As someone with a severe mental illness* and being Autistic I have increasingly realised how vulnerable I am. Not just due to the nature of my conditions that have social disadvantages from being not accepted and ostracised but also in relation to my lack of political power. Things like money, social status and memberships can give individuals some influence in politics in the form of a constituency of power. I have very little of that so it makes me more marginalised and vulnerable.
A political football is a topic or issue that is seized on by opposing political parties or factions and made a more political issue than it might initially seem to be.
In Germany during the 1920-40’s the Nazi’s seized on the issue that Jewish people, gay people, disabled people and other minorities were the problem for societies ills (namely the economy). Increasingly their lives were made more difficult. These minorities experienced more bullying, discrimination, violence and ostracism. It became a lot more difficult to survive as they were denied support, kindness and any accommodations. Many as a result died to such ill treatment sometimes by suicide as well. It concluded with the Holocaust where the Nazi’s held mass executions as the ‘Final Solution’. These victims were the political football of the day.
In the UK today we see much work being automated by technology. It means that many of the jobs that remain are intense social jobs that technology cannot yet replace and what people like myself most struggle to do (as well as be most ostracised from). Our NHS is on it’s knees, housing and the general cost of living is hugely expensive. Many people feel stressed and angry. They want someone to take responsibility. They look to our politicians and the media who then have to deflect this anger to protect their own interests. Increasingly Non-working people are becoming the target of this anger. Disabled people (other than retired people) make up a large number of those not working.
I don’t think stress or anger is unavoidable on such issues. Stress is alerting us to take a new cause of action. If the UK begins to take the Nazi’s approach then it would be a crime against humanity. If we listened to marginalised people like the disabled and debated more fully the Social Contract we might find benefits for all of us.
If feels to me like the UK is on the precipice of becoming socially a much darker place. At present it feels like disabled people are going through something similar to the Spanish Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition was about identifying a person believing in or practising religious heresy. Today’s heresy seems to be not being able to do or accept any available full time job in Neoliberalism. There will always be people that can’t work and not able to contribute to society more than they take. Disabled people probably aren’t going to be able to pay much income tax. Many people nominally in pounds (£) take more than they give to the British economy over their lifetime.
The Colonialist Mindset towards disabled people and other minorities hasn’t worked and isn’t working today. Whether the UK is going to start taking the playbook from the Nazi’s is an open question to me.
People with severe mental illness and Autism have a life expectancy of 15-20 years shorter than the general population. I will be 40 next year so I might not have as much time left as it would appear. I really do try my best. Though I’m not sure what more I can do without a better Social Contract and less social ostracism. My family is dead. There is no one else but the state to fall back on. Many others are in or will be in a similar situation. I can only hope after the General Election in 2024 or 2025 we see positive change.
* I have a diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder.