The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Dying Younger:
A Symptom of a Sick Society

Dec 10, 2018

For the third year in a row, life expectancy in the U.S. went down in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This means the average person is dying at a younger age. With all the improvements in technology we have, this tells us that something is deeply wrong with our society.

Heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death, are killing fewer people. Instead, people are dying younger mostly because of drug overdoses and suicide – diseases of despair.

These problems are made worse by the lack of public services. Medically assisted drug treatment programs have been proven to help – but these programs are rarely accessible unless you have the money. And mental health services for suicide prevention are also woefully inadequate. One Stanford University researcher expressed it clearly: “The frustration that many of us feel is that there are things that could save many lives, and we are failing to make those services available.”

Addiction and suicide are becoming more common because our society increasingly fails to find a place for people. One third of the working-age population is not working. And many of those working have part-time or non-permanent jobs that don’t allow a worker to have a stable livelihood.

But the fundamental problem is not the drug addict, or the hopeless person who commits suicide. The problem is caused by the people who run this society, who create and profit from addiction and hopelessness. They are the ones we will need to take on.

The working class has an alternative point of view to offer. This society sets us against each other. But for the working class to find solutions to the problems we face, we will need to come together to build our power collectively.

There are no individual answers to the problems of jobs, declining wages, the destruction of public services, and the increased cost of living. When we come together to take these problems on, the working class will have to renew the old slogan of the Industrial Workers of the World: “An injury to one is an injury to all.” This idea by itself can help shake people out of the individual despair many find themselves in.