A thought is a substance, producing the thing that is imagined by the thought.
… you must eliminate from your thoughts all doubt and uncertainty that you will get well; that you will succeed; that you will gain your point and get what you want. You may have some uncertainty as to methods, but you must have none as to ultimate results. You may not feel certain that you will succeed today, or next week, but you must feel certain that you will succeed sometime.
Wallace D. Wattles
Roaming the intellectual circuits of contemporary capitalism is not an easy undertaking for the conscious mind. For everywhere one turns, the towers of individualism, utility, and mastery transmit humming signals of success and failure. From an Hegelian perspective the drone has served the purpose of reason’s advancement in the world, but not in a way easily understood by those in the throws of transformation brought into being by his followers.
For most of the 20th century the big argument in the world was one between right and left Hegelians. Supposedly this argument was won with the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The end of history was announced. As Hegel himself saw it from Berlin in the early 19th century: “America is…the land of the future, where, in the ages that lie before us, the burden of the World’s History shall reveal itself.”
One doesn’t need to be Hegel to understand the antithetical unfolding of his thought in the United States (from Emerson) and Europe and China (from Marx). Here are some quotes:
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
History calls those men the greatest who have ennobled themselves by working for the common good; experience acclaims as happiest the man who has made the greatest number of people happy.
Political economy came into being as a natural result of the expansion of trade, and with its appearance elementary, unscientific huckstering was replaced by a developed system of licensed fraud, an entire science of enrichment.
Ronald Wilson Reagan put it into Biblical terms, calling the United States the “shining city on the hill.” When he said this, he was saying nothing new to Americans. Religious doctrine, from self-help gurus to mainline protestant groups, had embraced and internalized the message of success. When the evangelical churches co-opted the hippy message of love in Christian rock and communal gatherings in the late 1970s, the battle was over culturally in the United States. America/God/Capitalism became inseparable in the minds of most people.
Clearly things were simpler prior to the collapse of Marxism and the aufheben of the neoliberal world. Nowadays America speaks with a forked tongue, as do Russia and China. Selfishness is considered a virtue. At least what I know from his writings, Wallace was prototypical in this regard. But nowadays his identity and mild manners as a Christian socialist philosopher of wellness, riches, and greatness contrasts with Ayn Rand– an exiled Russian noble with a flare for feeding the Americans their own fantasies as she fed her vendetta against a people and revolution that had killed off her family and way of life. One does not need to look far to see her influence. Alan Greenspan, who ran the Federal Reserve Bank as a Reagan appointee from 1987 to 2006, was a devotee and member of her inner circle.
These are heady thoughts for common Americans who simply set out to make something of themselves, according to the dictates of the times. The burden of History is felt squarely. To fail in such an environment is to fail history; to succeed is to wear the halo of the divine. Does it surprise that the main CNBC/FOX Businesses media messages sent to traders and other opportunists are the twin signals “You are the greatest; and, the failures of the world are out to get you– or at least your money”?
Of course, in this popular scenario the biggest fiend is the US government due to its power to tax. Obama can be called a communist by serious people because the only debate they understand is that between the good guys (the capitalists) and the bad guys (the communists). Such an understanding of the times may be a logical albeit ironical outcome of the struggle, according to Hegel. For the victors have internalized the arguments, actions, and actors of their antithesis. The greatest capitalist of the 20th century, Warren Buffet, has stated firmly that the class war being fought and won is not the proletariat versus the rich but the rich against everyone.
Paranoia and narcissism are natural byproducts of the drone of thought. Should one fail, it is due to counter-forces that do not realize the importance of one’s particular well being; if one succeeds it is due to one’s fidelity to the message of success.