The Narrative Is Crumbling

Caitlin Johnstone asks how far humanity’s relationship with propaganda can be stretched before it snaps and forces a completely new way of being.


By Caitlin Johnstone

Narrative is Crumbling.

It’s difficult to understand what’s going on in the world.

It’s difficult to understand what’s going on in the world because powerful people actively manipulate public understanding of what’s going on in the world.

Powerful people actively manipulate public understanding of what’s going on in the world because if the public understood what’s going on in the world, they would rise up and use their strength of numbers to overthrow the powerful.

The public would rise up and use their strength of numbers to overthrow the powerful if they understood what’s going on in their world because then they would understand that the powerful have been exploiting, oppressing, robbing, cheating and deceiving them while destroying the ecosystem, stockpiling weapons of Armageddon and waging endless wars, for no other reason than so that they can maintain and expand their power.

The public do not rise up and use their strength of numbers to overthrow the powerful because they have been successfully manipulated into not wanting to.

Narrative is Crumbling.

The public have been successfully manipulated into not wanting to rise up and use their strength of numbers to overthrow the powerful due to the way the powerful have been able to shore up mainstream narrative control in the form of purchasing mass media outlets, funding think tanks, buying politicians, implementing government opacity, pushing internet censorship, and other forms of perception management.

The powerful use their control over mainstream narratives to ensure that enough members of the public believe they live in a free democracy where things aren’t perfect but it’s the best you could ask for, instead of in a corporatist oligarchy wherein the powerful exploit, oppress, rob, cheat and deceive them while destroying the ecosystem, stockpiling weapons of Armageddon and waging endless wars.

President Donald Trump, delivers remarks following a briefing on Southcom Enhanced Counternarcotics Operations, July 10, 2020, at U.S. Southern Command. In Doral, Fla. (White House, Tia Dufour)

As long as the powerful are able to exert control over mainstream narratives, there will never be enough members of the public willing to use their strength of numbers to shake off the powerful and create a healthy society.

The powerful will remain capable of exerting control over mainstream narratives for as long as the public maintains its current unhealthy relationship with mental narrative.

Narrative is Crumbling.

A collective shift into a healthy relationship with mental narrative would mean thought becomes the useful tool we evolved it to be rather than this noisy, compulsive head-chatter which dominates our lives where we are driven by fear and attachment to imbue an endless string of mental stories with the power of belief.

If we had a healthy relationship with mental narrative we would naturally view stories about what’s going on in the world far more objectively, because rather than glomming onto them out of fear and attachment we would have psychological space enough to look at them and critically examine whether or not they are useful tools for us to use in the present moment.

If humanity collectively made such a transition on a mass scale — a transition which sages across the millennia assure us humans are fully capable of — then humanity would become impossible to propagandize effectively.

If humanity becomes impossible to propagandize effectively, the lies will be impossible to conceal via mainstream narrative control, and humanity using the strength of its numbers to create a healthy society will become an inevitability.

And the funny thing is, in a weird way from way out of left field that nobody could possibly have anticipated, humanity’s current relationship with mental narrative appears to be drawing to a close.

Narrative is Crumbling.

“I’m Edward Snowden – Stop Watching Us, Berlin,” 2013. (mw238

The narratives are breaking down.

People’s old ways of understanding what’s going on in the world just aren’t holding together anymore.

Trust in the mass media is at an all-time low, and it’s only getting lower.

People are more aware than ever that anything they see can be propaganda or disinformation.

Deepfake technology will soon be so advanced and so accessible that nobody will even trust video anymore.

The leader of the most powerful country on earth speaks in a way that has no real relationship with facts or reality in any way, and people have just learned to roll with it.

Ordinary people are hurting financially but Wall Street is booming, a glaring plot hole in the story of the economy that’s only getting more pronounced.

The entire media class will now spend years leading the public on a wild goose chase for Russian collusion and then act like it’s no big deal when the whole thing turned out to be completely baseless.

There’s a virus causing a massive disturbance in the entirety of human civilization with two wildly different narratives about it running simultaneously, and both sides are 100 percent convinced that all the facts have fully vindicated their position.

There are protests where people are becoming more and more aware that they are being fed empty narratives of approval and understanding while their core demands are going completely unaddressed.

Tear gas and fires at Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse during the 2020 George Floyd protests in Portland, Oregon. (Tedder, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

There’s a presidential election between two obvious dementia patients and the mass media are all pretending that’s fine and normal despite what people can see with their own eyes.

New Cold War escalations between the U.S.-centralized empire and the unabsorbed governments of China and Russia are going to cause the media airwaves around the planet to become saturated in ever-intensifying propaganda narratives which favor one side or the other and have no interest in honestly telling people the truth about what’s going on.

Now they’re even babbling about UFOs.

Narrative is Crumbling.

"Last Day" visual interpretation of fragility of financial markets and unpredictable nature of consumer habits. Displayed June 2016 in a derelict shopping unit the City Arcade in Coventry. (Antonio Roberts via Flickr)

“Last Day” visual interpretation of fragility of financial markets and unpredictable nature of consumer habits. Displayed June 2016 in a derelict shopping unit in the City Arcade in Coventry. (Antonio Roberts via Flickr)

It’s all accelerating toward a white noise saturation point.

How long do you think we can go on like this?

How far do you think humanity’s relationship with narrative can be stretched before it snaps completely and forces a completely new way of being?

How long before it becomes more and more common for people to begin looking to themselves as individuals to determine which narratives are useful to them instead of looking to establishment narrative managers like they used to?

How long before people find themselves more and more often asking the question “Is this true?”

How long before people find themselves more and more often asking the question “What is truth?”

How long before people find themselves more and more often asking the question “What else have I been deceived about?”

How long before people find themselves more and more often asking the question “How else have I been deceiving myself?”

The current strain that is being placed on our collective relationship with narrative is completely unsustainable.

This would be a bad thing if we’d had a healthy relationship with mental narrative, but we don’t; we have a profoundly unhealthy relationship with mental narrative which has left us susceptible to terrible abuses on a mass scale.

We are now, as a species, collectively squeezing ourselves out of our old unhealthy relationship with narrative.

Narrative is Crumbling.

It’s all crumbling to the ground.

This cannot be a bad thing.

It could end up being very, very good.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books “Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and “Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.”

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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28 comments for “The Narrative Is Crumbling

  1. July 31, 2020 at 16:02

    When will this change? It will only change when the 9.9%, i.e. the educated upper middle class Mandarins, figure out that THEIR PRIVILEGES will be on the chopping block. Worse yet, that their children and grandchildren won’t even make it into the kitchen.

    Revolutions don’t come from poor people – they are too tired, too discouraged and have to spend most of their time just surviving. It’s the upper middle class the oligarchy has to worry about. So long as the 9.9%’s 401K’s look flush, most will continue to pretend that everything is not THAT bad.

    Once this absurd market, stuffed with free Fed funny-money, starts to collapse and/or the rest of the world tells America to take-its-reserve-currency-and-shove-it with BRICS or some other work-around, that’s when the real issues will hit the fan. I fear that the 9.9% will only wake up when bread costs $25 /loaf – and I fear that it WILL cost $25/loaf. Scary times.

  2. Aaron
    July 30, 2020 at 14:13

    The secret to the power of Bezos’ Amazon is all about the data. The one who has the data, controls everything. This is where the really massive manipulation is occurring, but people don’t realize it at a conscious level. Every little piece of data that they collect, continuously improves their algorithms, and the takeover is basically complete in many ways. I agree with you to the point than I think most are waking up to the fact that something is wrong, because I think they wanted Sanders as President, but not only is there fake news, there are fake elections. I don’t believe the majority wanted Biden, they know better, but the data is manipulated and the results are often fake, I don’t think this is a stretch of the imagination. That Biden, the epitome of what everyone can’t stand, is the choice of the working man, is not possible, it can’t be legitimate, so one must assume that elections are rigged. Who can doubt at this point, with all negative economic data, historically bad, that stock prices are being manipulated? But just like the official story of 9/11, the majority cannot psychologically handle that the truth is something different. We are first and foremost emotional creatures, and we go into denial when faced with things that soul-crushing and terrifying. We feel like “no, it can’t be, it just can’t be”, and we can rationalize anything to avoid the truth.

    • VallejoD
      July 31, 2020 at 16:03


  3. Anonymous
    July 30, 2020 at 01:28

    WTF is a “mental narrative”? But yeah “aliens” the ET kind…something is seriously f***ing broken in the Matrix! Looking back at 9/11, remember the “yellow ribbons” the “unity” and the next war “the war on terrorism”, that was all complete BS but at least it was a common psychosis. How is all of this going to look in a year much less 10 or 20? To at least half the country its going to look like the absolute worst sham or fraud imaginable regardless of who wins. Are we doomed to see this bipolar extremism playout every election year now? The way American’s take back their country is by destroying, disband, outlawing, and eliminate the political parties and money in politics. How are they not the equivalent of religious factions/fanatics? Separation of Church and State! Separation of Money and State that was the one the founders missed! It will remove one of the most powerful tools the elites have to control and bamboozle the foolish ignorant fanatical masses!!!

    • VallejoD
      July 31, 2020 at 16:05

      “Separation of money and state.”

      Thank you for a great slogan! It needs to be on every bumper in America!

  4. robert e williamson jr
    July 29, 2020 at 22:42

    Notice the “Trump Virus” is about to put the nation on it’s knees, again. Something that could have been avoided.

  5. graham
    July 29, 2020 at 07:54

    public DOES know but is cowed by overwhelming force and the christian desire to do no harm

  6. Paolo
    July 29, 2020 at 06:44

    I mostly agree with this article, but…

    «If humanity collectively made such a transition [acquiring a healthy relationship with mental narrative] on a mass scale — a transition which sages across the millennia assure us humans are fully capable of — then humanity would become impossible to propagandize effectively.»

    reminded me the guy who said that «it’s easy to stop smoking, I’ve done it many times»

  7. Gregory Ghica
    July 29, 2020 at 00:34

    Beautiful presentation of the reality. However, Mss Caitlin: How do you suggest that we can create a healthy society.???

    • SoTexGuy
      July 29, 2020 at 08:42

      ‘Mss Caitlin: How do we..’ and I would add; what would such a society look like?


  8. subhuti37
    July 28, 2020 at 23:11

    Humanity is drenched in narratives. All the creation stories are narratives.

    Religious belief systems are made up narratives. The Indian philosopher Nagarjuna called religion “fruitful fiction”. Without some artificial framework, including language, it’s impossible to function.

    It’s true that narratives can lose their utility. Or they get challenged.

    However, powerful institutions such as the Church, feudalism, capitalism or the US govt. can maintain such delusions for hundreds of years.

    “Shining City on the Hill” for example.

  9. Bup Majerski
    July 28, 2020 at 22:55

    A poem.
    Thank you CJ.

  10. nomad
    July 28, 2020 at 15:32

    The elites and governments know how to psyop most of the people they govern.
    Instead of being transparent, they manipulate and lie to the masses. They get
    people to turn on each other. The elites made sure of this to get what they want at our expenses
    and maintain control.

    There is no true left, middle, or right anymore.
    There is violence and non-rational thoughts of hate against each other for differences of opinions and solutions
    to problems that affect many of us.

    Educating the masses what “information warfare” is and how to counter this would be another good topic.

  11. Michelle
    July 28, 2020 at 15:26

    “Trust in the mass media is at an all-time low, and it’s only getting lower“

    “People are more aware than ever that anything they see can be propaganda or disinformation.”

    This is the reason President Trump was elected over Hillary Clinton. The deception is massive, but not enough to cover for decades of crimes in political office. I wasn’t a fan of Donald Trump until I saw the hate coming from the media. Now I love him as do millions of Americans. He speaks to us, “Fake News Media” is how we see it.

    Notice we aren’t at war anymore?

    • Pablo Diablo
      July 29, 2020 at 11:34

      “We aren’t at war anymore”??????? The USA killed 9,000 (nine thousand) civilians in bombing raids in Syria this year. What do you call that?????

  12. Pablo Diablo
    July 28, 2020 at 13:35

    Covid19 has proven once and for all that Hubris is not a weapon.

  13. AnneR
    July 28, 2020 at 12:52

    Thank you Caitlin. However, I would suggest, based, I admit on mainstream radio propaganda (i.e. NPR and BBC World Service to America) that the Russophobic-Russiagate speak has NOT stopped. FAR from it. Just now, on some NPR program called 1A, the compere (what do they call them these days?) a Ms Jenn White regurgitated the “Russia Interfered with the 2016 Election” utter lies when she was questioning some Congressional Politico, a Blue Face, bien sur. And I’m assuming he happily went along with the completely fictional account – but because I couldn’t face more of the nauseating twaddle, I shifted over to the classical music station…One can only abide the propaganda for so long. Indeed it is becoming ever more difficult to tolerate it for more than a few seconds, be it against Russia, China or Iran – or Venezuela or whoever is in our crosshairs….

    They (the mainstream media) will NOT let it go (it being Russiagate – at NO point have the raised the evidence against the Clinton accusations, at NO point).

    I despair. Totally.

  14. July 28, 2020 at 10:47

    Caitlin seems like that old rabble rouser of the 60’s, Bob Dylan. He was sure the system was ready to fall too. His song “The times they are a changin” warned the powerful in the halls of congress to get out of the way. Fast forward a few years and there is Dylan in the halls of power accepting a medal, of all things, from the Establishment. He even tried distancing himself from protest songs. Things can and do change for people, but systems are a little harder to change. But then there were revolutionary wars before and might be again. Sadly all that happens is a new system is put in place to control us. As you can tell I’m old, Caitlin, but I still sincerely hope a new day will come. Hang in there.

    July 28, 2020 at 01:26

    The death of lies is always a good thing, but not necessarily a painless one.

  16. Drew Hunkins
    July 28, 2020 at 00:54

    It’s going to be more and more difficult for the elites and its kept corporate media to keep pulling the wool over the masses’ eyes, simply b/c the masses are going to slip more and more into economic precarity and financial hopelessness.

    It’s one reason there has been a big growth spurt over the years in jails and prisons. The ruling class understands that they must somehow deal with the superfluous population.

  17. Moi
    July 27, 2020 at 22:42

    Disseminating information that would resolve uncertainty is not what governments do. Uncertainty sells stuff, be it whitegoods or propaganda.

    Usually the government MSM mouthpieces don’t even propagate disinformation, they just censor anything that doesn’t fit the narrative dictated by the oligarchs.

    The truth is forever veiled by governments and made totally opaque by the catchphrase “national security.”

    In reality we all live in fantasy worlds.

  18. IvyMike
    July 27, 2020 at 20:48

    There was, starting in 1965, almost a decade during which the American Media told the truth. It didn’t affect the course of the Vietnam War, we lost that w/o the media’s help, it didn’t much change America politically, Nixon won in 68 and 72 over anti war candidates. The 63 civil rights rally in DC got a it of coverage, but white America didn’t care, and the famous I Have A Dream speech was only rediscovered in the 80’s. That America didn’t learn the importance of Civil Rights in the 60’s, didn’t learn the evil futility of needless wars against tiny countries that were no threat to anybody in the 60’s, breaks my heart. I have only despair for our future.

    • AnneR
      July 28, 2020 at 12:57

      Yes. And even more despair for those who are will be on the receiving end of our missiles/bombs/depleted uranium…THEY are the true victims, whoever they are/will be. NOT us, for we have gone along with it all, ignoring what we have done and are doing to other peoples, cultures and societies everywhere. (And our ugly inhuman belligerence did NOT begin with Vietnam, but earlier; first using Japanese civilians as a “demonstration” to the USSR – look what we’ve got; then Korea….). There is something profoundly ill in the “beacon on a hill” psyche….

    • klaus
      July 28, 2020 at 15:16

      Narrative is crumbling …
      quite. that is what we have grown up with and we tried to fight it, in europe, generations ago or in numbers 95 years ago. now that the same insane personalities arising – there is no cure…

    • robert e williamson jr
      July 28, 2020 at 16:12


  19. Broompilot
    July 27, 2020 at 19:19

    a great piece. But a new era of truth and reason is not going to be ushered in. It is more likely that alternate sources of information will be ushered out.

    From the moment Tunisians celebrated their social media organized demonstrations that brought the existing government down in 2011, governments all over the globe started working on the means to shut that down. Governments MUST control the narrative. They will be forced to shut down or control alternate narratives of any form to avoid chaos in their countries. There are no other options, sadly.

  20. Anonymous
    July 27, 2020 at 18:45

    I wager this has been going on for centuries, and people are simply more aware of it now. I’ve seen you use psych terms to condemn people in your articles – whether or not you’re aware of it, this is an echo of one of many methods used to manipulate us into adhering to narratives and is used on a regular basis both towards those considered sane and insane alike. It is naïve to think that political abuses of psychiatry were unique to the soviet union.

    What we’re seeing now with this upheaval isn’t a glimmer of hope. It’s people (en masse) dealing with being led by a president that would fit a literal work of satire, a sudden and major shift in their daily lives, and facing uncertainty they never thought they’d have to face with their economic livelihood. They’re looking for an outlet to vent their anger. These issues are more of a scapegoat to them than a genuine cause – or there would have been relatively major protests with some semblance of regularity over the years.

    It isn’t that they don’t know that they’re being spoon-fed a convenient story – it’s that they have little reason to do anything about it most of the time. I doubt there’s any permanence to these protests and seeming wave of awakening – if and when this situation with lockdown and its economic aftershocks is resolved, people will likely go right back to silently bemoaning the status quo.

    Real change is far more gradual and far less dramatic.

    • Broompilot
      July 29, 2020 at 12:33

      Exactly Anonymous, but the anger they’re venting is on their wasted support in time and dollars on their crummy candidate Hillary. They started this very unAmerican “resistance” the day after the election before Trump had a single appointee or policy. It has been nothing but a fraud from the start. Wake up you Trump deranged and deluded Democrats. You have no idea what you may bring down on the country or yourselves.

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