Philosopher Oliver James book on our sick, materialistic society calls the malaise afflicting so many in the English speaking world Affluenza. He claims the symptoms of affluence, mental illness at epidemic levels, the decay of social institutions, addiction, the fragmentation of society and isolation of the individual, deification of celebrity and the pressure to seek status through acquisition are a result of the selfish capitalism that has dominated politics, business and society for the past thirty years. (Affluenza Oliver James)
So what is the cure?
Well the most important step will come as a shock to the system from many. Forget the loony suggestions of scientists to put anti depressants in the drinking water, we should simply nationalise the housing stock, put an end to the insane desire instilled in people to buy houses and remove the greatest cause of stress. There is more to life than buying houses. Having worked in Europe I can vouch for the fact there is no such obsession with property ownership in France, Italy, Germany or Sweden, people are happy to live in rented homes and they are much more fulfilled in their lives, not having to worry constantly about interest rates, property values and whether the council are planning to open a bail hostel just round the corner. People can just be, they are not under constant pressure to acquire.
The advocates of selfish capitalism tell us the economies of the main nations of mainland Europe are in worse shape than those of the U.S.A. Britain, Australia and Canada. This is a blatant lie. The economies of these nations work differently, their finance systems and currency are not underwritten by debt. None of these nations are in great shape, there is not a single major economy in the world that is in great shape. China and India are about the best but the cost of dealing with the consequences of climate change and the rising cost of energy blights even their success.
Thanks to the looniness of selfish capitalism there are now pigeon holes in mail drop offices in the Cayman Islands that have more valuable economies than many third world countries. The great lie of the free marketeers was that if we deregulate businesses, privatise public services and free the entrepreneurs to make money, their riches will trickle down and everybody will be rich. At the beginning of the 1980s, the dawn of the era of selfish capitalism, it was the great complaint of socialists like myself that 90% of the nations disposable wealth was in the hands of 10% of the people. Now after twenty-five years of the poor benefiting from the trickle down effect, 90% of the disposable wealth is in the hands of 3% of the people. The rest are living under unprecedented burdens of debt.
What do we do apart from nationalise the housing stock? We bring back public ownership to essential utilities, electricity, gas and water. The privatisation of these essential services was probably criminal and at the very least wholly immoral. And the privatisation of the Trustee Savings Bank was plain and simple theft. It was not the governments to privatise.
The latest swingeing increases in the cost of gas and electricity are not, as is claimed, the result of rising prices of gas and crude oil. They are the result of Margaret Thatchers botched privatisations and the criminally flawed deregulation of the stock market. Does anybody know how many German, French or American electricity companies the Chinese, Russians or French own? None. Does anybody know how many American companies whose shares are traded on the stock exchanges are owned by foreign firms. Very very few, it simply is not possible for foreigners to walk into America or most other nations and buy up companies whose business is deemed vital to the national interest. The situation is the same almost everywhere except Britain, the national economy is regulated for the protection and benefit of that nation. The British economy is deregulated for the benefit of foreign rip off artists who want to make vast fortunes in our nation but not contribute to the nations tax revenues. Thus the burden of subsidising the ineptly managed private finance initiative ventures in the provision of public services falls on that 97% of the population who share 10% of the wealth.
Is it any wonder we are all stressed out and suffering from the afflictions of affluenza?
The author D.H. Lawrence said over seventy years ago, Humanity must get back in touch with the rhythms of nature. Little Nicky Machiavelli agrees, but first we must get back in touch with each other. In our local communities not via the internet.