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Smile or Die

The perils of mandatory optimism


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How positive thinking is undermining America


Best selling author and political activist, Barbara Ehrenreich exposes the ideology of positive thinking and the positive psychology movement as insipid individualism intended to blunt the effects of economic and political inequality, erase the ravages of class struggle and quell collective, organized dissent.

The positive thinking movement argues that you can change the physical world with the power of your mind. However you think the world is, is how the world will be, argue proponents.

But is this true? If so, then why do we have natural disasters, economic corruption, political cronyism and all the other problems humans face? Positive thinking proponents argue that these phenomenon have occurred only because people are not thinking positively.

Ehrenreich, on the other hand, argues, this "delusional thinking" is perilous for it advocates that we can change the world by our individual thought processes, not by our collective efforts.

She further argues that it is a form of “mandatory optimism” that it is a cruel and callous hoax perpetrated on working people by elites; as such, it operates as a mask for extreme hyperbolic class inequality while serving to suffocate rational dissent.

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