Socialism is the Best Medicine

Socialism is the Best Medicine

Snake Oil for the Soul

February 22, 2007

Oprah, Ellen, Larry King, and other celebrities want you to know The Secret. For $50 you can learn how, “You create the circumstances of your life with the choices you make every day.”

The Secret assumes that we live in a just world where people reap what they sow, where what goes around comes around, and where the virtuous are blessed and the wicked are punished. In such a world, those who suffer must be doing something wrong, and they can change their lives by making better choices.

The real world is anything but fair. Innocent children are born into poverty and doomed to stunted lives. With every shift in the market, hard-working people lose their jobs and homes. Communities are devastated by wars they did not choose.

Capitalism is the most unfair social system ever devised, making a few people fabulously rich at the expense of everyone else. Instead of demanding more fairness and more choices, The Secret blames people for their problems and sells them snake oil for the soul.

Blaming the victim protects the system. Blaming implies that individuals have the power to change their lives, they just don’t use it. Blame and self-blame offer the illusion of control – “I could have made something of myself, if only I had (or hadn’t)…”

The Secret insists that thinking positively will make good things happen. This is putting the cart before the horse. A good life will produce positive feelings more effectively than anything else. So what makes life good?

Human happiness is based on three elements: having the material basics, feeling socially connected, and doing meaningful work. Capitalism blocks all three.

Basic necessities are available only to those who can pay; inequality and competition rupture social bonds; and the majority are excluded from making real decisions over their lives, work, and society. Adding insult to injury, hordes of hucksters prey on the victims of the system, offering them fake remedies for a price.

Here is the real secret – social problems require social solutions. If we stop blaming ourselves and each other, we can work together to ensure that everyone has a good life and the good feelings that follow.


1 Comment

  1. This is very well thought out and very well written.

    I was involved for a short period of time with “The Secret” frenzy. I was even entering a business opportunity with John Assaraf – one of the Secret’s teachers, along with another Mind-Body guy touting a lot of the same beliefs.

    Over the 4 or so months as we were developing these iPhone applications, the Mind-Body guy “empowered” me and my other technical partner with mantras and mindset of the secret.

    What eventually happened is I quit because they were manipulating us, but my other partner was so blinded by his apparent new found “control” over his own life, he couldn’t tell his empowering decisions from the traps that were laid.

    He went from founder/partner of the company, all the way to a part time contractor, while the ones that didn’t even do most of the work own and run all the executive decisions, and own the Code/IP based off the sweat of the developers.

    I learned my lesson about “The Secret” very quickly, and that is this: Give the masses illusion of control, and then create/control the system’s rules that they operate in.

    This is the fundamental concept of today’s broken capitalist society – I’d love to hear more from you on this subject. You have my email.


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