I promised you more on the topic of mind control a few weeks ago. This is another aspect of how we are influenced. Here we have one of the insidious ways subliminal social manipulation is slipped into our culture ~ exposed by the book under review.
I remember when I truly admired Oprah, bought into her life story, yada yada yada. But I revised my opinions awhile back. I stopped being an admirer when I realized what her "role" in the NWO was.
Part of it is selling new age pap to middle class white American women. This does damage to mainstream religion no end. And also she promotes the horrific oppression and killer of freedom of speech we call "political correctness" by introducing agendas of cultural change that many people would otherwise reject from common sense.
OK work this blech out of your system before you read on.
Had enough? Keep reading....
To slick peddlers of 'power of positive thinking' pap,
Barbara Ehrenreich says bleh.
of Positive Thinking has Undermined America
By Barbara Ehrenreich
Holt and Company (2009)
Barbara Ehrenreich's latest masterful book, Bright-Sided, opens with the most hopeful frontpiece I've seen in decades. "To complainers everywhere: Turn up the volume!"
Ehrenreich subtitles the book How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America, and she investigates how the
19th century's faith-healing movement
developed into today's
pop culture tool for social control.
Ehrenreich begins with the history of Christian Science and the other think-yourself-well religions that thrive in the American culture of individualism. Those faiths are the obvious forerunners of things like The Secret.
The latter's New Age Wingnuttery claims you can control the world with your wishes and the universe is just one big mail-order catalogue. Of course the corollary of The Secret is that if you're poor, uneducated, or unhealthy it's your own damn fault for not wishing hard enough. (It's just so terribly Ayn Rand, despite its Australian author, Rhonda Byrne.)
Got cancer and lost your house to Big Pharma? Return from war with PTSD? Parents just killed by a drunk driver? You child is born with a severe disability? It is ALL YOUR fault for not wishing hard enough! Might I add that this attitude also coincides very nicely with Max Friedman's philosophy of Disaster Economics which is an extremely jaded and harsh capitalist form of oppression and theft.
A movement with potential
But before the law of attraction, there was Protestant minister Norman Vincent Peale's 1952 book, The Power of Positive Thinking, which infected the business world via his proselytizing with sales people. That thinking inspired the money-making "human potential movement" of the ‘70s, which spawned all sorts of revenue streams in the form of cults delivering self-empowerment workshops and motivational speakers. (Remember EST? Have you heard of the contemporary Landmark Forum?)
Many of these cults, especially from ESALEN, where they pioneered, were products of graduates of the Frankfurt School as a means of wiggling into the American psyche to begin their insidious destruction of America in preparation for the arrival of Marxism, to destroy and conquer without firing a shot.
Ehrenreich traces how combining religious notions with health-care led to the self-help movement, including the 12-Steppers, who demanded we all acknowledge a higher power. (As an aside, I had long wondered why reiki practitioners and other energy healers demand their patients have some sort of "spiritual belief," which makes them sound like faith-healers from another era. Ehrenreich's history confirms this is exactly what they are, albeit under a new label.)
The words to this Bobby McFerrin hit song say it all.
Get happy? Get real
She takes unseemly pleasure in skewering popular but academically-dubious "happiness" psychology. In a particularly funny chapter, she fences with University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman, the author of pop psych books with titles like Authentic Happiness. She tries to pin down what he's really saying with his meaningless equations and vague terms. But this isn't science-based psychology; it's the armchair version that brainwashes people into thinking whatever serves authorities best.
Seligman is expressly opposed to changing the external circumstances that cause misery, which he writes can be can be "impractical and expensive," preferring to get people to adjust their attitude. One can only imagine what Seligman and his colleagues might have said about slavery...
Ehrenreich doesn't mention it, but it's worth noting that in the 1960s Seligman was influential in developing "aversion therapy" for curing homosexuals ~ which reveals the sinister underpinnings of his optimism training, and much of what passes for positive psychology.
Remember that the tie uses the hangman's knot when done properly.
More Oprah-essive thinking
Surprisingly, Ehrenreich was blissfully unaware of much of this delusional thinking when she got breast cancer in 2000. She was exhorted to be cheerful or die, which just piqued her curiosity and led to this book. The woman has a PhD in cell biology, so she knows the difference between knowledge and belief.
She also knows that the so-called research
these people cite about how
happy thoughts affect your health
is just so much superstition.
But faced with surgery, chemo, and other medical horrors, she needed a distraction. So she began looking at exactly why otherwise sensible people were embracing the notion that you must pretend to be "positive" to get well. She found that constant demand to be cheerful for the convenience of others, downright oppressive.
Or would that be Oprah-essive since,
as she notes,
many of the silliest
positive thinking ideas are touted by Lady O.
Ehrenreich is now well, despite being angry about both her cancer and the health-care system. Her insurance company tried to get out of paying for her tumour biopsy arguing that it was "elective."
In the self-help tradition, she offers an anecdote in support of her enthusiasm for negativity: Apparently the prospect of bringing that greedy private insurer to heel gave her the will to live.
Eat the rich
But the most chilling chapters look at how the mania for magical thinking has destroyed the economy by infecting the business world with self-deluding views. Her 2006 book Bait and Switch: On the (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream documented the growing gap between rich and poor and the disappearing middle class.
Unlike previous eras, there's no threat of revolutionary rage in sight. That's because positive thinking gurus keep the masses mollified with books like Harvey Mackay's We Got Fired: And it's the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us!
It's astounding that people aren't angry:
Between 1965 and 2000 the ratio of CEO pay compared to the average worker went from 24:1 to 300:1. Yes, on average, American CEOs make 300 times more than the people who actually do the work.
Doesn't it make you want to eat the rich, as they used to say?
Probably not if you're enrolled in any "leadership" courses that deliver motivational platitudes in lieu of facts and education.
Positive thinking has also reinvigorated the opiate of the masses. The so-called prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen (Your Best Life Now) advise their flocks to embrace a lavish lifestyle because, essentially, God wants you live large. So be positive and go buy that house with a mortgage you can't afford, assured that your higher power will help you out.
OHHHH the Wall Street bankers LOVE that one! How else did they peddle mortgages to millions of people who could not afford houses in the first place? By convincing them that things were good and the "suckers" bought it, exposing their financial underbelly to the beasts of greed and acquisition. But, read on.....
Even a conservative magazine like Time has traced the U.S.-led financial collapse to the American obsession with "spirituality" in all its variations. "Maybe we should blame God for the subprime mortgage mess," was the headline on a 2008 article.
Ehrenreich also documents how economists and government officials who warned of the impending financial meltdown were ignored or even fired for being "negative" ~ they pointed out the facts. In fact, the term negative seems to have become code-speak for knowledgeable and realistic.
It's obvious to anyone with RRSP that those leadership coaches that advise purging negative employees from the body corporate were ~ and still are ~ in the depths of denial. In effect, they're claiming that if you deny the Doppler snow forecast it will guarantee sunny weather. And yet, most of us believe it.
But then, the alternative to spouting upbeat slogans is being labeled with "a bad attitude," and as Ehrenreich records that's a career-limiting move.
No room for realism that might lead you to take matters into your own hands!
Besides, there's no arguing with people who believe the Emperor actually has new clothes. Bright-Sided might be funny, if it weren't for the fact that this Dark Age anti-thinking is destroying our economy, threatening our health, and undermining our quality of life.
But the book is at least comforting for rational thinkers.
Apparently, I'm not the only one
who is tired of being polite to people
who blather on about such idiocy as
I realize the Canadian ideal is tolerance,
but at what point are the rest of us
enabling fools to foster social breakdown?
Reading Ehrenreich, I suspect that point came and went at least two decades ago.
She makes a bid to persuade her audience to embrace reality, but it reads as if she knows she's only preaching to the converted. She notes in the final pages, that Western economic elites have long flattered themselves with the idea that poverty is a voluntary condition ~ the result of personal failings such as laziness.
In the past week since the earthquake in Haiti, all I hear from some people is that these lazy Haitians deserve it because they have no work ethics etc. They pay no attention to history and why a once functioning country is full of poverty. They do not understand that the American government, as it has done in many places, pushed out true leaders of the people because the US wanted to rule, even if by proxy.
I run across this every day. I am told that I "just don't try hard enough" to find meaningful employment to raise my dastardly economic status. My age and physical limitations are just not taken into consideration, nor is the current job market and a few other matters taken into consideration.
The positive thinkers just offer a variation on that theme, blaming victims for refusing to embrace abundance, or think themselves well. That religious tradition of blaming the victim fits nicely into the economic conservatism of the last two decades.
To that I'd like add one more practical action. Stand up and tell people who spout this drivel to prove it or shut up. Politely, of course ~ we are Canadian, after all.
And don't slap them, no matter how tempting. HAHA
That last comment makes me realize how we have had this blather shoved at us for thousands of years. What is the difference here from lighting a candle in the local church with a wish and a prayer for some boon from above? It is no different really than the self visualization of the pagans except that there is a candle to focus the wish and energy upon, that is then sent out into the universe to find the source of your problem and bring you the desired results.
Read this short article Writing: Positive Thinking Kills Writer’s Block Dead for a perfect example of everything written above. This is how such silliness is passed on. But the writer does make a valid point about negative thinking as well.
However, please realize I would not even be working and writing if I did not have hope. It is only by work and coming together that positive things can be achieved ~ or not. It is this striving that makes us strong. It is dealing with failure that makes us stronger. It is the knowledge that a few strong and good willed people have a chance to bring about change and we cannot give into defeatism. Or we are lost. It is a fine line to draw but it can be drawn.
Being pro active is the most realistic thing possible. And publishing this, spreading the word around, is being pro active. Grins widely. Now get out there and stop being positive, eat a dose of realism and learn to cope. There is NO PRESSURE to smile through hell.
AHA!! I just stumbled across this blog offering AGAINST OPTIMISM (EXPANDED) and am posting it here because the writer takes the above theories and applies it very thoroughly to America and offers concrete examples of how this blind optimism has changed the nation forever, and not for the best. The blog is called ARRANOLOGY and worth a read.
Look. Sometime around the Industrial Revolution business discovered the power of optimism and began to exploit it. From the bleariest, drunkest, shotgun-in-the-pickup-truck redneck Southern white trash to the snobbiest, most coked-up, Armani-only Upper East Side corporate-raider/investment banker dildo, Americans one and all believe in being optimistic.
- We voted for Nixon because he promised “Peace with Honor” even though we knew he was a man who wouldn’t know the sting of honor from the slap of a wet turd. We elected him not once but twice knowing full well ~ or at least with no excuse for NOT knowing full well ~ that he was a paranoid, belligerent, lying jackass and always had been.
- We voted for Ronnie Rayguns because he told us a fantasy about shining cities on hills and how it was “morning in America” because it suggested we had everything to look forward to and no history behind us that we needed to worry about. We elected him not once but twice despite knowing full well that he was incompetent, extremely ill-informed (trees pollute??!), and not so much a president as an actor playing one on tv.
- We voted for George W Bush because he was charming and upbeat and told us we could be millionaires if only he was in charge, a guy we’d like to have a beer with who was incidentally passing out slices of pie from the sky. We elected him not once but twice knowing full well ~ or with little excuse for not knowing full well – that he was a liar, a failure, a coward, and an arrogant pissant who thought God had elected him instead of us.
Behind all these incredibly bad decisions lay a miasma of denial and optimism, the first required by the second since optimism in the face of a blatantly negative reality is impossible without a fervent denial of what’s right before your eyes.
But to say all that is only to begin to enumerate the folly of unjustified optimism. For example, there’s the global economic crisis created by a handful of Wall Street manipulators and Main Street frauds. This ~
The bank’s [Goldman Sachs] unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pumpanddump scam, manipulating whole economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking families everywhere ~ high gas prices, rising consumer credit rates, half-eaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts.
All that money that you’re losing, it’s going somewhere, and in both a literal and a figurative sense, Goldman Sachs is where it’s going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth ~ pure profit for rich individuals.
They achieve this using the same play book over and over again. The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage.
Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased.
They’ve been pulling this same stunt over and over since the 1920s ~ and now they’re preparing to do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet.
This one will make the Great Depression of the dirty thirties look like child's play. That was their second or third trial run.
None of this would not have been possible were it not for an America drowning in optimism, the belief that better days are right around the corner. Who but a zealot optimist could have possibly believed so fervently in the Reagan Paradox that the less the govt collected in taxes, the more it would collect in taxes?
Optimism is the weapon that Goldman and the other Wall Street manipulators use to make a strapped America overplay its already overstretched finances. “Better days are coming. We can take on all this extra debt because when the economy turns up we’ll be making more money, enough to cover this new house.” They had us convinced.
But the economy did get better and our wages still didn’t rise. We weren’t making more money. In many cases we were actually making less because the fear of inflation that infects the rich like typhoid and the power of a fascist-style govt kowtowing to the rich and incipient corporate panic meant that inflationary fears trumped every other concern.
And if we fought for higher wages, the rich moved their companies to low-wage low tax countries, dodged the taxes involved, and our jobs were gone. Forever. The optimism they fed us was gibberish, a lie, a con.
Holy Walmart led the exodus leaving total destruction in its wake. And it calls itself all American yet every single item they sell is made by slave labour in China.
To an extent, the entire economic meltdown could only have taken place in a country so besotted with optimism that it could deny the chasm under its feet even as it was tumbling down the slope to the rocks below. The bubble was built on optimism ~ not at the top where they knew better ~ but throughout the rest of the body right down to the very bottom.
We would never have tied ourselves into financial knots if we hadn’t persisted in being optimistic about the future, and if we hadn’t tied ourselves into financial knots with debt on top of debt, there would have been no imaginary profits to feed the bubble Goldman and others were blowing up.
And still we learn nothing. Taibbi points out in his Goldman take-down that they’re ginning up to do it all again, and we’re going to let them because we’re…what? You got it. Optimistic. Dig:
[I]nstead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits ~ a booming trillion dollar market that barely even exists yet, but will if the Democratic Party that [Goldman Sachs] gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised as an “environmental plan,” called cap-and-trade.
The new carboncredit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that’s been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won’t even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance.
Here’s how it works: If the bill passes, there will be limits for coal plants, utilities, natural-gas distributors and numerous other industries on the amount of carbon emissions (a.k.a. greenhouse gases) they can produce per year. If the companies go over their allotment, they will be able to buy “allocations” or credits from other companies that have managed to produce fewer emissions.
President Obama conservatively estimates that about $646 billion worth of carbon credits will be auctioned in the first seven years; one of his top economic aides speculates that the real number might be twice or even three times that amount.
The feature of this plan that has special appeal to speculators is that the “cap” on carbon will be continually lowered by the government, which means that carbon credits will become more and more scarce with each passing year. Which means that this is a brand new commodities market where the main commodity to be traded is guaranteed to rise in price over time. The volume of this new market will be upwards of a trillion dollars annually; for comparison’s sake, the annual combined revenues of all electricity suppliers in the U.S. total $320 billion.
Wall Street makes its money on suckers like us by selling us optimistic fairy tales. Got a pollution problem? We can fix it and you can get rich at the same time. This is America. We can do anything!
Optimism is largely responsible for our being so deep in denial that we could consistently vote against our own best interests and even help destroy our own country and yet insist we did no such thing.
Just take a look around and balance your optimism with common sense. Arm yourself with knowledge. THEN remember to enjoy the beauty around you. It is free.
Fuck optimism. Give me a little healthy skepticism any day. If you’re staring at pie-in-the-sky instead of the ground under your feet, it’s a lot easier to walk off a cliff.
Yet instead of finally letting go of our childish and dangerous dependency on Happy Endings, we build entire sociological and psychological structures defending Optimism as “necessary for survival“.
We humans tend to be an optimistic bunch. In fact, it’s long been established by psychologists that most people tend to be irrationally positive. The optimism bias, as it’s called, accounts for the fact that we expect to live longer and be more successful than the average and we tend to underestimate the likelihood of getting a serious disease or a divorce. This tendency is adaptive ~ many researchers have claimed that a positive outlook motivates us to plan for our future and may even have an effect on our long-term physical health.
Optimism may be so necessary to our survival that it’s hardwired in our brains. A new study published in the journal Nature further confirms the idea that having a rosy outlook is a personality trait with deep, neurological roots. Researchers found that the brains of optimistic people actually light up differently on a scan than those who tend to be more pessimistic when they think about future events.
The disparity between positive and pessimistic minds is especially prominent in areas of the brain that have been linked to depression. “The same areas that malfunction in depression are very active when people think about positive events,” says Tali Sharot, a post-doctorate fellow at University College London, who conducted the research at New York University.
And in skeptical France, say, their brains are hardwired to be pessimistic? Crap.
Only in America is optimism made into a religion that supersedes everything but death and where we protect our divine right to remain children with guns. Hope has become an American fetish. America without optimism would be Europe. Ugh. Oscar Wilde said that the basis of all optimism is sheer terror.
If that’s true, and it probably is, it makes us the most frightened country on Earth. Not good for an Imperial Superpower. It’s one thing to indulge your urge to defy growing up when all you can fuck up is yourself. It’s another to shove it down the throats of the rest of the world when you have the power to fuck up everything. At some point you need to become a responsible adult who considers reality instead of wetdreams to figure out policy.
What we are fighting now is a century-old training program. We have all been taught to believe and worse, act as if we have every right to ignore uncomfortable facts because, hey, somebody will figure it out and relieve us of the responsibility of fixing any of it. The Best Is Yet to Come! We’re No 1! Don’t Worry, Be Happy! Shop Til You Drop!
Enough already. Unjustified optimism has brought us to the brink of economic destruction. It’s time to put away childish things, y’all, and eat our damn green beans.