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Election afermath: Score one for The Secret.

What a lot of people miss about the New Age is that in philosophy and tone, it is very much aligned with latter-day conservatism and the sorts of things we saw happening, say, at AIG and Goldman-Sachs before the fall. The Secret, after all, is nothing if not wildly, irredeemably, unapologetically aspirational. Along with its philosophical sibling movements in the megachurchessuch as that run by our friend Joel ("the gospel according to Vera Wang") OsteenThe Secret legitimizes the idea of endless upward mobility and a reality in which wealth is not zero-sum, but in fact can be attained by everyone everywhere at the same time if "you just want it enough." Secret alum Lisa Nichols says it flat-out in the very title of her CD: "You Deserve It!"

In the world according to Rhonda Byrne and her (pseudo-)philosophical protégés, every man (and woman) is an island, and all of those islands are the Caymans.

Both The Secret and conservatism encourage a detached, delusional mindset in which the sky's the limit, conspicuous consumption is where it's at, and there's no longer any such thing as greed or "too much." Whatever you have is yours; let the next person worry about attracting his or hers. (I would link, here, to Joe Vitale going all gooey over the creature-comforts of his Rolls for the camera crew from my ABC special, but I can't locate the vid at the moment.)

Pop quiz: Which political party would be more inclined to sympathize with everyday folk who got shafted by life? The GOP, with its no-excuses lens on success? Or the Liberals, for whom the twin ideas of Victimization and life's fundamental unfairness are core assumptions? Both The Secret and Conservatism emphasize the core idea that "it's all on you." Although right-wingers don't frame their rhetoric in terms of the Law of Attraction or an obliging Universe, isn't that the essential Conservative message: that success is attainable to all who "really want it"? That if you fail to achieve what you want, it's because of you? Like diehard Secretologists, conservatives don't want to hear about where you grew up, what kind of family you came from, whatever bad breaks you may have gotten. Tough noogies. If you're behind the eight-ball in life, that's your problem and your problem alone. You "own it," as Dr. Phil likes to say. Needless to say, such an attitude justifies (in their mind) their disinclination to share their wealth with you in the form of taxes earmarked for entitlement programs.

Let me emphasize: I'm not necessarily saying that an unadulterated Victimization outlook is a good thing, either; I think I made that clear in SHAM.
But I also think about Rhonda Byrne chiding Katrina victims for being in the path of the hurricane or 9/11 victims for failing to ward off hijacked airliners. Over-the-top nonsense though such crap may be, does it not remind of the conservatives who historically have argued that if you're jobless or on welfare or food stamps, it's only because too you're too damn lazy to go out and make something of yourself?

So which party sounds more like today's New Age? There's only one, ahem, right answer.

It may therefore seem odd that a staunch Obama-ist like Oprah Winfrey would shill for such Thought Movements, but here again: Oprah preaches a kind of schizoid ecumenicalism/egalitarianism, a world in which we can all be number one, in the same way the self-esteem movement still has many school principals (or hired guns brought in from outside) implying in regular assemblies that all of the kids can be president. This is in fact the great, paradoxical genius of Oprah: She makes Republican ideals
in the sense of the pursuit and accumulation of fabulous personal wealthsound positively d/Democratic, conjuring visions of a world in which someday every woman can own choice property everywhere, along with several dozen pair of those cute shoes with the red soles....

("No feet left behind..."?)

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