Some Self-help Books Are Propaganda

Self-help books are nice. They teach people how to organize their lives, how to be more responsible, how to take care of their children, how to fix the clogged toilet, and so on. Self-help books were the default authority in terms of practical things before there was the internet, much like an offline Wikihow. Some self-help books are actually not that helpful after all. There are those that claim to help people how to dream lucidly, or to experience out-of-body experiences, and these books are by now practically dead scrolls because the internet. But there are those that are actually propaganda. They were churned out to validate the very source of the problem which caused us to buy a book called “How to Get Rich and not be Poor” in the first place. Books such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I Will Teach You to be Rich, The Greatest Salesman in the World, and a lot of others, teach their readers that success is just there, anyone can reach with it a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. It is shocking to read books that claim to know how to ‘hack’ a system as complex as capitalism. But it is even more shocking to read books that try to solidify the definition of ‘success’ as a purely financial one.

Financial self-help books zip right through the best-sellers lists as if on meth. The more ‘inspirational’, the faster they climb the ladder. Like all ‘art’ today, financial self-help books are popular because they entertaining, positive, uplifting, etc. Like art, self-help books have achieved an aura of transcendental value. Hence, operating under the fetishized definition of success, it becomes more than a ‘cheat code’ to the ‘game of life’/ ‘the ratrace’/ etc, and it becomes a bible, a code containing universal values. Which is to say: without being (financially) successful, we can never fulfill our selves as humans. It is the surplus, not the labor, that is put on the pedestal. There is definitely something wrong with this.

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