I didn’t discuss famous life coach/motivational speaking Tony Robbins much in my series on Jordan Peterson and the wider phenomenon of self-improvement as gateway to fascism. However, time serves to provide more examples of what I was trying to articulate and Tony Robbins has unwittingly elected to demonstrate the vague point I was making.
The main headline has been Robbins criticising the Me Too movement against sexual harassment and assault. That is bad enough but in relation to the connection between self-help and a dysfunctional view of society, Robbins’s behaviour is better demonstrated by a specific incident:
“During his speech, an audience member named Nanine McCool, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, is given a microphone to ask Robbins a question. She starts off by saying, “I think you misunderstand the #MeToo movement…” before Robbins cuts her off.
When Ms McCool gets the floor back almost a full two minutes later, she explains that she feels Robbins has mischaracterised an entire movement by claiming that women are using it for their own personal gains.
Robbins then goes on to use Ms McCool to make his point. He walks her backwards through the aisle of the stadium by pushing against her fist, asking her why she’s resisting his push in order to make his point. Pushing against someone else doesn’t make you more safe, he explains.”
It may seem like a contradiction that a spokesperson for self-empowerment is arguing against pushing back against bullies but it absolutely fits 100% with the underlying message. Pushing back works when it is done collectively and the one thing that simply unites conservatism, libertarianism, self-help and fascism is opposition to people organising from the ground up without direction from leaders.
I’m also kicking myself because I relaise that I didn’t talk about the cult of personality aspect of characters like Robbins and how that joins them neatly with cult-like organisations, fascism and authoritarians & totalitarians in general (and for another example see Ayn Rand.)
Here’s a longer piece on Robbins https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/anthony-robbins-where-have-you-been-20180408-p4z8gk.html