberalism'.
Furthermore, I'm inherently suspicious of articles that manage to connect every modern ill to the author's own political bugbear, especially if they cherry-pick statistical findings to support their point. I'd be just as, if not more, suspicious if it was a conservative author trying to link the same ills to the decline in Christianity or similar. In fact, this article reminds me very much of the sweeping claims made by right-wingers about the allegedly destructive effects of secularism/atheism/homosexuality/video games/South Park/The Great British Bake Off/etc...
If you're an author and you have a pet theory, and upon researching an article you believe you see a pattern in the evidence that points towards further confirmation of that theory, then you should step back and think about whether said pattern is just a bit too psychologically convenient and ideologically simple to be true. This is why people like Steven Pinker - properly rigorous, scientifically versed writer-researchers - do the work they do in systematically sifting through the sociological and historical data: because your mind is often actively trying to convince you to believe that neoliberalism causes suicide and depression, or, if you're a similarly intellectually lazy right-winger, homosexuality leads to gang violence and the flooding of(bafflingly, overwhelmingly heterosexual) parts of America.
I see no sign that Monbiot is interested in testing his belief in his central claim and as a result this article is essentially worthless except as an example of a certain kind of political rhetoric.Why don't we explore some of the benefits?.. Following the long list of some the diseases, loneliness can inflict on individuals, there must be a surge in demand for all sort of medications; anti-depressants must be topping the list. There is a host many other anti-stress treatments available of which Big Pharma must be carving the lion's share. Examine the micro-economic impact immediately following a split or divorce. There is an instant doubling on the demand for accommodation, instant doubling on the demand for electrical and household items among many other products and services. But the icing on the cake and what is really most critical for Neoliberalism must be this: With the morale barometer hitting the bottom, people will be less likely to think of a better future, and therefore, less likely to protest. In fact, there is nothing left worth protecting.
social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat .... Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people.
Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day:
it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%
Your freedom has been curtailed. Your rights are evaporating in front of your eyes. And Best of all, from the authorities' perspective, there is no relationship to defend and there is no family to protect. If you have a job, you want to keep, you must prove your worthiness every day to 'a company'.
Apr 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.comDenis Drew , April 15, 2017 at 06:58 AMWhat's missing in each and every case above -- at least in the USA! -- is countervailing power. 6% labor union density in private business is equivalent to 20/10 blood pressure in the human body: it starves every other healthy process.cm -> Denis Drew ... , April 15, 2017 at 12:16 PM
It is not just labor market bargaining power that has gone missing, it is not only the lost political muscle for the average person (equal campaign financing, almost all the votes), it is also the lack of machinery to deal with day-to-day outrages on a day-to-day basis (that's called lobbying).
Late dean of the Washington press corps David Broder told a young reporter that when he came to DC fifty years ago (then), all the lobbyists were union. Big pharma's biggest rip-offs, for profit school scams, all the stuff you hear about for one day on the news but no action is ever taken -- that's because there is no (LABOR UNION) mechanism to stay on top of all (or any) of it (LOBBYISTS).It is a chicken and egg problem. Before large scale automation and globalization, unions "negotiated" themselves their power, which was based on employers having much fewer other choices. Any union power that was ever legislated was legislated as a *result* of union leverage, not to enable the latter (and most of what was legislated amounts to limiting employer interference with unions).Peter K. -> cm... , April 15, 2017 at 12:18 PM
It is a basic feature of human individual and group relations that when you are needed you will be treated well, and when you are not needed you will be treated badly (or at best you will be ignored if that's less effort overall). And by needed I mean needed as a specific individual or narrowly described group.
What automation and globalization have done is created a glut of labor - specifically an oversupply of most skill sets relative to all the work that has to be done according to socially mediated decision processes (a different set of work than what "everybody" would like to happen as long as they don't have to pay for it, taking away from other necessary or desired expenditure of money, effort, or other resources).
Maybe when the boomers age out and become physically too old to work, the balance will tip again."What automation and globalization have done is created a glut of labor - "cm -> Peter K.... , April 15, 2017 at 01:32 PM
No it's been policy and politics. Automation and globalization are red herrings. They've been used to enrich the rich and stick it to everyone else.
They don't have to be used that way.
There is nothing natural or inherent about it. It's all politics and class war and the wrong side is winning.
OK - they have *enabled* it. The agency is always on the human side. But at the same time, you cannot wish or postulate away human greed.cm -> Peter K.... , April 15, 2017 at 01:44 PMSame thing with the internet - it has been hailed as a democratizing force, but instead it has mostly (though not wholly) amplified the existing power differentials and motivation structures.Denis Drew -> cm... , April 15, 2017 at 03:19 PM
Anecdotally, a lot of companies and institutions are either restricting internal internet access or disconnecting parts of their organizations from the internet altogether, and disabling I/O channels like USB sticks, encrypting disks, locking out "untrusted" boot methods, etc. The official narrative is security and preventing leaks of confidential information, but the latter is clearly also aimed in part at whistleblowers disclosing illegal or unethical practices. Of course that a number of employees illegitimately "steal" data for personal and not to uncover injustices doesn't really help.
Surely there is a huge difference between the labor market here and the labor market in continental Europe -- though labor there faces the same squeezing forces it faces here. Think of German auto assembly line workers making $60 an hour counting benefits.libezkova -> Denis Drew ... , April 15, 2017 at 04:14 PM
Think Teamster Union UPS drivers -- and pity the poor, lately hired (if they are even hired) Amazon drivers -- maybe renting vans.
The Teamsters have the only example here of what is standard in continental Europe: centralized bargaining (aka sector wide labor agreements): the Master National Freight Agreement: wherein everybody doing the same job in the same locale (entire nation for long distance truckers) works under one common contract (in French Canada too).
Imagine centralized bargaining for airlines. A few years ago Northwest squeezed a billion dollars in give backs out of its pilots -- next year gave a billion dollars in bonuses to a thousand execs. Couldn't happen under centralized bargaining -- wouldn't even give the company any competitive advantage."What's missing in each and every case above -- at least in the USA! -- is countervailing power."
It was deliberately destroyed. Neoliberalism needs to "atomize" work force to function properly and destroys any solidarity among workers. Unions are anathema for neoliberalism, because they prevent isolation and suppression of workers.
Amazon and Uber are good examples. Both should be prosecuted under RICO act. Wall-Mart in nor far from them.
Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report by the National Center for Health Statistics .
== quote ==
Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up.
... ... ..
Offering what they call a tentative but "plausible" explanation, they write that less-educated white Americans who struggle in the job market in early adulthood are likely to experience a "cumulative disadvantage" over time, with health and personal problems that often lead to drug overdoses, alcohol-related liver disease and suicide.
== end of quote ==
Greed is toxic. As anger tends to accumulate, and then explode, at some point neoliberals might be up to a huge surprise. Trump was the first swan.
Everybody bet on Hillary victory. And then...
Jun 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comYves here. I have been saying for some years that I did not think we would see a revolution, but more and more individuals acting out violently. That's partly the result of how community and social bonds have weakened as a result of neoliberalism but also because the officialdom has effective ways of blocking protests. With the overwhelming majority of people using smartphones, they are constantly surveilled. And the coordinated 17-city paramilitary crackdown on Occupy Wall Street shows how the officialdom moved against non-violent protests. Police have gotten only more military surplus toys since then, and crowd-dispersion technology like sound cannons only continues to advance. The only way a rebellion could succeed would be for it to be truly mass scale (as in over a million people in a single city) or by targeting crucial infrastructure.
By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny
"[T]he super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow. An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest five deciles of the world population own about $410 billion in total wealth. As of June 8, 2017 , the world's richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people."
-Paul Buchheit, Alternet
"Congressman Steve Scalise, Three Others Shot at Alexandria, Virginia, Baseball Field"
-NBC News, June 14, 2017
"4 killed, including gunman, in shooting at UPS facility in San Francisco"
-ABC7News, June 14, 2017
"Seriously? Another multiple shooting? So many guns. So many nut-bars. So many angry nut-bars with guns."
-MarianneW via Twitter
"We live in a world where "multiple dead" in San Francisco shooting can't cut through the news of another shooting in the same day."
-SamT via Twitter
"If the rich are determined to extract the last drop of blood, expect the victims to put up a fuss. And don't expect that fuss to be pretty. I'm not arguing for social war; I'm arguing for justice and peace."
- Yours truly
When the social contract breaks from above, it breaks from below as well.
Until elites stand down and stop the brutal squeeze , expect more after painful more of this. It's what happens when societies come apart. Unless elites (of both parties) stop the push for "profit before people," policies that dominate the whole of the Neoliberal Era , there are only two outcomes for a nation on this track, each worse than the other. There are only two directions for an increasingly chaotic state to go, chaotic collapse or sufficiently militarized "order" to entirely suppress it.
As with the climate, I'm concerned about the short term for sure - the storm that kills this year, the hurricane that kills the next - but I'm also concerned about the longer term as well. If the beatings from "our betters" won't stop until our acceptance of their "serve the rich" policies improves, the beatings will never stop, and both sides will take up the cudgel.
Then where will we be?
America's Most Abundant Manufactured Product May Be Pain
I look out the window and see more and more homeless people, noticeably more than last year and the year before. And they're noticeably scruffier, less "kemp," if that makes sense to you (it does if you live, as I do, in a community that includes a number of them as neighbors).
The squeeze hasn't let up, and those getting squeezed out of society have nowhere to drain to but down - physically, economically, emotionally. The Case-Deaton study speaks volumes to this point. The less fortunate economically are already dying of drugs and despair. If people are killing themselves in increasing numbers, isn't it just remotely maybe possible they'll also aim their anger out as well?
The pot isn't boiling yet - these shootings are random, individualized - but they seem to be piling on top of each other. A hard-boiling, over-flowing pot may not be far behind. That's concerning as well, much moreso than even the random horrid events we recoil at today.
Many More Ways Than One to Be a Denier
My comparison above to the climate problem was deliberate. It's not just the occasional storms we see that matter. It's also that, seen over time, those storms are increasing, marking a trend that matters even more. As with climate, the whole can indeed be greater than its parts. There's more than one way in which to be a denier of change.
These are not just metaphors. The country is already in a pre-revolutionary state ; that's one huge reason people chose Trump over Clinton, and would have chosen Sanders over Trump. The Big Squeeze has to stop, or this will be just the beginning of a long and painful path. We're on a track that nations we have watched - tightly "ordered" states, highly chaotic ones - have trod already. While we look at them in pity, their example stares back at us.
Mes petits sous, mon petit cri de coeur.
elstprof , June 16, 2017 at 3:03 amMoneta , June 16, 2017 at 8:08 am
But the elite aren't going to stand down, whatever that might mean. The elite aren't really the "elite", they are owners and controllers of certain flows of economic activity. We need to call it what it is and actively organize against it. Publius's essay seems too passive at points, too passive voice. (Yes, it's a cry from the heart in a prophetic mode, and on that level, I'm with it.)
"If people are killing themselves in increasing numbers, isn't it just remotely maybe possible they'll also aim their anger out as well?"
Not necessarily. What Lacan called the "Big Other" is quite powerful. We internalize a lot of socio-economic junk from our cultural inheritance, especially as it's been configured over the last 40 years - our values, our body images, our criteria for judgment, our sense of what material well-being consists, etc. Ellis's American Psycho is the great satire of our time, and this time is not quite over yet. Dismemberment reigns.
The college students I deal with have internalized a lot of this. In their minds, TINA is reality. Everything balances for the individual on a razor's edge of failure of will or knowledge or hacktivity. It's all personal, almost never collective - it's a failure toward parents or peers or, even more grandly, what success means in America.
The idea that agency could be a collective action of a union for a strike isn't even on the horizon. And at the same time, these same students don't bat an eye at socialism. They're willing to listen.
But unions don't matter in our TINA. Corporations do.jefemt , June 16, 2017 at 9:45 am
Most of the elite do not understand the money system. They do not understand how different sectors have benefitted from policies and/or subsidies that increased the money flows into these. So they think they deserve their money more than those who toiled in sectors with less support.
Furthermore, our system promotes specialists and disregards generalists this leads to a population of individualists who can't see the big picture.Dead Dog , June 16, 2017 at 3:09 am
BAU, TINA, BAU!! BOHICA!!!RWood , June 16, 2017 at 12:24 pm
Thank you Gaius, a thoughtful post. That social contract is hard to pin down and define probably has different meanings to all of us, but you are right, it is breaking down. We no longer feel that our governments are working for us.
Of tangential interest, Turnbull has just announced another gun amnesty targeting guns that people no longer need and a tightening of some of the ownership laws.willem , June 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm
So this inheritance matures: http://www.nature.com/news/fight-the-silencing-of-gun-research-1.22139Fiery Hunt , June 16, 2017 at 3:17 am
One problem is the use of the term "social contract", implying that there is some kind of agreement ( = consensus) on what that is. I don't remember signing any "contract".Disturbed Voter , June 16, 2017 at 6:33 am
I fear for my friends, I fear for my family. They do not know how ravenous the hounds behind nor ahead are. For myself? I imagine myself the same in a Mad Max world. It will be more clear, and perception shattering, to most whose lives allow the ignoring of gradual chokeholds, be them political or economic, but those of us who struggle daily, yearly, decadely with both, will only say Welcome to the party, pals.JTMcPhee , June 16, 2017 at 6:44 am
Increasing population, decreasing resources, increasingly expensive remaining resources on a per unit basis, unresolved trashing of the environment and an political economy that forces people to do more with less all the time (productivity improvement is mandatory, not optional, to handle the exponential function) much pain will happen even if everyone is equal.
Each person does what is right in their own eyes, but the net effect is impoverishment and destruction. Life is unfair, indeed. A social contract is a mutual suicide pact, whether you renegotiate it or not. This is Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club, is we don't speak of Fight Club. Go to the gym, toughen up, while you still can.sierra7 , June 16, 2017 at 11:22 am
"Social contract:" nice Enlightment construct, out of University by City. Not a real thing, just a very incomplete shorthand to attempt to fiddle the masses and give a name to meta-livability.
Always with the "contract" meme, as if there are no more durable and substantive notions of how humans in small and large groups might organize and interact Or maybe the notion is the best that can be achieved? Recalling that as my Contracts professor in law school emphasized over and over, in "contracts" there are no rights in the absence of effective remedies. It being a Boston law school, the notion was echoed in Torts, and in Commercial Paper and Sales and, tellingly, in Constitutional Law and Federal Jurisdiction, and even in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. No remedy, no right. What remedies are there in "the system," for the "other halves" of the "social contract," the "have-naught" halves?
When honest "remedies under law" become nugatory, there's always the recourse to direct action of course with zero guarantee of redressKuhio Kane , June 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm
"What remedies are there in "the system," for the "other halves" of the "social contract," the "have-naught" halves?" Ah yes the ultimate remedy is outright rebellion against the highest authorities .with as you say, " zero guarantee of redress."
But, history teaches us that that path will be taken ..the streets. It doesn't (didn't) take a genius to see what was coming back in the late 1960's on .regarding the beginnings of the revolt(s) by big money against organized labor. Having been very involved in observing, studying and actually active in certain groups back then, the US was acting out in other countries particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, against any social progression, repressing, arresting (thru its surrogates) torturing, killing any individuals or groups that opposed that infamous theory of "free market capitalism". It had a very definite "creep" effect, northwards to the mainstream US because so many of our major corporations were deeply involved with our covert intelligence operatives and objectives (along with USAID and NED). I used to tell my friends about what was happening and they would look at me as if I was a lunatic. The agency for change would be "organized labor", but now, today that agency has been trashed enough where so many of the young have no clue as to what it all means. The ultimate agenda along with "globalization" is the complete repression of any opposition to the " spread of money markets" around the world". The US intends to lead; whether the US citizenry does is another matter. Hence the streets.bdy , June 16, 2017 at 1:32 pm
JTMcFee, you have provided the most important aspect to this mirage of 'social contract'. The "remedies" clearly available to lawless legislation rest outside the realm of a contract which has never existed.Moneta , June 16, 2017 at 6:54 am
The Social Contract, ephemeral, reflects perfectly what contracts have become. Older rulings frequently labeled clauses unconscionable - a tacit recognition that so few of the darn things are actually agreed upon. Rather, a party with resources, options and security imposes the agreement on a party in some form of crisis (nowadays the ever present crisis of paycheck to paycheck living or worse). Never mind informational asymmetries, necessity drives us into crappy rental agreements and debt promises with eyes wide open. And suddenly we're all agents of the state.
Unconscionable clauses are now separately initialed in an "I dare you to sue me" shaming gambit. Meanwhile the mythical Social Contract has been atomized into 7 1/2 billion personal contracts with unstated, shifting remedies wholly tied to the depths of pockets.
Solidarity, of course. Hard when Identity politics lubricate a labor market that insists on specialization, and talented children of privilege somehow manage to navigate the new entrepreneurism while talented others look on in frustration. The resistance insists on being leaderless (fueled in part IMHO by the uncomfortable fact that effective leaders are regularly killed or co-opted). And the overriding message of resistance is negative: "Stop it!"
But that's where we are. Again, just my opinion: but the pivotal step away from the jackpot is to convince or coerce our wealthiest not to cash in. Stop making and saving so much stinking money, y'all.Susan the other , June 16, 2017 at 1:01 pm
The pension system is based on profits. Nothing will change until the profits disappear and the top quintile starts falling off the treadmill.roadrider , June 16, 2017 at 8:33 am
and there's the Karma bec. even now we see a private banking system synthesizing an economy to maintain asset values and profits and they have the nerve to blame it on social spending. I think Giaus's term 'Denier' is perfect for all those vested practitioners of profit-capitalism at any cost. They've already failed miserably. For the most part they're just too proud to admit it and, naturally, they wanna hang on to "their" money. I don't think it will take a revolution in fact it would be better if no chaos ensued just let these arrogant goofballs stew in their own juice a while longer. They are killing themselves.Realist , June 16, 2017 at 8:41 am
There's a social contract? Who knew?DJG , June 16, 2017 at 9:24 am
When I hear so much impatient and irritable complaint, so much readiness to replace what we have by guardians for us all, those supermen, evoked somewhere from the clouds, whom none have seen and none are ready to name, I lapse into a dream, as it were. I see children playing on the grass; their voices are shrill and discordant as children's are; they are restive and quarrelsome; they cannot agree to any common plan; their play annoys them; it goes poorly. And one says, let us make Jack the master; Jack knows all about it; Jack will tell us what each is to do and we shall all agree. But Jack is like all the rest; Helen is discontented with her part and Henry with his, and soon they fall again into their old state. No, the children must learn to play by themselves; there is no Jack the master. And in the end slowly and with infinite disappointment they do learn a little; they learn to forbear, to reckon with another, accept a little where they wanted much, to live and let live, to yield when they must yield; perhaps, we may hope, not to take all they can. But the condition is that they shall be willing at least to listen to one another, to get the habit of pooling their wishes. Somehow or other they must do this, if the play is to go on; maybe it will not, but there is no Jack, in or out of the box, who can come to straighten the game. -Learned HandJEHR , June 16, 2017 at 11:17 am
Here in oh-so-individualistic Chicago, I have been noting the fraying for some time: It isn't just the massacres in the highly segregated black neighborhoods, some of which are now in terminal decline as the inhabitants, justifiably, flee. The typical Chicagoan wanders the streets connected to a phone, so as to avoid eye contact, all the while dressed in what look like castoffs. Meanwhile, Midwesterners, who tend to be heavy, are advertisements for the obesity epidemic: Yet obesity has a metaphorical meaning as the coat of lipids that a person wears to keep the world away.
My middle / upper-middle neighborhood is covered with a layer of upper-middle trash: Think Starbucks cups and artisanal beer bottles. Some trash is carefully posed: Cups with straws on windsills, awaiting the Paris Agreement Pixie, who will clean up after these oh-so-earnest environmentalists.
Meanwhile, I just got a message from my car-share service: They are cutting back on the number of cars on offer. Too much vandalism.
Are these things caused by pressure from above? Yes, in part: The class war continues, and the upper class has won. As commenter relstprof notes, any kind of concerted action is now nearly impossible. Instead of the term "social contract," I might substitute "solidarity." Is there solidarity? No, solidarity was destroyed as a policy of the Reagan administration, as well as by fantasies that Americans are individualistic, and here we are, 40 years later, dealing with the rubble of the Obama administration and the Trump administration.jrs , June 16, 2017 at 1:09 pm
DJG: My middle / upper-middle neighborhood is covered with a layer of upper-middle trash: Think Starbucks cups and artisanal beer bottles. Some trash is carefully posed: Cups with straws on windsills, awaiting the Paris Agreement Pixie, who will clean up after these oh-so-earnest environmentalists.
Yes, the trash bit is hard to understand. What does it stand for? Does it mean, We can infinitely disregard our surroundings by throwing away plastic, cardboard, metal and paper and nothing will happen? Does it mean, There is more where that came from! Does it mean, I don't care a fig for the earth? Does it mean, Human beings are stupid and, unlike pigs, mess up their immediate environment and move on? Does it mean, Nothingthat we are just nihilists waiting to die? I am so fed up with the garbage strewn on the roads and in the woods where I live; I used to pick it up and could collect as much as 9 garbage bags of junk in 9 days during a 4 kilometer walk. I don't pick up any more because I am 77 and cannot keep doing it.
However, I am certain that strewn garbage will surely be the last national flag waving in the breeze as the anthem plays junk music and we all succumb to our terrible future.visitor , June 16, 2017 at 1:04 pm
Related to this, I thought one day of who probably NEVER gets any appreciation but strives to make things nicer, anyone planning or planting the highway strips (government workers maybe although it could be convicts also unfortunately, I'm not sure). Yes highways are ugly, yes they will destroy the world, but some of the planting strips are sometimes genuinely nice. So they add some niceness to the ugly and people still litter of course.Big River Bandido , June 16, 2017 at 1:47 pm
The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good. Thus, streets, parks and public space might be soiled by litter that nobody cares to put away in trash bins properly, while simultaneously the interior of houses/apartments, and attached gardens if any, are kept meticulously clean.
Basically, the world people care about stops outside their dwellings, because they do not feel it is "theirs" or that they participate in its possession in a genuine way. It belongs to the "town administration", or to a "private corporation", or to the "government" - and if they feel they have no say in the ownership, management, regulation and benefits thereof, why should they care? Let the town administration/government/corporation do the clean-up - we already pay enough taxes/fees/tolls, and "they" are always putting up more restrictions on how to use everything, so
In conclusion: the phenomenon of litter/trash is another manifestation of a fraying social contract.visitor , June 16, 2017 at 2:39 pm
The trash bit has been linked in other countries to how much the general population views the public space/environment as a shared, common good.
There *is* no public space anymore. Every public good, every public space is now fair game for commercial exploitation.
I live in NYC, and just yesterday as I attempted to refill my MetroCard, the machine told me it was expired and I had to replace it. The replacement card doesn't look at all like a MetroCard with the familiar yellow and black graphic saying "MetroCard". Instead? It's an ad. For a fucking insurance company. And so now, every single time that I go somewhere on the subway, I have to see an ad from Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield.DJG , June 16, 2017 at 9:37 am
There *is* no public space anymore. Every public good, every public space is now fair game for commercial exploitation.
And as a result, people no longer care about it - they do not feel it is their commonwealth any longer.
Did you notice whether the NYC subway got increasingly dirty/littered as the tentacles of privatization reached everywhere? Just curious.Daniel F. , June 16, 2017 at 10:44 am
The importance of the end of solidarity that is, of the almost-murderous impulses by the upper classes to destroy any kind of solidarity. From Yves's posting of Yanis Varoufakis's analysis of the newest terms of the continuing destruction of Greece:
With regard to labour market reforms, the Eurogroup welcomes the adopted legislation safeguarding previous reforms on collective bargaining and bringing collective dismissals in line with best EU practices.
I see! "Safeguarding previous reforms on collective bargaining" refers, of course, to the 2012 removal of the right to collective bargaining and the end to trades union representation for each and every Greek worker. Our government was elected in January 2015 with an express mandate to restore these workers' and trades unions' rights. Prime Minister Tsipras has repeatedly pledged to do so, even after our falling out and my resignation in July 2015. Now, yesterday, his government consented to this piece of Eurogroup triumphalism that celebrates the 'safeguarding' of the 2012 'reforms'. In short, the SYRIZA government has capitulated on this issue too: Workers' and trades' unions' rights will not be restored. And, as if that were not bad enough, "collective dismissals" will be brought "in line with best EU practices". What this means is that the last remaining constraints on corporations, i.e. a restriction on what percentage of workers can be fired each month, is relaxed. Make no mistake: The Eurogroup is telling us that, now that employers are guaranteed the absence of trades unions, and the right to fire more workers, growth enhancement will follow suit! Let's not hold our breath!Bobby Gladd , June 16, 2017 at 12:01 pm
The so-called "Elites"? Stand down? Right. Every year I look up the cardinal topics discussed at the larger economic forums and conferences (mainly Davos and G8), and some variation of "The consequences of rising inequality" is a recurring one. Despite this, nothing ever comes out if them. I imagine they go something like this:
- "-Oh hi Mark. Racism is bad.
- -Definitely. So is inequality, right, Tim?
- -Sure, wish we could do something about it. HEY GUYS, HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT MY NEW SCHEME TO BUY OUT NEW AND UPCOMING COMPANIES TO MAKE MORE MONEY?"
A wet dream come true, both for an AnCap and a communist conspiracy theorist. I'm by no means either. However, I think capitalism has already failed and can't go on for much longer. Conditions will only deteriorate for anyone not in the "1%", with no sight of improvement or relief.
I'd very much like to be proven wrong.Archangel , June 16, 2017 at 11:33 am
"Conditions will only deteriorate for anyone not in the "1%", with no sight of improvement or relief." Frase's Quadrant Four. Hierarchy + Scarcity = Exterminism (From "Four Futures" )oh , June 16, 2017 at 12:10 pm
Reminds me of that one quip I saw from a guy who, why he always had to have two pigs to eat up his garbage, said that if he had only one pig, it will eat only when it wants to, but if there were two pigs, each one would eat so the other pig won't get to it first. Our current economic system in a nutshell pigs eating crap so deny it to others first. "Greed is good".Vatch , June 16, 2017 at 12:37 pm
Our country is rife with rent seeking pigs who will stoop lower and lower to feed their greed.Chauncey Gardiner , June 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm
In today's Links section there's this: https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/jun/14/tax-evaders-exposed-why-super-rich-are-even-richer-than-we-thought which has relevance for the discussion of the collapsing social contract.JTMcPhee , June 16, 2017 at 1:21 pm
Don't know that the two avenues Gaius mentioned are the only two roads our society can travel. In support of this view, I recall a visit to a secondary city in Russia for a few weeks in the early 1990s after the collapse of the USSR. Those were difficult times economically and psychologically for ordinary citizens of that country. Alcoholism was rampant, emotional illness and suicide rates among men of working age were high, mortality rates generally were rising sharply, and birth rates were falling. Yet the glue of common culture, sovereign currency, language, community, and thoughtful and educated citizens held despite corrupt political leadership, the rise of an oligarchic class, and the related emergence of organized criminal networks. There was also adequate food, and critical public infrastructure was maintained, keeping in mind this was shortly after the Chernobyl disaster.
Here in the US the New Deal and other legislation helped preserve social order in the 1930s. Yves also raises an important point in her preface that can provide support for the center by those who are able to do so under the current economic framework. That glue is to participate in one's community; whether it is volunteering at a school, the local food bank, community-oriented social clubs, or in a multitude of other ways; regardless of whether your community is a small town or a large city.
" Yet the glue of common culture, sovereign currency, language, community, and thoughtful and educated citizens held despite corrupt political leadership, the rise of an oligarchic class, and the related emergence of organized criminal networks."
None of which applies to the Imperium, of course. There's glue, all right, but it's the kind that is used for flooring in Roach Motels (TM), and those horrific rat and mouse traps that stick the rodent to a large rectangle of plastic, where they die eventually of exhaustion and dehydration and starvation The rat can gnaw off a leg that's glued down, but then it tips over and gets glued down by the chest or face or butt
I have to note that several people I know are fastidious about picking up trash other people "throw away." I do it, when I'm up to bending over. I used to be rude about it - one young attractive woman dumped a McDonald's bag and her ashtray out the window of her car at one of our very long Florida traffic lights. I got out of my car, used the mouth of the McDonald's bag to scoop up most of the lipsticked butts, and threw them back into her car. Speaking of mouths, that woman with the artfully painted lips sure had one on her
Socialism or Barbarism is a book about globalism, U.S. socialism and capitalist systems by Hungarian Marxist philosopher and Professor Emeritus István Mészáros. It was published in 2001 and is composed of two parts, the first part is an expanded version of an essay of the same title originally published in 2000; the second part consists of an interview conducted in 1998.
Mészáros' is convinced that the future of socialism will be decided in the U.S.A. and sees its main obstacle to be the globalization of Keynesian liberal-capitalism. He reckons that the 21st century will coincide with the third stage of capitalism which Mészáros characterizes as the barbarous global competition for domination between a plurality of free-market capitalist systems. His examination of the history of American capitalism predicts several eminent ramifications to this struggle: imperialist driven territorial expansion in the Middle East, the continuation and increase of NATO aggression, increased infrastructure weakening with major degradation in the quality of life for the lower class, and eventually a proxy war with China via U.S.A.'s defense treaties with Japan.
Much of the book is devoted to applying Marx's nineteenth century theories to current events, such as the environment:
" Marx was to some extent already aware of the "ecological problem," i.e. the problems of ecology under the rule of capital and the dangers implicit in it for human survival. In fact he was the first to conceptualize it. He talked about pollution, and he insisted that the logic of capital - which must pursue profit, in accordance with the dynamic of self-expansion and capital accumulation - cannot have any consideration for human values and even for human survival. [. . .] What you cannot find in Marx, of course, is an account of the utmost gravity of the situation facing us. For us the threat to human survival is a matter of immediacy. "
What Mészáros prescribes is a labor union socialist solution, specifically the syndicalist form of socialism that Samuel Gompers had abandoned when the AFL provided the a workforce for the U.S. involvement in World War I. He advocates a marxist form of socialism:
" What is of primary importance is that under all conceivable varietties of the capital system surplus labor must be appropriated by a separate body superimposed on, and structurally dominating, labor. Here, as you can see, the fundamental category is surplus labor, and not surplus value, as people often erroneously assume. [. . .] In order to do away with the labor theory of value, you have to away with the extraction and allocation of surplus labor by an external body of any sort, be that political or economic. [. . .] In other words, we can only speak about socialism when the people are in control of their own activity and of the allocation of its fruits to their own ends.
What Is bureaucracy
What is bureaucracy?
Claude Lefort Telos #22
Although the concept of bureaucracy has fallen into the common domain of political sociology, theory of history, and public opinion, and has been sanctified to the success it has today, it has nevertheless remained so imprecise that it is still meaningful to question the identity of the phenomena it claims to describe. At first one is astonished at the diversity or ambiguity of the responses. But this is only a first impression. Bureaucracy appears as a phenomenon that everyone talks about, feels and experiences, but which resists conceptualization. Thus, rather than immediately attempting to provide a new definition or description, we will measure the difficulties encountered by theory, assume that they have a meaning, and from the very beginning critically examine what both motivates and perpetuates these difficulties.
Outline of The Problem of Bureaucracy
Already in his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Marx draws attention to the specific nature of the social stratum in charge of the administration of public affairs. To corporations dedicated to particular activities and attached to particular interests, this stratum appears to represent a universal interest. We will follow the development of the theory of the state in Marx's later works, then in Lenin's State and Revolution, and its application to post-revolutionary Russian society by Trotsky, together with an examination of the role that the bureaucracy plays as a stratum inextricably bound to the structure of a class society. From this viewpoint, the bureaucracy is neither a class nor a stratum. It is a result of the division of society into classes and class struggles, since its function is to secure the acceptance of the rules of an order (an order undoubtedly connected with relations of production, but in need of being formulated in universal terms and maintained by force). Bureaucracy is "normally" at the service of a dominant class since the administration of public affairs within the framework of a given regime always assumes the preservation of its status. But since it is not simply a section of this class, when the balance of social forces permits it, it can run counter to some of its interests, thus acquiring a relative autonomy. The limits of power are always determined by the configuration of social relations. In short, bureaucracy is a special body in society because its function is such that it supports the established structure and its disappearance would mean the end of bourgeois domination. (Marx said that the Commune's first revolutionary measure was the suppression of the bureaucracy through the lowering of functionaries' salaries to that of the average worker.) Since it is not a key to social stratification, its role in the society is ascribed by the real historical agents-classes in struggle.
The viewpoint changes as soon as one observes the growth of the stratum devoted to administrative tasks in the various sectors of civil society. Thus, it is tempting to look for criteria defining a type of social organization that recognizes the similarities between the bureaucracies of the state, industry, party, unions, etc. Comparison encourages research into the conditions for the emergence of bureaucracies in order to define a type which would pull together various characteristics.
From this viewpoint, very close to Weber's thesis, the bureaucracy appears again as one particular mode of organization corresponding to a more or less extended sector within society. In other words, the social dynamic doesn't seem to be affected by the development of bureaucracies. The mode of production, class relations and political regimes can be studied without reference to a phenomenon designating only a certain type of organization.
A qualitative change in the theory of bureaucracy takes place when it is used to refer to a new class considered to be the dominant class in one or several countries, or even seen as destined to displace the bourgeoisie all over the world. This is suggested by the evolution of the Russian regime after the rise of Stalin, with the disappearance of the old proprietors and the liquidation of the organs of workers' power along with a considerable extension of the Communist Party bureaucracy and the state, which took over the direct administration of society. Similarly, social transformations connected with the development of monopolistic concentration in large industrial societies (notably in the United States) also generate reflection on the development of a bureaucratic class. This necessitates a change in the theory since, because of its role in economic and cultural life, the bureaucracy is now understood as a stratum able to displace the traditional representatives of the bourgeoisie, thus monopolizing power.
Finally, we believe that a completely different conceptualization is required if the phenomenon of bureaucratization is seen as a progressive erosion of the old distinctions linked to private property. Bureaucratization here refers to a process seeking to impose a homogeneous social form on all levels of work-at the managerial as well as the executive level-such that the general stability of employment, hierarchy of salaries and functions promotion rules, division of responsibilities and structure of authority, result in the creation of a single highly differentiated ladder of socio-economic statuses. This last thesis refers to a social dynamic in bureaucracy, and lends it a goal of its own, the realization of which engenders an upheaval of all of society's traditional structures. If this is what the problem of bureaucracy boils down to, it is important to examine each of these theses and explore their contradictions.
The Marxist Critique of State Bureaucracy
As in Hegel, the Marxist account of bureaucracy is conditioned by a theory of history. In fact, when Marx criticizes Hegel's Philosophy of Right, his own theory is still in gestation. Yet, the philosophical viewpoint still takes absolute precedence, and it is remarkable that Marx could sketch out a description of bureaucracy.
According to Marx, Hegel's error consists in having accepted the bureaucracy's self-image. It claims to embody the general interest, and Hegel decides that it does so. Marx argues that the general interest is actually reduced to the bureaucracy's interest which requires the permanence of particular spheres, i.e., the corporations and the estates, in order to appear as an imaginary universal. The bureaucracy assigns its own goals to the state. It maintains the social division in order to confirm and justify its own status as a particular and privileged body in society. As real activities take place in civil society, the bureaucracy is itself condemned to formalism since it is completely occupied with preserving the frameworks in which its activities are carried out and in legitimating them. This critique reveals a series of empirical traits of bureaucracy whose relevance remains concealed to those who cling to appearances
- First it is the reign of incompetence Marx writes: "The highest point entrusts the understanding of particulars to the lower echelons, whereas these on the other hand credit the highest with an understanding in regard to the universal and thus they deceive one another." But this incompetence is rooted in the system The bureaucracy is a circle from which no one can escape
- Finally it lives for the secret the hierarchy guards the mysteries of the state and acts as a closed corporation with respect to the outside world. Furthermore, it engenders a cult of authority which is "the principle of its knowledge and being," while "the deification of authority is its mentality."
- Finally, it is exposed to a "crass materialism." The bureaucrat makes the goal of the state his own private goal: "a pursuit of higher positions, the building of a career." Marx also shows that this materialism is accompanied by a similarly crass spiritualism: the bureaucracy wants to do all, and, in the absence of a real function, it is condemned to an unrelenting activity of selfjustification.2
Marx's analysis applies to nineteenth century Germany, i.e., to a backward society. Its relevance, however, is not thereby diminished. When he elaborated his theory of the state as an instrument at the service of the dominant class, through the study of a nation where bourgeois development had erased particularism and destroyed the corporations (the France of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte), Marx kept the idea already developed against Hegel: that the state bureaucracy is essentially a parasitic body. Thus, in dealing with Bonaparte's regime, he writes: "This executive power, with its enormous bureaucratic and military organization, with its ingenious state machinery, embracing wide strata, with a host of officials numbering half a million besides an army of another half million, this appalling parasitic body, which enmeshes the body of French society like a net and chokes all its pores, sprang up in the days of the absolute monarchy, with the decay of the feudal system, which it helped to hasten."3
In Marx's eyes. the Paris Commune's most revolutionary measure was to have installed cheap government and to have suppressed the privileges and hierarchy characteristic of state bureaucracy. In State and Revolution, Lenin only reiterates what Marx had said on these points. The bureaucracy and the standing army considered as two typical institutions of the state are seen as parasites engendered by the internal contradiction which tears this society apart, but parasites which block its vital pores." To be sure, he clarifies this notion of parasitism, and points out that the recruitment of the bureaucracy from the middle and lower strata detaches part of their members from the rest of the people and allies them to the dominant class. Furthermore, the state bureaucracy is the "stake" in a permanent battle between the large parties fighting over the administrative domains. Particularly during a change of regime, these parties tend to appropriate a substantial part of the booty for their clients.
What is the relevance of the Marxist analysis and what difficulties does it encounter? In the first place, taken as an empirical phenomenon, it presents the state bureaucracy in a light which continues to clarify it today as it did a century ago. It is a critique that resembles common opinion but gives it its reasons. It is still the case that bureaucracy is a circle out of which no one can escape, that subordinates rely on their superiors to take the initiative and to resolve difficulties, while the superiors expect their subordinates to solve particular problems which elude the level of generality where they have been conceived. This solidarity in incompetence goes quite far in tying the employee, situated on the bottom of the ladder, to the system of which he is a part. As a result, it is impossible for him to denounce this system without simultaneously denouncing the vanity of his own function, from which he derives his own material existence. Similarly, bureaucrats seek the highest positions and work itself is subordinated to the gaining or maintenance of personal status, such that the bureaucracy appears as an immense network of personal relations. Actually, relations of dependence displace the objective relations outlined by the division of labour, while internal struggles are superimposed on the formal hierarchy and constantly tend to remodel it according to their exigencies. Today, more than ever, the distribution of the most important positions between the large parties appears as a division of booty whenever there is a change in regime. These observations are worth stressing. Such traits are well-known, but what is not explained is why they are not investigated: Marx, and Lenin after him, gave an account. Even if they were wrong, that should not be an excuse for not considering it. But in recognizing its relevance, it is not sufficient to stop at a superficial account of bureaucracy which retains only its official image. In this regard, Marxism preserves a freshness of approach which fares well when contrasted with the vision of certain contemporary sociologists. As already indicated, Marx only sketched out a description which was subsequently smothered by a theory.
From this comes the treatment of state bureaucracy as a general category without any attempt to explain its functioning. If the bureaucracy includes all of its members, it still remains stratified (it is, in its essence, stratification) and all of its members do not participate in it in the same way. What is the location of the bureaucrat's power? Why does the bureaucracy always grow in size? Does the very life of the bureaucratic organism include a principle of proliferation? Clearly, state bureaucracies are usually staffed by middle-class elements. By becoming bureaucrats, do they remain part of their class? Do they change their mentality? Do they become sensitive to new interests?
Marxism does not answer these questions: its conception of society as completely regulated by the class struggle does not encourage a study of bureaucracy for its own sake.
Today the state is the largest capitalist and the largest investor. In addition to what it administers directly through fiscal and economic policy, it tends to direct investments on a national scale. Although the state is a battlefield between large political parties which include representatives of private capital, and its policies are often the result of countervailing social forces, tile struggle between these groups is not the same as that which unfolds in civil society. When joined to the requirements of public administration, the division of interests creates a space for its own decision-making -a space which grows and develops as the process whereby the state increasingly drains larger amounts of capital and takes over an increasing number of tasks previously left to private initiative. The defence of the established order which guarantees the position of the rulers over those who are ruled, creates and recreates everyday the foundations of this sovereignty. In this perspective, the previous conception of state bureaucracy cannot be held any longer. In particular, the concept of parasitism seems inadequate, or at least inaccurate: why does the bureaucratic mode of organization as such multiply parasites? The thesis that, on the whole, bureaucracy is a parasitic phenomenon threads its way into Marxist theory.
Actually, the bureaucracy is necessary in the context of capitalist society. In order to be effective, the critique must be located at the same level as that of capitalistic organization. If this is the case, does it not seem as if there is a dialectic of domination in modern society whereby a social stratum meant to plan and improve conditions of domination grows in proportion as industrial work invades all sectors of social life, and that the life of the masses must be subordinated to it? When all is said and done, does this process of bureaucratization, so visible in the framework of the state, also obtain within what the young Marx called civil society?
The Bureaucracy as a Type of Organisation
Let us provisionally skip these questions in order to deal with another perspective which uncovers the multiplicity of bureaucracies in modern society and draws attention to their common function and similarity. Here Max Weber is the starting point. He lists certain traits he considers typical of modern bureaucracies:
- (I) The duties of functionaries are officially fixed by laws, rules, or administrative dispositions;
- (2) The functions are hierarchical and integrated into a system of command such that at all levels lower authorities are controlled by higher authorities;
- (3) Administrative activity is spelled out in written documents;
- (4) These functions require a professional apprenticeship;
- (5) The work of functionaries demands complete devotion to the office;
- (6) Access to the profession is at the same time access to a particular technology, jurisprudence, commercial science, administrative science, etc.
From this analysis some conclusions can be drawn concerning the bureaucrat. His office appears to him as the exercise of a profession to which a determinate ensemble of knowledge is attached. Moreover, it is neither de facto nor de jure the source of fees any more than it is the object of a contract in terms of which the employee sells his labour power. The particular nature of the office implies that in exchange for certain material guarantees (the assurance of a suitable standard of living), the functionary contracts a specific duty of fidelity to the office; he is in the service of an objective and impersonal goal, not of a person. This goal is inherent in the enterprise to which he is attached-state, commune, party or capitalist enterprise. Secondly, the bureaucrat enjoys a certain prestige with those he dominates. This prestige is usually guaranteed by a special status which confers on him certain rights sanctified by rules. Thirdly, the functionary is normally appointed by a superior authority. If it is true that there are certain bureaucracies whose members are elected, the pure type requires the principle of appointment. Hierarchical discipline is undermined when the functionary derives his power from the approval of electors, i.e., from below and not from above . Fourthly, the stability of employment is normally assured, even though a right of possession over the office is never recognized. Fifthly, the bureaucrat normally receives a remuneration in the form of a salary determined by the nature of employment and, possibly, by seniority. Sixthly, parallel to the hierarchical order of the bureaucracy a hierarchy of salaries is established: the majority of functionaries desire that promotions be made as mechanically as possible. Max Weber also indicates the role of certain factors in whose absence the bureaucracy would not completely develop. For example, its structure is not definitively established until the natural economy has been eliminated, i.e., until capitalism dominates society. Furthermore, the emergence of democracy allows the substitution of an administration of anonymous functionaries, detached from every particular social milieu and devoted to tasks of universal significance, for the traditional administration by notables, provided with local authority. Finally, Weber goes so far as to identify the movement of bureaucratization with the process of capitalist rationalization. More than the quantitative development of administrative tasks, what appears decisive is their qualitative change, the necessity for a large enterprise, whatever its nature, to envisage its activities from a strictly technical viewpoint and to obtain a predictability or a calculability of results as exact as possible. Bureaucracy in this sense is the social form most adequate to the capitalist organization of production and to a society based on it. The elimination of personal relations, the subordination of all activities to the application of a norm linked to an objective goal, makes it into a model of economic rationality established by industrial capitalism. Here, from a technical viewpoint, Max Weber does not hesitate to judge modern bureaucracy as superior to all other forms of organization.
It does not follow, however, that the development of bureaucracies must affect the nature of a political and economic regime, no matter how necessary they might seem once certain conditions are fulfilled. On the contrary, Weber claims that the numerical importance of this form of organization does not in any way determine its relation to power. The proof is that the state bureaucracy accommodates itself to diverse regimes - as demonstrated by France, where the state bureaucracy has remained remarkably stable. The proof lies also in the fact that during war, the bureaucratic staff of a conquered country is used by the foreign power, and continues to carry out its administrative tasks. In principle, bureaucracy is indifferent to the interests and values of a political system, i.e., it is an organ at the service of rulers located somewhere between the rulers and those who are ruled.
These analyses do not reveal their full meaning until they are located within a certain methodological perspective. Weber sees bureaucracy only as a type of social organization. Actually. bureaucracies do not necessarily realize their pure form: certain empirical conditions are needed in order that the various characteristics be simultaneously present. But once defined, the type makes the impure forms intelligible. Even when Weber states that the process of bureaucratization and of capitalist rationalization are closely tied together, this could be misleading. Historical explanations are something different from the determination of a social type. Thus, the method partly determines its results. If bureaucracy is seen as essentially neutral in relation to an economic and social system, and it appears as having no historical goal, it is because Weber sees it from a purely formal viewpoint. as a type of organization, and not as a specific social stratum which, in establishing a certain set of relations between its members, generates its own history. Consequently, Weber cannot deal with "state socialism" without prejudice. According to him, bureaucracy can adjust more easily to state socialism than it can to bourgeois democracy. Yet, the history of state socialism is alien to that of bureaucracy. Strangely enough, Weber's conclusions on this point are similar to those of some Marxists, although inspired by different principles. In the eyes of these Marxists, state bureaucracy is alien to the social dialectic obtaining at the level of relations of production. For Weber a sequence of events can be reconstituted to make sense out of the development of state socialism. Although favored by these events, however, bureaucratization does not generate them. Yet, certain historical developments can be adduced to refute this thesis even more easily than Marx's account which is concerned with an empirical description. In the system resulting from the Russian revolution, which Weber calls "state socialism" (an expression which need not be criticised here), bureaucracy is not actually alien to power. The future state leaders come out of it: Stalin made a career in the party bureaucracy. For a long time he sought the highest position before obtaining it; he added to his functions of party secretary those of the state bureaucracy before becoming the master of power. Just because his rule had a charismatic character does not mean that he was independent of the bureaucracy: the latter was the permanent foundation of his power. While charisma can disappear or change its character with the death of the dictator, the new power will reconstitute itself on the basis of the bureaucracy. The political battles concerning the direction of the state take place in the upper reaches of the bureaucracy.
Extended to the limit, the state bureaucracy comes to take over final political and economic decisions, i.e., it becomes the focus of a new system. Had Weber accepted this, he would not have formulated his definition of the bureaucratic type as he did. Given the nature of his thought. he refused to regard bureaucracy has having a dynamic goal of its own. Thus, he was unable to investigate its constitutive traits, i.e., how it is rooted in social being and increases its power. The enumeration of criteria can be useful, but as long as what holds them together remains un-investigated, the phenomenon described remains indeterminate. It matters little if one adds or subtracts a criterion: nothing allows one to decide if, in the absence of certain selected traits, a social complex is or is not bureaucratic. In order to decide, it is necessary to grasp the source of bureaucratisation.
The above does not apply only to Weber, but to every attempt at a formal definition. Thus, Alain Touraine writes: "I call bureaucracy a system or organization where status and roles, laws and duties, conditions of access to a position, controls and sanctions, are defined by their location in a hierarchical line and thus by a certain delegation of authority. These two characteristics assume a third; that the fundamental decisions are not taken within the bureaucratic organization. the latter being only a system of transmission and of execution." This definition, obviously inspired by Weber-although more concise-can readily find many applications. It is easy to agree with Touraine when he claims that a ministry is a bureaucratic organization. The same cannot be said when he adds that an industrial enterprise is only partially so. If only the first characteristic of bureaucracy is found here, how can one claim that the enterprise is a partial bureaucracy? Does he not mean that a system of organization functioning according to fixed rules and in an impersonal manner already entails bureaucratization? If, on the other hand, it is admitted that the delegation of authority is decisive, and that workers do not participate in decisions, does it make sense to speak of a "bureaucratization of work"?
This ambiguity grows when Michel Crozier, in elaborating on Touraine's definition, decides that "the Western workers in general, and French workers in particular, have already largely entered the channels of bureaucracy. He tells us that "delegation of authority is not necessary for participation in a bureaucratic system." It is characterized primarily by the existence of hierarchy. Does this mean that it is possible to participate in a system without possessing authority? In such a case, however, the problem would only be displaced, because relations within the bureaucratic system, between the authority and the executive sector dedicated to the manufacturing tasks and subjected to external authority, remain to be defined: the problem of knowing what role the relations of authority play in the constitution of the bureaucracy would remain. If it is necessary to admit, on the other hand, that a bureaucratic system on the whole does not necessarily locate these relations and that it is essentially characterized by the existence of a hierarchy. it is still necessary to determine the meaning of a bureaucratic hierarchy. The notion is vague enough to be applicable to very different structures: nothing is more hierarchical, for example, than the court of an hereditary monarchy. What is, then, the basis of hierarchy in bureaucracy? What justifies a vertical classification of functions and roles? The question is always reintroduced to evaluate the import of this or that criterion functioning in the conception of bureaucracy.
If Weber enumerated certain precise characteristics of bureaucracy without wishing to privilege any one of them which could have designated another social reality, it is because he had a strong feeling of its specificity. What is interesting in his analysis is what he links to this feeling, i.e., the multiplicity of bureaucratic forms of organization in modern society. Even if he fails, he at least forces us to confront his examples and types, and to come up with a new account.
Let us return to state bureaucracy, in order to ask what stratum of functionaries Weber dealt with. His definition surely applies to ministerial personnel, or at least to those functionaries whose duties carry certain responsibilities and whose 'office' entails a loyalty to the goal of the enterprise. It is a professional formation having specialized knowledge in relation to subordinates assigned to purely executive tasks and whose labour-time is rigorously checked. But, strictly speaking, does this definition apply to all the functionaries who hold 'office'? Can one say, for instance, that according to Weber's framework, secondary school teachers are part of the French bureaucracy? The professor's personal position corresponds to Weber's characterization of the bureaucrat. Only on one point is the definition inadequate: participation in a system of authority. Access to a certain position or a level in the hierarchy does not give him power over subordinates. Similarly, his relation to his superiors is special. Obviously, he is subjected to administrative power.His lot depends on decisions taken at the managerial level. Yet, he largely escapes this power; the content of his activity is only very partially determined. His professional activity has its own goal. It is not justified in terms of a transformation of the object-which cannot be confused with the objective goal immanent in the ministerial enterprise. Finally, and above all, the secondary teacher is not in the process of making a career out of a job. He can hope for a change from one grade of seniority to another by the most rapid route. But, unlike bureaucrats, he does not seek a new function which will carry with it a higher social status, expanded responsibilities, and increased power over subordinates. The secondary school teacher remains largely an isolated individual. Undoubtedly, his activity is social, since it necessarily brings him into contact with a public, but it is not socialized. The division of labour can oblige him to specialize in a branch of teaching and thus to relate his activity to those of other teachers, without, however, generating a unity of production. rn short, if we try to apply the concept of bureaucracy in the way Weber himself did (neglecting the value judgements implied in his description), we are led to exclude certain levels of functionaries from the framework of bureaucracy while also reforming his system of interpretation.
Since Weber did not integrate French high school teachers into his type, it follows that most of the characteristics, which he considers typical and which apply to our example, acquire an import only in certain precise cases. On the other hand, the absence of certain traits makes it difficult to speak of bureaucracy. In the first place, we see a connection between a certain hierarchy and a system of authority (of command-subordination, according to Weber), such that progression in the hierarchy corresponds to amassing a higher status, new responsibilities, and more power. In the second place, Weber's idea that bureaucracy expects its members to identify with the undertaking appears at first glance to have only an apologetic function, but proves to have some sociological content. Such an identification assumes some professional activity linked to a role, itself determined through relation to other roles within the enterprise.
The bureaucracy expects a subordinate to say "the Ministry" or "the Service" instead of "I," and by this act of identification, this person exists as a bureaucrat. But this act has no meaning for those whose work renders them strictly anonymous or for those who are individualized to the point where work as such becomes a sufficient justification of existence. In other words, what Weber calls the identification with an office is something other than professional consciousness. The latter finds its end in the act of production; the former, in the occupation of an office. This professional consciousness calls for a behaviour conforming to the interest of the bureaucracy, in response to the expectations of hierarchical superiors-a behaviour proper for each member of the bureaucracy in a similar situation. Thus, the activity of bureaucrats has two characteristics: it is technical and bureaucratic. It can lose the first, not the second. For example, the intense circulation of reports or of memos in offices serves only to express the necessity of each manifesting his function to others, and the bureaucracy functions only by virtue of a mutual recognition, constantly renewed according to determined ceremony. The volume of paper internally consumed by an administration allows one to measure its coefficient of bureaucratic integration. Stripped of ~l malevolent intentions, this shows that the bureaucracy can only act by constantly reflecting its activity in the mirror of its constitution. Finally, because of the place it gives to the system of command-subordination, Weber's analysis presupposes the existence of a geographical unity-a spatial framework determined by bureaucratic activities. Of course, all the members of a bureaucracy are not necessarily assembled in the same place, but their relations, the discipline that unites them, the control of each by the others, tends to circumscribe a specific world of offices. A second example mentioned by Weber, that of the industrial enterprise, will allow us to test out his ideas and to specify ours. In the first place, we are again led to ask whether bureaucracy is only an organ of transmission and execution. Although an industrial enterprise is never autonomous and its functioning must take into account the interests of a financing capital on whom it depends, or the directives of a ministry if it is a question of a nationalized economy, the fact remains that management has a considerable power of decision. For the totality of decisions is not the action of an individual. Whatever the personality of the general manager, the power of decision is necessarily distributed among the different services and is concretized at the heart of each service only through a more or less collective participation in the solution of problems. To ask whether the direction is or is not distinct from the bureaucracy, is to pose a false problem. In every organization in which hierarchy results in delineating a function of direction -this transcends all those subordinatedd to it. Yet, the fact remains that, if the power that it formally holds was actually composite, i.e., if the decisions which fall to it by virtue of officially fixed allotment had actually been partially elaborated at various lower levels, it is still part of the framework which it dominates.
On the other hand, as with state bureaucracy, the most important thing concerning the bureaucracy of an enterprise is its boundaries. Who are the bureaucrats? Who can be assimilated into the bureaucracy? Finally, who definitely falls outside this category? Clearly, for Weber, the definition of the capitalist enterprise as a bureaucratic organization does not specify which sector, within the enterprise, could be designated as bureaucratic (although he goes so far as to claim that the capitalist enterprise offers an unequalled model of bureaucratic organization). To maintain, with Crozier, that workers are part of a bureaucracy as soon as they are placed with engineers and directors under a single hierarchical ladder, would have seemed extravagant to Weber, not because some of his criteria would have been contradicted, but because the position of a social group cannot be established only by considering its juridical status. The fact that some workers find their work assimilated to that of functionaries, says nothing about the specific nature of their work, or of their relations with other social strata within a given enterprise. The question of establishing the real situation of workers is not automatically answered if the enterprise is nationalized, the stability of work is guaranteed, or the workers are integrated with the cadres in the same hierarchical system-although these conditions could have important effects. In the industrial enterprise, the mass of workers is confined to purely operational tasks. The ordering of workshops, the number and distribution of positions, the rhythm of production, the duration and the intensity of work-all is prescribed by an administration functioning at a distance from the place of production and constitutes an alien and closed world with respect to it.
On the other hand, is it possible to consider all those who work in offices as the bureaucracy? First of all, technical services should not be confused with services of administration and exploitation. Although both share certain common norms of organization, it remains that the social relations are different by virtue of the different work performed. In short, the relations of authority and the connections with the enterprise are not similar. In technical services the engineers and the technicians, the draftsmen, have a relative autonomy by virtue of their professional knowledge. Control over labour can only be effective if the boss has a technical competence at least equal to that of his subordinates, i.e., his control must be considered a technically superior function. Social control could be practically non-existent where the work requirements were of fixed duration, sufficing to establish a normal rhythm of output. Moreover, the technicians' autonomy is also measured by their ability to move from one enterprise to another by virtue of their knowledge. Generally speaking, the position of technicians depends more on the work performed than on his place in the social organization of the enterprise.
The functioning of administrative services is something else. Here, at the bottom of the ladder, we find unskilled employees whose professional competence is rudimentary or non-existent. Between them and the general management of the enterprise, the hierarchy of positions is a power hierarchy. The relations of dependence become determining and having a function defines one against a higher level, whether it is that of the departmental supervisor, a boss, or a director. Here the double nature of employment reappears. It answers to a professional activity and expresses an established social order in which the enterprise finds its concrete existence. In fact, from the top to the bottom of the ladder, relations are such that they always serve to reiterate the authoritarian structure of administration. This does not mean, however, that those located at the bottom of the ladder participate in the bureaucracy in the same way as those at the middle or upper levels. In certain respects, the employees are like workers, deprived of any authority. They are often paid less than certain hourly labourers. Thus, their work cannot be described as an 'office' and we cannot assume that they could identify with the goals of the enterprise. Nevertheless, they are not alien to the bureaucracy: they are the dependents . They often enter into the enterprise only when provided with references certifying their "good character." They cannot advance unless they prove their aptitude to obey commands: they live in the hope of moving to a higher status. Thus, the situation of the employee is ambiguous. He is not integrated into the bureaucratic system. lie only endures it. Yet, everything tends to make him adhere to it, and he does so effectively when he accepts his superiors' ideal: promotion. Moreover, he is even less able to detach himself from the bureaucratic milieu since his work is determined by the social organization of the enterprise, and in extracting the resources that assure his subsistence, he perceives it as being as necessary as the organization itself.
Bureaucracy thus overflows the active core of middle and upper level functionaries tied to administrative and exploitative tasks: it is a hierarchy which plunges its roots even into the productive sector, where supervisors and foremen control the work of labourers. These functionaries hold real authority. Not only do they hold positions with official duties defined by a certain division of labour and submit to a certain discipline, but their function makes them participate in the power of management and leads them to identify with the enterprise as such. To say that they identify with it does not mean that they necessarily have a correct idea of the enterprise's interests nor even that they are led to place this above their own interests. In their eyes, the horizons of the enterprise are absolutely confused with those of their employment. They see the social order immanent in the enterprise as both natural and sacred, their own function as something other than a mere source of remuneration or of professional activity, but as the backbone of a system which needs their co-operation to subsist and expand.
To possess a status apparently differentiating his position from that of mere labourers, to enjoy a prestige generating others' respect, to obtain a remuneration and material advantages assuring a privileged condition of existence, to belong to a milieu from which authority flows, where subordination is the other side of a command, with opportunities for promotion-all these are the traits of the bureaucrat.
Finally, the bureaucracy of the enterprise exemplifies the mystification implicit in a purely formal description. The latter assumes that bureaucratic organization is identical with the rational organization of the enterprise, insofar as it is technically required by production itself. For, as soon as we seek to locate the strictly bureaucratic sector and to emphasize a specific type of conduct, we discover a dialectic of socialization different from the dialectic of the division of labor. This does not mean that we can determine what an adequate social organization of the enterprise would be like at a given stage of the division of labor, since this depends on historical conditions resulting from technical evolution and class struggle, but rather, that bureaucratic organization has its own ends which cannot be deduced from the necessities imposed by the organization of production. Once it is recognized that, in addition to the manufacturing and the technical sectors, every large enterprise must deal with tasks pertaining to the administration of personnel, to the sale of products and to the purchase of primary materials and machines, to the determination of production costs, etc., it does not follow naturally that the specialized services function as they do in the real framework of the modern capitalist factory. The requirements of planning, coordination, and information do not necessarily create a determined social order. This order is instituted by virtue of a social activity. From this viewpoint, it is essential to grasp how the bureaucracy creates its order. The more activities are fragmented, services diversified, specialized and partitioned, the more numerous the structural levels and the delegations of authority at each level, the more co-ordination and control sectors multiply because of this dispersion. Thus, the bureaucracy prospers. The status of a bureaucrat is measured by the number of secretaries and employees who depend on him, by the number of telephones and machines at his service, more generally, by the authority allocated to his domain of organization. As soon as conditions allow, he seeks to expand his sphere of influence and to preserve it. This tendency engenders the formation of cliques and hidden wars between departments which is stimulated by their separation. Each department is quick to blame others for errors or delays in carrying out a program. But at the same time, since this tendency responds to a common aspiration, it works itself out. The more the bureaucrats multiply, the more complicated the system of personal dependence becomes, the more the bureaucracy as a whole becomes a rich and differentiated milieu. As this process intensifies, bureaucrats derive a growing sense of their own objectivity. The bureaucracy loves bureaucrats as much as bureaucrats love the bureaucracy.
The consequences of this situation can appear paradoxical. Weber is right in claiming that the capitalist enterprise offers bureaucracy a privileged framework for development, that the latter finds a motive for its organization in the process of economic rationalization: the need for rigorous calculability and of a predictability favoring the emergence of a special stratum of administrators and imposing on them a certain kind of structure. Yet, this stratum elaborates its conduct, actively intervenes in the structuring, and, located in historically created conditions, develops while following its own interests. Thus one can see what is behind the mask of law and impersonality, the proliferation of unproductive functions, the play of personal relations, and the folly of authority.
Our third example will provide a kind of counter proof, since it presents a bureaucracy which is apparently extremely different from what we have just seen: the mass party. It is not surprising that Weber also refers to this example. Weber did not fail to observe that there is a close connection between the party and state bureaucracy since he had witnessed the emergence of a state bureaucracy in Russia under the Communist Party. Yet, one wonders why this did not lead him to revise his definition of bureaucratic organization. Actually it is not sufficient to claim that the mass party is led by a body of "professionals" in order to associate them with state functionaries or with managers. Most of Weber's criteria do not apply to them. In the first place, if one considers the organization of the party, it becomes obvious that the bureaucracy is not only an organ for executing and transmitting orders: the management becomes part of the Politbureau or a general secretary emerges from the bureaucracy. It matters little that an individual or a handful of individuals holds all real power. They have obtained it only by rising through the hierarchy of the party and keep it only because they are supported by a stratum of bureaucrats who direct party activities according to their directives, justify their decisions and apply them, while ousting all opposition. If this stratum falls apart, the power of the leaders dissipates. In the second place, the functions of bureaucrats are well fixed by rules, but they do not form a whole as in the structure of a state administration or an enterprise. There are no strict rules regulating the passage from one position to another; there is no hierarchy of salaries. The bureaucrats do not enjoy a special, officially defined status distinguishing them from the rank and file. Access to the highest positions does not depend on technical knowledge linked to a profession, and if the principle of nominating leaders by the main organs is recognized, it coexists with a principle of election, since these organs themselves are assemblies composed of delegates elected by the rank and file. Finally, it is not even necessary to be remunerated by the party in order to have an important central function in the hierarchy. This particular characteristic of the party bureaucracy follows from the position that it occupies in society as a whole. Its function is not defined by the division of labor. Rather, it is an institution based on voluntary participation which attempts to influence power-either to participate in it, or to capture it by rallying a mass of individuals around a program of demands. That a group of professionals is formed in the party in the process of coordinating its activities changes nothing in the formal definition and ascribes to this sector characteristics apparently very different from those found in industrial enterprises.
If so, how can one speak of the mass party as a bureaucratic institution? This question leads us closer to what we have sought to formulate since the beginning of our analysis: what is the social nature of the bureaucracy? If we characterize mass parties as bureaucratic institutions, it is not because we can define the parties by criteria equally applicable to industrial enterprises. Things are more complicated. In the party, we distinguish a specific sector where functions are hierarchical by virtue of participation in power; where decisions are taken in the absence of any control from below, where respon-sibilities are distributed in an authoritarian way, where organizational discipline detracts from the free examination of decisions, where a conti-nuity of roles, actions and persons is institutionalized, thus making the ruling minority practically permanent. In other words, in the party bureau-cracy appears as the antithesis of democracy. But this does not make much sense until we understand how the bureaucratic organization is constituted. Its genesis is all the more comprehensible when it does not immediately depend on economic conditions. As previously mentioned, the party is based on voluntary participation motivated by an ideological agreement on a program. This entails no particular form of Organization. The technical organizational requirement comes about only when the party attracts large masses. But the coordination of the activities of small, local sections, of assuring the best propaganda, of properly managing the assets gathered among the militants, does not necessitate any specific social milieu. It is as a result of choice that this milieu turns out to be bureaucratic. Choice here need not mean that individuals deliberately decide to create a bureaucratic organization. It only means that a certain behavior becomes predominant, with certain requirements coming to take absolute precedence, others fading. Since the party adherence is a function of voluntary participation based on the shared acceptance of some ideas, it would seem to follow that the maintenance of this participation and agreement is essential to the life of the organization. Since the party claims to articulate a collective will, and presents itself as a locus of cooperation, it would seem to lose its raison d'tre if it used coercion with its members. Furthermore, formally it could not do so since the members are not dependent on the party for their livelihood. Yet, the party must operate within society as a whole as a coherent force, maintaining continuity of action, permanently binding those who participate in it, and finding a structure which guarantees its unity, independently of the uncertain participation of its militants.
Now, if the existence of the mass party generates this alternative, bureaucracy comes about by giving the latter considerations absolute primacy over the former and it does so in a way that makes its existence increasingly more necessary and its choices irreversible. From the very beginning, bureaucrats come into being as those whose work safeguards the party's existence and unity, while their activity in the party makes them indispensable. But this activity is peculiar. This becomes clear as soon as one compares it with the activity of ordinary militants: it is based on the very institution. It is what is usually called an organization activity. But the term is imprecise because it hides essential features: that it is always a question of directing the militants' work in a way that reinforces the party's existence and power. The organization's fundamental aspect is the multiplication of party organs: the more cells and sections there are, the more the life of the institution is differentiated, the more is its power materialized, the more the leaders appointed to be in charge of coordinating each sector. Thus, the efficiency of bureaucratic work is measured by the leaders' ability to preserve and extend the field of activity that they organize. This measurement, however, can be formulated in objective communicable terms if one considers only the formal aspect of the bureaucrat's activity. This is what gives rise to the fetishism of the agenda at party meetings, festivals or commemorations. This is why what is called activism-a feverish and vain agitation~has become routine. The number and diversity of the ceremonies from which the institution derives its daily justification goes hand in hand with the proliferation of bureaucrats. If they are entirely at the party's service, they become professionals, although they need not be that in order to act as such. It is only necessary that their activity be precisely specified, that their aim be mainly party preservation and that it be carried out according to the leaders' instructions, which makes it seem as a form of employment. On the whole, bureaucracy is this milieu for which the party structure is both necessary, sacred, and irremovable. But this milieu generates its own structure: in identifying with the goals justifying the party's existence, it makes the party-to paraphrase Marx-its private property: it sees itself as necessary, sacred and irremovable. The defense of the party is the bureaucracy's self-defense. But this implies a particular interpretation of the party's goals which results in the distortion of its original vocation. In fact, the party cannot intervene directly in the social struggle as it should according to its principles, nor can it be the locus of ideological discussion without running the risk of self-transformation or even self-destruction. Thus, the bureaucratic group feels threatened as soon as a principle of change is introduced in the party: it is naturally conservative. This conservatism inspires all inter-bureaucratic relations: the cult of authority, the will to control all activities, the value of prestige around the functions of responsibility, etc. All these are too well known traits to require further elaboration, In the last analysis, the bureaucracy's behavior has its logic. The party, in fact, is not a purely artificial organism, born out of ideological motivations. It exists as a mass organization within society as a whole. Not only does it seek power, but presently it penetrates, in various degrees, all sectors of society. This penetration assures it the allegiance of an important part of its militants who are employed in services where the party controls recruitment, either directly, or through a friendly union. Although it can appear as an incomplete bureaucracy if seen as an isolated institution, the party reveals certain material determinations of bureaucratic stability, when considered within society as a whole.
Of course, the examples which have been chosen and purposely borrowed from Weber present common traits. Most of all, however, they allow us to deal with the phenomenon in a certain way. In our eyes, the bureaucracy is a group which makes a certain mode of organization prevail, develops under certain conditions, expands along with certain states of the economy and technology only by virtue of a social activity. To attempt to grasp bureaucracy without focusing on a type of specific behavior is condemned to failure from the very beginning. Bureaucracy exists only through bureaucrats and their common aim to form a milieu apart from those whom they dominate, to participate in socialized power, and to interdefine each other in a hierarchy which guarantees them either material status or prestige.
To stress the phenomena of social behavior is not to reduce bureaucracy to a sum of similar actions. The activity of the isolated individual is unintelligible: it becomes meaningful only when placed in the context of a group. In fact, the bureaucracy comes about in an immediate socialization of activities and behavior. Here the group is not a category of activity or of socio-economic status; it is a concrete milieu where each draws his own identity. It is here that we can locate the link between bureaucracy and mass institutions. It is in ministries, unions, parties and industrial enterprises that the bureaucracy finds its adequate form because of the structural unity, the interconnection of the tasks, the number of jobs, the proximity of men within each sector, the perspective offered by a growing institutional development, the volume of capital engaged, etc. All of this defines a field of social power. It follows that the bureaucrats' identification with their enterprises is a natural mediation in consciousness whereby a group acquires its own identity. But this identification must not conceal the fact that in reality the bureaucracy does not have its destiny strictly defined by the technical structure of the mass institution. It also makes its own destiny. As the agent of a particular stratification, it multiplies positions and services, partitions various activities, generates artificial controls and coordinations, and reduces an ever growing mass of workers into merely mechanical functions in order to exercise its authority at every level.
Bureaucracy or Class
At this point, we can examine the thesis that the bureaucracy is a class. Undoubtedly, there is a ruling class in the USSR. Those who persist in denying it do so by reiterating quotations from Marx according to which the abolition of private property entails the disappearance of the ruling class, without seeing that at a deeper level a class opposition has been reintroduced in the relations of production. Here, the ownership of the means of production is no longer decisive. What determines the proletariat as an exploited class is its exclusion from the administration of production and its reduction to merely mechanical functions.
What determines the position of a ruling class facing the proletariat is the fact that all decisions concerning economic life (i.e., concerning the volume and distribution of investments, wages, intensity and duration of labor, etc), are made by a particular social stratum. What is relevant here is not to discuss the class nature of the USSR, but to emphasize that bureaucracy cannot be seen as a class without analyzing its dynamics within the context of traditional capitalist society and the mass institutions where bureaucracies develop. To merely define it there as a parasitical organ, or as a simple economic category, is to overlook ho'," through its specific behavior, it creates a power base , and how it uses circumstances to consolidate and grow. On the other hand, to recognize its historicity and to establish the horizons of its activity is to locate a world which it has made in its image and where it is the ruling class. In the last analysis, the genesis of the bureaucracy in Russia is intelligible only if it is related to the social type which, in different forms, obtains in all modern countries.
But this observation concerning the conditions leading to the formation of a ruling class after the Russian revolution applies only to a special case where the bureaucracy has built its power through a specifically social activity. If it is claimed that today this class is what it is only because of its function in production, planning and the nationalization which guarantees its material basis, then it becomes difficult to claim that it results from a political bureaucracy whose earlier versions were not concerned with the extraction of surplus value within the context of modern industry, but with the concentration of authority in the hands of a ruling minority, the exclusion of the masses from decision-making and from the information pertinent to these decisions, the hierarchization of functions and the differentiation of wages. the rigorous division of competence's; in short, the scientific organization of inequality such that it becomes the principle of a new form of class oppression. Certainly, the party bureaucracy has not artificially created a whole new world. Yet, it would be inadequate to simply say that it has been served by circumstance. The new type of class domination was prepared by the destruction of the political and economic powers of the old owners, the state's taking over large sectors of production, the existence of an already concentrated industry with a modern administration, and the example of large industrial capitalist countries with a growing fusion of capital and the state. But this domination forced its way through only with a party which, by means of ideology, terror, and privilege, melted elements torn from all the classes of the old Russian society into the same mould.
It is inadequate, however, to point out the existence of a privileged class in the USSR, or even to examine its own genesis, in order to comprehend what bureaucracy actually is within the whole society that it dominates. An analysis limited to exploitation within relations of production altogether misses the nature of the bureaucratic class. Such an analysis would locate the privileged strata. But the factory managers and the planners are not the only members of the ruling class and all those who are privileged are not necessarily part of these groups. As in the industrial enterprise, a mere foreman, as opposed to an engineer, can be considered a bureaucrat because he has authority and he identifies with management against workers, Similarly, on a social level, some union or political functionaries can be considered members of the bureaucracy while some technicians, although earning higher salaries, are not members of the ruling class and do not share their values or lifestyle. The social nature of the bureaucracy cannot be deduced from its economic function. In order to be understood, it must be observed. In the absence of an observation, the question dealt with here prevents a schematic conception of history. Undoubtedly, in the USSR, as in Western countries, there is more than one class facing the industrial and agricultural proletariat. The bureaucracy is not composed either by the ensemble of the working class nor simply by some thousands or tens of thousands of leaders supported by the political police: one can only define it by pointing to the solidarity which unites its members and crystalizes them in the exercise of domination.
It is possible, however, to indicate certain traits of this class both by examining its constitution as well as by extrapolating from the testimonies of observers, or of political leaders aware of the difficulties that the regime must confront. Here two remarks are in order. First of all, the bureaucracy involves a mode of social participation different from that of the bourgeoisie. Bureaucrats do not derive private power from a professional activity which allows them to develop as a ruling class. They do not have a common interest which could generate a power to manage society in their name. They are immediately members of their class, and their personal attributes are a function of this connection: they are what they are only by virtue of their dependence from the state power which grounds and maintains the social hierarchy, i.e., political power and economic power are merged within the bureaucratic class. To participate in the appropriation of surplus value for them is the same thing as participating in the system of domination. What this means is that the bureaucracy is the privileged terrain of totalitarianism, i.e., of a regime where all social activities are measured by the same criterion of validity dictated by state power. Here pluralism of systems of behavior and of values immediately constitutes a menace not only to the ruling minority but to the ruling class itself whose integration depends entirely on its submission to the established power. Secondly, in spite of the reinforced tendency to make a single authority prevail at all levels, as already indicated, the bureaucracy cannot avoid conflicts which not only contrapose groups against each other, but also contrapose bureaucracies against each other. If the above is correct, bureaucracies exist full-fledged within mass institutions: in parties, unions, in various branches of production and various cultural sectors.In each of these contexts they attempt to grow and monopolize an increasing part of social capital in order to expand in as broad a field as possible. There is no pre-established harmony within the bureaucracy, and the unity of the class does not 'naturally' prevail: it involves a constant activity of unification. The rivalry of bureaucratic apparatuses reinforced by the struggle of inter-bureaucratic cliques is only managed by the intervention of a political principle at all the levels of social life. But the party which applies this principle is itself the broadest and most complete bureaucracy. If class unity is inconceivable without it since its mediation "politicizes" all of society so that the state tends to merge with civil society, its presence and its natural tendency to control and subordinate everything to its own power generates the sharpest tension within the ruling class. Thus, the bureaucratic system is unceasingly torn by internal conflicts, certainly different but not any less dreadful than those typical of bourgeois regimes.
To maintain that the bureaucracy is the ruling class in the USSR does not settle the question of its status in large industrialized Western nations. From one viewpoint, the formation of a bureaucratic class seems to be an extension of bureaucratic organizations: they blossom within mass institutions because technological developments make human activities increasingly more interdependent and impose a socialization of administrative tasks parallel to that of production. From another viewpoint, this class requires such a political integration and subordination to state power that it cannot operate without instituting a system of total domination. Yet, these two viewpoints are not incompatible; they allow us to see bureaucracies as a type of social behavior whose success or failure is not preordained but is a function of a complex of historical conditions. Bureaucratic organizations have an affinity for regimes where the definitive elimination of private property assures the broadest possible development and their integration within a new class structure.
Similarly, rooted in bourgeois society and fettered in their development by their natural conservatism, as well as by the profits they derive from the established mode of production, they prove incapable of doing more than invading bourgeois society, i.e., incapable of transforming the system of power. In other words, nothing warrants the claim that, in the absence of a radical social upheaval which would sweep away old regimes (as happened in Russia by workers' and peasants' revolution, and in the peoples' democracies by war), bureaucratic organizations would naturally overcome their division and become integrated within a new state apparatus as parts of a ruling class. Furthermore, bureaucracies exhibit an indeterminacy which is the source of the difficulties encountered by theory. The bureaucracy is not a class as long as it is not the ruling class, and when it becomes so, it remains essentially dependent on a political activity of unification.
To maintain that bureaucrats are already a class within all of society, would mean that they are distinguishable because of their particular interests, values, or lifestyle. Actually, they are different only in terms of their aggregation and by how they gain their status as members of a collectivity. Surely, this trait is important. The interrelations of bureaucrats within each institution correspond to a specific social model and outline a new global structure. But so long as this structure is not realized, the bureaucracy does not constitute a separate world: bourgeois society assimilates it. It is inadequate to point out that high state functionaries are members of administrative councils, or that important groups derive part of their income from the stocks that they own, since this phenomenon of embourgeoisification is comparable to a similar phenomenon of aristocratization of the bourgeoisie, who, during certain epochs, rushed to buy land and nobility titles. What is important is that the difference in the appropriation of wealth is not linked to production relations, while in the context of society as a whole the various bureaucracies split along traditional lines thus remaining heterogeneous and unaware of their identity-at least in the absence of a social crisis. Moreover, polycentrism, which is part of the essence of bureaucracies meant to crystalize into particular institutions prevents the development of class unity.
From another viewpoint, the bureaucracy retains a principle of indeterminacy even when this unity is attained: it does not exist apart from a social form of power. It is not an economic category but comes about by participating in a system of domination. Thus, there is a great temptation to deny that the bureaucracy is a class where it is seen to rule or, in specific social contexts, where it multiplies within bourgeois societies. If, on the contrary, it is claimed that it is a ruling class in the USSR, there is a tendency to neglect or underemphasize its basic constitution, the change in the function of the political in bureaucratic society, the heterogeneity of organizations, the intra-bureaucratic battles, and the differences of integration of the various strata within the class. Most of all, this class could be seen as a general model in the process of realization throughout, as if bourgeois society must naturally turn into a bureaucratic society because of capital concentration. Economic rationalization and bureaucratization are then associated, and the latter is seen as the adequate expression of the former, forgetting that rationalization obtains within a regime based on exploitation and that bureaucratization is part of a system of domination. By stressing the phenomenon of bureaucratic parasitism, it is possible to ignore that the bureaucracy simultaneously penetrates social life and poses itself as an end: it responds to technical needs but also subordinates them to power imperatives.
The study of bureaucracy, and the discussion that it calls forth, become fruitful only if these simplifications are rejected. Then the true questions can be asked, and advances toward their solution can be made on the condition that the following principles are observed: (I) Attention must be paid to the various bureaucracies instead of immediately swallowing up this image in a concept which can then be handled with such an ease that it deprives bureaucracy of all content; (2) Bureaucracy must be seen as a social formation, as a system of meaningful behavior, and not merely as a system of formal organization. This implies a historical definition of the phenomenon as a human enterprise with its own goals; (3) Special emphasis must be placed on the relations of the bureaucracy with other social strata and particularly among various bureaucratic groups within a given institution; (4) From the social nature of the bureaucracy (its sociality) no deduction should be made concerning a future based on a whole series of historical conditions which are extensions of established structures and events; (5) The question concerning the class nature of bureaucracy must be posed. The answer must avoid a comparison between the bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy. There must be a description of the specific participation of bureaucracy in society as a whole, along with the connection of its political, economic, and cultural determinations instead of relying on an a priori definition (having alleged universal significance whereas it is actually an abstraction from the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie) of the essential and the accidental features of a class; (6) In studying a particular bureaucracy, the self-image of top bureaucrats must not be uncritically accepted. The whole bureaucratic milieu must be considered in order to define the bureaucratic mentality and behavior, by relying on the workers who are most directly affected by the bureaucrats and who, as a result, cannot be easily misled: those people whom the bureaucrats dominate.4
The above text deals with a theme which seems distant from present concerns. For young readers, who are often the ones most engaged in political struggle, this distance is even greater, since they cannot remember the proper context. Those today who are between twenty and thirty years old, have not experienced the overwhelming influence of the Communist Party during Stalin's life. The 1953 workers' insurrection in East Berlin, for some, the first to shake up the image of socialism as it existed in the popular democracies, Krushchev's de-Stalinization begun at the Twentieth Congress, the Hungarian and Polish uprisings-these are merely part of one's personal pre-history, unable to enter into lived experience, thus permitting one to assimilate them. These young people do not remember how progressive intellectuals rallied around the Stalinist banner, returning for the audacity of an independent gesture a redoubled fidelity-a time when the Left was almost entirely limited to Trotskyists, some branches growing into three or four tiny "groupuscles," or when the Communists labelled the Trotskyists fascists, treating them accordingly when they had the chance, with the result that the leftist press did not give them even the slightest mention.
Does this mean that the 1950s can awaken only the interest of the historian and that what we wrote twelve or twenty years ago has only documentary value? Does it mean that, in order to comprehend the present and to attenspt to set the landmarks of change, it is necessary to look at Czechoslovakia rather than to Hungary, to study Brezhnev's last speech rather than Krushchev's Report, to challenge the Sartre who supports La Cause du Peuple rather than the one who, in 1952, gave an apology for Communist politics in France?
The questions posed at that time have not become obsolete and, in spite of changes which occasionally modify the practice and mentality of social actors, or the interpretation of ideologies, a considerable part of the historical context remains, along with the same choices and conflicts.
The distinction between what constitutes the present and the past, of what belongs to new horizons and what is lost in the distance is subtler than we are tempted to believe when considering only the generation gap or in pointing to some major signs of change-which can effectively designate the novelty of a conjuncture while hiding the continuity of the traits of a socio-historical structure. The past is not really past until it ceases to haunt us and until we have become free to rediscover it out of curiosity. But so long as the images and the words continue to fill our thoughts and excite our passions, at a distance from men and events that we have not experienced, they fully participate in the present, whether they serve to destroy, or whether we need them to preserve the framework of our life.
Thus, perhaps Bolshevism, or its Trotskyist variant, and the history of the Russian revolution no longer have any 'real' efficacy. Maybe they only provide fighting symbols for leftist militants whose goals escape them, or an identification to an imaginary community of revolutionaries, in the absence of which their opposition to the regimes in power disappears. Maybe the concept of revolution itself now passes through unprecedented paths. Maybe the USSR Communist leaders themselves need not only Stalin's ghost, but the Bolshevik legend as well, in order to successfully carry out the prosaic tasks, impossible to enumerate, of a new ruling class. What is certain is that today, the glorification of heroes and the repetition of old speeches, always accompany action and mobilize faith.
After twenty years the sources of inspiration have not spoiled. At least for a fraction of the new generations in Western societies, they are much more alive than for their elders. And in Eastern countries, the same references support both the opposition as well as the politics of the masters of power. It follows that the temptation to dissipate certain illusions by examining the great revolutionary politics of the past, to reveal what has been hidden (most often to protect its imitation) is even more necessary in the present than when they had such a great importance for those of us in Socialisme ou Barbarie. I discovered how Trotsky, who for so long we considered the guarantor of the revolutionary attitude, combined the fetishism of the party, the fetishism of the state's 'socialist bases,' and the repression of worker oppositions. Thus, we speak for a tiny number. The circle has expanded and has also intensified the equivocal nature of militancy where the will for emancipation joins the narrow subjection to tradition and the taste for the sacred. Of course, the critique of Bolshevism and Trotskyism has gained ground: the documents of the Workers' Opposition in Russia are better known, we can read Voline, Archinov and Pannekoek while the Kronstadt revolt sometimes has the value of an archetype. But it is too easy to believe that it is enough to substitute a 'good' tradition for a 'bad' one. Too often we are satisfied with changing the symbols without renouncing the authority imputed to the pure image of a founder. Even those who see how the party separates itself from the exploited strata, thus creating the kernel of a new social formation, end up by transferring to the class as such the sacredness hitherto invested in an institution or in men. Thus, questions which emerged when there were militants in the Communist Party, and which burst their system of beliefs, are suddenly extinguished under this new certitude that evil is intrinsic to organizations, while obstinately refusing to look for the conditions of their genesis in the history of the proletariat.
Thought could well free itself of certain images. What prevents it is the relationship we entertain with the representation of the past. It is the mythic function which we force it to play in order to assure ourselves of a truth already given which will not betray us, in order to finally exorcise the indetermination which is reborn ceaselessly in our living history.
In vain one relies on the movement which separates us from our old beliefs. Of course, we have managed to destroy some illusions. But the soil on which these illusions grew nourishes other germs. When we taste the bitter ecstasy of overturning our first theses, it is perhaps then that we remain the most captive of their principles. In any case, so many desires are invested on the political level that the progress of knowledge displaces its own boundaries instead of suppressing them, and each time new doors open before us, we must assume that elsewhere others are closed.
We can easily see limits in others. We are struck by their inability before a troublesome event to draw the inevitable conclusions that we have long since reached. Thus, only recently there were the militant Communist intellectuals, indignant at the Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia. For once, they condemned USSR policies and even labdled them imperialist. But it was to denounce a "tragic error" and to proclaim that a socialist state cannot act like a great power, without disavowing its principles. Their audacity was great. They rose against a hitherto unchallengeable authority. They exposed themselves to exclusion from their party. Yet, they never asked themselves whether it makes any sense to speak of socialism in the case of a state that oppresses its neighbors on economic, political, military, and cultural levels. They defended the "democratic" demands of Czech Communists and they criticized the governing group in the USSR, along with their servile managers in the other countries. They did so, however, only in order to oppose liberalism to authoritarianism, innovative methods to conservatism, as if the conflicts were not rooted in social relations and the political police terror was an accidental trait of the workers' state-the effect of a bad interpretation of revolutionary strategy or, even better, the sign of the ambitions of an intolerant clique. They deplored an error, but were quick to limit it to the case of Czechoslovakia. These ardent defenders of national communism, who still applaud the entrance of Russian tanks into Budapest, shamelessly maintain that the Hungarian insurrection was the work of reactionaries and American agents. Besides, while condemning Moscow, has it not been pointed out by others that opposition to the USSR carries the germs of counter-revolution? flow could they explain that a regime of popular democracy was able to last twenty years almost entirely withdrawn from exchange with capitalist countries and fused into the socialist bloc while preserving a bourgeoisie so strong as to endanger it at the leaders' first error? While supporting Dubcek, they were worrying about the consequences of reforms. They based all their arguments on the defense of soesalism, whileb they saw present everywhere under Brezhnev, Novotny, Dubcek or Husak. The Counter-revolution was seen sprouting everywhere so that they would not dare take a step in one direction without immediately beating a retreat. But one should also consider the position of certain non-party leftists: they also surrounded themselves with strange hesitations. The Czechs' taste for liberty raises their suspicion. What in bourgeois society they consider the most precious acquisition-however fragile, insufficient, and falsified in practice-they are ready to brand as a sign of corruption in Czechoslovakia. They themselves evoke anti-socialist forces, forgetting that they do not believe in the reality of socialism of the peoples' democracies. Thus, they remain caught in the representations which they thought they had discarded. So powerful and so widespread is the idea that the world has been divided into two camps since the Russian revolution, that they take it up again, in spite of all they have learned about exploitation and oppression in the USSR. They seemed to be certain of the fact that the abolition of private property ends in the fusion of Capital and State. But then they mechanically repeated that all that American imperialism profits from is reactionary, and that relations between East and West ultimately decide the revolutionary significance of an event. Thus the whole casuistry elaborated by Sartre and other progressive intellectuals at the time of the Hungarian insurrection has not lost its effectiveness. Its terms are disjointed, the interpreters are ideologically displaced, but the essence of the old position is preserved, the captive imaginary has not really been released.
Undoubtedly, it is difficult to discover in one's own mind the forces which draw it backwards. At least with time I have acquired a certain power, and if I still conceal a part of what guides my judgments, I feel less disarmed before old writings. It is useless to pretend a modesty which has no place when an author must stand aside before the questions of knowledge; the essays which I have written after I left the Trotskyist party are, in my opinion, better equipped to explain the phenomenon of bureaucracy than most of the analyses presently circulating under the label of the Revolution. What is interesting about them is that they were guided by the desire to apply to the labor movement or to the forces which claim to be part of it, the principles of analysis that Marxism had elaborated in the critique of bourgeois society. To be sure, this was not the result of an intellectual decision. It was the experience of militancy, lasting several years, that taught me to scrutinize the strange logic whereby a group (weak, numerically and, because of the inefficiency of its actions, relatively free of political and economic constraints), reintroduced the rules, practices, and inter-personal relations typical of the organizations which they wished to fight, reweaving the same kind of social fabric, cultivating the principles of frag-menting sectors of activity, segregating information, making its existence an end in itself and finally, presenting a cloudy account closed to reflection. Such an experience indicates some of the reasons why Trotskyism, in spite of all its critiques against Communist Parties, did not really succeed in distinguishing itself from them. Although it formulated different objectives in its program and it insisted on the decisive function of mass mobilizations, the social relations that it instituted were ordered according to a similar model. This was best shown in its inability to confront the essential question of a sociological definition of Stalinism, i.e., of inquiring into its social basis. At best, Trotskyists reproduced Lenin's account of the degeneration of social democracy in terms of the emergence of a labor aristocracy. Ordinarily, they stuck to the pure and simple denunciation of leading groups judged opportunist or incompetent, and associated their prestige to the Russian revolution, in the conviction that the isolation of the socialist state left the revolutionary enterprise in shambles, thus favoring the temporary advent of a bureaucratic caste. But their failure was symbolic, for the same conceptions ultimately pervaded all the analyses of the non- Stalinist Marxist Left. Of course, this Left distinguished itself from the Trotskyists on many issues, beginning with their insistence on remaining in the immediate vicinity of the Communist Party. But this Left was Trotskyist in its ignorance, by virtue of its double conviction that party policies were explainable in terms of methodological errors or in terms of a deformed representation of the revolutionary task, and that these policies were the result of unexpected "accidents" after the October revolution, i.e., disturbances in the 'normal' development of socialism.
It is not by chance that, in a polemic with Sartre, I developed an argument which, although it was seen as "Trotskyist," was largely directed against Trotskyism. I discovered that progressives and Trotskyists could not help but meet as soon as they eliminated some social phenomena from Marx's critique. Marx had stressed the divergence between ideology and praxis. Moreover, he knew how to do a critique of economic, political, religious, or philosophical ideologies as a privileged means of unveiling contradictions operating at the level of praxis. For the progressives and Trotskyists. this route was lost as soon as what they were dealing with was no longer the bourgeois class or the Western capitalist system. They limited their critique of Communist Parties and of the social strata from which they drew their force to the level of ideas. They attacked these ideas head-on as if they were without depth, self-sufficient, and did not occlude social relations. Yet, Marx distinguished historical from sociological analysis. His study of capitalism, so rich in references to events, focused on the specific logic of a system and on the articulation of oppositions which develop once the division of capital and labor is carried out on a large scale. Aware of the need to describe the capitalists' actions, the correctives they needed, the resistances that they awakened, and thus to outline certain sequences of an empirical genesis, he nevertheless sought to decipher in apparently contingent facts the signs of a necessity which was not the conscious product of peoples' activities, but was imposed by their ignorance and often even at the cost of their immediate interests. Our epigones, on the other hand, cling to the level of historical development. When analyzing the USSR, they can only grasp the chain of events invoking the consequences of the civil war, the revolutionary defeats in Europe, or the capitalist blockade. It would have been scandalous for them to admit that the course followed by the past revolutionary regime was inevitable (a limited hypothesis having only heuristic value) and that the social system that emerged had properties which had to be studied in themselves. Furthermore, the powerlessness to detach themselves from an explanation in terms of events coincided with the powerlessness to discover, beneath the representations and institutional forms, the social relations which support them. Convinced that state ownership of the means of production and the institution of the plan were the result of the revolution, they located in them the bases of socialism without ever asking how these institutions modified the relations established in the process of production, their real function in the socio-economic system, and the oppositions in which they were embedded.
No doubt, we would not have been able to base the critique of workers' organizations (emerging from our experience in a small and militant party) and their concomitant mode of representation (i.e., to measure the reversal of the Marxist problematic) if we had not simultaneous]y learned to recognize the USSR-thanks to Castoriadis' enlightening studies of the traits of a bureaucratic capitalism. The two analyses bolstered each other. But with ideas, it is advisable to move beyond historical descriptions. What is important is that knowledge of a bureaucratic phenomenon involves reflection on the social conditions which give rise to it. As long as these conditions remained hidden and we naively accepted the norms of our milieu, we were unable to give free reign to our questions. We continue to believe that an analysis of the USSR will be fruitful only if it is connected to an analysis of the organizations of the labor movement in Western countries and of their mode of insertion in the capitalist system -just as an analysis of revolutionary undertakings at the turn of the century (in particular, Bolshevism), assumes that we examine the divorce of practice and ideology in these organizations. However, as legitimate as it may seem, the critical movement in our earlier essays today seems to suffer from the obstinate prejudice of remaining in the strict framework of the Marxist interpretation. Fidelity turns into equivocation when it looks for pregiven answers to new questions.
Since we are only interested in fixing the stages and limits of our analysis of bureaucracy, it should be noted that it was conducted in such a way as to leave intact the image of the proletariat as a revolutionary class-as the carrier of universal historical goals. When we saw in the USSR the existence of a ruling class whose power was based on collective ownership of the means of production, believing that the whole economic system was ordered in such a way as to maintain the division between a mass of mere "doers" and a minority monopolizing managerial tasks, we assumed-without even making any explicit hypothesis-that the new class antagonism reproduced the contradiction denounced by Marx in his examination of bourgeois society. We substituted the bureaucracy for the bourgeoisie, although it had come about through a different process. At any rate, the proletariat's position remained unchanged. The only difference was that now it was in a position to discover the true nature of its goals, until then concealed under the necessity of the struggle against private property. Only now could it recognize the basis of socialism in the workers' administration of enterprises and collectivities. We imagined that in contemporary bourgeois societies the process of bureaucratization, which was becoming increasingly evident in spite of the maintenance of old forms of ownership, created for the working class an analogous consciousness of its goals-a consciousness that would not fail to operate during periods of crisis when labor Organizations would be forced to openly uphold the capitalist system. In other words, we assumed that the world proletariat had reached a stage in which the task that Marx assigned it could be carried out. When we attacked the development of bureaucracy in the West as well as in the East, we considered the trans-formations in the industrial mode of production-the concentration of enterprises, the rationalization of tasks due to technological change, and the class struggle, the growing intricacy of productive and organizational functions - as affecting only the structure of the ruling class. Finally, our analysis of the genesis of bureaucracy in the organization of the working class and the institutionalization of its forms of resistance, did not challenge but, on the contrary, made even more evident, the proletariat's vocation to install a society freed from all domination. We believed that one needed a trial of alienation, even in the process of emancipation, for the critique of all alienations to be carried out.
In retrospect it seems that we lacked audacity. We were afraid to admit that the transformation of the mode of social domination could involve a profound modification of the antagonistic terms described by Marx and, consequently, would call for a revision of his model. Even when considering the economic sphere we would have had to inquire into the changes affecting the nature of social labor.
Similarly, the process of bureaucratization results in a tendency towards homogenization of models of action, social relations, and norms. Formerly this tendency was limited to workers' labor within large industry. At present this tendency has expanded to strata of technicians, planning agents, and beyond. Not only has it extended to state administrations on which the productive apparatus depends, production of services and to large scientific laboratories, but also into domains which would seem naturally not amenable to such assimilation-public health, education, juridical institutions, etc. At the same time, the relation of workers to the enterprise has been modified. This relation can no longer be encapsulated in the clauses of the contract analyzed by Marx, but has expanded to encompass a network of obligations covering the workers' social life, e.g., through institutions of social security, housing, education, and leisure. Moreover, the evolution of technology and the rationalization of tasks has the consequence of changing the proportion of skilled and unskilled labor in industry, the productive tasks in the old sense of the term, and organizational tasks. In examining these phenomena, it is futile to maintain that the proletarianization of society spreads, according to the schema outlined by Marx, for the mass of men separated from the means of production do not resemble the image that he had of them. Ultimately, those factors resulting in heterogeneity are no less powerful than the forces of resistance. In short, it is no longer possible to mix together in the same, simple social stratum the most dispossessed, the most exploited and the most frustrated in their creativity. The last are precisely those in whom the capacitiy of knowledge and of intervention in the milieu of labor is most stimulated by their training and the quality of their tasks. But they do not suffer the most from exploitation, which remains the lot of the factory workers, nor do they fail to benefit, sometimes substantially, from the growth of revenues. As for the most dispossessed, those who presently perform unskilled labor, they are not the most exploited in the sense that it is not from their production that capital extracts the maximum surplus value that it needs to reproduce itself. It does not follow from this that the working class has been erased: the specificity of blue collar labor remains, along with the division of manual and mental labor, in spite of modifications-especially in the latter. Nevertheless, one should not reestablish the classic antagonism between technicians and professionals, on one side, and administrators and technocrats on the other. This opposition surely exists, but it does not imply, as Marx believed, a class which is excluded from the process of socialization instituted by capitalism: a class condemned to discover itself as alien to bourgeois society, a class which is not a class, witnessing in its very existence-when it escapes the status of an economic category from which it receives its definition from outside-its vocation for communism.
With the expansion of bureaucracy, several contradictions converge: between leaders and led, between the strata which receive only scraps from economic growth and the strata which ceaselessly increase the size of their advantages, and between a minority in control of the means of knowledge and information, the production and diffusion of representations, and the masses who, in spite of their formation and their increasing importance, are deprived. In addition to these contradictions in the labor process, there is another one, which contraposes collectivities in all sectors of social life and culture against rules which determine behavior in every minor detail and plugs it into the planned circuits of giant organizations. But this opposition spreads in several directions. It mobilizes various modes of Opposition. One of these takes place within the system and is the result of bureaucratic impotence to satisfy recognized needs that are even intensified by the multi-plication of organizational apparatuses. Another mode of opposition translates the desire for collective control of resources while a third places the fringes of the Population-essentially youth-in a position of deviance, makes them into outcasts, tends to destroy symbolic references without which the relation to reality dissolves.
In considering the ambiguous characteristics of this revolt that strikes at the very heart of the system of domination by revealing the mechanisms which guarantee the combined functioning of exploitation, oppression, and ideology while at the same time shaking up all symbolic references to socialization, we can measure the distance which separates us from the world analyzed by Marx. In this world, the proletariat was the outsider and at the same time the carrier of productive forces-itself being the greatest productive force. Thus, it was designated as the revolutionary class.
Presently, the producer is not the outsider. It obtains, rather, in the rejection of the models and norms of industrial society. Strategies ordered according to realizable objectives cannot be based on conflicts between owners, means of production, and workers. Thus, it becomes impossible to make everything converge toward a single revolutionary focus to preserve the image of a society centered around the praxis of a class, to maintain, in paraphrasing Marx, that bureaucracy necessarily tends toward its own destruction by raising against itself as in a single man the mass of the dispossessed. The locations of conflicts are many and the revolutionary demand par excellence of collective self-management is gaining ground.
Undoubtedly, all of this applies primarily to Western capitalist societies, but it would be a mistake to imagine that the problems are posed in radically different terms in the popular democracies and in the USSR. Certain indications suggest that these problems are only masked by repression which comes down on any and every opposition. The force of this repression, the visible figure of power, has the effect of crystalizing revolutionary energies as soon as authority vacillates. The insurrections of East Berlin, Poland, Liungary. and Czechoslovakia provide ample evidence. Thus, one can expect in the USSR-in some unforesecable future-a crisis of the regime, whose consequences will have an unheard of impact in Eastern Europe as well as in the Western world. But this eventuality should not lead us to forget the complexity, and indeed the heterogeneity, of conflicts at work in modern industrial society-conflicts for which only the lazy imagination of the little heirs of Leninism can delight in foreseeing the solution in a "good" dictatorship of the proletariat.
A study of the peculiar traits of bureaucratic regimes where nothing remains of bourgeois institutions must inquire farther than I have done in order to discover where the critique of totalitarianism leads. It will not do to refer to the logic of bureaucratic organizations, the new mechanisms whereby the state tends to penetrate all the details of the productive process, in all the representations and relations between people in civil society and culture. Nor is it sufficient to recognize in the party the opposite of what it pretends to be-the pivot of a totalitarian integration. Nor can one point to a fundamental contradiction between control and parasitism. In light of this analysis, it is advisable to carry the critique into the home ground of Marxist theory.
An examination of the Russian regime challenges nothing less than the definition of social reality and, with it, the distinction between base and superstructure. Even if one notes that social relations are generated at the level of production, and that property relations are only their juridical expression-as Castoriadis has shown-one still remains too close to the Marxist problematic. What escapes us is what distinguishes bourgoeis society from bureaucratic society. To be sure, it is possible to point to a pertinent structural trait but it should not be forgotten that it alone cannot characterize it. The very definition of relations of production, reduced to the Opposition of means of production and labor power, remains abstract as long as it does not clarify what it deals with, as long as this relation remains purely within economic space. Rather, it must be acknowledged that it allows this space to come about, that it is at the source of a system of operations (specified in terms of production, exchange and distribution), which are in turn dependent on a specific institutional structure, where modes of power and representation are articulated according to various political and symbolic schemas. In a sense, Marx allows one to think with the concept of mode of production, of a structuring of the social field which locates various features of the economy, of the policy and of the system of representation, as well as their articulations. This structuring, however, assumes and does not generate the referents of the economy, politics, or the symbolic. Indeed, we need only consider the advent of capitalism to note the impact of extra-economic factors. Even when it is characterized by a particular order of economic Operations and regulated by specific mechanisms, the logic of a social system can only be grasped by connecting the network of relations under the triple heading of production, power, and representation. Seen in this fashion, it is certainly possible to distinguish between what comes from the base and what comes from the superstructure. However, this cannot be expressed in terms of the distinction between the economic and the political. It obtains on two levels: it acts on the level of representation where the function of imagination cannot be confused with that of symbols which establish the possibility of social communication and make up the shell of the economic-political field. Otherwise, how is it possible to indicate the originality of the modern bureaucratic system? Plow is it possible to escape the alternative of a bad sociology which sees in it either a variation of industrial Society, or a variation of an a-temporal formation such as Asiatic despotism? To move forward in the analysis, we must ask how, with the destruction of the bourgeois regime, are the articulations of a social field reproduced on all levels, how power relations, and the operations of production and representations combine according to a new model of socialization. If, unable to do so, we preserve, e.g., the classic Marxist conception of the state, or if we dismiss a priori the political or symbolic function, the traits of totalitarianism will always appear accidental.
Such an analysis would have at least one practical consequence. So long as we remain prisoner of the Marxist schema, all signs of oppression-no matter how quick we are to denounce them-turn out to have no Importance. Similarly, as we have noted, democratic demands do not constitute an object for sociological interpretation, if they are seen as expressions of the influence exercised by bourgeois regimes, or a reflection of a-temporal humanist values. A new examination of the social system would have to persuade us that with democracy we are in the midst of a fundamental process of socialization-if we can read beyond the forms to which it is attached in bourgeois regimes.
Lastly, it was by reexamining my views concerning the degeneration of the "workers" parties and unions that I became aware of a critique too faithful to the spirit of Marx. Without doubt it is important to observe the structural homology between "revolutionary" organizations and of the organization of the industrial system that they hope to destroy. Lenin's views in What Is to Be Done? bears witness, in an exemplary and explicit manner, to the transfer of norms from the industrial enterprise (the militarization of labor) to the model of the party. Yet, the problem is not exhausted by invoking the alienation which leads the exploited to reproduce in their own organization the constraints that they suffer in bourgeois society-or which leads them to divest themselves of their ability to direct their emancipation after having been dispossessed of the ability to direct their production. Nor is the problem exhausted by emphasizing the role of an intelligentsia quick to transform into power the superiority that knowledge gives them. These answers are not false, but they leave in darkness the mechanisms which determine the repetition. The adherence to models of authority and hierarchy, the belief in the knowledge of the leader, the tenacious fidelity to a tradition, the attachment to symbols, the fetishism of the institution, do not point only to the inability of the working class to discover its own identity. These phenomena take on the investment of energy-both individual and collective-in the service of a socialization about which Marxists wish to know nothing, although they are actually very good at mobilizing it. Like bourgeois regimes, the bureaucratic regime would crumble if it did not nourish identifications which conceal servitude and antagonisms, and which keep the large majority under the authority of the leaders. By wanting to ignore the import of the 'imaginary,' one only exposes oneself (under the good colors of revolutionary optimism-itself mystifying and mystified) to the maintenance of an exercise in repetition. These remarks on bureaucracy are far from attaining their goal. My hope is that the reader, like myself, finds here the inspiration to continue.
I. This article originally appeared in Arguments, no. 17 (1960); reprinted in Elements dune Critique de la Bureaucratie (Paris: Droz, 1971). The "Postscript" was written in 1970.English translation by Jean L. Cohen.
2. Karl Marx, The Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (Cambridge University Press, 1970), p. 47.
3. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (International Publishers, ~969), p. 121. Emphasis added.
4. The analysis of bureaucracy by the Socialisme ou Barbarie group differs from that of Trotsky and Burhoam as follows (this section originally appeared in Arguments, no.4l]une-September, 1957]): "The ideas of Trotsky and Burnham differ qualitatively from those of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group. Trotsky always saw the bureaucracy as a parasitic transitory formation typical of a particular historical juncture-as a fungus grown on the socialist organism that a new revolutionary wave would readily sweep away. He always rejected the idea that it represented a social class and a new social type. The existence of the bureaucracy did not alter the nature of productive relations: the Russian proletariat simply had to chase it away as one does with a bad manager, since there already were socialist relations. Socialisme ou Barbarie denounced Trotsky's formalism by showing the absurdity of a socialist society where the producers are expropriated from all managerial tasks. It substituted the idea of a bureaucratic society for that of a bureaucracy in society, i.e., a society which produced and reproduced itself by separating the producing masses from a social stratum which collectively expropriated surplus value. Such a bureaucratic society was made possible by the rigorous integration of all bureaucratic strata by the state apparatus. Furthermore, Socialisme ou Barbarie also pointed to the function of the official ideology-borrowed from Marxism-Leninism-in the interests of the bureaucracy. Finally, Socialiame ou Barbarie claimed that Trotsky's inability to analyze the bureaucratic phenomenon was linked to his general notion of revolutionary struggle (the absolute pre-eminence of the party) and of socialist society (state centralization) which inadvertently facilitated the advent of a new society of exploitation.
Burnham's merit, on the other hand, is to have pointed out the separation in modern capitalism between production and ownership, and the formation of a new type of society. But this is where the analogy with Socialisme on Barbarie ends since the latter rejects Burnham on the following points: (1) Burnham considers the factory managers as the members of the new class and the real masters of society. He fails to see the changes in the phenomenon of management which now comes to engulf society as a whole. He merely substitutes the managers for the private capitalists without realizing that the process which places power within the context of the enterprise and in the hands of managers tends to dispossess every sector of its autonomy and subordinate everything to the state apparatus.
Furthermore, he fails to see that the bureaucratic mode of social domination generates new relations between its members whose power no longer flows from their private economic activity. They are able to pose themselves as a separate class by rigorously subordinating themselves to a control organ which guarantees a permanent integration through the police and ideology. Hence, Burnham's acrobatics in trying to explain two otherwise inexplicable phenomena: in the USSR the bureaucracy is staffed by a stratum of political functionaries and the factory mangers, whatever their lisiluence, do not hold power. (2) Burnham believes that the rise of industrial managers is a result of their scientific knowledge, against which the mass of producers are seen as ignorant. Accordingly, the managers are indispensable and without them the factory could not function.
Against this view, Socialise ou Barbarie claims that (a) the continuous socialization of work has exploded the managers' old tasks since now the working of the enterprise is guaranteed at all levels by collective organs, and that the existence of a separate managerial apparatus answers the social need of exploitation rather than technological requirements,- (Is) constant conflicts tear factory organization apart, with the social hierarchy destroying cooperation and generating an irreducible irrationality; (c) managers confront these basically insurmountable conflicts daily in the attempt to facilitate cooperation and initiative among producers while keeping them in coercion, isolation and inertia. In other words, Socialisme ou Barbarie explains the existence of bureaucracy in terms of the class struggle and not as a function of technological progress. (3) Against Burnham, Socialisme ou Barbarie sees the contradictions of earlier capitalism to have been transposed and even intensified within the bureaucratic society. Actually, the advent of the bureaucracy is the result of a fundamental historical tendency described by Marx as "the socialization of society." The bureaucracy seeks to coordinate all of the activities that it deals with, have all individuals participate in the social totality by formally denying all class distinctions, while radically contradicting this tendency by its very existence, its system of oppression, its hierarchy, and its fragmentation. It itself pays for this contradiction with an unrelenting internal struggle. This double movement is the reason why bureaucracy exists only in the horizon of communism, and generates the need for its own destruction. In other words, for Socialisme ou Barbarie bureaucracy is a total social phenomenon which is intelligible only in the perspective of modern history and class struggle. The theory of bureaucracy is the theory of revolution."
Yahoo! AnswersAlthough the concept of bureaucracy has fallen into the common domain of political sociology, theory of history, and public opinion, and has been sanctified to the success it has today, it has nevertheless remained so imprecise that it is still meaningful to question the identity of the phenomena it claims to describe. At first one is astonished at the diversity or ambiguity of the responses. But this is only a first impression. Bureaucracy appears as a phenomenon that everyone talks about, feels and experiences, but which resists conceptualization. Thus, rather than immediately attempting to provide a new definition or description, we will measure the difficulties encountered by theory, assume that they have a meaning, and from the very beginning critically examine what both motivates and perpetuates these difficulti. The Problem of Bureaucracy
Already in his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Marx draws attention to the specific nature of the social stratum in charge of the administration of public affairs. To corporations dedicated to particular activities and attached to particular interests, this stratum appears to represent a universal interest. We will follow the development of the theory of the state in Marx's later works, then in Lenin's Stale and Revolution, and its application to post-revolutionary Russian society by Trotsky, together with an examination of the role that the bureaucracy plays as a stratum inextricably bound to the structure of a class society. From this viewpoint, the bureaucracy is neither a class nor a stratum. It is a result of the division of society into classes and class struggles, since its function is to secure the acceptance of the rules of an order (an order undoubtedly connected with relations of production, but in need of being formulated in universal terms and maintained by force). Bureaucracy is "normally" at the service of a dominant class since the administration of public affairs within the framework of a given regime always assumes the preservation of its status. But since it is not simply a section of this class, when the balance of social forces permits it, it can run counter to some of its interests, thus acquiring a relative autonomy. The limits of power are always determined by the configuration of social relations. In short, bureaucracy is a special body in society because its function is such that it supports the established structure and its disappearance would mean the end of bourgeois domination. (Marx said that the Commune's first revolutionary measure was the suppression of the bureaucracy through the lowering of functionaries' salaries to that of the average worker.) Since it is not a key to social stratification, its role in the society is ascribed by the real historical agents-classes in struggle.
The viewpoint changes as soon as one observes the growth of the stratum devoted to administrative tasks in the various sectors of civil society. Thus, it is tempting to look for criteria defining a type of social organization that recognizes the similarities between the bureaucracies of the state, industry, party, unions, etc. Comparison encourages research into the conditions for the emergence of bureaucracies in order to define a type which would pull together various characteristics.
From this viewpoint, very close to Weber's thesis, the bureaucracy appears again as one particular mode of organization corresponding to a more or less extended sector within society. In other words, the social dynamic doesn't seem to be affected by the development of bureaucracies. The mode of production, class relations and political regimes can be studied without reference to a phenomenon designating only a certain type of organization.
A qualitative change in the theory of bureaucracy takes place when it is used to refer to a new class considered to be the dominant class in one or several countries, or even seen as destined to displace the bourgeoisie all over the world. This is suggested by the evolution of the Russian regime after the rise of Stalin, with the disappearance of the old proprietors and the liquidation of the organs of workers' power along with a considerable extension of the Communist Party bureaucracy and the state, which took over the direct administration of society. Similarly, social transformations connected with the development of monopolistic concentration in large industrial societies (notably in the United States) also generate reflection on the development of a bureaucratic class. This necessitates a change in the theory since, because of its role in economic and cultural life, the bureaucracy is now understood as a stratum able to displace the traditional representatives of the bourgeoisie, thus monopolizing power.
Finally, we believe that a completely different conceptualization is required if the phenomenon of bureaucratization is seen as a progressive erosion of the old distinctions linked to private property. Bureaucratization here refers to a process seeking to impose a homogeneous social form on all levels of work-at the managerial as well as the executive level-such that the general stability of employment, hierarchy of salaries and functions promotion rules, division of responsibilities and structure of authority, result in the creation of a single highly differentiated ladder of socio-economic statuses. This last thesis refers to a social dynamic in bureaucracy, and lends it a goal of its own, the realization of which engenders an upheaval of all of society's traditional structures. If this is what the problem of bureaucracy boils down to, it is important to examine each of these theses and explore their contradictions.
Allienation of bureaucracy means a bureaucracy that over the years have grown big and insensitive to the needs of the citizens and the civil society, it becomes corrupt, far from acting as the servant of the citizens. The larger the bureaucracy the more rigid, inflexible, insensitive and corrupt it tends to become. Instead of serving the citizens, they manipulate the elected ministers or allow cartels to form to exploit the citizen's.
Bureaucratic Alienation Alienation is a problem within bureaucracies as they tend to dehumanize those they serve through their impersonal operation.
Bureaucratic Inefficiency and Ritualism The problem of inefficiency is captured in the concept of red tape. Bureaucratic ritualism signifies a preoccupation with rules and regulations to the point of thwarting an organization's goals.
Bureaucratic Inertia Bureaucratic inertia refers to the tendency of bureaucratic organizations to perpetuate themselves. An example from the federal government is used to illustrate.
Source(s):Readt at http://www.generation-online.org/h/fplef
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