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Why Capitalism is Killing You

Why Capitalism is Killing You

Hussain Saeed

At my last job, I was working on a couple of projects that we’re pretty time consuming. It was a Saturday, but the work had to be done. So I buckled down and cancelled all my plans for the weekend. I spent 21 HOURS working straight through. My head was hurting, my body begging for sleep-but I felt satisfied that I accomplished such a feat. I went to bed rested, and feeling like I had achieved a goal I never thought was humanly possible.

But then I woke up to 2 messages from my boss. None of them were a thank you, or a good job. Or even, I’m glad you tried. Just critique of how I could have done better. And I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the easiest critique to take.

How could I work so hard and accomplish nothing? Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. Was I just not good at my job?

I spent the whole day just laying around, a little disheartened at the lack of progress I thought I had made. A friend came over to cheer me up. While complaining to him, he told me how common this was. This is how businesses and companies function. Bosses do not sugar-coat, they do not care- they just need the work. Everyone feels awful, especially in the beginning. And over time, I started to notice my bosses weren’t feeling their best either. The pressure of running a small business was taking a toll on them too. That got me thinking.

If everyone is feeling this bad, maybe there’s something wrong with the system?

Why capitalism doesn’t care about anyone

Now before I go any further, I do think I need to say. I think my ex-bosses are pretty cool people. They were nice and sweet, and treated me with respect. However, because they are running a business, they have their capitalist moments. They need to compete with other capitalists to stay afloat. This pressure can sometimes get a bit too much for them. And it trickles down to me. That trickle down is the problem though.

Capitalism is based on the idea that their are the people who own, and the people who work for them. This structural system creates inequalities within society that further benefit the employers. And the worst part of all of this, it creates a pseudo mindset that meritocracy exists. It makes you think that every failure is your fault. However, capitalism creates inequalities in society that hampers meritocracy.

How can someone from a rich family, who can afford tutors and all, be on the same playing field as someone who doesn’t have any of these privileges?

As we become older, these inequalities become more obvious. And these inequalities gives the employers the advantage they need. I need the paycheck and I may not find another job, but they can replace me. They have the power, and it may be killing us.

How is this system creating mental health issues

As mentioned above, capitalism doesn’t need someone to be healthy to function. It requires work, constantly, to be better than others. And with it’s illusion of meritocracy, people do not blame the system, but themselves when they don’t live up to expectations. This leads to undue and unnecessary pressure on the employee. Furthermore, this alienates the employee because he or she thinks they are on their own. And this is having devastating results.

A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that at one point last year, 74% of adults in the UK were so stressed that they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope. One-third were suicidal and 16% had self-injured at some point in their lives. These figures were much higher among young people. In Japan, there is literally term for “working yourself to death.”

Is this really a problem in Pakistan?

Yes! Pakistan’s suicide average may be lower than the world average, but it has been a rise in suicides, especially in young adults. Many feel the pressure to be successful in a system that isn’t even meritocratic. Young adults, especially young boys, are pressured to be more successful than their peers. And when they aren’t, it has to be their fault. From young ages, boys are told that they will be the one who must provide for their family. They must be the sole breadwinner of the family. And this pressure is killing them. According to recent studies, unemployment causes 45,000 suicides a year worldwide. In Pakistan, there are literally stories on stories of people who have killed themselves because they could not secure proper employment.

In Pakistan, women also suffer under these pressures. Research indicated that the majority of female suicides were under age 30. And that “domestic problems” were the main stated reason. You may be thinking why I’m bringing this up in an article about employment. Firstly, women make up nearly 25% of the workforce. As a result, they suffer the same forms of pressure, coupled with societal expectations that are placed upon women. Furthermore, even the concept of having one parent say home(usually the women) falls in line with one of capitalism biggest “successes”-specialization. There have been studies that have outline how capitalism is intrinsic to sexism.

You don’t have to be in the system for it to kill you either! Studies show students in Pakistan have shown to be increasingly at risk for suicide, anxiety and depression. The pressure to do well and to be the most qualified when entering the workplace has come into our education system, and it’s killing us. There was that young man who killed himself for failing an exam. And it’s sad that these stories are nothing new.

The worst part is that in Pakistan, we have another big problem. Most of us look at suicide as a sin, and it’s even illegal. The moral judgement society passes onto someone only works further to isolate the person who feels depressed. Let’s couple that with our lack of belief in psychology, we have a very depressed society.

What can we do about it?

BE KINDER. I mentioned earlier that capitalism causes isolation. This is the biggest way to tackle the problem, besides starting our own communist revolution. If you see someone struggling, reach out. Talk to them. Make sure they don’t feel alone. Compliment your employee, if you’re the boss. If you’re a fellow employee, help out. I wouldn’t have survived most of my jobs if I didn’t have a good team. And above and beyond, do not dismiss this pain. Tell them to seek help. And while I do recognize that the sector of psychology may seem a little sketchy in Pakistan, which industry isn’t?Just put in the extra effort like you do when looking for a doctor for back pain and find the right fit. Recognize that this maybe out of your skill set to handle.