More on system vs. personal responsibility

AlterNet has posted an article by Oliver James that relates to my earlier musings on the system vs. personal responsibility. He observed that mental illness “almost doubled between the early 80s and the turn of the century.” He attributes this to both the system (the rich getting richer) and personal responsibility. With a twist. Our values, which the Monitor on Psychology so bemoaned, that drive us into overconsumption are also driven by the system. James writes, “But Selfish Capitalism stokes up relative materialism: unrealistic aspirations and the expectation that they can be fulfilled. It does so to stimulate consumerism in order to increase profits and promote short-term economic growth. Indeed, I maintain that high levels of mental illness are essential to Selfish Capitalism, because needy, miserable people make greedy consumers and can be more easily suckered into perfectionist, competitive workaholism.”

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