Educating for Democracy: the "Inner Emigration"
During the period in Germany and Austria when the Nazis were running the government of the two countries merged into one by the Germans, many prominent anti-fascists left these countries as their way of protesting the fascist regime. Among them were Jewish intellectuals, educators, artists and scientists but also gentile anti-fascists. Less notable were those prominent elites who were not compelled to leave the country but chose to remain and not participate in any aspect of the Reich they could avoid. Among the most prominent figures involved in criticizing the "emigrants" was Thomas Mann, the great German novelist. But there is little doubt that a considerable number of creative artists involved chose to stay in Nazi Germany for whatever reasons.
I am beginning to come to the conclusion that in its own way the United States is going through "inner emigration," not limited to elites but in fact might include more and more of the general population. There are definite signs that the country is going through some very bizarre behavior. The Presidential campaigns, particularly Donald Trump's illustrates this. His junior high level of presenting himself as the school yard bully and gaining popularity because of it reveals the sad fact that America still needs to grow up.
The dramatic increase in the use of prescribed drugs both for physical and emotional suffering and the dangers to our society as an addicted personality is becoming the norm, should alert us to the need to recognize that some fundamental change is happening in our country that we cannot ignore. At this point 9% or over thirty million Americans suffer some form of depression, up considerably from the past decade. http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/depression-statistics/. Moreover deaths from prescription drug overdose has climbed from 10,000 in 2000 to over 25,000 in the latest year. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends.statistics/overdose-death-rates
Of course there are vast differences between the "Inner Emigration" of the Nazi period and what is happening today. But there is a psychological factor that they do share: a feeling of helplessness that leads to denial of their economic and social condition; that no matter what the circumstance there seems to be little reason to hope for a better future. If allowed to continue in the present direction a condition of anxiety and depression can result in dysfunction in the general society.
The most dangerous sign to me of a society in trouble is the suicide rate: 'The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which recently released the study.The increases were so widespread that they lifted the nation's suicide rate to 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. The rate rose by 2 percent a year starting in 2006, double the annual rise in the earlier period of the study. In all, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014, compared with 29,199 in 1999.http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/health/us-suicide-rate-surges-to-a-30-year-high.html?_r=0
The "Occupy" Movement may have shown an example of the general discontent of the Millenials with this society although, unfortunately, many activists from that period seem to be in their own "inner emigration" given the present political scene. As a frequent subway user I am noticing in my fellow riders an increased attention--or more accurately obsession--with the many cell phone devices being"plugged in" and "plugged out" so commonly that there are times when not one passenger seems aware of the reality of their surroundings.
There are no simple solutions to a complex problem that intersects so many aspects of modern life. But in desperate times people are looking for a hero who could be as idealistic as Bernie Sanders or as manipulative as Donald Trump. Both claim to have answers but what they need is to hear the right questions. What they need is not more data but more wisdom. One can only hope that Hilary Clinton has that vital gift.
Given the prospect, especially among the "Millenials," that they will probably not be getting a "sustainable wage" job that would enable them to get out of debt rather than going deeper, it is unlikely that they will feel "connected" to an economic system that simply doesn't work for them no matter how many subsidies and stipends and internships end up as band-aid solutions without addressing the simple truth: "CAPITALISM DOESN'T WORK FOR MOST PEOPLE IN A SOCIETY WHERE HUMAN VALUE IS BASED ON CONSUMPTION."
With the dramatic increase in mental illness, suicide and depression which saps the will to do something positive, the darker side of our society, perfectly manipulated by Donald Trump, is beginning to make its presence felt in the very nature of the Presidential election. None of the candidates can really address the issues to non-voters who live in their parents' home with little prospect for a place of their own.
There are many ways in which these issues can be addressed, but even Bernie Sanders seems to have faith in a future in which more of the same "consumptive" economy can only make matters worse.
I really don't believe there are viable solutions in a world that is rushing toward self-annihilation by destroying the planet's sustainable resources, but I can only hope that future generations will grow up and realize that we must change in very fundamental ways or perish.