Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):
The problem that underpins most other problems in modern times is that human minds are highly hackable, and that the science of hacking them at mass scale has been advancing since Bernays over a century ago. This is what keeps people consenting to the destructive and exploitative agendas of the powerful against their own interests.
The fact that our minds are being manipulated at mass scale throughout our civilization is the most significant thing happening in the world by far, but hardly anyone talks about it, because hardly anyone knows it’s happening. And a lot of power rides on keeping it that way.
Step 1 is learning that minds are very hackable, and are being hacked constantly at mass scale.
Step 2 is learning that your own mind is included in this.
Step 3 is unpacking the implications of Step 2 (Step 3 never really ends).
Step 4 is helping others get to Steps 1 and 2.
It works like this:
- As many people as possible are herded into two mainstream political factions who pretend to oppose each other while in reality working together to advance the interests of the powerful.
- Those who can’t be herded into the two mainstream factions are herded toward fake “populist” factions, who then herd them into the mainstream factions.
- Those who can’t be herded into either category are marginalized into invisibility.
By the time you get down to that bottom tier, their numbers are so inconsequential that you can keep them from having any impact by simply refusing them platforms on mainstream media and letting “democracy” do the rest, because you’ve got the majority right where you want them.
Most propaganda goes not toward the glaring, obvious lies like the Iraq invasion, but toward mundane control systems like the ideological herding funnel I just described. Really ham-fisted propaganda is the exception, not the rule in the west; the lion’s share of the empire’s manipulations just go toward keeping people marching to the beat of the imperial machine.
The Israel/Palestine issue isn’t complicated or hard to understand, there’s just a widespread assumption among mainstream westerners that it can’t possibly be as simple as it looks because the mainstream information sphere is distorted to obfuscate what’s obvious at first glance. At first glance it looks like a violent and abusive apartheid system with one ethnicity receiving preferential treatment over the other, but people assume it can’t be that simple, mistakenly thinking that if it was that clear-cut there wouldn’t be so much debate about it — with their own government supporting the apartheid side.
Mainstream westerners have been conditioned to expect that if this was really as clear-cut an issue as it appears to be, the media would be constantly talking about how evil it is and the Israeli government would be sanctioned and frequently condemned by western governments.
The problem, as is so often the case, is that mainstream westerners make the assumption that “If that’s what was happening, we would have heard about it in the news.” Not understanding that their “news” media is designed to advance the interests of the powerful, not to report the news.
The government surveils us more and more to make sure we’re under control. Tech companies surveil us more and more to manipulate how we shop. Employers surveil us more and more to control how we work. Meanwhile every institution with power over us grows more and more secretive.
Many people, maybe even most people, are to some extent aware that our entire civilization is bullshit. Relatively few are able to describe exactly how and why it’s bullshit, though, because there’s so much bullshit it’s hard to get a clear view of how the bullshit is happening.
It’s hard to understand how and why our civilization is bullshit exactly because our civilization is bullshit. It’s rife with lies, the teachers feed us lies, the algorithms feed us lies, and we’re trained to look for information in areas that will turn up lies.
Finding the truth in our bullshit society is like being in a room that’s rapidly filling up with actual, literal bull feces. It’s splashing around, it gets in your eyes, you’re struggling to keep your head above it so you can breathe — so it’s hard to see where all the bullshit is being piped into the room from. Getting a lucid understanding of what’s going on in the world is very much the same: you suspect you’re being bullshitted, but every source that turns up when you try to learn about stuff assures you that it’s all good and the world works just like you were taught in school.
In a civilization that’s made of bullshit, it’s rare to gain solid enough footing and high enough ground to be able to look around and clearly see how all the bullshit is happening. Everything here is geared toward preventing us from gaining that footing. It takes hard, diligent work, and more than a little luck.
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My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon, Paypal, or Substack, buying an issue of my monthly zine, and following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.
Featured image via Imprensa AgruBan® at Pexels.
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Articles, poems, stories and thoughts by Caitlin Johnstone. Everything published here will always remain free to read.
Categories: Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy
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