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As I and my two required French witnesses emptied our pockets to pass through the metal detector, at the hidden American presence post, in Lyon, I welcomed them to the new world, the home of the brave and land of the free. We were there at the appointed hour to complete the process of renouncing my U.S. citizenship.

On the drive to Lyon and while waiting in the reception area of the hidden American presence post, our discussion was about my deeper reasons for renouncing. My political feelings are rather well known ( for those that do not know, I object to being a citizen of a dominion of the Likud party of Israel) but an explanation of my deeper reasons required an explanation of why Americans think and behave as they do. To do that I spoke about three things -- corporations, television and human spirituality.

Most people 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 you go to the ATM machine and punch the buttons to make cash fall out, you are doing the same thing as the chickens that peck the colored buttons to 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.

This indoctrination, or conditioning, folows 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. And the teacher, who sees no problem with 20% of her fourth graders being on Ritalin, in the name of "appropriate behavior," is happy to have control of her classroom. None of these feel like dupes or pawns of a corporate state. It seems like just the way things are. Just modern American reality. Which is a corporate generated reality.

Given the financialization of all aspects of American culture and lives, even so-called leisure time, it is not an exaggeration to say that true democracy is dead and a corporate financial state has now arrived. The corporations have controlled the US legislature for the past several decades and recently the investment bankers have successfully achieved their soft coup of the US Executive. If you can get your head around that, it's not hard to see an ever merging global corporate system masquerading electronically and digitally as a nation called the United States. Or Japan for that matter. The corporation now animates us from within our very selves through management of the need hierarchy in goods and information.

None are immune. Even if one renounces citizenship, that act is a reaction to the state, and therefore a result of it. It's still part of the financialization of consciousness.

This financialization of consciousness under American style capitalism has become all you know. That's why you fear its loss. Hence the bailouts of the thousands of "zombie banks," dead but still walking, thanks to the people's taxpayer offerings to the money god so that banks will not die. You believe that you dare not let corporations die. Corporations feed you. They entertain you. Corporations occupy one full half of your waking hours of your lives, through employment, either directly or indirectly. They heal you when you are sick. So it's easy to see why the corporations feel like a friendly benevolent entity in the larger American consciousness. Corporations are, of course, deathless and faceless machines, and have no soul nor human emotions. That you look to them for so much makes you part of a corporate cult, and makes corporations a fetish of your culture. Yet to you, they are like the weather.... just there.

All live together in this corporate fetish cult. You agree upon and consent to its reality, just as the Aztecs agreed upon Quetzalcoatl and the lost people of Easter Island agreed that the great stone effigies of their remote island had significance.

Strangely enough, even as a population mass operating under unified corporate management machinery, most Americans believe they are unique individuals, significantly different from every other person around them. More than any other people, Americans fear loss of uniqueness. Yet you are not unique in the least. Despite the American yada yada about individualism, you are not special. Nor am I. Just because we come from the manufacturer equipped with individual consciousness, does not make us the center of any unique world, private or public, material, intellectual or spiritual. The fact is, you will seldom if ever make any significant material or lifestyle choices of your own in your entire life. If you don't buy that house, someone else will. If you don't marry him, someone else will. If you don't become a psychologist, lawyer or a clergyman or a telemarketer, someone else will. You are all replaceable parts in the machinery of a capitalist economy. "Oh but we have unique feelings and emotions that are important," you say. Psychologists specialize in this notion. Yet, I venture to say that none of you will ever feel an emotion that someone long dead has not felt, or some as yet unborn person will not feel. You are swimmers in an ancient rushing river of humanity. You, me, the people in back country France, the child in Bangladesh, and the millionaire frat boys who run your financial and governmental institutions with such adolescent carelessness. All of your lives will eventually be absorbed without leaving a trace.

Still though, for Western peoples in particular, there is the restless inner cultural need to differentiate your lives from the other swimmers. Most of you, especially as educated people in the Western World, will never overcome that need.

Fortunately though, we can meaningfully differentiate our lives (at least in the Western sense) in the way we choose to employ our consciousness. Which is to say, to own our consciousness. If we exercise enough personal courage, we can possess the freedom to discover real meaning and value in our all-too-brief lives. We either wake up to life, or we do not. We are either in charge of our own awareness or we let someone else manage it by default. That we have a choice is the good news.

The bad news is that you nevertheless remain one of the most controlled peoples on the planet, especially regarding control of your consciousness, public and private. And, the control is tightening. I know it doesn't feel like that to most Americans. But therein rests the proof. Everything feels normal; everybody else is doing the same things, so it must be OK. This is a sort of Stockholm Syndrome of the soul, in which the prisoner identifies with the values of his or her captors, which in your case is of course, the American corporate state and its manufactured popular culture.

When you feel that such a life is normal, even desirable, and you act accordingly, you become helpless.... a learned helplessness. For instance, most Americans believe there is little they can do in personally dealing with the most important moral and material crises ever faced, both in America and across the planet, beginning with ecocide, war making, and the grotesque deformation of the democratic process you have settled for. Citizenship has been reduced to simple consumer group consciousness. Consequently, even though Americans are only six percent of the planet's population, you use 36% of the planet's resources. You interpret that experience as normal and desirable and as evidence of being the most advanced nation in the world. Despite that your lives have been reduced to a mere marketing demographic.

Americans live in a universe in which they are conditioned to see everything in terms of consumer goods and "safety," as defined by police control. They are conditioned to believe they have the best lives on the planet by every measure. So when they see a different life-style, they experience fear. Anything outside of the parameters of the cultural hallucination they call "the first world" represents fear.

Yet, even if one thinks in that sort of outdated terminology, First, Second and Third World, (the Fourth World Movement was co-founded by my wife) and most Americans do, then America is a second world nation. You have no universal free health care (don't kid yourself about the plan underway), no guarantee of anything really, except competitive struggle with one another for work and money and career status, if you are one of those conditioned to think of your job and feudal debt enslavement as a "career." High infant mortality rates, abysmal educational scores, poor diet consisting of tasteless factory food, no national public transportation system, crumbling infrastructure, a collapsed economy, 17% unemployment, racial and economic segregation, even by your own definition you are a second world nation.

But there is a shiny commercial skin that covers everything American, a thin layer of glossy throwaway technology, that leads the citizenry to believe otherwise. That slick commercial skin, the bright colored signs for Circuit City and The Gap (rest in peace), the clear plastic that covers every product from CDs to pre-cut vegetables, the friendly yellow and red wrapper on the burger inside its bright red paper box, the glossy branding of every item and experience. These things are the supposed tangible evidence that the slick conditioned illusion, the one I call The American Hologram, is indeed real. If it's bright and shiny and new, it must be better. Right? It is the complete opposite of real life.

So how is it that Americans came to live in such a parallel universe? How is it that you prefer such things as Facebook (I closed my Facebook account, too), and riding around the suburbs with an iPod plugged into your brain looking for fried chicken in a styrofoam box? Why prefer these expensive earth destroying things over love and laughter with real people, and making real human music together with other human beings -- lifting your voices together, dancing and enjoying the world that was given to us? Absolutely for free.

And the answer is this: You suffer under a mass national hallucination. Americans, regardless of income or social position, now live in a culture entirely perceived inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation and world that does not exist. Your national reality is staged and held together by media, chiefly movie and television images. You live in a "theater state."

In your theater state, you know the world through media productions which are edited and shaped to instruct you on how to look and behave and view the outside world. As in all staged productions and illusions, everyone we see is an actor. There are the television actors portraying what supposedly represents reality. Ostensibly non-actors in Congress perform in front of the cameras, as the American empire's cultural machinery weaves and spins out your cultural mythology.

Cultural myth production is an enormous industry in America. It is very similar to the national projects of pyramid-building in Egypt, or cathedral-building in medieval Europe. And in your obsession with violence and punishment, two characteristics of a consensual police state reality, you are certainly similar to prison camp building in Stalinist Russia. Actually, you are pretty good in that department, also. Consider that one fourth of all the incarcerated people on earth are in U.S. prisons. They are U.S. citizens imprisoned by their own government. They are also mostly black or brown skinned and/or poor.

In any case, the media culture's production of martyrs, good guys and bad guys, fallen heroes and concept outlaws, is not just big corporate business. It is the armature of your cultural behavior. It tells you who to fear (Middle Eastern terrorists, Mr. Chavez in Venezuela, and foreign made pharmaceuticals), who to scorn (again the same candidates, along with Brittney Spears for her lousy child rearing skills). Your daily news is the modern version of Roman coliseum shows. Elections are personality combat, chariot races, not examinations of solutions being offered. None are offered. As a result, you get puerile policies, such as, "You are either with us, or against us."

What are being offered are monkey models. Man as a social animal necessarily mimics the behavior he sees around him, whether it be by real people or moving images of people. This eye-to-brain to mimicry connection does not care. Consequently, you know how to act and what the things around you are because television and media tell you. Television is the software, the operating instructions for your society. Thus, social realism for you is a television commercial for the American lifestyle: what's new to wear, what to eat, who's cool (Obama[sorry folks; it may be a different portrait but it is in the same frame]), what and whom to fear (that perennial evil booger, Castro) or who to admire (Bill Gates, pure American genius at work). This societal media software tells you what music your digitized corporate complex is selling, but you never see images of ordinary families sitting around in the evenings making music together, or creating songs of their own based upon their own lives and from their own hearts. Because that music cannot be bought and sold, and is not profitable.

So instead of a daily life in the flesh, belly to belly and soul to soul, lived out in the streets, and parks and public places, in love and the workplace, you get 40-inch televisions, YouTube, Cineplexes, FoxNews, and the myths spun out by Hollywood.

Now, for a national mythology to work, it has to be accessible to everyone all the time, it has to be all in one bundle. For example, in North Korea, it is wrapped up in a single man, Kim. In America, as I have said, it is the media and Hollywood in particular. Hollywood accommodates Imperial myths, melting pot myths, and hegemonic military masculinity myths, and glamour myths. It articulates your culture's social imaginary, which are the prevailing images that a society needs to project about itself in order to maintain certain features of its organization. And the features of your media mythology are terrifying, when you think about them.

It is watching "Man on Fire," with Denzel Washington's tragic pose and his truthful bullets, and his willingness to saw the fingers off Mexicans to get the information on time to protect us from "The Evil". It is the absorption of that electronic mythology that allowed you to co-sign the torture at Abu Ghraib.

Incidentally, speaking of Abu Ghraib, there are thousands of other, far more grisly Abu Ghraib photos, which you have not been allowed to see. Believe me, they picked the gentlest ones to release. Anyway, when the media and government people in power made that selection, they were managing your consciousness.... what you know and don't know; keeping you calmer by withholding the truth. Rather like not upsetting little children so they will continue to quietly behave the way you want.

But, like children, the American public got bored with the subject of torture long ago, so you quit seeing the victims. Plenty of new evidence has been coming out for years since Lynndie's famous pics from Abu Ghraib. But the short American attention span, created by your rapid fire media, says, "Move on to the next hologram please. Whoa! Stop the remote. Nice butt shot of Sarah Palin there!"

The result is that Americans cannot achieve the cathexis needed. Cathexis is the ground zero psychic and emotional attachment to the world that cannot be argued. It is beyond ideological challenge because it is called into existence affectively. Americans are conditioned to reject any affective attachment that does not have a happy ending. And in that, you remain mostly a nation of children. You never get to grow up.

So you tell yourselves the Little Golden Book fairy tales -- that you are a great and compassionate people, and that you are personally innocent of any of your government's horrific crimes abroad. You believe you are guiltless as individuals. And you do remain innocent, in a sense, as long as you cannot see beyond the media hologram. However, it is a terrible kind of self-inflicted innocence that can come to no good. You are a nation of latch key kids, who are babysat by an electronic hallucination, the national hologram.

You may or may not watch much television (I only watch television when the show is about me) but the average American spends almost one-third of his or her waking life doing so. The neurological implications of this are so profound that they cannot even be comprehended in words, much less described by them. Television constitutes your reality in the same fashion that water constitutes the environment in a goldfish bowl. It's everywhere and affects everything, even when you are not watching it. Television regulates your national perceptions and your interior ideations of who Americans are. It schedules your cultural illusions of choice. It pre-selects candidates in your elections. By the way, as much as I prefer Trojan Horse Obama over the other non-option, I fully understand he is there because he was selected by the illusion producing machinery of television, and citizens under its influence. It is hard to underestimate the strength of these illusions.

TV regulates holiday marketing opportunities and the national neurological seasons. It tells you, "It's Christmas! Time to shop!" Or "it's election season, time to vote." Or "it's football season, let's rally passions and buy beer and cheer." Or that America's major deity, "The Economy," is suffering badly. "Sacred temples on Wall Street make great sickness upon the land!" Or most ominous of all, "It's time to make war! Here, there and again."

It is fair to say that television and the American culture are the same thing. More than any other factor, it is the glue of society and the mediator of your experience. American culture is stone cold dead without it. If all the TVs in America went black, so would most of America's collective consciousness and knowledge. Because corporate media have replaced nearly all other previous forms of accumulated knowledge.

Especially the ancient forms, such as contemplation of the natural world, study and care of the soul. And I do not mean soul in the religious sense either. I mean the deeper self, the one you go to sleep with every night.

The media have colonized your inner lives like a virus. The virus is not going away. This commoditization of human consciousness is probably the most astounding, most chilling accomplishment of American capitalist culture.

Capitalist society however, can only survive by defying the laws of thermodynamics, through endlessly expanding growth, buying and using more of everything, every year and forever. Thus, the cult of radical consumerism. It has been the deadliest cult of all because, so far, it has always triumphed, and has now spread around the earth and its nations.

Why has it been so viral, so attractive to so many for so long? How did it come to grip the consciousness of so much of mankind, from Beijing to Bangladesh? Thuggish enforcement accounts for part of it, of course. But it has succeeded, too, because it requires no effort, no critical thinking, not even literacy, only passive consumption. This easy addiction to consumption is probably hard wired into us. Every one of you will continue to play out your lives as contributors to ecocide and global warming, mainly because it's easier. And besides, you are not offered any other real options, and you don't know any other way. Nor can you ever know any other way without making a great effort.

How to make that effort? (Assuming you even want to.) Consuming images, goods or buying your identity at Old Navy or a retro clothing shop takes no real effort or thought. Just money. Text messaging your whereabouts at the mall may be a technological wonder, but you're still absolutely nowhere if you are just one more oral grooved organism in the food court at the mall moving in a swarm toward Mrs. Field's cookies.

So how do you escape the programming of the food court, and, I might include, escape even those parts of this school of life that may serve more to indoctrinate than enlighten you? All pedagogy, even the best, is nevertheless about control. How does one escape such a total system?

In a word, renounce... Step aside and observe from the outside.

Even your most well intentioned thinking and study of the afflictions of Africa and Latin America, American inner cities or Appalachia, suffers from hubris, because they are necessarily the products of western propertized and monetized thinking that cause the problem. So now you study your victims with great piety. And supposedly teach them solutions to the problems you continue to cause for them. Western people studying globalization's horrific effects, or rape in Africa, or world poverty are doing so under the assumption that such things can be dealt with through some social mechanistic means, through analysis and unbiased reason and rational value-free science, by a network of officially sanctioned alphabet agencies.

For years, I have wanted to see the opposite take place. To see well fed, educated Americans learn from the poor of the earth. Do what Gandhi advised, let the poor be the teachers. Go among them with nothing, one set of clothing and no money, keep your mouth shut, and do your best not to affect anything (which is impossible, I know. But you can come, as they say, "close enough for government work.")

Then just let the world happen to you, like they do in the so-called "passive societies," instead of trying to happen to it in typical Western fashion. Not trying to "improve" things. Maybe practice milpa agriculture with Mayans on the Guatemalan border, watching corn grow for three months. Fish in a lonely dugout, sun-up to sun-down, in the dying reefs of the Caribbean, with only a meal or two of fish as your reward. Do such things for a month or two.

First you will experience boredom, then comes an internal psychic violence and anger, much like the experience of zazen, or sitting meditation, as the layers of your mind conditioning peel away. Don't quit, keep at it, endure it, to the end. And when you return you will find that deeply experiencing a non-conditioned reality changes things forever. What you have experienced will animate whatever intellectual life you have developed. Or negate much of it. But in serious, intelligent people, experiencing non-manufactured reality usually gives lifelong meaning and insight to the work. You will have experienced the eternal verities of the world and mankind at ground zero. And you will find that the healthy social structures your well intentioned Western minds seek are already inherent in the psyche of mankind, but imprisoned. And the startling realization that you are the unknowing captors.

In conclusion, I would point out that each of us is but one strand in the vast organic web of flesh and blood chlorophyll. All things and all beings are inextricably connected at the most profound level. Any physicist will confirm this. We are bound by its every wave and particle, all of us -- the lonely night clerk at Motel 6 and the leviathans of the deep, the sleeping grandmother in France and the maimed Iraqi child in Kirkuk. It can be understood by anyone though, simply by owning one's own consciousness. And in doing so you find that ownership and domination are both temporary and meaningless. And that the animating spirit of the earth is real and within us and claimable.

The purpose of life is to know this. Einstein glimpsed it. Lao-Tzu knew it. So did St. Francis. But you are not supposed to. It would shatter the revered, digitized, super-sized, utterly meaningless hologram. The one that mesmerizes you, and mediates your every experience, but isolates you from universal humanness and its coursing energies. Such as love. Or mercy. Compassion. Existential pain. Hunger. Or the unmitigated joy of simply being alive one finds in children everywhere, even among the poorest. Most of the human race still lives in that realm.

Blessed is the one who joins them. Because he or she learns that the truth is not relative, nor is it provided by the corporation and that because the human mind seeks balance, social justice is not only inescapable in the long run, but inevitable.

At the conclusion of the renounciation process, the US consul shook my hand, offered his congratulations, for I no longer would be obligated to pay US taxes. What a chump!