I have previously written about how I feel the Social Contract needs to be more fair in the UK. This is especially true for Autistic and Mad people. Although in recent history, Mad people have had greater liberties by being able to live in the community rather than in Asylums or long stay hospitals. Today they are under threat of losing their social security (benefits). I have written how claiming benefits is considered a Social Sin.
The increasingly one size fits all approach that you must be working and contributing to the economy (often with the expectation of it being full time) means many find their mental health deteriorating. They often have to take medication because they need it to sleep and stay well. Some realise taking medication assists their eligibility to gain social security (benefits). The experience of side effects such as sedation from the medication makes the possibility of any form of work impossible.
The broader population is also being diagnosed with mental illness. Mental illness is being normalised and seen less as an impairment to work. This may be true for more temporary mild conditions of depression and anxiety. However, for those with severe challenges, they are being caught up as ‘fit or unfit’ (all or nothing) without much opportunity to be of variable functioning.
Before I continue I will briefly explain some terms. Individualism is the principle of being self-reliant such as earning an income for labour and paying for your own expenses. Social Darwinism in this context is a ‘survival of the richest’ when it comes to capitalism where certain people become powerful in society because they are assumed to be innately better through wealth and influence. Colonialism’s traditional definition is the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically. My definition of Medical-Welfare Colonialism (MWC) is where disabled, Mad and Autistic people are required to adhere to the conditions of eligibility and rules on behaviour set by the NHS and Department of Work & Pensions.
Many people in the UK find themselves part of one or two worlds. A member of the Neoliberal economy in the form of Individualism and Social Darwinism or colonised by Medical-Welfare Colonialism (MWC).
I believe many people struggle if they inhabit both worlds or are trying to descend (falling ill) or ascend (getting better) between them. The world of Individualism expects you to work full time and provide for yourself. The MWC world requires you to be dependant and/or incapable. This one size fits all approach is doing harm on both worlds. Not everyone can take full care of themselves from their own labour. As the rules of adherence of the MWC world become much harder to meet many find themselves requiring the help of Charity to meet their social security needs.
It’s well known that many people today use food banks in the UK and increasingly charities for further social support. In many cases the charities have been colonised by government and private donations under private contracts to deliver certain services. Many charities are now part of the MWC world with their own criteria of eligibility. Charities often attract Middle class people who want to make a social difference. Though my experience is the people affected and use the charity rarely gain employment or influence in these charities.
In developing countries overseas, they sometimes have an opinion of calling these Middle class charity workers who come to their country as ‘white saviours’. They have their own term known as the White Saviour Industrial Complex whereby these white people from a position of superiority, attempts to help or rescue people. The irony is many of these developing countries suffer from unfair trade and huge debts to big western banks. As well as a legacy from the traditional form of colonialism in their history. A similar experience to those in the MWC world.
In the 21st Century we are now seeing AI, Robotics and Automation make more jobs redundant in the East and West. Many jobs have and will be obsolete. Much of the necessities are increasingly controlled, automated and mechanised by fewer hands. If we continue with the approach of Individualism with Social Darwinism and Medical-Welfare Colonialism (MWC) for everyone else then I believe we are going to create a distinct social structure of those with liberty and those without liberty. This to me is colonialism in the 21st century.
One possible hope for me is affordable housing and a Universal Basic Income. Where everyone gets a minimum social safety net without onerous and complex rules of eligibility of being deserving and undeserving. It may also be less expensive to administer. I may write about this further.
The picture at the beginning of this article is The Scoop (2018) which depicts the kidnapping of Indigenous Canadian children from their parents in the 1960s.