Propaganda Prospering Far and Wide

Human minds are very hackable, writes Caitlin Johnstone, and that causes a major problem for democracy.  

By Caitlin Johnstone

Forbes reports that the CEO of Crowdstrike, the extremely shady cybersecurity corporation which was foundational in the construction of the official CIA/CNN Russian hacking narrative, is now a billionaire.

George Kurtz ascended to the billionaire rankings on the back of soaring stocks immediately after the company went public, carried no doubt on the winds of the international fame it gained from its role as a central protagonist in the most well-known hacking news story of all time. A loyal servant of empire well-rewarded.

Kurtz during Web Summit 2018, Lisbon, Portugal. (Seb Daly/ Web Summit, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Never mind that U.S. insiders such as Hillary Clinton had been prepping for escalations against Russia well in advance of the 2016 elections, and that their preexisting agendas to shove a geostrategic obstacle off the world stage benefitted from the hacking narrative as much as George Kurtz did.

Never mind that Crowdstrike is tied to the NATO narrative management firm known as the Atlantic Council, which receives funding from the U.S., the EU, NATO, Gulf states and powerful international oligarchs. Never mind, either, that Crowdstrike was financed with a whopping $100 million from Google, which has had a cozy relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies since its very inception.

Never mind that to this day the DNC servers have not been examined by the FBI, nor indeed were they examined by the Special Counsel of Robert “Iraq has WMD” Mueller, preferring instead to go with the analyses of this extremely shady outfit with extensive and well-documented ties with the oligarchic leaders of the U.S.-centralized empire. Also never mind that the Crowdstrike analyst who led forensics on those DNC servers had in fact worked for and was promoted by Robert Mueller while the two were in the FBI.


The Real Currency 

As I never tire of saying, the real underlying currency in our world is not gold, nor bureaucratic fiat, nor even raw military might. The real underlying currency of our world is narrative, and the ability to control it.

From left: Intel executive Window Snyder; CrowdStrike’s Kurtz; Darktrace executive Emily Orton; Threatscape CEO Dermot Williams. Web Summit 2018, Lisbon, Portugal. (Seb Daly/ Web Summit, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

As soon as you really grok this dynamic, you start noticing it everywhere. George Kurtz is one clear example today of narrative control’s central role in the maintenance and expansion of existing power structures, as well as an illustration of how the empire is wired to reward those who advance pro-empire narratives and punish those who damage them; just compare how he’s doing to how Julian Assange is doing, for example.

But you see examples pop up every day:

  • The U.S. State Department just got busted using a $1.5 million troll farm to manipulate public discourse on social media about Iran.
  • Video footage has just surfaced of the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weaponsadmitting that the OPCW did indeed deliberately omit any mention in its official findings of a report from its own investigation which contradicts the establishment narrative about a chemical strike in Douma, Syria, an admission which answers controversial questions asked by critics of western imperialism like myself, and which the mainstream media have not so much as touched.
  • Mintpress News broke a story the other day about a new narrative management operation known as “The Trust Project,” a coordinated campaign by establishment-friendly mass media outlets for “gaming search-engine and social-media algorithms in collusion with major tech companies like Google and Twitter.”
  • In an interview with The Canary, UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer explicitly named the mass media as largely responsible for Assange’s psychological torture, excoriating them for the way that they “have shown a remarkable lack of critical independence and have contributed significantly to spreading abusive and deliberately distorted narratives about Mr. Assange.”
  • In a new essay, Freeing Julian Assange,” journalist Suzie Dawson reports that “Countless articles appear to have been obliterated from the internet” about Assange and WikiLeaks, amounting to some 90 percent of the links Dawson examined which were shared in tweets by or about WikiLeaksand Assange since 2010.
  • I just finished reading this excellent Swiss Propaganda Research essay about the little-known fact that “most of the international news coverage in Western media is provided by only three global news agencies based in New York, London and Paris.”

I write about this stuff for a living, and even I don’t have the time or energy to write full articles about every single narrative control tool that the U.S.-centralized empire has been implementing into its arsenal. There are too damn many of them emerging too damn fast, because they’re just that damn crucial for maintaining existing power structures.

Because whoever controls the narrative controls the world.


Power used to be much easier to identify in our society: just look for the fellow with the sparkly hat made of gold sitting in a really big chair and bossing everyone around. As our society advanced philosophically, however, people started fighting for ideals called “freedom” and “democracy” in their respective nations. And, as far as our parents and teachers have taught us, freedom and democracy are exactly what we have now.

Except that’s all crap. Freedom and democracy only exist within the Western empire to the extent that it keeps up appearances. Because the trouble with democracy, it turns out, is that human minds are very hackable, when they are pursued with enough resources. Wealthy and powerful people do have the resources, which means that it’s very possible for wealthy and powerful people to manipulate the masses into voting in a way that consistently benefits the wealthy and powerful. This is why billionaires and narrative control consistently go hand-in-hand.

This dynamic has allowed for western power structures to operate in a way that western democracy was explicitly designed to prevent: for the benefit of the powerful instead of for the benefit of the voting populace. So now we’ve got people in so-called liberal democracies voting to maintain governments which advance wars which don’t benefit them, to advance intrusive surveillance and police state policies which oppress them, to advance austerity policies which harm them, to advance labor policies which exploit them, and to maintain eco-cidal environmental policies which threaten the very survival of our species. All because the wealthy and powerful are able to use their wealth and power to manipulate the way people think and vote.

This is why I pay far more attention to narrative control than to politics. Politics is downstream from narrative control, which is why the 2020 U.S. presidential race is already a contest to see what level of Democratic corporatist warmonger will be running against the incumbent Republican corporatist warmonger. The narrative-controlling class does its level best to hide the fact that anything’s fundamentally wrong with the system, then when people notice it’s deeply broken they encourage them to use completely impotent tools to fix it. “Don’t like how things are run? Here, vote for our other puppet!”

The root of all our problems right now is the fact that human minds are very hackable with enough resources, combined with the fact that war, oppression, exploitation and ecocide are highly profitable. This dynamic has caused human collective consciousness to generally dead-end into a kind of propagandized, zombified state in which all our knowledge and all our thinking moves in alignment with the agendas of existing power structures. It’s much easier to continue believing the official narratives than to sort through everything you’ve been told about your society, your nation and your world since grade school and work out what’s true and what’s false. Many don’t have the time. Many more don’t have the courage.

We will remain in this collective dead-end, hurtling toward either Orwellian dystopia or extinction via climate collapse or nuclear Armageddon, until we find a way out of it. It won’t come from the tools our rulers have given us, and it won’t come from repeating any of the old patterns which got us here. In order to escape from the increasingly adept narrative control matrix that is being built around our collective mind by the powerful, we’re going to have to change our relationship with narrative altogether. We will either pass this great test or we will fail it, and we absolutely have the freedom to go either way.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on FacebookTwitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” This article was re-published with permission.

43 comments for “Propaganda Prospering Far and Wide

  1. DW Bartoo
    June 16, 2019 at 07:31

    Superb comments on this thread.

    My continuing appreciation to all for depth and breadth of thought and consideration,as well an open allegiance to conscience and humanity, all of which are so rarely encountered as to mark this site, the authors, featured here and, most especially, the informed and articulate commenters, as critically necessary to any future our species (and those other species whose existence on this planet is critical, however little appreciated, to our own), might or may have.

  2. June 15, 2019 at 10:33

    Dear Caitlin, the problem is not the human mind and its readiness to be ‘hacked’. Get the hackers and send them all to hell.

    • Anonymous
      June 15, 2019 at 10:44

      Any given psych ward. They’re already there, and they run the place.

  3. Bob Van Noy
    June 15, 2019 at 09:28

    Alan Dulles was likely the most significant bureaucrat to clearly understand the power of managing “the narrative” and one of the basic building blocks of the earliest Deep State manipulations was employing some of the brightest and most literate individuals at the early formation of what would become the CIA. Two such individuals come immediately to mind:

  4. David Otness
    June 14, 2019 at 21:50

    Precisely what I’ve been thinking and doubting (by the apathy and entropy I see every day) that we have the collective wherewithal (ability to get our shit together) to overcome the Owners’ head start. Oh how I’d love to be wrong.
    Please, make me wrong.

  5. Realist
    June 14, 2019 at 19:01

    What the idiots in both American political parties do not realise (or do not care about, if they do have a clue) is that they are mere puppets of the shadow government (aka the “Big Club”). They don’t think any further ahead than what will be the dollar amount on the next check they receive from their string pullers in the shadows.

    Trump is just an actor playing the role of chief executive. He serves at the pleasure of his fellow oligarchs. As long as his policies, both foreign and domestic, comport with theirs, they will not set the wheels of impeachment and removal from office into effect. So, everything he stood for in the election was expediently dispatched down the memory hole and a good neoconservative warmonger he became.

    The Democrats are similarly manipulated fools. They and their followers believe or pretend to believe (as do their proforma Republican opposition) that they work for freedom, justice and the manifest will of some old man on a cloud in pursuing a policy of trashing the planet and oppressing the rest of humanity to promote and secure the “American Way of Life”–including all the corrupt, perverted and downright illogical values that entails. Right now they scream for Trump’s head, even though both they and Trump work for the same boss behind the scenes.

    It’s just part of the narrative all composed and written out for them by a specialised cadre of lackeys (the strategists, the propagandists, the pundits, the think tank fellows and so forth) within the hierarchy of the “Big Club.” Some may have dual appointments straddling both the shadow government and the supposed real government, putatively run by, for and of the people. Some are poseurs interfacing directly with the public (exhibits such as Bolton and Pompeo). Many others you have not heard of and never will, unless they have a crisis of conscience and end up shot dead on the streets of Washington trying to make amends by exposing the Big Club and its plans for you and everybody you know.

    If you never educate yourself to the realities of who actually governs this country (and the world) and how they accomplish this, you will forever remain in a sleepy twilight world, oblivious to the matrix of false narratives they have completely enveloping you through school, social institutions, the media and all the modern electronic devices to which you have been purposefully addicted in order to control you and limit forever what you might otherwise become left to your own resources and talents. They intend to keep you down for the rest of your life unless you struggle to wake the hell up!

    • Skip Scott
      June 17, 2019 at 08:32

      I think all the hubbub about his Royal Orangeness is to make TDS as acute as possible in the latte sippers to the point that they will be happy when things go “back to normal” and our president is a smooth talking corporate sponsored warmonger, rather than a crass carnival barker. Then they can have their non gender specific restrooms with their Forever War, pretend that the Affordable Care Act is affordable, and that poor brown people far away aren’t dying daily at the hands of our teenage video gamers in uniform.

  6. Realist
    June 14, 2019 at 17:47

    Here’s what I said to Skip Scott when he sent me a direct link to this essay by Caitlin on her own blog yesterday:

    It’s amazing how much extracurricular crap, funded by a fully comprehensive shadow government exclusively serving the billionaire population, goes on outside of official government operations specifically to channel, thwart or redirect those government functions and policies. The “Atlantic Council” and “Crowdstrike,” mentioned by Caitlin, are just two such moving parts of that shadow government. I’m sure the shadow government has more clout with the Deep State than anyone elected to office in a long long time.

    I’d only add that the billionaires’ shadow government is probably much better funded than the actual entity that struggles along under the constitution, plus it doesn’t have the debt load that the purported people’s government has. The billionaires’ shadow government (aka George Carlin’s “Big Club”) is the actual fist inside the glove posing as the people’s government (which includes the formally-structured Deep State with its line-item employees paid from tax revenues). Even the Deep State is answerable to the independently owned and operated “Big Club.” Sadly, every proverbial turtle stacked to infinite regress in this construct is corrupt.

  7. June 14, 2019 at 17:31

    To know how our minds are hacked with propaganda is not a solution. Knowledge is the best way to live and survive mind hacking and carry on through the evolution of our great Planet to let our little light shine.

  8. Andrew Thomas
    June 14, 2019 at 15:22

    Well and sadly stated, Caitlin. The propagandizing of the people in the US began in earnest with the Hearst-pushed hysteria for what became the Spanish-American War, and really took off just over 100 years ago to sell US entry into WWI to a public which elected a president less than a year earlier on the slogan “he kept us out of war.” The methods available then were crude and labor- intensive, but, when combined with serious repression of the left by other means, including The Espionage Act of 1917, were very effective. So much so they were admired and studied by the Nazis. The new technologies which have been developed, together with enormous research into how best to “hack in”, as you put it, to the human mind, have made it that much more effective. It is so effective now that the vast majority of our citizens cannot really have the mental wiring that allows truth to become comprehensible.

  9. Jock
    June 14, 2019 at 15:21

    The next stop in the hijacked narrative chain of logic is where to get non-Velveeta, trustworthy information? Like Johnstone we cannot possibly analyze each and every MSM scam. Getting harder and harder, like some invisible noose is tightening with each new iPhone iOS upgrade and Facebook privacy policy revision. There are just too f-ing many MSM scams.

    I trust Johnstone, Hedges and a few others. I give an extra 10 credibility points to writers in CN, which does a good job of vetting. Used to feel pretty comfortable with Truthdig – until they started publishing Robert Reich, the guy on the liberal wing of the DNC. Telesur looks pretty good these days. Dahr Jamail at Truthout is a great source of unfiltered environmental info. I’d like to see a CN article/progressive resource list on who to read and where to go for what kind of info.

    • Rob Roy
      June 16, 2019 at 00:02

      Consortium is always good. Try electronic intifada, Mondoweiss, Counter Punch, greystone (Max Blumenthal), rt (Russia Today in America. You can download Pluto on your phone or laptop to get about 100 free stations but the only one I watch is rt and get really good news reporting…Chris Hedges has “On Contact” on that station, BTW, and a great interviewer is Oksana Boyko on Worlds Apart on the rt channel) globalresearchnewletter is good, too. Al jeezera is still pretty good. I’ve given up on the Guardian, tho the Intercept still can be read depending on the journalist. It’s our obligation to ourselves, especially our children, to seek out these good sources. I read Sy Hersh when I can find him; he’s been ostracized by the MSM as others have when they tell the truth obtained from deep excellent research.
      Thanks, Caitlin for an great article.

  10. Abe
    June 14, 2019 at 15:15

    “It has been amusing to watch the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets express their dismay over the rise and spread of ‘fake news.’ These publications take it as an obvious truth that what they provide is straightforward, unbiased, fact-based reporting. They do offer such news, but they also provide a steady flow of their own varied forms of fake news, often by disseminating false or misleading information supplied to them by the national security state, other branches of government, and sites of corporate power.

    “An important form of mainstream media fake news is that which is presented while suppressing information that calls the preferred news into question. […]

    “The Times has run neck-and-neck with the Washington Post in stirring up fears of the Russian information war and illicit involvement with Trump. The Times now easily conflates fake news with any criticism of established institutions, as in Mark Scott and Melissa Eddy’s ‘Europe Combats a New Foe of Political Stability: Fake News,’ February 20, 2017. But what is more extraordinary is the uniformity with which the paper’s regular columnists accept as a given the CIA’s assessment of the Russian hacking and transmission to WikiLeaks, the possibility or likelihood that Trump is a Putin puppet, and the urgent need of a congressional and ‘non-partisan’ investigation of these claims. This swallowing of a new war-party line has extended widely in the liberal media. Both the Times and Washington Post have lent tacit support to the idea that this ‘fake news’ threat needs to be curbed, possibly by some form of voluntary media-organized censorship or government intervention that would at least expose the fakery.

    “The most remarkable media episode in this anti-influence-campaign was the Post‘s piece by Craig Timberg, ‘Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,’ which featured a report by a group of anonymous “experts” entity called PropOrNot that claimed to have identified two hundred websites that, wittingly or not, were ‘routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.’ While smearing these websites, many of them independent news outlets whose only shared trait was their critical stance toward U.S. foreign policy, the ‘experts’ refused to identify themselves, allegedly out of fear of being ‘targeted by legions of skilled hackers.’ As journalist Matt Taibbi wrote, ‘You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won’t put your name to your claims? Take a hike.’ But the Post welcomed and promoted this McCarthyite effort, which might well be a product of Pentagon or CIA information warfare. (And these entities are themselves well-funded and heavily into the propaganda business.)

    “On December 23, 2016, President Obama signed the Portman-Murphy Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, which will supposedly allow the United States to more effectively combat foreign (namely Russian and Chinese) propaganda and disinformation. It will encourage more government counter-propaganda efforts, and provide funding to non-government entities to help in this enterprise. It is clearly a follow-on to the claims of Russian hacking and propaganda, and shares the spirit of the listing of two hundred tools of Moscow featured in the Washington Post. (Perhaps PropOrNot will qualify for a subsidy and be able to enlarge its list.) Liberals have been quiet on this new threat to freedom of speech, undoubtedly influenced by their fears of Russian-based fake news and propaganda. But they may yet take notice, even if belatedly, when Trump or one of his successors puts it to work on their own notions of fake news and propaganda.

    “The success of the war party’s campaign to contain or reverse any tendency to ease tensions with Russia was made dramatically clear in the Trump administration’s speedy bombing response to the April 4, 2017, Syrian chemical weapons deaths. The Times and other mainstream media editors and journalists greeted this aggressive move with almost uniform enthusiasm, and once again did not require evidence of Assad’s guilt beyond their government’s claims. The action was damaging to Assad and Russia, but served the rebels well.

    “But the mainstream media never ask cui bono? in cases like this. In 2013, a similar charge against Assad, which brought the United States to the brink of a full-scale bombing war in Syria, turned out to be a false flag operation, and some authorities believe the current case is equally problematic. Nevertheless, Trump moved quickly (and illegally), dealing a blow to any further rapprochement between the United States and Russia. The CIA, the Pentagon, leading Democrats, and the rest of the war party had won an important skirmish in the struggle over permanent war.”

    Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies: The New York Times, 1917–2017
    By Edward S. Herman

  11. Abe
    June 14, 2019 at 14:56

    Ed Herman is probably best known for developing the propaganda model of media criticism (co-authored with Noam Chomsky) in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988).

    The propaganda model is a conceptual model in political economy advanced by Herman and Chomsky to explain how propaganda and systemic biases function in mass media. The model explains how populations are manipulated and how consent for economic, social, and political policies is “manufactured” in the public mind due to this propaganda.

    According to the propaganda model, the way in which news is structured (e.g. through advertising, concentration of media ownership, government sourcing) creates an inherent conflict of interest that acts as propaganda for undemocratic forces.

    The propaganda model postulates five general classes of “filters” that determine the type of news that is presented in news media. These five classes are: Ownership of the medium, medium’s Funding sources, Sourcing, Flak, and Fear Ideology.

    The Flak filter is conspicuous in the 2016 Washington Post / PropOrNot imbroglio and ongoing “Russia-gate” hysteria. Flak describes efforts to discredit organizations or individuals who disagree with or cast doubt on prevailing assumptions that are favorable to established power.

    Flak is characterized by concerted efforts to manage public information in support of the political and economic Establishment, culminating in outright censorship.

    The propaganda model views private media as businesses interested in the sale of a product—readers and audiences—to other businesses (advertisers) rather than that of quality news to the public.

    In The Politics of Genocide (co-authored with David Peterson, foreword from Noam Chomsky, 2010), Herman has argued that some genocides have been heavily publicized in the West to advance a specific economic agenda, often leading to minority controlled governments of pro-Western and pro-business factions, while other genocides have been largely ignored for the same reason.

    Of particular note is Herman and Peterson’s article, “The Iran ‘Threat’ in a Kafkaesque World” (2012). The authors examine yet another conspicuous example of “extreme application of the double standard” by the United States:

    “U.S. ally and client Israel had from the start received active assistance developing its nuclear capability, and with the help of the United States, France, and Germany, it has built up a substantial arsenal since. This includes some 150-250 nuclear warheads (the exact number is unknown) plus delivery systems by land, sea, air, and ballistic missile. And throughout more than forty years of such unparalleled help, Israel refused to sign the NPT and subject itself to IAEA inspections and was never pressed to do so. A secret agreement was even struck between U.S. President Richard Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969 under which the United States agreed to accept – and remain silent about – Israel’s nuclear weapons program. This agreement, often referred to as the “U.S.-Israeli nuclear understanding,” was reaffirmed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May 2009. Netanyahu boasted about it in September that same year after the UN General Assembly (UNGA) summit, telling Israel’s Channel 2 television station that at his meeting with Obama in May, he ‘asked to receive from him an itemized list of the strategic understandings that have existed for many years between Israel and the United States on that issue.’ Obama had obliged. In effect, ‘The president gave Israel an NPT treaty get out of jail free card,’ one Senate staffer told the Washington Times.

    “So thoroughly built-in is this double standard that when the IAEA’s General Conference in Vienna in September 2009 voted forty-nine to forty-five to adopt a binding resolution that ‘calls upon Israel to accede to the NPT and place all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards’ – in other words, that Israel’s nuclear weapons program was to be treated the same as Iran’s civilian nuclear program – the English-language media observed near total silence about the event. The only major newspaper that reported it was the next-day’s Irish Times, and nothing showed up in any major U.S. print media.

    Similarly unmentioned is the fact that the United States is itself in violation of the NPT (as is every member of the Founding Five states – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, and China – that tested a nuclear weapon prior to 1 January 1967). Article VI of the NPT requires that all parties to the treaty ‘pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.’ But the Founding Five have not done this. The United States has openly striven to upgrade its nuclear weapons to make their use more practicable in conventional warfare settings, and both the United States and NATO have publicly declared the importance that the Alliance attaches to a ‘credible’ nuclear posture ‘to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war.’ Nevertheless, in a Kafkaesque moment, UNSC Resolution 1887, adopted with much fanfare during the opening week of the UNGA’s 2009 session in September, called upon the ‘Parties to the NPT’ to live up to the treaty’s ‘nuclear arms reduction and disarmament’ demands. Indicative of the depth of the institutionalized reality-denial was the fact that the rampant violations and double standards in no way tempered the indignation of the United States and its allies concerning Iran’s alleged NPT violations.”

    Herman was professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. A distinguished scholar and peace champion, Herman was a media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy. He also taught at Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He passed away on 11 November 2017 at age 92.

    • David Otness
      June 14, 2019 at 22:14

      A nice informative string of comments, Abe. Well done.

    • jaycee
      June 15, 2019 at 18:58

      Chomsky and Herman certainly flipped my worldview way back in the ’80s. Or, more to the point, helped me confirm what I had already suspected, punctuated with useful critical thinking skills which I still call upon. What concerns me is that I’ve lost count of the number of persons who were once fully versed and conversant with the Chomsky/Herman critique, yet today have bought in totally to the propaganda storm which kicked up in earnest circa 2014. Part of this is due to the crumbling of what was once consensus “normal”, starting with the Bush Jr ascension to the White House, the economic meltdown of 2007, etc. The addition of identity politics to the imperialist narrative helped too.

      As well, here’s Reuters – one of the big three narrative enablers – informing its readers that UN officials directly investigating controversial issues, rather than parroting the preferred narrative, is bad:

    • Eddie S
      June 15, 2019 at 23:01

      “Manufacturing Consent” by Chomsky & Herman is an excellent critique of the US MSM —especially the five filters you quote above. The book is written in a very accessible fashion without a lot of jargon and is really a necessary read for progressives, IMHO. Thanks for bringing this to people’s attention!

  12. June 14, 2019 at 14:18

    Well done! My suggestion is instead of focusing so much on propaganda and narrative, out best use of time is to go deeper to the level of the Structure.

  13. Pablo Diablo
    June 14, 2019 at 13:20

    Whoever controls the media, controls the dialogue.
    Whoever controls the dialogue, controls the agenda.

  14. Vera Gottlieb
    June 14, 2019 at 12:16

    How to succeed in business without really trying…No, actually it is more like be dishonest to succeed at anything.

  15. SteveK9
    June 14, 2019 at 11:05

    I don’t really see a solution and I didn’t find one here. I think Americans are too comfortable to put on a yellow vest, and I’m not even sure whether they are going to succeed. Brexit / Trump / Yellow Vests / La Liga (Salvini) are all signs of the same thing. These ‘movements’ are working more or less … Trump is a failure, La Liga could be a success. I will support someone like Tulsi Gabbard, but I have little hope of her succeeding … they made the mistake of letting Trump be elected and I can’t see that happening again. And, if by some miracle she became President, she would face the same non-stop vicious attacks that Trump has. My ‘liberal’ friends simply can’t comprehend this.

  16. June 14, 2019 at 11:01

    It is literally impossible to escape the 24/7 non-stop propaganda narratives of empire here in the U.S. I took my two young grandsons this week to see the kid’s movie “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” What qualities you might wonder characterized the villain in this brand new kid’s movie? Well, how about an incredibly thick unmistakable Russian accent, stereotypical Russian facial features, a fur collar on his black trench coat, and a pack of evil wolves as henchmen that also spoke with thick evil sounding Russian accents.

    Now I don’t for a minute think this bit of almost subliminally placed anti-Russian propaganda was intended for my 2 and 4 year old grandsons. It was there for mom, dad, grandparents, and all the adults in the room. Did most adults even recognize they were being propagandized? I really doubt it. The creepy truly insidious nature of our full-spectrum Western propaganda apparatus is really quite breathtaking to behold. You can’t even escape your required daily dose of the current hate narrative when watching a kid’s movie for toddlers. No need for a barbed wire “gulag” when here in the West the gulag is now simply our own completely propagandized minds.

    • Josep
      June 14, 2019 at 17:57

      I wasn’t aware the movie was out already (heck, I forgot its release date), and I even had plans to see it until reading your comment. Similarly, reading the Disney CEO’s stance on abortion ruled out any plans for seeing Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 among other upcoming Disney films. It’s a sad state of affairs when Hollywood (Disney, Universal and Illumination are located in California) pushes propaganda to its consumers, whether it be abortion or LGBT tolerance.

      Until I have the ability and means to leave America for another country, I’ll just read its synopsis of every new American-made film on Wikipedia. Sure it won’t be as thrilling as seeing the film itself (i.e. no visuals), but at least it means the makers won’t be getting my money. After all, get woke, get broke.

      Side note: Yes, believe it or not, TSLoP2 has been officially released in Russia and dubbed in Russian. You read that right. It’d be interesting to see if the villains are given foreign-sounding accents, let alone which accents are used, in the dub.

  17. OlyaPola
    June 14, 2019 at 10:48

    “Propaganda Prospering Far and Wide”

    Some read 1984 as “what is”, some read 1984 as “how to”, whilst some read 1984 as a description of complicity.

    During 1984 there was a greater assay of complicity than in 1990, largely unperceived by some reading 1984 as “what is”, and some reading 1984 as “how to”, facilitated by some reading 1984 as a description of complicity and deriving/implementing strategies thereupon.

    Not all “benefits” of dumbing down accrue to those immersed in practices of “dumbing down”, particularly in lands of make believe and spectacle although often unperceived by “believers”.

    • OlyaPola
      June 16, 2019 at 08:03

      “… lands of make believe and spectacle although often unperceived by “believers”.

      “And this is why I am writing this report today, to inform, and to register my disgust at the way my beloved country has been taken over by shallow nincompoops. “

      Ideology is immersive akin to a swimming pool – when you start to emerge from it you still carry water-droplets.

      Mr. Butler’s droplets include but are not limited to :

      “My beloved country”

      The cinema is a widely used by opponents as tool of ideological immersion and facilitated by “agencies” giving support in some form subject to editorial oversight/review.

      In a scene in the film The Good Shepherd the character from the CIA played by Mr. Damon (likely more assay of Mr. Bissel than Mr. Angelton, although assay estimations differ) has a meeting with a Mafia Don played by Mr. Pesci (likely more assay of Mr. Giancana than Mr. Trafficante) to make arrangements.

      The character played by Mr. Pesci asks the character played by Mr. Damon a question which I paraphrase:

      Don: What do you people have?

      CIA: What do you mean?

      Don: Well the n***ers have their music and we have our families, what do you have?
      CIA: We have the “United States of America” the rest of you are guests here.

      Don: You people scare me.

      The CIA and other agencies are not, nor have ever been, homogenous, but as numerous examples illustrate the “elites” have levels of contempt for others sufficient for them to sometimes “tell the truth” in the expectation that others will not believe it – the scene above being an example amongst many.

      By design neither Mr. Butler nor other “citizens of The United States of America” have ever had a “country to call my own” from inception, when students of the clientele of Le procope wrote and published a script including the prologue “We the people hold these truths to be self-evident”.

      Perhaps its time to set aside some more illusions?

  18. AnneR
    June 14, 2019 at 09:35

    Thank you Caitlin for this piece. Depressing but not unexpectedly so. And if my late husband’s FB friends (as I’ve mentioned on here before) are anything to go by, the overwhelmingly bourgeois crowd will continue to be *willingly* propagandized with the Russophobic, Sinophobic and Iranophobic lies of commission and omission that regale them via MSDNC, NPR, PBS, BBC and the so-called “progressive” press (e.g. The guardian, Jacobin, the NYT).

    These friends post pro-Demrat, pro-Russiagate, consider the choice to be between Warren and Klobuchar (?), and concentrate their minds on *progressive* ideations: sexual preference/”gender” identity/racial/ethnic identity and now and then a little on climate change (especially via the “green ND” – saving capitalism being all consuming or ignored). Never a word about income inequality, about the ongoing slaughter in Yemen, of the ongoing, never-ending nightmare of Palestinian life, of what we have done to Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan or are doing to Syria. Not a word about the immorality, illegality of our economic sanctions against NK, VZ, Iran… nooo. Nary a peep about what we (US-UK-AU) are doing to Assange….

    These really existing realities as lived by “others” whether the poor within these borders or the darker hued folks far from these shores do *not* matter one iota, certainly not by comparison with being able to vacation in this or that place, buy a bigger house, more clothes, demonstrate one’s *Progressiveness.*

    • David Otness
      June 14, 2019 at 22:28

      So many of them out there in their bubbles of propaganda construct.

    • John R
      June 15, 2019 at 21:13

      AnneR – seems like the people you refer to are the same type of progressives that I know here in Fanta Se. As long as they have their stuff it’s all good.

    • Rob Roy
      June 16, 2019 at 00:30

      Very much understand your comment; it’s what I notice all the time. Sometimes I feel as if I might burst into screaming when the conversation never goes to what is being done in the world…all with US and Israeli blessings. I remain in the US only because of family and friends here; otherwise, there are several other countries that would be preferable. I like reading comments on ConsortiumNews because it’s one of the rare places to connect with people like you and the others here. Thanks.

  19. June 14, 2019 at 09:30

    I agree with the premise, that the NARRATIVE is the means by which oligarchy rules the masses.

    For example, we are now being inundated with the NARRATIVE that Iran is attacking Japanese oil tankers. Pure nonsense, but the media is an adjunct of the bankster/military/oil industrial complex.

    Politicians are merely puppets doing the bidding of their pay masters.

  20. Sam F
    June 14, 2019 at 05:46

    Yes, money control of mass media is the problem. Such articles may help some with doubts to formulate an awareness that leads to admission of the problem. The major factor in admissions is the rare direct experience, which may include a story close to home, a personal loss due to narrative control. Of course the majority seek the mass media narrative because it directs them to safety and profit in their social and economic dependent relationships. Our unregulated market economy encourages the selfishness that enslaves the people to money power. As Mencken stated (approx) “the common man avoids the truth [because] it is dangerous, no good can come of it, and it doesn’t pay.”

    I hope to set up a college of policy debate CPD constituted to protect all points of view, and to conduct moderated text-only debate among experts of several disciplines, of the status and possibilities of each world region, and the policy options. Debate summaries commented by all sides are to be made available for public study and comment. The CPD would bring the knowledge of society into public debate, educate the electorate, discourage propaganda, and expose the wrongs of society and the corruption of government that desperately needs reform.

    The debates will require a higher standard of argument in foreign and domestic policy on both right and left, ensure that all points of view are heard, and require all challenges to be answered. This would have much reduced the group-think that led to our mad wars since WWII. Extreme and naïve politicians will be easier to expose, and media commentators will have a starting point and a standard for investigation and analysis.

    • Tom Kath
      June 14, 2019 at 20:41

      I applaud this CPD idea ! If I understand it correctly, the debates would be “ideas”or “wisdom” based with the “identities” hidden or disregarded. Statements or opinions would then HAVE to be assessed on the merits of the statement, NOT the person or personality making it. – I hope to hear more of this.

      • Sam F
        June 15, 2019 at 07:53

        Presently I am focusing upon processes and workflows.
        Debate statements must address the opposing question, and be moderated outgoing and incoming.
        Debates are to focus on a subject area, and will be text only, asking and answering questions.
        All viewpoints are to be protected, especially the inconvenient solutions that so often have proved in retrospect to be the alternatives to war. Winners, personality, and emotionalism are to be avoided.

        A major purpose is to resolve terms and concepts. Broad ideologies may be represented, but are less likely to be resolved or rationally debated in themselves, so that resolvable specific policy issues are better subjects of debate. The product is debate summaries commented by all sides, and plans for extended, related, and repeated debates. Admin processes will decide upon side issues to be debated, which may postpone continued debate.

        The central processes of debate are accompanied by an expert discussion layer in which groups of common viewpoint can select debaters for particular issues. Viewpoint teams are to be monitored per debate on response to challenges, new information, rules compliance, etc. Debaters are to be monitored for knowledge, honesty, rules compliance, and ability to present a subject.

        A public access layer will allow commentary, viewpoint groups, mini-quizzes, and ratings for breadth of knowledge, rules compliance, and service as discussion monitors. That should become a vast online university. Such scores can be public, allowing politicians and others to be rated for knowledge of fact and viewpoints in specific policy areas.

        Traceability of all processes is important, so identities may have to be available, at least to internal monitors. A major problem is ensuring a permanently incorruptible administration, because much money and force will seek to control debates. This is of course an essential problem of democracy, so the processes to ensure that may be broadly applicable in designing and reforming democracies.

  21. Zhu
    June 14, 2019 at 04:14

    Americans are propagandists from childhood, and it’s very hard forost to break free, even if they want to. In my case, a rather abusive childhood made me disinclined to accept conventional wisdom.

  22. Donald Duck
    June 14, 2019 at 03:18

    ”The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.” I have forgotten who actually said this but it seems appropriate for our age. I think the mass of people are very well aware of what is going on. The proverbial man in the street is well aware that capitalism/politics is a racket and openly say so. The falling numbers in the ‘democracies’ who now bother to vote is an indication of this, as is the growing political unrest in the heartlands of the Anglo-Zionist empire. It is not possible to ‘fool all of the people all of the time’. Ther Whether they do anything about it is another matter. If note is taken of the David Icke phenomenon it is possible to identify a growing awareness of the of ordinary people to the crimes of the rich and powerful.

    These are dangerous times, but that is the usual condition when the structure of any social and political order is beginning to crumble. Ultimately, the Anglo-Zionist empire is, to use Lenin’s description ‘A colossus with feet of clay.’ No empire lasts forever, and the US is not exceptional in this respect. The real problem is that the demise of the US hegemonic project will taken down the rest of the planet with it.

    • Zhu
      June 14, 2019 at 04:21

      “Quiet desperation” is ftom Thoreau. The colossus with the feet of clay is the Biblical book of Daniel, the dream of Nebuchadnezzar.

      Neither Reptilans nor Zionists make us Americans commit the crimes and follies we do. We oirselves are responsible.

  23. T.J
    June 14, 2019 at 02:43

    Caitlin Johnstone has concisely and precisely, in this article, provided a compendium of ideas and sources to explain how the powerful through it’s control of propaganda corrupts democracy to the core. Laziness, ignorance and acceptance of the status quo prevents the vast majority from acknowledging this to be the case. As Caitlin states it takes courage to reject the “narrative control matrix “ of the powerful and that can only be achieved by changing our relationship with that narrative. This, of course, takes time and effort but is liberating nonetheless.

  24. Tom Kath
    June 13, 2019 at 23:34

    I’m a bit surprised at the inclusion of your video HERE. I am tempted to describe it as pure propaganda for prepubescent girls.
    Your more adult grappling with the problem of gullibility leads me to once again quote the difference between “communist and dictatorship”states, and ours – They KNOW they are being lied to, and we think we are not.

    The problem we face is our deep desire to believe in democracy, coupled with our repugnance for what the majority actually believes!

    • MichaelWme
      June 14, 2019 at 11:24

      I was going to skip the video until I read this comment. The video lays out the problem perfectly, and has hope for a solution that does not exist.
      The new and improved kings own the Internet, Facebook, and Google. Google decides what can be searched for, and has since it transformed from a student PhD project into one of the major money-making enterprises on the planet. Early on, someone built a site criticising the US liberation of the Philippines, where the US generously sent missionaries to convert the pagans from Romanism to Christianity, and employed methods similar to those used by the Romans in their Inquisition. Google removed that site from Google, so no one could find it. Search for Philippines, and one got how the US had done them a great favour by bringing civilisation to the savages, just as today if one searches with Google, one can only find similar analyses about Vietnam, Grenada, Panamá, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Libya, etc. Any analysis that does not say the US did the right thing, greatly benefiting all those savages and bringing them civilisation is not on Google, since it is marked as Fake. Ditto analyses that show that the DNC e-mail server might not have been hacked by the Russians, since Google tells us the FBI and Crowdstrike are reliable and always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
      This also applies to Facebook, although Zuckerberg likes money more than he liked Secretary Clinton, and let Trump buy an effective ad campaign from Cambridge Analytica that might have been what gave Trump the College.
      It is not easy to find Consortium News (I learned about it because I try to watch all the propaganda channels, not just the BBC and CNN) or anything else on the Internet that does not conform to what the Kings want us to believe.

      • OlyaPola
        June 14, 2019 at 12:46

        “The video lays out the problem perfectly..”

        Perhaps perfection was not achieved given that the video was informed/predicated upon beliefs that seeking to attain control over others was/is/will be a constant trending towards “categorical imperative”, whilst illustrating that ideology is immersive akin to a swimming pool – on emerging from swimming pools water droplets are retained.

    • Anonymous
      June 15, 2019 at 11:01

      Solid article, but the focus on Propaganda as it is distributed on the airwaves alone misses both the other half of its own coin and part of the larger picture. Standardized curriculums in schools make sure that teachers teach what those in power want to be taught, and standardized testing which assures that quite literally anything taught outside the narrative results in lower ratings for any given school.

      As far as the larger picture is concerned, what about the entire industry of psychiatry which focuses almost entirely on social control and little else? Propaganda alone, as others have hinted, does not necessarily leave a population blind and places where coercive psychiatry was not quite as widely accepted or pervasively employed as it is now (e.g. classifying a child’s development in terms of pathology and taking measures to limit that individual’s freedom or alter their thought patterns entirely with no burden of proof and immunity to requirements of due process).

      Yeah, I know, I’m a broken record. It isn’t just because I’ve been through this, it’s because of the extreme impact I’ve seen it have on myself and others and how I’ve seen individuals like my father (who committed a number of what would be felonies, some potentially violent, if he had been prosecuted) skate by if only for their nationalistic dogma.

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