consumed my mother’s life in 1986, and, a month later,
under the ether of the New World Order, a Black co-worker
urged me to get over it - and be quick about it!
have yet to read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Bright-Sided:
How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America,
but I was pleased to know there is such a book critical
of what goes by the brand name, positive thinking.
I have long understood something about the philosophy
of goodthink: it is numbness for the masses - without
the cocoa leaves.
when C-Span’s Book TV aired Ehrenreich’s talk at the 2010
Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest, I was willing to
put aside her endorsement of the corporate-selected Barrack
Obama and watch and listen.
your attitude about the transition from the democratic
experiment to the fascist state is under scrutiny. A bad
attitude reflects thinking that is out of step, and to
be out of step suggest that you doubt or question the
natural progression of the State toward that more perfect
union - of the docile and the oligarchy. If you have read
George Orwell’s 1984, then you know that your attitude
in the New World Order needs to be positive, cheery,
unless Big Brother cues you to display anger at the
enemy, who, like the friendly politician, is also
thinking philosophy has gone beyond those targeted populations
in need of real attitude adjustments.
2000, Ehrenreich “picked up on an aspect of American culture”
that she had not been exposed to before. Diagnosed with
breast cancer, she entered the world where the medical
community, friends, women’s organizations encircled her
with the discourse of sunny-world philosophy. Everywhere
she experienced this “constant pressure to think positive.”
If Ehrenreich wanted to “get over” her disease, she had
to “think positively.” Never mind that treatment for cancer
in the U.S. bankrupts thousands each year; never mind
that the most peddled treatment relies on the use of chemicals;
never mind that while trillions are spent on war and the
mass production of weaponry, funding for cancer research
is cut. It was up to Ehrenreich to “recover or not.” The
real disease was her bad attitude! Get
a new attitude and begin by thinking of cancer as a gift!
the lecture circuit and stand before the masses in praise
of your good fortune, your gift!
a mechanism to control thought, the positive thinking
philosophy is everywhere. There is no need to see posters
on walls of Big Brother’s eyes following your every move:
the omnipotent and divine, a supporter of American Empire
and positive thinking, has weighted in. Listen, Ehrenreich
argues, to the message from the Evangelical Church: “God wants you to be rich. God wants you to have stuff - the
biggest house, the fastest car, etc.” If you are not rich,
then what are you doing wrong? What happened to
the critical thinker and, as Ehrenreich characterized
him, the “homeless vagrant guy who ends up being tortured
to death?” That message, she said, is “screened out.”
Ehrenreich explained, but that message is screen out.
As I see it, artificial bliss sells acres and acres of
prime property in paradise. Let the poor die!
omnipotent and divine thinks like the oligarchy, and he
thinks greed and the individual acquisition of wealth
and material possessions. In the last 30 years, I have
noted how the transformation of the omnipotent and divine
into a world class capitalist shoveled aside the divinity
who led the Black masses out of Egypt into the Promised Land back in 1865 and
again in 1964 and 1965. Even in the Black Church, this divinity has been replaced
with one who is aligned with upward mobility and capital.
The New World Order is a gift to the chosen, the freed!
is no accident that Rev. Martin Luther King’s poverty
campaign died, even within the Black community. Who is
to blame for misfortune but those who suffer misfortune?
The victims of capitalism, greed, corruption, and indifference,
millions of people around the world, have themselves to
blame and the positive thinker need not consider how their
thinking and beliefs contribute to the suffering and death
of others. While more people are struggling to survive,
the universities and the media, sites where the past and
reality are shoved into 1984-type “memory holes,”
sell recipes for happiness. As Ehrenreich observed,
in general, poor people are less happy because they’re
stressed out. There’s so much anxiety in their lives,
day by day. I’m not going to sit down with a bunch of
academics or philosophers and talk about ‘what is happiness
and how do we best achieve it’ when there are people who
can’t put food on the table for their children! You know,
end of discussion! Get to work!
to think of poverty in the world is to think pessimistically.
the Ministries of Plenty, goodthink effectively
produces happiness and poverty. The corporate workplace,
Ehrenreich argues, will not tolerate pessimism and negativity.
The “management gospel” is “eliminate negative people”
with bad attitudes! If someone at Countrywide mortgage
dared to express his or her concern that people might
start defaulting. Out!” A top executive at Lehman
Brothers, Ehrenreich recalls, was “eliminated” for daring
to suggest that the housing boom was a bubble! A problem?
Yes! “You just eliminate that negativity.”
say anything negative. Don’t raise doubts or questions
or we’ll fire you.” When you are fired or laid off to
save profits for the corporations, you must take responsibility
and buck up! Find work out there, somewhere. Go waltzing
to interview after interview with a smile - a sincere
smile - or we will know you are not with the pogrom. And
remember, “It is not that bad.” “Now, get with it!”
success and wealth right around the corner, you need to
think hard. Not just any kind of thinking will do. Concentrate
on the acquisition of money - because, if you did not
know it, “it is so easy to attract money.” “You can have
anything you want by concentrating on it.” If you fail,
it is your fault!
is positive thinking, Barbara!
could Bright-sided fail to discuss the impact of
Oprah Winfrey, major peddler of positive thinking? Oprah’s
waltz from Beloved to the Secrets of Success
is no surprise to a few of us Black Americans. What better
way to assure the conformity of the Black masses after
the assassination of the Civil Rights and the Black Power
movements than to offer the survivors the numbing appeal
of Oprah, goddess of bliss. Twenty-two million mostly
Black and Latino and non-violent people lingering in metal
cubicles in rural areas is the reality of American Empire
and not something Oprah can peddle with a smile and a
toss of the long hair. The newest African American role
model of charm and success, Barrack Obama, certainly has
no desire to disturb the tranquil sounds of humming drones
or the dreams of the American flag atop oil fields and
pipelines from the Middle East to the Caspian Sea. There is not a bad attitude between the two Os. Happy.
Goodthink tells us that these two Os are Black. As a Black,
I would be embarrassed if I thought these two were
Black. I have not forgotten.
told her audience in Chicago
that people need to listen to cancer patients to hear
how they feel rather than tell them how to feel. But people,
Barbara, would have to be trained to listen to people
- and now they are only able to listen to the oratory
of the entity that is calling itself a person.
That person, that corporate entity, has taken over
where the KKK and the racist laws left off. For a long
while now, Black Americans have been told how to feel.
It is not fashionable to listen to Black Americans. We
can feel and talk all day long. But no one listens anymore.
So it follows the natural laws of progress - no
one can hear how the other feels when the other must feel
Ehrenreich recalls the bumper stickers with the word “whining”
in a red circle and a cancel sign across it, I think,
yes, that is the symbol of the post-racial era.
No whining, Black folks! No, no one wants to hear “whining”
from cancer patients or from returning Iraq
and Afghanistan vets now and signs
order any visitor that stands before a customer service
clerk not to complain. Eliminate “pessimism” which stands
for thinking that is in opposition to positive thinking.
Eliminate listening to the wrong influence.
thinking is beneficial to a budding fascist state. How
else can it gain a foothold and maintain its power, except
by “perpetuating itself,” as Orwell suggests, assuring
“the hierarchical structure remains always the same.”
Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has
a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory.
to contact Dr. Daniels.