HomeArticleThe ‘Psychedelic Renaissance’ Is Entirely About Corporate Greed

The ‘Psychedelic Renaissance’ Is Entirely About Corporate Greed

Listen to a reading of this article:

“Money has begun flowing into companies intending to monetize psychedelic therapy as new research has increasingly shown that blowing one’s mind can alter it for the better,” reads a new article for the Los Angeles Times titled “Money is pouring into psychedelics. Meet the mystical hedge fund investor bankrolling the boom.”

“This scientific and commercial excitement rests on research showing that psychedelics can supercharge mental health treatment for PTSD, depression, anxiety, addiction, and other chronic ailments of the mind, enabling patients to dive deep, confront their traumas and — a rarity for mental illnesses — return healed,” the article reads. “That goes for synthetic chemicals such as MDMA and ketamine as well as plant-derived drugs such as psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms), the South American plant brew ayahuasca, and the West African root-derived substance iboga.”

LA Times’ Sam Dean shares the personal journey of hedge fund investor Sa’ad Shah and his involvement in what has become a multibillion-dollar psychedelics industry long before even the legal infrastructure necessary for such companies to turn a profit is in place. We learn of Shah’s experience with ayahuasca, his interest in mystical traditions and personal growth, and his conviction in the shift that has for the last few years been known as the psychedelic renaissance.

And then, about halfway down the article, we get to the actual meat of the matter:

“Shah welcomes big pharma and big institutions to enter the fray in the interest of spreading the chemical gospel far and wide. He sees the financial and therapeutic potential for psychedelics not in the cannabis model, which would make psychedelics broadly available for retail purchase, but in the pharmaceutical mode — psychedelics as prescribed drugs, with patent rights, administered in medical settings.”

That “with patent rights” bit right there is behind the so-called psychedelic renaissance we’ve been hearing so much about: “favoring the FDA regulatory route over the Oregon route,” as a psychiatrist cited in the article put it. It’s being driven not by the need to free human consciousness from the prohibition-induced coma it’s been under since the sixties so that we can collectively navigate through the many existential hurdles our species is fast approaching with wisdom and insight, but by the agenda to make rich people even richer by forcefully controlling psychedelic substances via the pharmaceutical industry.

And I’ll take it a step further and say that the recent mainstreaming of psychedelics is also due to the fact that the abusive nature of capitalism is causing a widespread mental health crisis that our rulers have a vested interest in preventing so the slaves will keep turning the gears of the machine.

Terence McKenna once said, “Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

But this is changing. We’re now seeing support for psychedelic use from the same plutocratic class and its corporate media who always work to maintain the status quo upon which their kingdoms are built. Netflix has released multiple documentaries extolling the benefits of hallucinogenic substances for personal growth and healing. Every few days there’s a new mainstream article or news segment about the latest study showing the undeniable mental health benefits of this or that psychedelic substance for this or that psychological ailment.

So what changed? The situation changed. Global capitalist institutions are acutely aware that western civilization is in the midst of a mental health crisis that only looks likely to get worse, with depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse skyrocketing on myriad fronts for years. The increasingly widespread use of antidepressants has not led to an overall decline in symptoms and prevalence of mood disorders in the US, Australia, Canada, England and other wealthy countries. In America young people have been growing progressively more depressed and anxious for over 80 years, and no one knows why.

Well, I could hazard a guess why.

I would guess that continually pummelling people’s minds with messaging that they are inadequate if they don’t look a certain way, own the right products and make enough money is bad for their psychological health.

I would guess that hammering people with bootstrapping fallacies and telling them that they’re the problem if they can’t keep their head above water in a system that’s rigged against them drives people a bit crazy.

I would guess that a nonstop barrage of mass media propaganda shamelessly lying to people and telling them that everything’s fine when it clearly isn’t and that endless human butchery by the military is perfectly normal takes a toll on their psychological well being.

I would guess that a population growing poorer and poorer and having more and more of its power taken away from them as serfs under a corporate oligarchy would be alienating and depressing.

I would guess that working long hours at meaningless gear-turning for an amoral corporate machine while being inundated with artificial mainstream culture manufactured in Hollywood, New York and Langley is soul-destroying.

So our mental health is deteriorating, the solutions that our systems have been offering are not working, and in fact it’s likely that the deterioration of mental health is due primarily to the abusive nature of those very systems. But the capitalism machine still needs workers, and those workers won’t turn the gears if they can’t get out of bed in the morning.

So desperate measures have been called in. Give the gear-turners tightly controlled doses of psychedelics, enough to get them functional but not enough to awaken them to the reality of their enslavement, and hopefully you’ve built some systemic scaffolding which enables their minds to put up with the relentless mass-scale psychological abuse that the status quo requires.

And made a massive fortune in the process. There’s a lot of money to be made selling cures for the psychological wounds inflicted by the very system which enables that sale.

This is why nearly all of the chatter we are seeing about psychedelics is about fixing people’s psychological problems instead of helping them to attain self-actualization, transformation, transcendence and enlightenment. It’s not about waking people up, it’s about turning them from broken cogs into useful cogs. It’s not to free them from the machine but to help them better serve it, while also serving the interests of clever pharmaceutical investors.

Psychedelics are useful not for the hallucinations they provide but for the hallucinations they remove. At the shallower end of the pool they can help dispel the psychological illusions which feed into our depresion, anxiety, and PTSD. At the deep end they have the potential to remove our fundamental hallucinations about ego, mind, separation, and consciousness. The gamble appears to be premised on building a high fence to keep everyone playing in the shallow end of the pool, where they are useful.

But, as people often point out to me whenever I highlight this, that plan can easily backfire. You’re not dealing with something mundane and predictable here, you’re dealing with the most uncharted terrain in human consciousness. There’s a lot of wiggle room for miracles in that space.

If psychedelics were anything other than a threat to the status quo they wouldn’t have been banned for half a century and the CIA would still be dosing the public with LSD. It will be interesting to see how this thing unfolds. Maybe this time they finally bit off more than they can chew.

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Latest comments

  • “Psychedelics are useful not for the hallucinations they provide but for the hallucinations they remove.” That sentence is destined to travel far.

    My early experiences with acid were memorable, but psychedelic use screwed up a lot more of my friends than it helped. And the creeps who brought that stuff around were All About The Money back then, too. Stepping back, a short look at the trajectory of the counter cultural movement of the 60s clearly shows that its political effectiveness fell abruptly as it turned into a drug scene. Whose interests did that serve?

    I know, I know; there were always drugs. But the counter culture began as a political movement of intellectuals unafraid to try proscribed substances, and quite suddenly became a giant street party of drugged blatherskites with political pretensions and no movement. Four dead at Kent State, and they scattered like mice.

  • Superb . You continue to rocket.
    Big Thanks Caitlyn . . .

  • If the psychedelic game unfolds as you’ve outlined, it’s worth considering gaming the system. Accordingly, investing heavily in the psychedelic industry brings enormous wealth and power. Use the machine against itself. Fund the interference campaign using the profits and inside Intel from being in the game, while also playing outside the game.

  • well, not all about corporate greed. don’t forget mind control. make them love their servitude, how huxley puts it. in fact the psychedelics were originally released in a social engineering scheme in the 1950s. leary tried to upset their plan, and succeeded just a little. now they’re trotting them out again. could backfire again. let’s hope so.

    • LSD, Mescaline, DMT & MDMA were synthesized FAR earlier. With fungi & plant derived precursors used for millenia, for all sorts of practical uses in addition to divination, psychic or esoteric studies. R Gordon Wasson mentiond how stunted US interest in psychedelic mushrooms was, compared to his wife’s (Russian) curiosity. Hearst, Hoover and Anslinger personified ofay demonization of Cannabis, Peyote, Ketomine, Coca, Hypnotics… use in shamanism (basically, racializing, criminalizing and using these sacred substances, and the opening subordinate clause of The 13th Amendment to incarcerate convict labor).

  • nada baba, no data. only Dada.
    be who you are.
    dancing in the kitchen…
    …if you have a kitchen.

  • finland and iceland went to 4 day week w/ 6 hours days.
    over that might be overtime pay. Finnish and Icers do not want to end up cubes.
    Play might be one answer.
    play frisbee foosball. dance. practice singing rock an’ roll with lyrics in hand and the music up high enough to not really hear yourself.
    watch funny movies more often. stay away from post apoplexics.
    buy a gerbil.
    do NOT take manufactured hallucinogens. pick yer own.
    wear towels once a week.
    dance with mom. give grandpa a hug. double tip the waitress. one time. bet on nothing. bird watch. leave yer cell phone in the car. break the ties that bind you to hustle. nap. take a bus out to the end of the line and back. try to whack a crow…

  • Thinking is the disease.
    Stillness is the ‘cure’
    So many teachers have pointed the way and have largely been ignored, because our minds (thoughts) are so cunning and self serving they CONvince that religion, science, philosophy, hedonism, sex or drugs can give us contentment.
    Sorry, history proves them wrong.

  • Organic psychadellics can be used to open the mind to other ways of looking at the reality that we have always been looking right at anyway, but I must say that genuine intent is actually quite important here, like a lot.
    Artificial/synthetic psychadellics were manufactured originally for the purposes of deep conscioussness imprining and programming, although depending on intent and circumstance the experience doesn’t always go that way.
    You should check out the book titled ‘Trance America’. It illustrates quite a bit of the methods of mental hypnosis and mind control that the cia and other not so good organizations researched about the human mind’s and human brain’s reactivity patterns under very certain conditions and stimulli.
    Basically, the results of that totally inhuman and illegal research became the blueprint for the development and deployment of the communications technologies that power mass media and social media today.

  • And the next step, after psychedelics, will be the realization that Soylent green really is people.

  • I have tripped 0ver 300 times. I am 80. If I hadn’t tripped I would have died as my Father died–from cancer at age 52. Acid on my own direction resulted in what are called “bummers'” which are purging of deep traumas back to almost dying in the birth canal. Once the bummers passed, tripping became clear and gentle. Any one who trips even mildly will have inevitable healing away from fascism of the self toward a recognition of common-ness with other humans. So, a fascist can become a communist and experience love for people and this weird life on this once heavenly planet. The nazis hate themselves and go to the hippies for salvation. Cure hatred with psychedelics. And remember: marijuana is a medicine that cures the diseases induced under fascism and its economy called capitalism. Marijuana-not cannabis-is a powerful medicine.”Cannabis” is like cheap beer: to weak to have a medicinal effect.

  • Brilliant, Caitlin. This is why I took as many psychedelics as I could in the 1960s and 1970s. All forms. Many, many, many times. Psychedelics really do alter your consciousness forever. Back in the 60s at first LSD was legal. Then it was suddenly banned. It wasn’t anhedonia. It was that problem of people waking from their social hypnosis and absolutely refusing to go along with the game of the capitalists and warmongers. The government tried to portray Timothy Leary as some kind of madman. It was the government that was mad: then and now. Thanks for this article.

  • Not to sound like a reviewer, but this is just great writing, an “all in one” for anyone who wants a concise summation of the attitudes of the ruling circles toward mind-altering substances at any time in history, but particularly in our time, and the reasons those circles sometimes allow or cultivate the ingestion thereof.

    It reminds of the movie, “The Harder They Come”, with Jimmy Cliff (circa 1972). It portrayed the function of drugs and their contradictory effects (in that case marijuana) soothing the desperately poor population in their misery, but also inducing enormous musical creativity that threatened the status quo. Neither of those effects won out. Both did, but to a heartbreaking violent result.

  • Wherever you go…they will already be there waiting…intent on exploiting you in every possible devious way…count on it…assume they are always ahead of you…they have all the power to do so. The only recourse for us is…not to play as much as we can…deny wealth and power the oxygen it needs to survive…you don’t need what they’re peddling to live a good life anyway…embrace decentralization and small to gain some control…but assume they’re hiding there also…because they know your fears and desires. It’s okay to listen to them…you might even learn something…everyone is a potential guide…but never trust them and never let anyone be a gatekeeper. Put your ego in cold storage for now…because your ego always and desperately wants to matter…and mattering is especially difficult in the present Faustian delivery fulfillment world…we are damaged and vulnerable and they offer an almost limitless menu of turn-key causes for us to sink our ego and power into…all serving them…they know us better than most of us know ourselves. Truth has been de-prioritized for so long now that most everything is hopelessly corrupt…starve it of your energy…then re-nourish and rebuild from scratch with integrity. You give power to what you fear or desire…make sure it’s worthy…don’t assume it is…most of it is just unworthy illusion.

    • This is why I am a revolutionary Marxist and supporter of the Socialist Equality Party and have been for more than 20 years. Capitalism is a disease that destroyes everything it touches: people’s live and minds, entire countries, in fact. It destroys the environment. It lets people die from curable and preventable disease if they cannot buy healthcare. It lets the majority of humanity live in unspeakable squalor and ignorance, ripe for every mad demagogue who comes along and gives them the wrong people to blame for their misery, while elevating a parasitic class of spoiled, greedy and power-mad people to rise to heights of obscene wealth. This imbalance is failing at all levels. Geological, philosophical and political. Social inequality is going to explode.

  • It seems obvious that the FDA model does not work at controlling prescription drugs. When the genie is out of the bottle-as in “the opioid crisis” in the U.S. – people find a way to treat their pain by finding sympathetic prescription writers or getting more than they are prescribed. One would expect the same result with prescription psychedelic drugs, no?

    Of course, even though they propagandize about our “freedom,” they cannot trust us with the freedom to regulate our own drug use. Caffeine is encouraged, it keeps the cog-turners turning cogs. Nicotine is tolerated, but to a lesser extent due to declining productivity as the health effects slow down and kill workers over 50. Alcohol is culturally encouraged as a salve to the disgruntled-but not so much as it was 60 or 70 years ago. When life gets you down and you drink more than is good for continued cog-turning, you have to go to a dryout clinic so you can turn more cogs.

    Drugs that help free your mind from the propaganda? Outlawed!

    Some of the articles about testing the psychedelic therapy waters talk about the benefits of microdosing. Caitlin is right, that is what they want, just enough effect to keep the next generation of cog-turners working inside the machine for the oligarchy to continue enriching themselves.

    But it doesn’t take constant use to free the mind, it takes transformative experience, however it is achieved. Prediction: the psychedelic experiment on the prescription model will falter when people realize they can save up their micro-doses to experience the full effect every once in awhile.

  • Caitlin,

    Capitalists: “The Geniuses who figured out how to make nice clean water cost more than gasoline.”

    Because Psilocybin the way mother nature made it isn’t going to turn big profits, we’ll need methylethylacetyl-9-carboxyl-Psilocybinethyeneglycol. It will actually have a side-effect profile (which those nice old substances don’t), and it will be about 10% as effective, so people who really needed the healing can become continuity cash cows.

    Out of a long list of shit-shows, for-profit medicine is a particularly horrid shitshow.

    Jonathan

  • We know an Ayahuasca guru with a groovy yurt-studded ashram in CA. “Wow, look at the resinous vines encasing all them Steinbeck era aluminum wires, transformers & shattered wooden power poles. You think DMT, MDMA & Psilocybin are an appropriate antidotes for Creative Class™ demented yuppie, speciously oblivious, pernicious avaricious clientele?”

    “Well, we sell organic-scented, beeswax candles, too?”

  • So far it has been more like the novel 1984 than the novel Brave New World.

    • Yes, Brave New World (1932). Huxley mentioned, in Brave New World Revisited (1958), that he and Orwell portrayed one side apiece of the totalitarian paradigm, Orwell the Terror, Huxley the Soothe.

      • Don’t forget The Iron Heel.

      • I’ve been thinking: The Space Merchants meets Putney Swope at The Mint 400? We’d an odd amalgam of dopers, nerds, bikers and geriatric journalists, where I grew up. All kinda watched in HORROR, as the white-flight suburbanite “hippies” gentrified red-lined blue collar Blacks outa GROOVY trashed streetcar suburbs, morphed into libertarian yuppies & foraged for fungi we’d propagated in agar from spawn, by spading up mycilium along with sinsemilla, letuca virosa, DMT packed acacia… thank GOD, they soon turned to free-based cocaine, Disco, Klipsch speakers & BMWs!

        https://erowid.org/donations/project_shulgin.php

  • Wikipedia: “The novel opens in the World State city of London in AF (After Ford) 632 (AD 2540 in the Gregorian calendar), where citizens are engineered through artificial wombs and childhood indoctrination programmes into predetermined classes (or castes) based on intelligence and labour (…) Bernard Marx’s (…) work with sleep-learning allows him to understand, and disapprove of his society’s methods of keeping its citizens peaceful, which includes their constant consumption of a soothing, happiness-producing drug called Soma”.
    Looks like we’re largely ahead of schedule in implementing Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World distopia.

    • A gram is better than a damn.

  • This was certainly a mind-expanding column.

  • Good mental health has several components. Mentally well people are a part of community of belonging (family, friends, neighbors). They have a place they are rooted to. (Environment), and they have something positive they contribute to their community and environment. (Love, smiles, good food, safe homes,….)

    We are all a part of an ecology of relationships with each other, the animals & plants in our environment in a very complex web of interdependence. When these relationships are not balanced we are mentally ill.

    • This is elementary.

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