What is right / wrong, good / bad about self-promotion

In the 20th century, self-promotion acquired a bad name. I think I can explain why, but explanation is rather complicated.

After the modern capitalism was invented in the 18th century and became widely established throughout the western hemisphere in the 19th century, the 20th century further developed capitalistic enterprise on a strong foundation, as social organization and supportive legal frameworks spread across the globe, especially in the “free market” economies of the so-called “developed” nations and the countries that comprised what simply became known as “The West”.

In particular, employment became the economic cornerstone of many such western economies. People no longer worked for themselves, increasingly people worked for companies… and companies sold products and services. The “labor pool” was conceived of as an ever-present and adaptable supply which a company might hire at will (or not). By and large, the supply of labor became a clandestine market in which employers could choose to invite candidates behind closed doors and offer those deemed willing and able to do as ordered to become employees.

More and more humans became beings with the qualification and the ability to follow orders. As time went on, those characteristics which qualified and enabled humans to follow orders became the quintessential characteristic of the free market human being. For the vast majority of people, entrepreneurial spirit became completely eradicated — and by the end of the 20th century it was all but completely destroyed in the social fabric. The most marked sign of this thwarting of the human spirit is the notion of “unemployment” — the state of not having a job in which the employee follows the orders of his or her master or boss.

Today we live in a world in which we have inherited a social order that frowns upon insubordination — because subordination has become the defining characteristic of a well-adapted individual. A person who freely declares to be willing and able to do something by themselves is treated with utmost skepticism. We do not expect our products and services to be offered by people. We expect such things to be companies with brand names. We value the brand, not the person.

It is in this vein, that the person who engages in self-promotion is today seen as narcissistic and perhaps even anti-social. The main thing that is bad or wrong about self-promotion is that society tends to condemn it (and this is especially true of free market western societies based on “labor market” / “employment” capitalism). The main thing that is right or good about self-promotion is that it establishes a healthy and self-confident self-image… — it is the socialization of self esteem. A society that supports self-promotion enables its members to identify themselves as willing and able to function in a socially productive manner.

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