1950s >> 1956 >> no-625-september-1956

A Nervous Breakdown?

Quite recently this writer had a nervous breakdown. He was not alone. Many suffer from nervous breakdowns, anxiety-neurosis strain and the like. The stresses and strains of our present way of life are just too much for many of us.

At six or seven in the morning we are awakened by the continuous jarring of the alarm bell; after a hurried breakfast (if we have one; and many do not), we rush out of the house on to a crowded bus or even more crowded tube train—or both. In many cases before we even start work we feel exhausted and tired out An hour on bus and tube train is enough for one day . . . but then the day has not really begun. We still have seven, eight or more hours in the office, in the shop, or at the factory bench; and then an hour on the bus and train again at night. . .

Rush . . . rush … rush … day and night. And for what? For the worker, a wage or a salary; for the employer, profit.

Most of us rush our lives away; and yet we achieve very little. We come into the world with next to nothing, and go out in much the same condition!

This continual striving to “make ends meet” throughout our lives also contributes to nervous illnesses and breakdowns. Our wages and salaries never seem to keep up with prices. There is never quite enough to go round. Should we blame the employer? Hardly. He does not employ us just to give us work; to make us happy; to give us money in order that we can buy everything we want. He employs us (to get to work at eight o’clock or nine) so that we. in co-operation with our mates, will make a profit for him. The more he can get out of us the better it is for him. And he is not particularly concerned, as an individual, if we do get tired on the tube train if we do have a job “making ends meet.” or in most cases if we have a nervous breakdown—so long as we do not stay away from work too long. In most firms the real employer—the shareholder, the Capitalist—never sees us. He does not know us. He has his “problems” of profit; and yet more profit. That is the way our society goes round. It is the “dog eat dog” world of capitalism. It is the world that Socialists wish to replace by a different world—the world of Socialism. A world with a different basis; with a different motive—not of profit and the continual rush to “make ends meet” We want a world without nervous breakdowns, insecurity and anxiety. We are working (in our own small way) for such a world. Moreover, we would like you to work for one also. How about it?

Peter E. Newell