Updated: Nov 15, 2019
I frequently come across a brand of white, middle class thinking that is determined to sell to people the idea that their money blocks or their “bad thoughts” are the number one factor blocking them from fortune and conventional success. These women align themselves with New Age philosophies and combine trendy “spiritual” solutions with business savvy advice in their promise to elevate people to riches. And they do this by selling the self-blaming idea that it’s your thoughts that are only holding you back and will in turn set you free. And of course they offer to teach you how to think for a fee.
This message is primarily based on white privilege and their ignorance of it. People like Gala Darling and Denise Duffield-Thomas, two Australian/New Zealand manifestation gurus, can be vastly unaware of how their various privileges helped them get where they are. They possess the rhetoric of women who haven't read about world politics, sociology, psychology or history - they can be horrifically ignorant beyond their field of knowledge. They in turn sell to (most often) women the easier, more glam “solution” to their problems instead of talking about cultivating supportive spiritual and mental practises alongside understanding the impact that ongoing sexism, ableism, white supremacy, colonisation and capitalism has on them and the effect commodification of human beings has on us all. We need to understand these ongoing woundings and traumas within the context of the alienating system of complex oppression we live inside of. Because minorities can of course still achieve their goals it’s just a more complex process than these money and manifestation gurus purport.
Denise and Gala make manifestation and New Age self-help fit a capitalist agenda, which is one of blindly validating white people’s desire for a generalised 'more' and covertly promise to solve people's deep hunger for humane treatment at work, a living wage, creative expression, physical and mental freedom from alienated labour with having a vast income, material goods and a chic aesthetic to match.
It also becomes clear that their message seeks to make people dependant on their product. If there's one reason for an issue, then their logic follows that there's one product - their product that can fix it.
Manifestation and capitalism
It’s a particularly American dark, dream that we are self-made and self-broken and there’s nothing else to it. In this idea resides the illusion of control. When people attribute their success entirely or mostly to their own efforts, they create an illusion for themselves that there’s a large degree of separation between themselves and the ‘unfortunate'; the poor, uncool and unsuccessful folk. Thereby ignoring or staying uninformed as to the chaotic nature of existence, which runs counter to the idea that everything happens for a reason, the good are rewarded and that you can rise up if you read the right books and want it hard enough. This provides people with a sense of safety and superiority in a world where in fact creative and sometimes devastating chaos can change the life of anyone in an instant. And where systemic oppression has been woven into the very texture of our human existence and thrives by purposely keeping certain groups imprisoned in poverty and alienated labour.
'Believe there will be more and so it will be' - this idea can only be sold to a certain group because the reality of the world that they are out of touch with, invalidates this concept entirely.
It’s a cosy myth, that we can just will ourselves to conventional, capitalist greatness – it’s an easy one for middle class white women to believe in because it appears to be true from the outside. It indeed looks possible (with the right support from one of their woke, successful sisters) because the reality of class privilege is lost on them. It also feels true on a deeply emotional level because women of many backgrounds are used to blaming themselves for the conditions of their life and excusing the inadequacies of the system and actions of their oppressors. So believing it's totally up to them to overhaul their thinking and their life instead of calling on radical changes in how our world operates, fits with their social conditioning.
Blame and excuses
Plenty of us struggle with changing what we can about our lives and circumstances. The advice for those with such struggles needs to be different to the advice given to those that are prone to thinking all their issues are their fault and are not yet aware of the way the status quo (such as institutional sexism and racism) benefits from their self-blaming habits (coupled with a lack of passive or active activism).
You can’t be to blame for the entirely of your life and how it looks. For you alone did not create its form.
Even spells don’t lift us out of the complexity of living within this world. The more we all read and know about a broad range of topics, especially intersectional feminism, queer studies and the like, we will know what we can change, what we can control, what is the chaos of existence and what we need to fight for. Like say, dignified and humane aged care, the breaking down of the western imperialist agenda or universal welfare.
People are crying out for help and women like Denise Duffield-Thomas are feeding them ‘solutions’ that don’t address systematic issues. She does have good business advice in her book, ‘Get Rich, Lucky Bitch!’ and has some good, beginner advice on addressing feeling unworthy of wealth (as a cis, white woman), but it’s not enough. It’s more than enough to make her wealthy but I doubt to deeply assist others.
We do not create death, health or loss with our thoughts alone.