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fyzygy

Psychedelic rhetoric under late capitalism: a critique

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6 hours ago, fyzygy said:

At least, that's what I think the author is trying to get at, from behind all those acronyms. TESCREAL? Sounds like a distant galaxy to me ...

https://akjournals.com/view/journals/2054/aop/article-10.1556-2054.2023.00292/article-10.1556-2054.2023.00292.xml

 

 

 

transhumanism, Extropianism, singularitarianism, cosmism, Rationalism, Effective Altruism, and longtermism. (tEscREAl) :wink:

 

and

 

This article demonstrates that TESCREALism is a driving force in major segments of the psychedelic pharmaceutical industry, where it is influencing the design of extractive systems that directly contradict the field's world-healing aspirations. These findings contribute to a developing subfield of critical psychedelic studies, which interrogates the political and economic implications of psychedelic medicalization.

 

 

Edited by -RC-
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This on my to-read list. The author, Nese, steps on a some ppls toes, but she’s a solid scholar and does important work, IMO. 

 Unless I’m mistaken, her point is that psychedelics, like AI, are being developed to be used in ways that entrench inequality instead of living up to their potential, which should be to make us more free and the same people or at least people with the same ideologies are responsible for using these tools to fuck us over. 

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9 hours ago, -RC- said:

transhumanism, Extropianism, singularitarianism, cosmism, Rationalism, Effective Altruism, and longtermism. (tEscREAl) :wink:

That's a lot of isms, all rolled into one. 

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What I can gather is that the author reckons psychedelics are shaping up to replace SSRI-type drugs as bandaids for the symptoms of structural inequality and 'late capitalism'. Reminiscent of soma in Brave New World.

 

the acronym and meta-ism detract from the article imo. I'm definitely not the target audience though

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At least psychedelics are efficacious and relatively safe, with fewer side effects than SSRIs. Safety is proven over millennia of traditional use. Furthermore, psychedelics lend themselves to DIY forms of therapy which (potentially) circumvent the medical establishment -- an emergent imperative of the economically disadvantaged. A war against (so-called) "alternative wellness" is thus of real concern. I'm unaware of any concrete proposals for the abolition of structural inequality.

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Pretty much. 

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Ah, TESCREAL comes from the AI sphere. That figures. I'm only very slowly making my way through this article. I couldn't agree more with the author's and (Mark Fisher's) analysis of mental illness as the (putative) result of private, individual, neurobiological causes (for which, capitalism just happens to have a lucrative pharmaceutical remedy). That's a downward spiral if ever there was one (or virtuous circle, if you're the one tabulating profits). I read somewhere that the SSRI paradigm itself was derived from LSD research on serotonin in the brain. The medicalisation of psychedelics seems to me just the latest phase of capitalist modernity that began with the enclosure of the commons (and commoners, smashing machines). The AI genie may be out of the bottle, but so too are the psychedelics -- at least for now.  Enhanced wellness is not (yet) the exclusive preserve of technological elites. 

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In addition to overseeing the development of ChatGPT, Altman now serves as the chairman of Journey Colab, a pharmaceutical startup that is pursuing FDA approval for psychedelic medicines including mescaline, the use of which originated with Indigenous ceremonies involving the San Pedro cactus and peyote.14

Within the psychedelics industry, Journey Colab has been praised for its emphasis on Indigenous reciprocity, beginning with its decision to place 10 percent of its founding equity into an irrevocable Reciprocity Trust for the benefit of Indigenous communities and other stake- holders in the psychedelic sector (Journey Colab, 2022). In 2022, the startup also issued a Patent Pledge in which it committed to not enforcing its mescaline-related patents against any Indigenous communities and practitioners who use mescaline for bona fide traditional ceremonial purposes (Psychedelic Alpha, 2022). Following the analysis by Williams and Brant, such displays of reciprocity obscure a deeper, colonial imposition of power directed towards capital accumulation, enclosure, and extraction, which is inherently at odds with genuine reciprocity. Altmans praise of Journey Colabs reciprocity initiatives emphasizes capital accumulation as the driving goal: Those [indigenous] communities will share with Journey what they know of the history of these medicines, and Journey will share what Silicon Valley is good at, with how to use startups and capitalism to deliver something to people who can really benefit from it (Al Idrus, 2020). For Altman, reciprocity is code for strategic research and development towards the further enrichment of Silicon Valleys tech elites. In this context, Indigenous knowledge is framed as a source of extractable wealth to serve as grist for the TESCREAL mill.

 

^ The part about OpenAI and other tech elites funding research into synthetic mescaline for treatment of alcohol use disorder, is somehow extremely depressing. Perhaps because alcoholics are just a low-hanging fruit to be exploited in the service of larger profits, greater inequality (and consequently, the author implies, more alcoholism). Under different circumstances, the prospect of a mainstream psychedelic treatment for alcohol abuse should make anyone happy. But the social conditions that make alcohol abuse possible, and even likely, remain inviolable (misery and mental illness being an essential component of the business model). I don't see much hope that the masses will "organize" (as the article's author concludes) to resist such powerful forces as Big Tech with its newfangled (pharmacological) machines of loving grace. 

Edited by fyzygy
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The author wanted to make a play on Real Hallucinations so badly

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