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Democrat September-October 2012 (Number 131)

EU and Anomie

Explained by Arthur Smelt

The effects of amonie

The name European Union conveys the idea of unity and development of a cohesive society where the members of that society would be able to experience a civilised existence where basic needs such as food, accommodation, health, education and a generally felicitous lifestyle prevailed. Reality however, is somewhat different.

There is little doubt we live in a society where self aggrandisement and mindless profiteering have created chaos, not just in the commercial sector but throughout society. The gap between the rich and poor has widened. At the same time British taxpayers have had to payout huge sums of money to bailout the banks who have, amongst other things, gambled away the investments of small savers. It is not just banks who are bailed out, but private companies who have taken over essential public utilities like the railways.

In addition massive salaries and bonuses are paid to certain people. This creates considerable anger amongst those who lead a hand to mouth existence or have lost their homes because they could not pay the mortgage.

The very fabric of society is damaged by mindless or should we say crooked profiteering. The promotion of tobacco, alcohol and junk food for example create widespread health problems, the cost of which has to be paid for in billions by health services. It is estimated that alcoholism costs the British taxpayer £25 billion per year. Drugs, pornography and similar rackets contribute to the overall degeneration.

As unemployment and further deprivation continue to grow, crime and vandalism are likely to increase. Some may join protest groups and others will become increasingly despondent and simply fall back into apathy.

We have only to see or read reports about what is happening in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal to realise the degree of anger and discontentment with EU and those who support it. The latest nonsense is the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU. Joanna Nikolareizi an Athenian photographer is reported as saying: "It's absurd. This is a prize that should go to a human being not to an institution that is fast going down the drain."

In the social sciences, a condition of instability or personal unrest from a breakdown of standards and values or from lack of purpose or ideals, is known as anomie. The term was introduced in 1897 by Emile Durkheim a French social scientist who studied alienation amongst workers due to the way society developed. Durkheim believed that one form of suicide resulted from the breakdown of social standards that people need and use to regulate their behaviour.

Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) Professor of Sociology studied the causes of anomie in the US finding it severest in people who lack acceptable means of achievement, Delinquency, crime and suicide are often reactions to anomie.

The fruit machine theory of society came on the scene at around this time. The idea was of course that society was like a fruit machine but only certain people could win. Those who could not win may try to break the rules, others would possibly conform by accepting the situation.

Retreatism could be another way of coming to terms with what was happening and rebellion could be a way of trying to bring about change. This of course is an oversimplification of this theory. However when we realise what is happening in the major part of the EU, the theory certainly seems to fit.