I suppose it begins with ‘Luxthralldom’. This luxthralldom is a hypnotic state, in which plain logic and common sense are suspended in the presence of power and lushness and authority. Maybe it all started when I and a dear friend attended a McDonald’s to indulge in one of their bizarre ‘feasts’. I ordered a small coke, and then asked for a water cup so that we could split the soda, and this was refused, even when I explained that we didn’t really want a whole coke. It then came to me that we were not actually purchasing food. No, we were actually purchasing an experience. And how could this come about? Suppose you were to just up and open a ‘restaurant’ with a baked-in theme involving colorful, but vaguely uncomfortable seating, with also a bizarre ‘clown’, also brightly colored, that perpetually danced on the edge of unspeakable perversion? Do you think that your ‘business’ would thrive? Probably not.
But then, if you had the money and power to use advertising and an unabashed reputation for sheer bigness, you could exploit that to mesmerize the ‘customers’ with the luxtralldom effect. The in-their-face insanity of it all would magically vanish, and the flock would come eagerly through your doorway.
Hospitals use this same effect, albeit on a more formal level. Even though hospitals kill about as many as they save, one is made to feel that they are ‘In Good Hands’. And obviously, the airlines rely on the same ‘Good Hands’ illusion. So there is really no need to ensure that commercial airliners are realistically safe. The luxthralldom effect will get them on board. No need for top-notch engineering, nor quality production values. All that is required is a cadre of high-class executives who know how to call upon the proper advertising and public relations experts. They need not know what they are doing, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they can cast the luxthralldom spell of power, and make the ‘consumers’ feel that they are in ‘Good Hands’. When the plane dives into the ground the passengers may very briefly awaken from the spell.
And this little allegory applies not only to McDonald’s, hospitals, and passenger jets. It represents what is going on all over the place.