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in Deep Dives2 years ago

That's actually a thing. In 2018 Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May appointed the health minister Jackie Doyle-Price to the new role of Suicide-Prevention Minister. And that was after Britain appointed a Minister for Loneliness in January that year.

source: YouTube

It might seem surreal, the existence of a Minister for Suicide-Prevention and a Minister for Loneliness... Surely these departments belong in dystopian science-fiction novels, not here in the real world. Right? Unfortunately they do belong here in the real world, and their existence shouldn't surprise any of us. The fact that across the developed world more and more people are becoming depressed, anxious and suicidal, is a direct consequence of the neoliberal paradigm that's reigned supreme for more than a half century. Neoliberalism is the ideology that says markets are able to solve our problems, that each individual has to be given the freedom to accumulate wealth for themselves for markets to function properly, and that therefore everything has to be analysed from an individualistic perspective.

Sure, modern technologies are partially to blame, but the atomization of western societies began before the internet, mobile phones, social platforms, Netflix and video-games were widespread, and its root-cause is the individualism that lays at the core of the capitalist ideology. And neoliberalism is nothing more than an expansion on that ideology, it's the idea that free markets driven by individual fortune-seeking agents, can be extrapolated into all aspects of life and society. Under this paradigm, every human interaction is or will be reduced to a transaction, with both parties negotiating for their own maximal gain. Maybe the most poignant example of this is dating-sites; choosing a partner is something new. We didn't choose our partners "in the old days"; we simply fell in love, or we didn't. Nowadays we carefully read through online profiles, check the target's Facebook page, and "swipe right"... Or something like that; I don't have any personal experience with such sites... But hey, before those sites, Janet Jackson already scored a hit with "What Have You Done For Me Lately"...

The giving and taking comes as a natural progression from that first step of falling in love, it's not something to be negotiated beforehand. And maybe the increasing anxiety plays a role here as well; falling in love and deciding to go live together is a rather deep dive into an uncertain future. Maybe the dating sites and online profiles are a way to negate much of that uncertainty. But that clearly isn't working, evidenced by the increasing numbers of broken relations and divorces. Real relationships and real friendships require a level of commitment an ever decreasing number of people are willing to make, so it seems.

There is no real solution for these problems within a capitalist society, just like there's no solution for the climate challenge. Depression, anxiety and loneliness are the children of a society that's losing inner coherence, a group of individuals that are a country on account of a flag and a set of borders alone, but have no commitment to one another nor to their offspring. Therefore the policy coming from a Suicide-Prevention Minister will be one from an individualistic perspective. They will point to the imbalance of brain-chemistry in that particular depressed patient with suicidal tendencies, and will prescribe drugs to combat those imbalances. They will "help" those who suffer from loneliness by appointing "buddies" who spend some time with the lonely every day as their job, creating yet another inter-human transaction. And nothing will be done to take away the real cause of our societies' downward spiral, certainly not when there's tons of money to be made with combating the symptoms.

How Capitalism Causes Depression

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