In the social sciences context, the alienation of individuals is the state of them feeling estranged or separated from their physical and social setting, their employment, their lack of meaningful work, the products of work, or the sense of self. It is most notably associated with Karl Marx, who identified the issue of workers alienated from their work and its products under capitalism. In the case of political alienation, it is a sense of estrangement from the prevailing political system. Just consider the riots in England this year, the demonstrations in Greece and the disenchantment in the United States.
Political alienation may be felt in four different ways:
* Powerlessness. An individual's feeling that he or she cannot affect the actions of the government.
* Meaninglessness. An individual's perception that political decisions are unclear and unpredictable.
* Normlessness. An individual's perception that norms or rules intended to govern political relations are broken down, and that departures from prescribed behavior are common.
* Isolation. An individual's rejection of political norms and goals that are widely held and shared by other members of a society.
Some blame soft policing and others a decline in moral standards. However, I think that youth alienation was one of the main ingredients for the riots in England this year. There has been a weakening of culture over recent years, a breakdown in family structures and the resultant social-isolation. There are at least four generations in families that are welfare dependent – the value of work has been deprecated and educational elitism has led to only university degrees being highly valued in the eyes of some.
In the UK, the US and in Greece in particular, successive governments have, and still do, run deficit budgets, not just to fund income earning projects but to finance follies an inflated public service, jobs for the boys (and girls) and waste. They would have us believe that budgets are funded from a magic pudding. Deficit budgets and the redistribution of wealth seem to be how to support bases that are bribed to stay loyal. There is now a realisation in these countries that in the end someone has to pay. Meaningless jobs funded by taxing others and successful enterprises or borrowing money seldom add to self-esteem. Nobody seems to learn that work is different to productivity. Alienation occurs as many see the whole process as meaningless and they feel isolated from those who accept this behaviour as normal. In Australia, those that that try to erode our traditional culture and underrate the nation building by our pioneers increase the sense of isolation contributing to alienation.
People in this situation feel powerless to act as their vote seems to have little or no value. They feel estranged from those who have lied and used their guile to gain office. They feel that the important issues for them, their families and their nation and are off limits but instead they are fed chaff like chooks and distractions in the media.
Put all this together and no wonder we have a global problem. It is a problem in fixing the problem when many follow politics like football – reluctant to stop barracking for a hopeless losing team, but that demonstrates the strength of political socialisation in putting prejudices ahead of well-being. As far as some will go is to stop wanting to talk about the performance of their losing team.
I am indebted to our Bro Mike for my conclusion: “The of the great attractions of an organisation like Freemasonry is the potential to create an environment where men do not feel powerless, meaningless and isolated as they may in other aspects of their life. Engaging men in decision making, creating an environment for views to be heard without the fear of being put down, being as inclusive as possible is one dimension we could work on and there are obviously many other areas where men can strive to overcome a sense of alienation and reach their full potential.”
Fraternal best wishes to all