Book Report: Secret the Power Rhonda Byrne

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[. . .] Even Gandhi and Christ must have brought death on themselves with their own negative feelings rather than by challenging the injustice of their societies, because nothing exists outside of individual thoughts and emotions. People could actually live forever, as they supposedly did in ancient times, if they would only change their attitudes. Death, disease, old age not part of physical reality or the laws of nature and biology, but only bad attitudes and negative beliefs. Even the conversations of strangers are really about her, as are signs and advertisements that she sees while traveling, and are really messages about her and her life. In fact, they would not exist at all or manifest themselves unless they had some secret meaning for her.

Byrne is blissfully unaware of the deeper causes of the current recession, such as massive corruption and fraud on Wall Street, aided and abetted by politicians and negligent regulators. This type of speculative boom followed by a crash has happened many times before in history, and in fact seems to follow some type of generational pattern. Bailing out American capitalism in the present depression was far more expensive than most of the public will ever realize, especially since many of the costs were deliberately hidden. This Great Bailout was much larger than the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), which went to the large banks, insurance and automobile companies. All but $50 billion of this has been paid back, but that was only one small part of the bailout. Governments concentrated on bailing out the banks and corporate elites rather than creating public works and jobs programs as Keynes would have recommended, and the costs in low wages and high unemployment for the working class and middle class was at least $5 trillion. Wall Street is profitable and the bankers are getting their bonuses, but ordinary workers and consumers at the lower and middle levels of the economy are suffering the worst conditions since the Great Depression of the 1930s. They also had to absorb most of the costs of the rampant speculation of the housing bubble and its collapse in 2008-09, which is conservatively estimated to be $10 trillion. These housing values will not return to the pre-bubble levels in a generation -- if ever -- but there has been no effective federal program for home mortgage relief as there was in the 1930s. So far the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has spent about $500 on collapse banks, which have not failed at this rate since the 1930s, and the Federal Reserve has also spent about $2 trillion to but bad mortgages and assets from the banks. In addition, the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which also participated in the housing bubble, is likely to cost one trillion dollars. Following monetarist policies of keeping interest rates at zero for three years has costs retirees and small savers about $2 trillion in lost interest. Finally, about $300 billion of the almost one trillion in government stimulus spending is basically missing and unaccounted for. In short, the bailout of Wall Street and corporate America has turned out to be larger than the Gross National Project of the United States, although ordinary workers and consumers are quite correct in their belief that very little of it has benefitted them. Almost all of it has gone to save the elites at the top of the social pyramid, and the nation's wealth is more concentrated in their hands today than at any time since the 1920s.

Byrne believes only that our own negative feelings cause poverty and unemployment. Love is a magnet or force of attraction that will draw money to anyone who gives out positive vibes. No one need ever be concerned with debts and foreclosure as long as they practice giving out loving feelings, and as Byrne puts it "you can tell how you feel about money, because if you don't have all you need, then you don't feel good about money" (Byrne 2010). Byrne may not simply be yet another con artist but actually believe what she is writing, and claims that she was a poor, single mother until she read Wallace Wattles' The Science of Getting Rich (1910) and learned how to become very wealthy and famous, selling her own books and DVDs. She does not seem aware that the majority of people in the world live on less than two dollars a day while 1% of the population controls over half of the wealth. Social programs, taxation or redistribution of wealth will not chance this analysis is that majority of the worlds' wealth is in the hands of a few reality since money always returns to the people who attract it through love and positive thinking. People who are positive, happy, open-minded and appreciative will always attract wealth, while those who are negative drive it away.

Byrne also seems unaware of poverty, racism and structural discrimination in society, such as that faced by blacks in the United States over the centuries. No amount of good feelings and wish fulfillment ever corrected this, but only mass protests led by Martin Luther King and many others. By historical standards, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act have been enormously successful, and indeed one of the few federal interventions in this area that has made a real difference in the lives of minorities. They did not end poverty, discrimination, police brutality or racism in general, but certainly made it impossible to allow these to continue as a matter of law and public policy in the United States -- which they always had been prior to 1964. Were Martin Luther King still alive today, he would note the progress that has been made, while still pointing out that a lot more needs to be done, particularly in inner-city slums and ghettos, or with the majority of young black males being in prison or on probation. Thanks to the conservative backlash after 1968, of course, progress on most of these areas has been stalled, although the election of a black president in 2008 was definitely something that could never have happened in America before the civil rights movement. In fact, it would have literally been impossible and unthinkable in 1964. Nevertheless, as King was well aware of, a change of laws did not alter the severe social and economic injustices faced by blacks and members of other minority groups. Byrne hardly seems aware of any history like this in her book, or indeed of current events of any kind, except in the most shallow and narcissistic way imaginable.

On the whole, then, The Secret: The Power has no real explanation for the problem of evil in the world, either on the individual or the collective and structural level, or the fact that evil is often very powerful and successful. For instance, no history of the Nazi state would ever make sense without the ideology and personality of Hitler, who was the leading force in guiding and shaping the Third Reich. Beyond question, the wars of aggression, the extermination of the Jews and the plunder of occupied Europe all occurred on his direct orders, even though he often left the details to be worked out by competing groups of subordinates. He was quite effective in his policies of divide and rule, as well as keeping the German masses bribed and contented with the loot from the rest of Europe. He also promised them better days to come if they proved themselves worthy in the Social Darwinist struggle about became the lords and masters of Europe. In carrying out all these crimes and atrocities, however, he had considerable assistance from the old conservative elites, industrialists and bureaucrats, who were not simply mindless robots following orders but frequently took the initiative to better fulfill the wishes of the Fuehrer -- and not coincidentally to line their own pockets along the way. So did the ordinary soldiers and civilians whenever the opportunities presented themselves, although in the aftermath of defeat and occupation they naturally found it more comfortable to regard themselves as victims of the Nazis rather than complicit in their crimes. Apart from a minority of genuinely heroic resisters, most were not victims at all except in losing a war of their own making.

Self-help has been a very popular subject in middle-class America since the days of Benjamin Franklin and Poor Richard's Almanac, one of the first true bourgeois advice books in Western history. As always, the emphasis in these books is centered on the individual, personal choice and free will, in a Lockean world that assumes some minimal respect for the rights of life, liberty and property. Of course, this was hardly the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Secret the Power Rhonda Byrne.  (2011, December 31).  Retrieved August 23, 2019, from

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