Landscape organizes everything within sight.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Drugs and economics combined can make us happy

Call for the therapy state:
Most of it is piecemeal and still relatively small-scale, but the old liberal concept that the emotional life of citizens is no business of the state is crumbling.

It raises the prospect of a future politics where emotional wellbeing could be as important a remit of state public health policy as our physical wellbeing.

In 10 years' time, alongside 'five fruit and veg a day', our kids could be chanting comparable mantras for daily emotional wellbeing: do some exercise, do someone a good turn, count your blessings, laugh, savour beauty.

We might also be discussing how to regulate emotional pollution in much the way we now discuss environmental pollution.

Top of the list would be advertising, which is bad for our emotional health. It induces dissatisfaction with its invidious comparisons with an affluent elite. Television is not much better for us with its disproportionate volume of violence and fraught relationships. It makes people unhappy, less creative and cuts them off from emotionally healthy activities such as sport or seeing friends.

Meanwhile, there would be a strong rationale to increase subsidies for festivals, parks, theatres, community groups, amateur dramatics, choirs, sports clubs and lots of other lovely things.

-- Madeleine Bunting, "Consumer capitalism is making us ill - we need a therapy state", Guardian Unlimited Politics


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