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Bageant: We've Let Corporations and Media Rob Our Souls -- It's Time to Do Something Meaningful

The most chilling accomplishment of American capitalist culture is that we have commodified our own consciousness.
 
 
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The following text is drawn from a series of recent speeches delivered by Joe Bageant, including at the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.

I just returned from several months in Central America. And the day I returned, I had iguana eggs for breakfast, airline pretzels for lunch and a $7 shot of Jack Daniels for dinner at the Houston airport, where I spent two hours listening to a Christian religious fanatic tell about Obama running a worldwide child porn ring out of the White House.

Entering the country shoeless through airport homeland security, holding up my pants because they don't let old men wear suspenders through security, well, I knew I was back home in the land of the free.

Anyway, here I am with you good people asking myself the first logical question: What the hell is a redneck writer supposed to say to a prestigious school of psychology? Why of all places am I here? It is intimidating as hell. .

But Janna Henning and Sharrod Taylor here have reassured me that all I need to do is talk about is what I write about. And what I write about is Americans, and why we think and behave the way we do. To do that here today, I am forced to talk about three things -- corporations, television and human spirituality.

No matter how smart we may think we are, the larger world cannot and does not exist for most of us in this room, except through media, and maybe through the shallow experience of tourism. Or in the minority instance, we may know of it through higher education. .

The world however, is not a cultural history course, a National Geographic special or recreational destination. It is a real place with many fast-developing disasters, economic and ecological collapse being just two. The more aware among us grasp that there is much at stake. Yet, even the most informed and educated Americans have cultural conditioning working against them around the clock.

As psych students, most of you understand that there is no way you can escape being conditioned by your society, one way or another. You are as conditioned as any trained chicken in a carnival. So am I. When we go to the ATM and punch the buttons to make cash fall out, we are doing the same thing as the chickens that peck the colored buttons make corn drop from the feeder.

You will not do a single thing today, tomorrow or the next day that you have not been generally indoctrinated and deeply conditioned to do -- mostly along class lines.

For instance, as university students, you are among the 20 percent or so of Americans indoctrinated and conditioned to be the administrating and operating class of the American empire in some form or another, in the business of managing the other 75 percent in innumerable ways.

Psychologists, teachers, lawyers, social workers, doctors, accountants, sociologists, mental health workers, clergy -- all are in the business of coordinating and managing the greater mass of working-class citizenry by the empire's approved methods, and toward the same end: Maximum profitability for a corporate-based state.

Yet it all seems so normal. Certainly the psychologists who have prescribed so much Prozac that it now shows up in the piss of penguins, saw what they did as necessary.

And the doctors who enable the profitable blackmail practiced by the medical industries see it all as part of the most technologically advanced medical system in the world.

 
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