Molly-Mae is just one in a long line of privileged people who peddle the myth that their success is simply down to hard work and self-belief, and that’s all it takes to ‘make it’. Curtis Daly explains why this is bullsh*t.
The idea that all you need to be “successful” in our society is to work hard, is as pervasive as it is toxic. It’s time for us to pick apart this myth.
Social media erupted after Instagram influencer Molly-Mae made comments about her success on The Diary of a CEO podcast.
As you saw from the video, Molly-Mae claims that the true path to success is an individual’s ability to just go for it, that we all have the same 24 hours in a day, and all we need to do to ‘make it’ is to work hard. Despite acknowledging different economic backgrounds, she then completely ignores it anyway and simply explains that if you want something bad enough, hard work equals success.
Her point is not a new one, it’s a classic Thatcherite take which we have all heard before.
Molly-Mae is completely wrong, and here’s why.
Firstly, we need to look at how we define success.
Most of Molly-Mae’s success came after appearing on Love Island, a scenario that doesn’t happen to most of us. Her chances of being on the show increased because she is white and meets societal beauty standards.
Molly-Mae is working with companies that profit from scandalous, poverty wages. Should we really call anyone successful when their wealth is created by the exploitation of people and the planet?
Off the back of Love Island, Molly-Mae secured a deal that earned her £500k in one year with Pretty Little Thing. The parent company is BooHoo, which was found to be paying their staff as little as £3.50 per hour in some instances. They also decided to keep their factories open during the height of the pandemic, with no regard for the health of their workers.
Molly-Mae, and other CEOs, are literally making money off low wages. She directly benefits from scandalous, poverty wages as it enriches her, and many others in her position.
Wage labour is exploitation. The value that you bring to the company is taken away from you, and then a cut of that value is given back to you.
Is this how we want to define “success”? Success should be about more than wealth accumulation. And should we really call anyone successful when their wealth is created by the exploitation of others?
Then there’s the question of whether just working hard gets you what you want.
Different walks of life do determine where you end up, or it’s at least an incredible indicator of someone’s future. If you’re born in a poorer household, then of course opportunities are limited; worse healthcare options, lower standards of education, harder to provide a varied and healthy diet and fewer social links to lucrative opportunities. The options you have are often limited at birth.
What if you are disabled, or suffer from chronic illnesses, and need support as a result? Without that support – and many sadly do go without it – how can we expect everyone to have access to the same level of opportunity in the same ‘24 hours in a day’?’.
With bigotry still prevalent in today’s society, opportunities for those in minority groups are often limited.
Austerity also negatively affects these groups much more, pushing individuals into worse economic situations.
The collapse of social democracy in favour of neoliberalism has had a huge impact on society at large, with a significant decline in social mobility.
The welfare state and public services have been slashed for over four decades. .
Neoliberalism has caused a huge spike in income inequality and people’s purchasing power has been in severe decline
It’s not because young people are buying too much avocado on toast that they’re struggling, it’s because the rules have changed.
Buying a house is out of reach of many people as a result of wages not keeping pace with skyrocketing costs.
A lot of the success stories you see in legacy media paint a picture of young individuals or couples in their early twenties purchasing their first home through a can-do attitude. But almost every single time you look a bit deeper, and see that it was actually thanks to mummy and daddy.
These stories are aimed at those who are lucky enough to even look at buying a house. In Britain we still have thousands who are homeless. What do we say to these people? Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps? One day you too can be invited on to a reality show that will almost certainly give you endless possibilities afterwards?
If only rough sleepers use that spare change given by passers by and just simply invested in a startup or Bitcoin ( and don’t get me started on crypto currency).
Then there’s the factor of necessity due to everyday struggles. Humans will look at more immediate solutions when in more desperate situations.
When we worry about putting food on our table, paying bills, and rent, this can be overwhelming. Our immediate needs mean that long term planning and decisions will always be on the back foot and are already much harder to achieve.
Let’s look at this in a more radical way.
The issue with Molly-Mae’s comments is fundamentally a problem with capitalism.
How can we expect those at the bottom to simply just work harder to become successful, when capitalism literally rigs the system against those without capital in favour of those with it. That is why economic inequality explodes in a free market system, and social policies from the government ameliorate it.
Whether you work in a factory, retail, or hospitality, let’s say you bring in hundreds or even thousands of pounds for the company in an hour. The value was made through your human labour, yet in return, you will only receive 8,10, or maybe even 15 pounds an hour. The remainder of that value is never to be seen.
This is the reality – the reality of inequality under capitalism. It’s also a reality that inequality is being exacerbated further through social policy or a lack thereof, which means we need to understand the idea that simply working hard equals success is a load of bullshit.
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