by Chaz Bufe, editor See Sharp Press
Any system of ideas with an abstraction at its center—an abstraction which assigns you a role or duties—is an ideology. An ideology provides those who accept it with a false consciousness, a necessary component of which is other-directedness. This leads those who accept the ideology to behave as “objects” rather than “subjects,” to allow themselves to be used rather than to act to attain their own desires. The various ideologies are all structured around different abstractions, yet all serve the interests of a dominant (or aspiring dominant) class by giving individuals a sense of purpose in sacrifice, suffering, and submission.
—The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself, by Anonymous
Contrary to what the anonymous authors of The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself state, there are other types of ideologies. The clearest examples are New Ageism and Prosperity Gospel theology.
New Age hucksters and Prosperity Gospel pedlars promote an inverted, solipsistic ideology in which individuals are posited as being “totally responsible” for their own circumstances, because of their thoughts—in other words, if they simply want something badly enough (usually money), it will come to them. To put this another way—one which New Age and Prosperity Gospel hustlers themselves use—people who are rich and healthy choose to be rich and healthy.
The problems with this imbecilic belief are so obvious that even pundits and preachers occasionally notice them: most blatantly, that if the rich choose to be rich, the poor must also choose to be poor, starving AIDS orphans must choose to be starving AIDS orphans, and six million Jews chose to be murdered by the Nazis.
This type of childish magical thinking serves the interests of those at the top of socio-economic heap in several ways: it divorces the individual from social context; it provides justification for any and all political/socio-economic systems (the individuals in them must just not be wishing hard enough for better systems); it allows the rich and powerful to feel smug about being rich and powerful; it induces self-loathing in the poor and oppressed; and it actively discourages the poor and oppressed from taking action to improve their own lives.
While these inverted “total responsibility” ideologies appear to differ radically from conventional, duty-specifying ideologies, they serve the same ends. They help only those at the top of the social pyramid and those clawing their way up it, those who take advantage of the terminally gullible—not the terminally gullible themselves. Nor anyone else.
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Note: Most of the above originally appeared in slightly different form as an addition I made anonymously to The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself.