Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/732/15176
From addiction to recovery
Who, outside the super-rich 1%, is not suffering the impact of austerity - through job cuts, reduced pensions, cuts to benefits, and in a myriad other ways? So it's not surprising that some of this anger and frustration has finally filtered through to the media.
Here, Wyllie Hume looks at some recent BBC television programmes. First is Russell Brand: From addiction to recovery. Much of what comes from Brand is objectionable to say the least but this programme gave some insight into the everyday struggle of people living with addiction. And below Wyllie comments on a new satirical comedy series, The Revolution will be Televised - Spitting Image for the 21st century?
Cuts in services are coming hard and fast. Services for people recovering from addiction are taking a huge blow, hitting those who are worst-affected by capitalism.
Brand shows the difficulties addicted people face and the lack of support given when recovering. He explains his experiences of getting over drug and alcohol addiction and gives his strong opinions on the methods of recovery and how addiction is viewed.
He is right when he says that addiction is a product of society and not of individual choice.
The addiction sufferers on the programme said that the reasons they turned to substances for support were largely down to stress, unemployment, social alienation, or being the victim of abuse or mental health problems. These are all social ills and by-products of capitalism.
The number of addictions will inevitably grow. People will be subject to greater stress and mental health problems due to working long hours, paying the ever-increasing cost of living, arranging childcare, rising unemployment, etc, as the cuts get deeper and working class and poor people's living standards drop.
Brand correctly points out that there is a culture, especially among politicians and the media, of blaming the individual and not society. This is particularly rife in the right-wing media. Daily Mail journalist Peter Hitchens notoriously denies that addiction even exists and accuses people of being lazy and choosing to ruin their lives with substances. Anyone who watches this programme or has ever experienced addiction will realise that it is not a choice and it is not a pleasant experience.
Brand explains his fervent opposition to the use of methadone to help people give up drugs, describing it as nothing better than "rearranging the furniture on the Titanic". Most people who are given methadone as a substitute for heroin either find themselves addicted to the methadone after they've stopped using heroin or more often addicted to both!
Addressing the underlying problems that lead to addiction is more important than 'medicalising' the problem. But the truth is that 'the methadone method' is not used because of any evidence that it works. It's used because it's a cheaper way to deal with the problem than providing people with both the emotional and practical support they need to give up drugs.
There are not enough rehabilitation centres, 90% of sufferers don't have access to rehab. But helping people to beat addiction has other benefits to society; especially crime reduction.
The cost of police and crime reduction programmes far outweighs the cost of supporting people to give up substances.
However, this government is more concerned with bailing out banks, privatising public services and giving public money to pharmaceutical companies for methadone rather than helping people fight addiction.
The Revolution will be Televised - lol!
Big business and the rich are trying to make working class people pay for their crisis through massive cuts from a government that represents the 1%. Meanwhile the fat cats hide away their assets offshore to avoid taxes. This new BBC comedy highlights this corporate greed and tax evasion - in a very funny way.
It gives some facts and statistics about the disgraceful behaviour of the rich in the current crisis and even confronts the capitalists themselves.
In one episode the two comedians, Jolyson Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse, stand outside skyscrapers in the City of London shaking collection tins at bankers asking for our money back!
The show even confronts George Osborne, presenting him with a GCSE maths book and telling him to read up on economics.
Vince Cable is given a 'Thank You' card from the fictional Tory MP 'Twottington-Burbage' telling him 'We couldn't have done it without you!'
Reflecting the betrayal that many who voted Liberal Democrat in the 2010 general election feel, one sketch involves a pretend Tory MP, overly posh and out of touch with the way ordinary people live, and his Lib Dem MP lackey.
Hilariously a campaign to make former Labour PM and warmonger Tony Blair a saint even involves measuring up his front door for a stained glass window!
Culture reflects the material conditions of society, and some of the greatest art, music, television, literature and media comes from times of mass working class struggle.
The Revolution will be Televised isn't a complete expression of the anger that exists in society, but it is informative and highlights the 'them and us' society humorously.
In The Socialist 5 September 2012:
Fight the cuts
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Countering the far-right
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news