At the end of the 1970s, the neo-liberal idea developed that if you work hard you can succeed, but if you fail it’s because you haven’t given yourself the means. In the 1980s, under the Thatcher/Reagan era, Western countries became deindustrialised and mass unemployment emerged. In the 1990s, the “cool Britannia” left-wingers such as Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Jospin and Zapatero re-industrialised Western countries, but companies set up clusters in the big cities. Rents were skyrocketing, and landlords were getting enormously rich. In the early 2000s, 83% of members of parliament in Western democracies were linked to property developement. In the 2000s, the neoconservatives in power, under the guise of health policy, insisted that it was the fault of individuals if they failed or were ill.

From 2000 to 2019, movements of revolt against the neoliberal economy are growing: “Occupy Wall Street” in the United States, the “podemos” in Spain, the yellow waistcoats in France, the “indignant” in Greece, the Five Star movement in Italy. These mass anti-neoliberal movements are joined by mass environmental movements such as “Extinction Rebellion”, “Friday for future” and the “earth uprisings”. These movements are being repressed with terrible violence. A surveillance society developed in the 2000s under W. Bush, Sarkozy, Berlusconi and Cameron, followed by the militarisation of the police. The combination of this violent repression and two years of confinement linked to the Covid crisis wiped out these organised movements and left people isolated.

Today, people living in rural areas no longer have the means to access to the city, where there are jobs and schools. The exposure of these isolated people to social media confronts them on a daily basis with success stories. The media constantly repeat that Westerners no longer want to work in the toughest jobs. Instead of turning their hatred towards neoliberalism, these people think they don’t deserve success. They have turned their anger against themselves.

In this context, since 2010 in the United States and since 2015 in Europe, the consumption of methamphetamines and synthetic opiates has exploded. It’s a veritable epidemic. These are not recreational drugs. These are drugs that make you work harder, sleep less and lose weight. People take these drugs because they feel they are not doing enough and think they need them to achieve their goals. The majority of deaths are not linked to overdoses but rather to heart attacks and suicides due to exhaustion and lack of sleep. They are associated with little crime and do not appear in official statistics. As they are mainly consumed in rural areas or small towns, users are outside the police zone. As they can be made at home from household products, the public authorities have few means of combating them. Most of these people end up in very precarious situations because they lose their jobs, their spouses and their children because of drugs. The government’s response has been to step up the municipal police force to move these people out of sight.

They are called the “deplorables”, the “toothless”. Society points an accusing finger at these people. Judges make social assistance and childcare conditional on not taking drugs. Some have not even decided to start taking drugs, but have become addicted as a result of hospital treatment. This is the case of Matthew Perry, Michael Jackson and Prince.

The neo-liberal ideology that says it’s their fault must be disproved. Most people don’t deserve their failures. Rather, they are the result of bad economic policies or accidents in their lives. It’s not by working harder or losing weight that their lives will improve. That’s out of their reach.

We need to rediscover a healthy anger against those who put them in impossible situations. The representatives they have elected are not defending their citizens. The power of the rich only holds because the elected representatives listen to the rich. In affluent societies such as those in the West, there should be no forgotten members of the Republic who are subjected to unbearable physical constraints. It’s the people in power who are responsible, and it’s they who should be blamed. It is the people who must govern. It is healthy to call for referendums for more democracy and to ask the military and police to protect the citizens.

En France, plus un territoire n’échappe à la drogue – France télévisions:

L’héroïne en milieu rural en France : une réalité ignorée – The conversation:

Mexique : Fentanyl, le nouveau poison des cartels | Arte Reportage:

Togo : la folie du Tramadol | ARTE Reportage:

Drogue : le fléau du crystal meth en Allemagne • FRANCE 24:

Vicodin : effets, c’est quoi cette drogue, en France ? :

Cet opiacé fait des ravages aux Etats-Unis : la consommation d’oxycodone augmente de manière “inquiétante” en France – Midi Libre:

Paul Collier – The Future of Capitalism – Facing the New Anxieties

Mon rond-point dans ta gueule : portraits de Gilets Jaunes (préface Yvan Le Bolloc’h) – Sandrine Kerion:

“Crystal meth”, casos de consumo en España para aguantar en el trabajo – Euronews:

Aurianne Or by Aurianne Or is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0