Western analysts spent years warning that western actions would provoke a war in Ukraine, westerners spent four years being propagandised into hating Russia, then Russia invades and now western imperialists say the war is advancing US interests. But remember: it was an “unprovoked invasion”.
The official narrative is that western aggressions played no role in provoking the invasion of Ukraine, but if that’s true then how come so many western experts spent years warning that western aggressions would provoke an invasion of Ukraine?
Then in the years leading up to the invasion, westerners were hammered with media-induced panic about Russia, a nation they hadn’t thought much about since the early nineties. These mass media narratives all had their origins in the US intelligence cartel, which happens to have sought the destruction of the Russian Federation since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Oh, and don’t forget the 2019 Pentagon-funded RAND paper which found that US geostrategic interests could be advanced by provoking Russia into overextending itself in areas like Ukraine. And now western imperialists are merrily boasting that this war is being used to advance longstanding US strategic interests.
But remember, it’s very important that you believe Putin invaded Ukraine completely unprovoked, solely because he is evil and hates freedom. It couldn’t possibly have been the US empire doing what it always does and advancing its geostrategic interests by sinister means after lubricating the way with mass media propaganda, wedging Moscow into choosing between two bad options. Putin is just an evil crazy Hitler man.
Because Putin is Bad, that means the US and its allies are necessarily Good. We know this because we’ve spent our lives being conditioned by Hollywood to look for Good Guys and Bad Guys in every conflict. If someone is doing a Bad Thing, the other side must be doing Good Things.
And while we’re all busy clapping along with this artificial children’s cartoon show version of reality, experts are saying this conflict has put our world at greater risk of nuclear war than we have ever been, including during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The whole world is being imperilled by a unipolarist power grab orchestrated by our rulers. The only thing keeping this from being obvious to everyone is the massive amounts of propaganda that our entire civilisation has been aggressively hammered with since well before it began.
It is always legitimate and good to criticise the well-documented aggressions of the world’s most powerful government, wherever they occur. Always, always, always. It requires no justification. If people act like you’re a weird freak or a Russian propagandist for doing it, it’s because their position is wrong and their arguments are dogshit.
Every few years the right produces a billionaire with extensive ties to the US deep state who poses as a populist hero who is fighting the deep state. Before it was Trump. Now it’s Musk. Later on it’ll be someone else. But it’s just a show to make it look like someone’s fighting.
Both Trump and Musk get the opposite mainstream faction barking and snarling at them in exactly the same way Hillary Clinton drove Republicans insane. And in reality Musk, Trump and Clinton all serve the establishment that’s defended by both the Democrat and Republican parties. It’s all kayfabe combat staged to make it look like someone’s fighting on behalf of the disaffected Americans who are growing angry with their rulers’ complete indifference to them. Give them a hero to clap along with and they won’t take up the fight for themselves.
Keeping everyone barking at shiny figureheads who represent one mainstream faction keeps people glued to mainstream factions which are framed as for or against those shiny figureheads. This keeps everyone subscribed to mainstream worldviews.
They don’t just control the opposition, they control the opposition to the controlled opposition. That’s what the AOC/Bernie/TYT progressives are, and it’s what the MAGA/Tucker Carlson/Elon Musk faction is as well. They pretend they’re fighting the establishment while protecting it.
It actually isn’t an exaggeration to compare the mainstream worldview to the virtual world depicted in The Matrix. The only difference is that instead of AI keeping us imprisoned, it’s psychopathic oligarchs and secretive government agencies, and instead of code, it’s narrative.
Few understand just how pervasively dominated our civilisation is by narrative. How all our culture, beliefs, political and economic systems, are all made entirely out of mental stories that we collectively pretend are real — towers of narrative built on top of our basic animal needs.
The experience of the individual is likewise dominated by narrative. If you’ve ever tried to meditate, you know how the mind babbles and churns even when you try to silence it for a minute. All that babbling is made of mental stories about life that have no concrete reality. Even your very idea of yourself is made of narrative. Not just your stories about who you are and how you are, but the actual existence of a “self” that’s separate and separable from the rest of life. It’s all made of believed mental narrative, and its reality is entirely illusory.
Because human life is so dominated by narrative both collectively and individually, anyone who can manipulate the narrative can manipulate the humans. They can manipulate how we think, speak, act, shop and vote, as individuals, and at mass scale.
And they do.
Power is controlling what happens. Real power is controlling what people think about what happens. Our rulers do this by exerting massive amounts of influence over news media, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, think tanks, NGOs, and other systems of narrative manipulation.
They manipulate to start wars and roll out major control agendas of course, but their narrative control goes so much deeper than that. The bulk of it consists of mundane day-to-day manipulations which manufacture the normalisation of status quo systems, making us think madness is sanity. They manipulate us into thinking poverty is normal, that our economic systems are the only way things could possibly be, that militarism is good, that it’s perfectly sane and expected that we’d keep voting in political systems that never change anything no matter who we vote for, and that there’s no other option anyway.
They don’t just lie to us about what’s happening — they lie to us about who we are. About what we should value. About how we should measure our successes and failures as individuals. We’re saturated in these narratives from birth, and they all serve those who rule over us.
And we remain enslaved in that way: thinking, speaking, moving, working, spending, voting and behaving in perfect alignment with the wishes of the powerful. In the west we think we’re free because we can do what we want, not seeing that our rulers control what it is we will want to do. We don’t grasp how profoundly unfree we actually are, because another major purpose of the narrative matrix is to trick us into thinking that we are free. In reality we’re no freer than we would be if we were kept in a coma in a vat with our brains jacked into a digital world.
Awakening from the narrative matrix isn’t easy. It takes work. And just like in the movie, the path down that rabbit hole begins with a choice. That choice, that red pill, is committing yourself to a sincere devotion to living in truth, come what may. Even when the truth is inconvenient. Even when the truth goes against your biases and partisan loyalties. Even when it means seeing that everything you believe is a lie.
It takes time and effort to extract the lies from your perception, because you’ve been consuming them your whole life. It takes sincerity. It takes self-honesty. It takes a willingness to go places that you’d rather not go. And even when you think you’re done, you’re probably not.
Extracting yourself from the narrative matrix is a rabbit hole that keeps going and going. You clear one pile of lies only to find another. You get clear on your delusions about the outer world and discover a whole dimension of delusions about your inner world. It goes on and on.
But the clearer things get, the faster and more fun it becomes. The clearer you are on the false narratives about the world, the more effective you are at helping others see them. The clearer you are on the false narratives about yourself, the happier and more effective you become.
And then you’re ready to fight. You’re awake enough from the narrative matrix to help dismantle it, and to help wake up others.
And of course the Agent Smiths will appear to try to stop you. They will appear wherever you try to shine light upon things that want to stay hidden. They’ll appear as strangers on the internet. They’ll appear as your friends and family. They’ll appear in you, trying to dissuade you from looking at parts of yourself that can only exist in unconsciousness.
But they are very beatable. Absolutely they are. Every positive change in human behaviour, whether individual or collective, is always preceded by an expansion of consciousness. And that’s all we’re doing here: expanding consciousness. Making the unseen seen. That’s the path. Just as in The Matrix there will be forces within and without that want to maintain the status quo of darkness and unconsciousness, but the hidden can’t remain hidden forever. “As sure as God made black and white, what’s done in the dark will be brought to the light.”
Really we’re just an adolescent species going through an awkward and confusing transition phase as we learn to use these newly evolved brains more maturely, and our confusion is being exploited in the meantime by a few clever humans who understand manipulation better than the rest of is. That’s all this really is. We’re on the journey to becoming a mature and conscious species, and when that happens the manipulators won’t be able to function, because they won’t have these large pools of human unconsciousness to hunt in. They’ll be like sharks flopping around on the beach sand.
We can help facilitate this by taking that red pill. By making a sincere commitment to be true to what’s true, come what may. And then awakening the others, so that we can overthrow our oppressors and build a beautiful world together.
First published by Caitlin Johnstone December 30, 2022
Caitlin Johnstone is a reader-supported independent journalist from Melbourne, Australia. She now lives in the US. Her political writings can be found on Medium