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I found a lot of truth in a blog post I read recently called “Positive Attitude” Bullshit: On the dangers of “radical self-love”.
People whose lives aren’t going well or who experience mental illness are often subjected to “positive thinking” and New-Age-y “manifest abundance” crap. The idea is that if you just think the right kind of thoughts and change yourself with sheer willpower and perhaps by purchasing certain self-help books, suddenly you will get what you want in life.
Life doesn’t actually work that way. Marginalized and neuro-atypical people can’t just think their way out of institutionalized systems of oppression. These systems mean we get shittier jobs, get paid less, are harassed and degraded for existing as ourselves, and have less access to generational wealth and benefits. “Positive thinking” and the idea that simply changing how you think will change how rewarding and comfortable your life is hides how capitalism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy form your life conditions and chances.
It makes the systemic problems and violence of capitalism into into individual flaws. It takes unfair external conditions shaped by the effects of centuries-old oppressions and tells you that your lack of total success in life is actually your personal fault. And there are certain self-appointed people who somehow have discovered the right way to think, and they are happy to sell you products so that you too can discipline your naughty negative thoughts.
New-Age-y positive thinking philosophies, which some corporations have used to indoctrinate their workers, are just another cover for rapacious hyper-capitalism. They are a clever way of keeping people divided and focused on their personal flaws and their personal financial goals and their personal relationship problems.
Instead, what would be truly POSITIVE for most people would be to band together and find ways to end our current economic system, which requires a few winners and a lot of losers to work. It would be POSITIVE if we remembered community, unions, liberation, a multitude of loving relationships, and collaboration instead of competition. Caring people coming together to overthrow our hateful system and creating something new that benefits everyone by design is more my style of positive thinking.
Anecdotally, a financially comfortable person told me that once they saw someone they think was poor who was wearing what appeared to be an expensive accessory. Therefore all assistance to the poor is used unwisely and it is morally acceptable for society to allow its most vulnerable members to wallow in humiliating misery.
Reality check: those in America who make $200k a year or more are in the TOP 3% of income earners. Did you think $200k makes you middle class? Wrong- it makes you RICH.
I think somehow most of us got it twisted and think that you have to be the ultrarich 0.001% to be rich.
We hear so much *from* and *about* the ultrarich, while the truly poor are almost totally silenced, that we have completely skewed ideas about what wealth is and what poverty is. This is how even the rich are fooled into thinking they are struggling and part of the middle class.
Whereas only 3% of American households make $200k or more annually, 20% make $20k or LESS. We have a fuckload of poor people and we can’t even ACKNOWLEDGE that $200k is rich.
We all have an artistic side and we all need creativity in our lives. I want to dream of a world, not of career artists who earn a generous living for expressing themselves, but where EVERYONE can earn a decent living AND express themselves.
Art is not a career. That is a capitalist lie. Art is a part of life and that part of life should be accessible to every person. If creative expression of thoughts and feelings and opinions and visions should be paid for, every person should be paid. Or ideally, art is considered part of a healthy and fulfilling life and not a commodity at all.
Art should be woven into everyone’s daily experiences and not reserved for an elite kool kids klub who have few enough competing obligations to “make it” in a struggle against other artists to successfully commercialize themselves. If your art serves capital, have you really won or have you lost?
This rant came from musing upon this thought-provoking piece: My Dreams of Being a Feminist Housewife
A further rumination on this topic: “Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from
Arrogant fucks have developed a helpful new tool so that I may better avoid them: describing themselves as “sapiosexual”.
What they aspire for this word to mean is “sexually attracted to intelligence”. Of course, what it means IRL is “proudly privileged asshole with classpirations”. We all want to find partners who are stimulating, interesting, and bright. Going so far as to make this common desire into a separate sexual orientation makes me wonder who it is sapiosexuals want to separate themselves from.
Sapiosexuals are unaware of the irony and ignorance they unleash every time they whip out what they think is an impressive $2 neologism, which makes it all the more funny/hateable when they do it. Appropriating LGBTQ struggles to craft a minority orientation for those with a superiority complex, yet another example of oppressors trying on the language of the oppressed like a new set of fashionable clothes, fits perfectly with the Sapiosexual Agenda. Intelligence is a trait that classist people often attribute to themselves to justify their unearned advantages in life. According to the convenient myth of meritocracy, it would be the best and the brightest who are most successful capitalists, and thereby all intelligent people would naturally rise to the upper income levels of society. This is a slick excuse for wage-slavery- the stupid masses can barely be expected to take care of themselves, so the benevolent and highly intelligent upper classes give them employment and a wage to survive on, almost as a favor.
Have you ever noticed that colloquial terms used to refer to the lower classes are essentially synonymous with stupidity? “Hick”, “red neck”, “hillbilly”, “trailer trash”, “welfare queen” etc. This is classism at work, the same classism that sapiosexuals are proudly claiming, though they may have convinced themselves that this class-charged concept has nothing to do with class.
Sapiosexuals won’t want to talk about the fact that bootstrapping, aka class mobility, is a myth- most people will achieve a class status comparable to that of their parents. There is no level playing field, and wealth is not awarded based on merit. Your education level has a lot to do with your parents’ income level. Acknowledging these truths would blow up what sapiosexuals really mean when they allege they are simply attracted to intelligence. Because who is out there looking for a dumb partner? Can sapiosexuals really believe that they are special snowflakes because they make a show of their disdain for those they deem beneath them?
Claiming the sapiosexual label is basically a way of asserting classism as a sexual orientation. If only other types of bigots were so open and proud of their bigotry that they actually made up sexual orientations for it. “Caucasiosexual” for example. I appreciate bigots who advertise themselves openly so that the rest of us can quickly and safely avoid them.
So, uh, thanks for the laughs and the clear warning label, sapiosexuals.
Loud defenses of the Freedom of Speech, when made by the dominant classes, usually point to their concern that the underclasses are getting too uppity. Asking not to be publicly dehumanized is CENSORSHIP. Bombing mosques & NAACP buildings and locking up people of color for resisting groupthink is DEFENDING THE NATION.
On the heels of “Unity” marches and much chest-beating regarding the “Western” value of free speech, we quickly see what this is all really about.
“A string of at least 69 arrests in France this week on the vague charge of ‘defending terrorism’ risks violating freedom of expression,” Amnesty International said in an understated press release on Friday.
It turns out most of the people arrested were people of color. How about that.
From the article: France Begins Jailing People for Ironic Comments.
Everybody should probably go and get a copy of this book right now. The long title is Normal Life – Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law. Spade criticizes mainstream gay politics and suggests a more radical, less marginalizing politics that centers poor trans people of color. The book is amazing.
“Lesbian and gay organizations have also generally followed a model of governance and efficacy based on private sector norms rather than social justice values. The most well-funded organizations have pay scales similar to the private sector, with executive directors often making three to four times the salaries of the lowest paid employees. Pay often correlates to educational privilege, which again means that the greatest share of resources goes to white employees from privileged backgrounds while the least goes to employees of color and people without educational privilege.” pg.67
“Trans populations are disproportionately poor because of employment discrimination, family rejection, and difficulty accessing school, medical care, and social services. These factors increase our rate of participation in criminalized work to survive, which, combined with police profiling, produces high levels of criminalization.” pg.89
“Three concerns about law reform projects permeate many sites of resistance. First, these projects change only what the law says about what a system is doing, but not its actual impact. Second, they refine a system in ways that help it continue to target the most vulnerable people, while only partially or temporarily removing a few of the less vulnerable from its path. And finally, law reform projects often provide rationales and justifications for the expansion of harmful systems.” pg.92
“The myth of legal equality in the United States is supported by the narrative that US laws used to exclude people on the basis of race and gender but now they do not. Supposedly, all is now fair and equal. However, our nation itself was built by the establishment of population-level systems of property and labor regulation that created and utilized racial and gender categories from the beginning. The population-level programs that were mobilized from their inception by explicit race and gender exclusions continue to do the work of distributing security and vulnerability along race and gender lines, just under the auspices of race and gender neutral criteria.” pgs.116-117
“[L]egal inclusion and recognition demands often reinforce the logics of harmful systems by justifying them, contributing to their illusions of fairness and equality, and by reinforcing the targeting of certain perceived “drains” or “internal enemies,” carving the group into “the deserving” and “the undeserving” and then addressing only the issues of the favored sector.” pg.124
“For those who have long articulated opposition to state incentivization and reward for heteropatriarchial sexuality and family structures and punishment for others, the idea that lesbian and gay people should seek marriage recognition rather than aim to abolish marriage and achieve more just methods of distribution is…problematic.” pg.126
“[O]ne might observe that the lesbian and gay rights agenda primarily operates to restore privileges of the dominant systems of meaning and control to those gender-conforming, white, wealthy gay and lesbian US citizens who are enraged at how homophobic laws and policies limit access to benefits to which they feel entitled.” pg.60
“We must not only refuse reforms that require dividing and leaving behind more vulnerable trans populations, but also try to assume that the most easily digestible invitations to be included are the very ones that bring us into greater collusion with systemic control and violence.” pgs.161-162
“[T]he legalistic approach of [law reform projects] has been linked to concerns about an unjust distribution of power and leadership, especially when the work is funded and directed largely by white, upper-class professionals who inevitably create an agenda that centralizes the concerns and experiences of people like themselves.” pg.172
“[A] challenging dynamic has emerged: social welfare has increasingly become dependent on private businesses and foundations. Corporate funders have become the sponsors and benefactors of social services… The situation translates into overreliance by many organizations on income from corporations and accumulated wealth stored in foundations.” pg.173
“Nonprofits serving primarily poor and disproportionately people of color populations are frequently governed almost entirely by wealthy white people with college and graduate degrees. Staffing follows this pattern as well, with most nonprofits requiring formal education as a prerequisite to working in administrative or management-level positions. Thus, the nature of the infrastructure in many social justice nonprofits often leads to concentrated decision-making power and pay in the hands of people with education, race, gender and class privilege rather than in the hands of those bearing the brunt of the systems of maldistribution… “This dynamic leads to the reproduction of the very same systems of maldistribution that organizations are purportedly targeting. Inside those organizations, white elites determine the fates of the vulnerable and get paid to make decisions about their lives while people directly impacted are kept out of leadership.” pgs.176-177
“Nonprofits are one way that wealthy people and corporations avoid tax liability. Most of the money that gets redirected out of the tax system by philanthropy does not go to social justice.” pg.179
Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma, gained my notice by expressing this extremely creative history of Oklahoma at the Republican National Convention:
“The history of my great state of Oklahoma offers a great example of pursuing the American Dream. It was built and settled by pioneers movibe west to seek better lives. During the Great Land Run of 1889, thousands of families rushed to put a stake down on empty plots of land. They built tent cities overnight. They farmed the land and they worked hard. And, in 1897, eight years after the land run, a handful of adventurous pioneers risked their own money — not the federal government’s money — to drill Oklahoma’s first oil well, the Nellie Johnstone. By doing so, these early-day pioneers changed the future and Oklahoma forever and today Oklahoma is one of the nation’s key energy producers and job creators. President Obama wants us to believe that Oklahomans owe that success to the federal government — to the Department Of Energy,to the EPA, to the IRS, or maybe even to him. Mr. President, we know better. As we say in Oklahoma, that dog won’t hunt.”
I recommend the following party game: have someone read this statement aloud (or play the youtube video!). Everytime Fallin says something that is TOTALLY MADE-UP AND/OR OBSCENELY OFFENSIVE, everyone takes a shot. The first person to black out loses.
Tavis Smiley and Cornel West published a book called The Rich and the Rest of Us. I recently read this book, and here are my favorite quotes. I highly recommend this book as an excellent introduction into poverty issues and America’s class system.
” “There has been something crude and heartless and unfeeling in our haste to succeed and be great,” President Woodrow Wilson declared in 1913 at the beginning of the 20th century…”
“Poverty is 21st-century-style slavery; its eradication should serve as the battle cry of a new civil rights movement.”
“[A] condition of truth is to allow the suffering to speak.”
So indicates the Chicago Tribune and the jerks it interviewed for the article Politicians, health advocates seek transparency, restrictions in food stamp program.
At issue is the worn-out “debate” about whether food stamps recipients should be able to decide for themselves what they want at the grocery store, or whether the government should decide for them.
Suddenly, the government cares that corporations peddling unhealthy food and beverages may receive “government money” in the form of people using food stamps to buy, for example, Pepsi. As though major corporations don’t receive government perks at every turn, and the thought of a poor person enjoying a soda just offends certain officials’ senses of corporate ethics.
As though the “healthy food” that the government would rather poor people use their food stamps on is not also corporate-owned and already government-subsidized just as the “unhealthy food”.
I will never understand why punishing poor people for their poverty is a solution when they likely live in “food deserts”, where real grocery stores, let alone farmer’s markets and the like, are scarce and the junk food sold at bodegas is easier to get and more filling.
Punishing poor people for being poor will not make them healthier, will not cause them to make “better” choices, and will not stop the sale of unhealthy food and beverages. It will simply be another way in which the government and our society infantilize and condescend to the poor without offering any real solutions aimed at the root of their problems. In fact, it seems we believe the poor are to blame for their own poverty, which is why they need the government to tell them what to eat and what not to eat. The assumption that poor people are dumb lies barely covered beneath the surface of these crap arguments.
If these unhealthy food items and beverages must be banned from the poor, why not also everyone else? If the government and “health advocates” are so concerned about the public health effects of unhealthy food, why not ban it from everyone, regardless of income level? That would certainly strike that blow the government is suddenly so eager to strike against the corporations producing these products.
Newsflash! Poor people are poor! And being poor sucks!
Thanks for researching that. And getting paid for it. It must have been harrowing.
Uh, hello, even Fox News can tell this is a bad idea:
Nearly two dozen states are considering plans this session that would make drug testing mandatory for welfare recipients, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And Wyoming lawmakers advanced such a proposal this week.
Driving the measures is a perception that people on public assistance are misusing the funds and that cutting off their benefits would save money for tight state budgets — even as statistics have largely proved both notions untrue.
…The issue has come up in the Republican presidential campaign, with front-runner Mitt Romney saying it’s an “excellent idea.”
Of course the millionaire thinks it’s okay to invade the privacy of people in desperate situations and treat them like criminals for being poor.
There’s a word for that: classism.
Statistics indicate that people who receive public assistance are no more likely to use drugs than the general population. Budget analysis shows that testing is so expensive, and so few people actually fail the test and get kicked off assistance, that it costs much more than it saves. Additionally, there is a trend of these laws getting ruled unconstitutional in court.
So why would Republicans still support bills that discriminate pointlessly, add cost to state budgets, and will probably get declared unconstitutional?
Because they are counting on the existence of stereotypes about the poor, and that this discrimination will win them short-term political points.
Some state politicians have tried to add in drug testing for state legislators, who receive even more money from the government than recipients of public assistance. None of these measure have been adopted or seen the same kind of vigorous support as drug testing for the poor. Huh.
Read more about this fascinating hereditary billionaire’s very meaningful “art”. Or don’t.
I just finished Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. I can’t recommend it enough. For everyone. READ IT NOW!
Here are some quotes that struck me:
“One in three young African American men is currently under the control of the criminal justice system – in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole – yet mass incarceration tends to be categorized as a criminal justice issue as opposed to a racial justice or civil rights issue (or crisis).” Pg.9
“What is key to America’s understanding of class is the persistent belief – despite all evidence to the contrary – that anyone, with the proper discipline and drive, can move from a lower class to a higher class.” Pg.13
The rest are here:
Read the rest of this entry »
Interesting things happen when local Tea Party affiliates infiltrate your school board:
- They implement racial and economic segregation in one of the most integrated school systems in America: Wake County School District in North Carolina. (With the financial backing of a wealthy Libertarian.)
- They ban books (and remove them from classrooms in front of students) that discuss Chicano history and culture, as well as race, ethnicity and oppression in general in Arizona.
You may recall that we have former Tuscon School District Superintendent Tom Horne (supported by his local Tea Party) to thank for this mess. His legacy is being dutifully carried forward by current Superintendent John Huppenthal, “who threatened to withhold millions of dollars if TUSD didn’t terminate the nationally acclaimed [Mexican-American studies] program immediately.”
Then Tuscon school administrator Lupita Garcia comes out and actually says: “This country is called America, okay? And they study US history. If you were to go back to Mexico… you would study Mexican history.”
- They remove mention of racial minorities and critique of wealthy whites from history books in Tennessee.
Here is some of their actual curriculum criteria:
“No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”
Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the [coalition of Tennessee Tea Party’s] lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.
- And how can we forget that last year, Tea Party affiliates in Texas attempted to edit out the word “slavery” from their textbooks and replace it instead with the term “Atlantic Triangular Trade“.
“Behind every great fortune is a crime.”
-Honore de Balzac, 1799-1850
From Barclays Capital via Rawstory:
“Our Skyscraper Index continues to show an unhealthy correlation between construction of the next world’s tallest building and an impending financial crisis — New York 1930; Chicago 1974; Kuala Lumpur 1997 and Dubai 2010.
“Yet often the world’s tallest buildings are simply the edifice of a broader skyscraper building boom, reflecting a widespread misallocation of capital and an impending economic correction.”
I recently read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. I pulled out some interesting quotes that seem relevant to America’s current political situation.
Occupy Wall Street’s critique of the superrich and wealth inequality
“The picture of American society has, if I may so speak, a surface covering of democracy, beneath which the old aristocratic colors sometimes peep out.” Pg.47
“But beneath this artificial enthusiasm and these obsequious attentions to the preponderating power [the interests of the middle & working classes], it is easy to perceive that the rich have a a hearty dislike of the democratic institutions of their country.” Pg.187
Centralizing power and removing citizens’ rights
” “The will of the nation” is one of those phrases that have been most largely abused by the wily and the despotic of every age. Some have seen the expression of it in the purchased suffrages of a few of the satellites of power; others, in the votes of a timid or an interested minority; and some have even discovered it in the silence of a people, on the supposition that the fact of submission established the right to command.” Pg.57
“Unlimited power is in itself a bad and dangerous thing. Human beings are not competent to exercise it with discretion.” Pg.270
Jingoism and nationalism
“Patriotism… is frequently a mere extension of individual selfishness.” Pg.402
Intolerance of difference
“In the United States… all parties are willing to recognize the rights of the majority, because they all hope at some time to be able to exercise them to their own advantage. The majority in that country, therefore, exercise a prodigious actual authority, and a power of opinion which is nearly as great; no obstacles exist which can impede or even retard its progress, so as to make it heed the complaints of those whom it crushes upon its path. This state of things is harmful in itself and dangerous for the future.” Pg.266
Some sound advice from George Washington that should be applied to Israel & Palestine
“…Washington makes this admirable and just remark: “The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.” ” Pg.242
Perhaps you have already had the good/bad fortune to come upon an article at Forbes.com called If I Were a Poor Black Kid. This article is written by a “middle class” white accountant, consulting firm owner, business technology columnist, and former senior manager at KPMG named Gene Marks. Sounds totally “middle class”. Probably an income of $60k a year, you think?
You can see where this is going. My personal additional annoyance beyond the many more obvious ones is: does he really expect to be reaching poor black kids by publishing a blog post on Forbes.com? Obviously not. He never intended for this “advice” to reach a real world poor black kid. He is writing for wealthy white people, at the expense of poor black kids, in an attempt to unearth a dead horse and beat it some more: i.e. the myth that blacks wouldn’t be so poor if they just worked harder. Note of hilarity: This column was originally titled “If I Was a Poor Black Kid”, but so many people were amused by his poor grammar that someone corrected it.
So read it for yourself if you enjoy bathing in a rich froth of righteous privilege and oblivion as to how the real world works.
OR, read one of these amazing and insightful rebuttals, which attempt to relieve Mr. Marks of his embarrassing ignorance.
If I Were a Rich White Dude by Jeff Yang
Trolling The Internet With ‘If I Were A Poor Black Kid’ by Kashmir Hill
A Muscular Empathy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
If I Were the Middle Class White Guy Gene Marks by Kelly Virella
An Ode to a ‘Poor Black Kid’ I Never Knew: How Forbes Gets Poverty Wrong by Cord Jefferson
If I Were Gene Marks by Carolyn Edgar
If I were a wealthy white suburbanite by DN Lee
If Gene Marks Were a Poor Black Kid Who Went to Ballou In 2003 by Shani Hilton
If I Was A Poor Black Kid, I’d Key Gene Marks’s Car by Peter Vidani