All The Lonely People, That’s Where Fascism Comes From
Hannah Arendt said the fertile ground for fascism was loneliness. A bunch of atomized people, as separate and lonely as grains of sand, turned into a sandstorm by a demagogue who gives them meaning, belonging, a purpose, all the things bourgeoise values lack. Eleanor Rigby was, in short, a closet fascist.
Today people are lonely as shit. I grew up in America (and Canada) and the main reason I left was loneliness. As a teenager I lived in my family’s basement, I had a mini-apartment down there, I could smoke weed into the air filter, I had a car, I had a job, I had everything I was supposed to have and I was sad.
I’d come back from holidays in Sri Lanka—poor but rich in family—and I still remember looking down those basement stairs. I felt so lonely I could cry. That feeling of just grey persisted for weeks, at which point it just became part of the paste of life. I felt like snow after people had driven over it for days. A bunch of snowflakes once, now just undifferentiated sludge.
I went to a therapist because I was depressed, I went to a dermatologist because my skin was literally turning white, I worked shitty jobs to make money, to buy clothes that were never cool enough, and weed that made me catatonic with fright. We’d buy obscene amounts of cheap alcohol and do any drug we could find. Thank God I left the suburbs before opiates hit. That would have fucked me up for life.
I’m not saying my experience is your experience. The popular kids certainly seemed to be doing it right. I’m just saying that it was an atmosphere of loneliness. We had to have cars to exist, we were literally atomized in capsules of steel. Nobody asked you to stay over for dinner, you had to be invited. As a teenager I was my college application, trying to get accepted into what—for rich, legacy kids—was just a right. My coming-of-age ritual was getting into college, and this was ultimately a consumer choice.
Depression, lack of meaning, loneliness, these were all ultimately consumer problems. Nobody came over with food if you were depressed, you were supposed to sort that shit out on your own time (and dime). Going anywhere required gas…