If ever a single thing defined the way we comprehend and apprehend our news, our life narratives and our personal sense of worth and responsibility in this world it is the notion of ‘who did this?’. For any crime or deed you care to imagine I can guarantee that in the aftermath of those events there will be a media frenzy directed towards the sole aim of finding who is to blame and that witch hunt will shortly be followed by the ridiculous phrase ‘we must ensure that this never happens again’. This phenomenon is the single most destructive thing that our media sector does and it is killing us, often quite literally. We live in an age of the individual. Any sense of society is dwindling fast. That is why we have more and more individuals who are rich, famous, notorious or any combination of those things. The only thing that is still socialised is massive financial loss, and that is not really down to socialist principles, it is down to the fact that individuals can talk themselves out of their crimes at the white collar level, meaning that what seems to be an act of socialised loss is actually an act of individualist escapism.
This way of doing things will destroy us. It is evidenced in stories such as the CIA proclaiming that Vladimir Putin is capable of such crimes as those he commits because he has Asperger’s Syndrome. This was one of the most monumentally stupid things that I have ever seen but it is an expression of the notion that individuals are to blame for everything terrible in the world. The pathological desire to pin responsibility for things on to an ‘angry lone nut’ has always been strong and it is getting stronger. Witness the vicious, salivating feeding frenzy in the press about the recent murder/suicide of the copilot of a Germanwings airliner and you see the point perfectly. The level of analysis concerning his mental health has been nothing short of astonishing, and forgive me for saying so in polite company, but the quality of editorial and the narrative has quite frankly, not made it above the level of complete horseshit. I have never, in a strong field, seen such irresponsible, crass and nasty reporting about anything.
We live in the great age of mental illness. In the UK the number one killer of young men is suicide. Half of the population will suffer mental illness at some point and only half of those will ever receive treatment for it. We are killing ourselves through the lens of a capitalist society which demands that the individual must bear responsibility for all things at all times, without exceptions. Some might argue that it is Thatcher’s legacy, harking back to her proclamation that there is no such thing as society. Well, there had better be a society or there will soon be no human race left. The cult of individualism is the most destructive thing ever witnessed in terms of what we inflict upon people through peaceful methods. We cannot go on like this. If we do not change things then pilots crashing planes will be the least of our worries. Whether or not you have ever suffered, or ever will suffer from any form of mental illness then I have news for you: IT IS YOUR PROBLEM. A generation of males who kill themselves is unsustainable. A nation of people slaving away on the cusp of complete breakdown is not acceptable. Why? Because we have created a de facto caste system. The sane versus the nutters. Take a quick straw poll of your friends and family and ask how many of them would either associate with, date, marry or otherwise interact with someone if they knew that person was mentally ill. Good luck finding anyone who will say yes to that. The simple problem here is that we already have that. You are walking past and interacting with depressives every day. Your entertainment life and the cultural pastimes you enjoy are all products of those with bipolar disorder, Aspergers and so forth.
The invisibility and disposability of the mentally ill is bringing society to a head. Unless you want more and more people snapping and flying planes in to mountain ranges then we have to dispose of our individualist philosophy and ask ourselves the painful question: ‘of what is our society made?’. We are going to have this moment sooner or later because the race to the top cannot be won by a society, but only by one individual. So, as the pool of eligible people in that race gets ever smaller, the number of rejects becomes ever larger. What will we do with that? Will we really wait until one rich, powerful white male is able to point to everyone else and blame them for whatever set of circumstances they inhabit? Or will we accept that as a society our first, best destiny is to accept difference and bear with it, even construct a society adapted to living with it? I doubt that any politician has the courage to stand up and say that we ought to be helping one another more. To date the rise of our selfish, capitalist, ‘greed is good’ society has been built by those willing to divide societies into strata. They tell those in the middle strata that those below are the cause of all societies ills, citing the notion that as individuals those below do not work hard enough to pull themselves up. Those in the middle thank their lucky stars that they are not ‘them’. They are not the ones below. As is always the case what those in the middle never realise that once the bottom has been wrung out, they are next.
The mentally ill are the bottom of society by and large. We freely admit that we need the rest of you. Due to stigma what the rest of you will not admit is that you need us. You need us more than you imagine. The next time a mentally ill person does something like crash a plane, which incidentally is very unusual since we are almost always victims rather than perpetrators of crimes, ask yourself whether you honestly believe that this person is the source of all evil. Are they really? Or did our society make them? It was the copilot who closed the door on the plane as it crashed but it was our society that closed the door on him. He needed an escape route and the path of least resistance for him was suicide and the murder of 149 people. Think on that for yourself. In a world where the easiest way for a young man to find relief and peace for himself was a terrible act of carnage, ask the difficult question: of what is our society made?