logo n1

I believe these wise, informed and timeless words by Bertrand Russell are at the heart of neoliberalism and the greedy fat cat capitalists. Hence, their love and passion for de-regulation, self-regulation and privatisation of everything and everybody under the sun.

Today I read a very interesting, albeit, very sad article, on neoliberalism and the huge increases in global loneliness, depression and suicide, which I thought I wish to share with you.

However, before that, I want to take you a few years back to 2003, when I had written a short booklet,  mainly on the rise of global neoliberalism and the concurrent rise in ‘Business with no Ethics’. Let me quote you a passage or two from that said booklet, very relevant to a better understanding of the article which I wish to share with you a bit later:

“…The  benefits  of neo-liberal  globalisation  are  limited  and  are based   on   individualism,   greed,   self-interest   and   economism (which  regards  human  societies  primarily  as economic  systems in which financial considerations alone govern choices and decisions).  Other  fundamental values such as faith,  spirituality, justice, love, compassion,  sympathy,  empathy  and  co-operation are neglected.

Individualism, valued  by neo-liberals  as a force  for  good  in global capitalism,  in fact has a major destructive  impact on well- being. A lack of appropriate sources of social identity  and attachment results in a tendency  to promote unrealistic  or inappropriate  expectations of  individual   freedom   and  autonomy. Much  unhappiness   is often  associated  with  people  who  have suddenly become super-rich,  whether  by winning the lottery, inheriting  a fortune, or by fraud.

Neo-liberal  capitalism  is also anti-democratic; it is extremely harmful   to   the   noble   principles   of  democracy.   Democracy believes in equality: it gives one  vote to each person  regardless of status,  colour  or creed.  It does not  matter  what  that  person is, intelligent  and  educated  or  illiterate, well-informed, or  not. Neo-liberalism  aims to reward  only the  most  talented  and  suc- cessful,  thus  clashing  with  the  most  fundamental principle  of democracy.

By promoting individualism  and self-centredness, neo-liberal- ism also runs contrary  to the principles  of community  and society. What matters is individual preference. The suggestion is that those who squander their riches on conspicuous consumerism are just as worthy  as those who use their  wealth  to help the needy.

The following  is a revealing expansion  of the above:

What the Richest Men in the World Don't Know

In 1923,  a very important meeting  was held at Edgewater  Beach Hotel in Chicago. Attending this meeting were nine of the world’s most ‘successful’ financiers and businessmen. Those present  were: the President  of the largest independent steel company;  the President  of the  largest  utility  company;  the  President  of the  largest gas company;  the greatest  wheat  speculator; the President  of the New York Stock Exchange;  a member  of the President’s  cabinet; the greatest ‘bear’ in Wall Street; the head of the world’s greatest monopoly; and the President  of the Bank of International Settlement. This, we must admit, was a gathering of some of the world’s most successful men – or at least men who had found  the secret of making  money.  Twenty-five  years later  (1948)  let us see what had happenedto  these  men:  the  President  of  the  largest  independent   steel  company   had  died,   bankrupt,  having  lived  on borrowed money for five years before  his death;  the President  of the  largest  utility  company   had  died  a  fugitive  from   justice, penniless  in a foreign  land;  the President  of the largest gas company was insane; the greatest wheat speculator  had died abroad  – insolvent;  the  President  of  the  New  York  Stock  Exchange  had recently  been  released  from  Sing Sing penitentiary; the  member of the President’s cabinet had been pardoned from prison  so that he could  die at home;  the greatest  ‘bear’ in Wall Street had died
– a suicide;  the head  of the world’s greatest  monopoly  had died
– a suicide; the President  of the Bank of International Settlement had died – a suicide

All these men learned  well the art of making money but none of them  learned  how  to  live,  commented  the  original  compiler of this list. It seems that  the business world  (who  should  know better, given what was described above) has changed not one iota. For  them  economic  growth,  the  corporate bottom  line and  the pursuit of self-interest are what matters most. More recent observations also show that the self-interested  pursuit of wealth brings only misery. Since 1950  there  has been much economic  growth and  wealth  creation  in the  West,  but  also a tenfold  increase  in the incidence  of depression  and a massive rise in the number  of people  suffering  from  sub-clinical  neuroses,  anxiety  and  pro- found  self-dissatisfaction…”

What a powerful and telling story! A lesson to all those neoliberals that think whatever matters most is money and money and loads of it!

Then, in an post-Brexit article, reflecting on what happened and why, I noted the following:

Call me an idealist, a dreamer, whatever. But, believe me, unless we address and tackle the causes of injustice, inhumanity, poverty (spiritual and material), inequality, loneliness, anger, frustration, hopelessness…, resultant from neo-liberal economic policies, then, the world falls deeper and deeper into the abyss.

A lot has already been written on the Brexit, what happened and why. Many have suggested many reasons, whilst offering many different solutions. I, myself, have many thoughts in my own head. But one thing is clear to me:

People rose against injustice, unfairness, inequality, the misery that has been unleashed on them by a group of self-serving elites, who have ignored the masses, inflicting pain and anguish on them, through their feral economic policies and capitalism, austerity, cut backs, lack of investments, corruption and more; so that they can give more and more to their friends, the 1%...” 

Now, let me share with you the article I was mentioning.

Photo: redandsky.blogspot.co.uk 

Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That’s what’s wrenching society apart

An article by George Monbiot Via The Guardian

‘Epidemics of mental illness are crushing the minds and bodies of millions. It’s time to ask where we are heading and why’

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.

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.

See the original article, first published in The Guardian on Wednesday 12 October 2016

Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That’s what’s wrenching society apart | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian

Read more:

The blight on the conscious of the world: Why are so many youth and students killing and harming themselves?

A Plea to address Global Youth Depression

People’s Tragedy: Neoliberal Legacy of Thatcher and Reagan

The Destruction of our World and the lies of Milton Friedman

Does modern economics makes us unhappy?