When the socialist mass murderer Joseph Stalin died in 1953, the new criminal gang leaders of the Soviet Union began to balk at murdering people for daring to speak out about their political rule. They drastically scaled back the Gulag, and eventually, although your life would still be made deepy unpleasant, they almost ceased murdering people entirely, on political whims.
However, as the Soviet state scaled back its prison organs, it still needed a way to shut people up. So it turned to the psychiatric state complex instead, and locked people up on ‘mental health’ grounds. This link between the involuntary servitude of state mental health institutions, and the ability of the state to use its self-granted powers to shut people up via this mechanism became very obvious in the Soviet Union, to the point of open condemnation by the western world. And once the Soviet leaders of the 1970s and 1980s balked at even using these ‘mental health’ powers, the entire rotten criminal edifice quickly came crumbling down, once the jackboot on the throat was lifted.
But are we in ‘the west’ any better? What is ‘mental health’ anyway? Is someone mentally ill just because they’re doing something you disapprove of, or thinking thoughts you disapprove of, or behaving in a way you disapprove of? And does the entire psychiatric profession only exist at all because it is a wing of the state used to shut people down the state disapproves of?
Indeed, are all libertarians, and particularly Austrian anarchists, mentally ill, for refusing to believe that all goodness emanates from the state, and indeed believing that most evil emanates from the state? Or at least, that it certainly attracts most of the evil people in society so they can satisfy their evil impulses within its structures. (For example, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Tony Blair, etc.)
Even in the Hoppeian world of the future, private criminal law will deal with people who commit real physical crimes against others. What is it about ‘mental health’ that makes it so special and allows the state to involuntarily lock people up on the say-so of state-appointed officials?
If people with brain tumours can (for the moment at least) still refuse treatment, even though these tumours may cause all sorts of what the rest of us would consider to be strange behaviours, why can someone be locked up indefinitely because someone else says they’re “depressed”?
And is the obvious odiousness of the old Soviet psychiatry complex reflected in our own odious psychiatry complexes, but hidden from us because we’re inside a goldfish bowl looking out, rather than outside a goldfish bowl looking in?
All of these are very interesting questions, at least to me, and Thomas Szasz was a genius at explaining good answers to them. It was therefore terrible news for me to hear this week that this great man had died. May he rest in peace.
If those questions above interest you too, just search for ‘Szasz’ on IxQuick, or your favourite search engine, to get access to some fascinating material.
In the meantime, in this all-too-brief podcast, Lew Rockwell talks to Thomas Szasz about his views on the psychiatry profession, and its symbiotic link with the criminal organisation known as the state: