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Grace Carlson

It’s a Crazy World!

(22 June 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. 10 No. 25, 22 June 1946, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Up to the first of this year, neuropsychiatric disorders have hospitalized 850,000 World War II soldiers. This was the startling report which the members of the American Psychiatric Association heard last month from the Army’s chief of Psychiatry, Brigadier General William Menninger.

Another 500,000 men were discharged from the Army for “personality disturbances” of all types, said Dr. Menninger. All of these neuropsychiatric casualties occurred despite the Army’s elaborate “screening-out” process. Approximately 1,875,000 men were rejected for military service because of personality disorders of one kind or another, Dr. Menninger reported.

But it is not only among the military that mental disease is a serious problem. United States Surgeon General Thomas Parran estimated recently that eight million persons in this country – more than six percent of the population – are suffering from some form of mental disorder. There are more beds in hospitals for nervous and mental patients, than in all other hospitals. And mental disease is on the increase!

These are tragic facts, but not too surprising when one considers the state of the world – the world in which human beings are trying to adjust. It’s a crazy world that the capitalist lords of the earth have built for us!

Constant Proof

It’s not difficult to prove that this is a crazy world. Every issue of The Militant offers more proof of capitalist insanity. Even the capitalist press is sometimes forced to comment on the irrational character of this social system.

Such an article appeared in the May 30 issue of the St. Paul Dispatch. This was a report on the “alarming increase” in the number of suicides since V-J Day, and the Dispatch writer speaks of the irony of the fact that the end of the war should make life seem less worthwhile to thousands of American men and women.

Pointing out that the end of the war brought “a sharp cutback in industrial activity and a consequent reduction in employment,” the Dispatch article goes on to show that economic factors always play a very important part in determining the level of the suicide rate.

Just the opposite trend was observed after the United States entered World War II. In a late 1942 bulletin, the Metropolitan Insurance Company reported on the sharp drop in suicides since Pearl Harbor and called this “a beneficial by-product of war.” The number of annual suicides during the war was only half of what it was in 1932–33 during the depths of the depression.

There is the crazy picture! War with its awful weight of suffering and sorrow stays the hands of thousands of individuals bent on self-destruction. But Peace – Blessed Peace? In its times of Peace, the dying capitalist system is wracked by financial crises, depressions and colossal unemployment problems. As a result, thousands of cold, sick, hungry workers are driven to suicide each year.

If one did not foresee a socialist solution to all of these problems, it would be easy to lose one’s mental balance in the midst of such contradictory and bewildering facts. The capitalists like to make fun of us and call us “crazy radicals.” But the shoe is really on the other foot! They are the ones who are operating this madhouse of capitalism.

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Last updated: 23 December 2018