Extremist Capitalism: The discourse of get rich books

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Get rich books are a staple part of the self-help genre. Like many exponents of this genre, get rich books encourage readers to adopt new practices, worldviews and identities. In particular, the texts examined here all invite readers to exploit the power of positive thinking. Focussing on textual features and construing ‘discourse’ from the point of view of critical discourse analysis, I examine the rhetorical features of these texts. Specifically I argue that narrative, repetition and assertion all have a role in persuading readers to adopt an entirely new world view and a related view of the self. This worldview has ontological and epistemological consequences. That is, the laws of cause and effect found in these texts locate responsibility for financial success entirely at the (often subconscious) level of the individual. I further suggest that these texts advocate and encourage a form of extremism: extremist capitalism. While capitalism is not normally thought capable of being extremist, I argue that the extremism of these books is a consequence of the way the texts extend the values of dominant neo-liberal ideology to their logical and individualistic conclusion. The violence of this extremism is not directly physical; however through its endorsement and erasure of structural inequalities and its construction of a particular subject position and identity that supports and enforces capitalism, it is violent nevertheless.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2017

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