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Radio reading by Lynn Gerry
"Students finishing the ordeal of professional training often appear to be pressured and troubled, as if under some sort of unrelenting duress whose source they can't pinpoint... These students end up doing much of their work while in a state of physical and mental fatigue, precluding the creativity and enjoyment that were once their priority. They are no longer the upbeat students who entered the professional training program. Students who were adamant in not wanting to become cogs in the machine, students who would join the system only on their own terms, students who stood solidly behind their own goals for society—many of these students now have a tired, defeated look about them, and an outlook to match. Many are now quite willing to incorporate themselves into one or another hierarchy, and to put up no resistance there, overt or covert, as they help do the work that furthers their new employer's goals."

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Radio reading by Lynn Gerry
"Although the professional has sidelined his original goals, he usually retains some memory of them. Any such memory inevitably points to the compromises he has made and therefore can be an unrecognized source of unease in the professional's life. None of this is to imply that new professionals are left without goals. Ironically, however, the primary goal for many becomes, in essence, getting compensated sufficiently for sidelining their original goals... Once the professional adopts this new, quantitative measure of success, the system has him in the palm of its hand, for he maximizes his compensation by working hard to further the goals of his employer, and thus the system. And work hard he does—12-hour or longer workdays are standard for many young professionals..."

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Radio reading by Lynn Gerry
"Moreover, in spite of his marathon effort and to his employer's further delight, the young professional feels that he must not be working hard enough, because the compensation never quite seems to satisfy him; the feeling of 'having it all' eludes him. In fact, his efforts are futile, for no amount of income or status can make whole a social being who has abandoned his own intellectual and political goals. The situation tends to be self-perpetuating. The professional's priority on compensation inhibits him from developing and pursuing his own intellectual and political goals, because the independent thinking necessary to do that is incompatible with the mind-set necessary to do best for his employers and therefore to do best in the rat race. Furthermore, the rat race is an all-encompassing effort: The young professional works the week like a sprint and is left with only a few hours of leisure time out of the week's 168 hours. To prepare his mind adequately for the professional work ahead, he must spend his hard-won free time 'working at relaxation,' certainly not reflecting. Until the professional assigns highest importance to developing and advancing his own political goals, serving the system will be not just his job, but his life."


The extracts accompanying the photos are taken from Jeff Schmidt's excellent book: Disciplined Minds: A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System That Shapes Their Lives. Visit the website for more information. The 3 preceding images were exhibited, along with the book extracts, at the Islington Arts Factory in London (UK) as part of the Collective 08 exhibition. The exhibition ran from 12 April to 9 May 2008. The radio reading of the book was performed by Lynn Gerry on Unwelcome Guests — "A program about wealth, power, and peoples' resistance to the corporate world order". Sanjoy Mahajan has the mp3 files available for download. Photos by Keyvan Minoukadeh — keyvan (at) k1m (dot) com