by Caitlin Johnstone
Remember when Americans shook the earth with massive protests demanding an end to the police state and the entire liberal establishment just kept saying “I hear you, I agree with you” and then did absolutely nothing to even reduce police brutality? It’s important to remember such lessons.
People would ask me “Why are you supporting Black Lives Matter Caitlin?? Don’t you see all the corporations and corporate Dems support it? Why would they do that if it didn’t serve them?” This is why they did it. Empty words of support can defuse a situation far easier than open opposition.
Imagine if all the plutocrats, pundits and politicians had just yelled at the BLM protesters and admonished them to stop? It would have only turned people against them with far more aggression, and it would have exposed the fact that they are the enemy. It’s much more effective to say “I hear you, I agree with you” with no intention of taking any real action.
And really this is all institutions like the Democratic Party exist to do: defuse left populism and crush grassroots activism not with opposition, but with empty words of agreement that have no intention of action behind them. They’re just a bottomless pit that tricks people into pouring their energy into it, thereby stopping all leftward movement.
A kid who doesn’t want to clean their room will tell their parents “No! I don’t wanna!” A very clever kid who doesn’t want to clean their room will say “Yes! I’ll get on that right away” and then enjoy hours of peace and relaxation without parental nagging, and without cleaning. It’s the exact same way with the powerful. It’s much more efficacious for them to pretend to be on your side than expose the fact that they’re not. In the end the result is the same: the kid doesn’t clean their room. But they don’t get the kind of pushback they’d get if they said no.
Manipulators are good at manipulation. The people who make their way to the top in a corrupt system are manipulators. You can’t take their words at face value, mustn’t mistake vapid placation for victory. They’ll happily give you a mountain of words in exchange for your real treasure.
They’re so used to manipulating Americans into believing narratives that wildly differ from reality they were like “We’ll tell them $1400 is $2000, they won’t notice.”
The world would be greatly improved if Americans became far more powerful and their government/military/media became far less powerful.
Yemen alone, just by itself, is a sufficient argument for the dismantling of the entire US-centralized power alliance.
To be clear, Yemen isn’t some tragedy that we are passively witnessing. Civilians are being deliberately targeted and starved with the backing of the US, UK, Australia, Canada and France. Our governments are helping to inflict this horror upon innocents. And it may get worse.
A world order which can create something as horrific as the atrocities in Yemen or the unforgivable Iraq invasion is not a world order that will lead the world in a good direction. The facts are in. The US-led world order must end.
“You hate all US politicians Caitlin! You can’t name a single one you like!”
That’s like wanting me to pick a favorite Nazi leader. It’s a system which only elevates assholes who will cooperate with a machine that is fueled by human blood. You just don’t see how ugly it is yet.
Anti-imperialism makes you look like a radical, because it makes you reject even the politicians who are considered “radical” in mainstream discourse since they are all imperialists. In reality there’s nothing radical about opposing the mass slaughter of innocents; it’s just being a normal human being. Basic human sanity is often painted as “radical” because most people have no understanding of how bat shit insane our current world order is.
The surest way to get rich in media is to spread lies which serve the interests of the powerful. The surest way to get labeled a “grifter” is to do literally the exact opposite of this.
It’s not enough to reject mainstream politics, we need to reject mainstream culture as well. The propagandists understand that politics is downstream from culture, so we should too. The culture manufacturers in New York and LA are not your friend; they are an extension of the empire.
We who oppose the empire must reject its manufactured culture with the same disgust with which we reject its political lackeys and news media. We must create our own culture to outshine the manufactured garbage they are shoving down everyone’s throats.
If you want normal people to listen to an idea, you’ve got to make it easy to understand and you’ve got to make it interesting. No normal human being going about their life has any incentive to listen to you unless you do both of these things. The onus isn’t on them, it’s on you.
Telling people to read theory doesn’t work. How narcissistic would you have to be to think you can just tell some stranger to read Marx or Lenin or whatever and they’ll go “Well that complete rando ordered me to invest my scarce time and energy in this so I’d better do it”? No. This is our job.
Whenever I bring this up people say stuff like “It’s not a popularity contest Caitlin”. Yes it fucking is! You want your ideas to be more popular than the shitty, self-destructive, soul-crushing, world-destroying ideas which support the status quo. This won’t happen by itself.
It’s not enough to be right. You can’t save the world just by holding the right beliefs in your obscure corner of the information ecosystem. That’s like believing life will reward you if you’re a nice person on the inside. Share the ideas. Make them simple, make them interesting.
One of the many advantages manipulators have over sincere people is that sincere people have no idea how very, very much better at manipulation a manipulator is than them, in the same way a chess newbie has no understanding of how many skill levels they are below a chess master.
This is why it’s so important for us to have the humility to know that we can be manipulated, and that we can be manipulated in ways we hadn’t even thought of. Ways we wouldn’t think of in a million years, because we are not that sort of creature.
When you’re in an abusive relationship, leaving seems impossible. After you escape, you look back and see that most of the barriers to leaving which felt so real at the time were illusory mental constructs. Escaping our abusive relationship with our oppressors will be like that.
Freeing ourselves and creating a healthy world is not impossible. There are no solid walls preventing us from leaving the abusive relationship. The door’s not even locked. The only thing holding us in place is mental manipulation via mass media propaganda. It’s all in our head.
Feature image via Wikimedia Commons.
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