Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Rabbit Holes And Men Behind Curtains

Sep 12, 2023

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

You dive down rabbit hole after rabbit hole, searching for the man behind the curtain. You’ve seen enough to be convinced that everything you’ve been taught about the world is false, and now it’s just a matter of finding out who’s really responsible for making such a mess of things.

And for a while, your search seems fruitful. You discover that you don’t really live in a democracy like you were taught where the public influences government behavior using their votes, or even in a separate sovereign nation like you learned in school. You discover that your country is part of a globe-spanning power structure which effectively functions as an empire — the most powerful empire ever to exist. And you discover that this empire has drivers who aren’t beholden to the electorate in any meaningful way, acting not to advance the interests of the public but to advance the agenda of planetary domination.

So who are the drivers of the empire? You dive down more rabbit holes. You discover secretive government agencies with longtime operatives who don’t leave with the outgoing official elected government, but stay on, helping to keep the gears of the empire turning regardless of who voters elect to be the face on the operation. You discover a revolving-door system in which the same empire managers are rotated in and out of positions in the official elected government, working in think tanks and military industrial complex advisory boards and mass media punditry when their party is out of office and rotating back in when their turn comes back around. You discover plutocrats who use their vast wealth to influence government policy via campaign donations, influential think tanks, mass media control and corporate lobbying, who often operate with — and profit from — a tremendous amount of overlap with government agencies. You discover organizations and institutions in which the wealthy and powerful congregate and coordinate to advance their agendas, often with a very high degree of secrecy.

But in all this rabbit holing and discovering, you still don’t find any man behind the curtain. You come to see that any of the people you’ve been looking at could die tomorrow and the imperial machine would trudge on uninterrupted. There could be a giant violent revolution and these people could be guillotined by the thousands, and unless drastic changes were made to the systems which gave rise to them, someone else would just step in to fill their shoes.

So you start researching the systems. You start researching economic systems, financial systems, how resources are distributed, how money is allocated, how labor is exploited, how wealth is extracted. You come to see how our civilization has been turned into a giant wealth-generating machine for a class of wealthy exploiters using propaganda, property laws, artificial scarcity, enclosure of the commons and theft from indigenous populations, all wound around this made-up concept of money which translates directly into political power under our current systems. Because the people who are most adept at obtaining massive amounts of wealth/power are those who are sufficiently lacking in empathy to do whatever it takes to obtain it, we naturally find ourselves ruled by sociopaths. And we always will, until those systems change.

You dig even deeper. You discover that you haven’t just been fed false information about how governments and nations work, you’ve been fed false information about even your most basic assumptions about reality. You discover in your own experience that there is no such thing as a separate self; that what we refer to linguistically as “I” and “me” are psychological delusions which underpin most of the suffering and dysfunctionality of the human species. In reality humans are inseparable from the biosphere from whence they emerged, which is in turn inseparable from the universe from whence it emerged, which is in turn inseparable from the Big-Bang-Or-Whatever-It-Was from whence it emerged. Everything is one, and the self is a lie.

And you realize that this is true of all the oligarchs and empire managers you’ve been staring at as well. They’re not separate entities acting with agency in the world, they’re clusters of conditioning and trauma which they inherited from their ancestors, which was passed down through their evolutionary heritage from the chaos and confusion inherent in existence as small prey animals who walked the earth millions of years ago. They’re just swirling eddies in a sea of ineffable energy like anyone else, sleepwalking through life being whipped around by unconscious forces within themselves that they do not understand.

And you realize then that there is no man behind the curtain, and there never was. You ripped aside curtain after curtain hoping to find the man, and all you found was a man-shaped hole in the universe.

And you’re not even mad. In fact, you find it hilarious. You laugh and you laugh at the silliness of it all. You laugh at how seriously we’re all taking this game of separateness and enmity, and how seriously you’d been taking it just moments before. You laugh at how ultimately innocent we all are in all this, even the worst among us. You laugh at our cuteness. You laugh at this play of forms. And the universe laughs back. A laughing buddha, laughing at a universe made of laughing buddhas.

And you see, as you wipe the tears from your face, that everything is unfolding as it must. The universe is becoming more and more capable of perceiving itself — first with life, then with humans, then with the steady advancements in science and technology and psychology and awakening — and there’s no reason to assume that this ongoing explosion of perception will stop. We’re going to figure things out eventually. Consciousness keeps expanding. The light keeps getting brighter. The truth can only hide for so long.


Caitlin’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. Go here to buy paperback editions of my writings from month to month. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.

Bitcoin donations: 1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Featured image via Creative Commons.

Subscribe to Caitlin’s Newsletter

By Caitlin Johnstone · Hundreds of paid subscribers

Articles, poems, stories and thoughts by Caitlin Johnstone and Tim Foley. Everything published here will always remain free to read.

Leave a Reply