Propaganda isn’t something that only happens to others.

Jan 5, 2023
Hand holding TV headed businessmen on rope. Manipulation and brainwash concept.

One of the empire’s strongest assets is the widespread assumption that propaganda is something that only happens to other people. Another is the widespread assumption that propaganda only comes from other countries and other political ideologies.

The status quo remains the status quo because those who benefit from the status quo are able to use the wealth and power given to them by the status quo to dissuade the public from overthrowing the status quo using status quo media to manufacture their consent for the status quo.

The empire will use any ideology to advance its agendas. “Wokeism”, white supremacism, Zionism, Christian fundamentalism, liberalism, conservatism, progressivism — whatever ideological sympathies can be leveraged, will be leveraged.

The empire will use Nazism and wokeness, at the same time, on the same agenda. Look at the way the empire is using neo-Nazism to advance one part of its Ukraine agenda and using woke-sounding jargon to advance another part. They’re two diametrically opposed values, but it doesn’t matter because the empire has no values besides the pursuit of power.

The engineering of the empire doesn’t have an ideology for the same reason mugging doesn’t have an ideology; it has one goal, and that goal has nothing to do with anyone’s values or ideals. A con man will say whatever you need to hear to get his hands on your money.

The empire uses “wokeism” not because the empire gives a shit about social justice, but because that’s where easily leveraged public sympathies are found at the moment. Getting hung up on wokeism is like fixating on the syringe and not the hand that’s holding it or the poison it holds. 

The empire uses ideologies the way we use tools. When it doesn’t need the screwdriver, it picks up the hammer. Right now it’s getting a lot of use out of “wokeism”, and tomorrow it will be something else. Don’t focus so much on the tools, focus on who’s using them, and what they’re being used for.

One of the silliest things about this proxy war is how empire apologists will call it an “unprovoked invasion“, then pivot to gushing about how efficient and cost-effective the war is for advancing US strategic interests against Russia, then pivot right back to calling it an “unprovoked invasion” again.

These are mutually contradictory positions. Either it’s a completely unprovoked invasion that the US didn’t want, or it’s a highly efficient and cost-effective way of getting Washington everything it wants. It’s nonsensical and naive to believe both.

The dream for automation was that it would be used to eliminate the need for human toil. In practice so far it’s only being used to increase inequality: generating more profits for the ruling class while leaving normal people poorer and more desperate. Market forces only encourage more of this. 

Apologists for the status quo are basically coming right out and telling us that automation will be used to increase income and wealth inequality, and they’re absolutely correct. That’s what’s been happening, and it will continue until it is made to stop.

Meanwhile we’re seeing the steady normalisation of increasingly militarised robots, which will eventually become capable of suppressing domestic uprisings without the annoying human tendency to refuse to fire upon their countrymen, or even switch sides and join the revolution. So we appear to be headed for tremendous poverty and injustice if we don’t force a change in the trajectory we’re on, and if we don’t force it soon they’ll have robotic security systems to stop us. The robots will either be made to work for us, or they’ll be used against us.

This is the trajectory we’ll be on as long as capitalism remains in place and the class which rules it retains control of automation. Vastly unequal tech dystopia where the people are controlled by AI and weaponised robots is the final stage of capitalism (before death by ecocide).

I often hear people saying that those who have been propagandised into accepting the mainstream worldview are stupid, but from what I can tell the successfulness of empire propaganda in taking over people’s minds has very little to do with anyone’s intelligence. You’ve probably noticed that some of the smartest people you know in your own life uncritically regurgitate the same narratives about the world that you’ll hear on CNN or the BBC. Generally, intelligent people differ from the less intelligent only in that they have more clever justifications and defences for the perspectives they’ve been propagandised into believing.

The tendency to meet authority-endorsed information with critical thought and scrutiny seems to have a lot more to do with the dumb luck of having been conditioned to do so by the kind of life you have lived. If there’s any sort of personal attribute that leaves one less vulnerable to propaganda, it could be described as a sincere devotion to the truth. A sincere devotion to knowing what’s true, and to seeing, thinking and living accordingly. This quality can emerge in people of any kind of intelligence.

A sincere devotion to the truth also happens to be the quality most essential for realising spiritual enlightenment. It’s also the quality most essential for living a happy life. Whatever that strange spark is and whatever gives rise to it wherever it shows up, it’s pretty clear that it’s the guiding light that will lead our species to sanity.


First published by Caitlin Johnstone December 29, 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.

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