The Problem Isn’t Human Nature

The problem, says Caitlin Johnstone, is a few manipulative sociopaths who are willing to do anything to get ahead and into positions of power.  

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with the local police tactical team before departing a NATO meeting in Brussels where he called for an expansion of the military alliance into Asia. (State Department, Ron Przysucha)

By Caitlin Johnstone

The Principia Discordia is the primary text of Discordianism, which has been described as either an elaborate joke disguised as a religion or a religion disguised as an elaborate joke, depending on who you ask.

One section describes a short dialogue between the Principia‘s author “Malaclypse the Younger” (Mal-2) and “the Goddess”, who speaks to him through a radio:

One day Mal-2 asked the messenger spirit Saint Gulik to approach the Goddess and request Her presence for some desperate advice. Shortly afterwards the radio came on by itself, and an ethereal female Voice said YES?

“O! Eris! Blessed Mother of Man! Queen of Chaos! Daughter of Discord! Concubine of Confusion! O! Exquisite Lady, I beseech You to lift a heavy burden from my heart!”


“I am filled with fear and tormented with terrible visions of pain. Everywhere people are hurting one another, the planet is rampant with injustices, whole societies plunder groups of their own people, mothers imprison sons, children perish while brothers war. O, woe.”


“But nobody Wants it! Everybody hates it.”


At which moment She turned herself into an aspirin commercial and left The Polyfather stranded alone with his species.

“WELL, THEN STOP.” As you would expect from a joke disguised as a religion (or religion disguised as a joke), this is both funny and profound.

Because doesn’t it kind of feel like that’s the message we’ve been getting? From the divine if you like, or from the universe, or just from the mundane reality of our situation? Humanity’s leading problems at this point in history are not due to sabre-toothed tigers or deadly plagues whose nature we don’t understand, but are instead generated by humanity itself. War, tyranny, exploitation, ecocide — these are human-generated problems.

So it kind of feels like the message we’re getting here is, “WELL, THEN STOP.” If we don’t like how things are, we should knock it off. Stop waging wars. Stop exploiting and impoverishing each other. Stop killing the ecosystem. Don’t do those nutty things.

And of course the joke is that while this is true, it’s much easier said than done. It’s one thing for some lofty deity to tell us “WELL, THEN STOP” from on high, and quite another for us to actually do it.

But for those who care about our world, it’s still a question that needs to be taken seriously. Really, why don’t we stop?

‘Just Human Nature’

Cuban doctors arriving in Italy to help during the pandemic. (Twitter )@JoseCarlosRguez)

One answer you’ll run into a lot is that this is just human nature. That it’s human nature to be selfish, competitive, predatory, exploitative, tyrannical, vicious, brutish, and violent. Some people strongly believe this, and get quite defensive if you challenge that belief.

Personally, I never turn my back on such people. Someone who says it’s human nature to be selfish, competitive, predatory, exploitative, tyrannical, vicious, brutish and violent isn’t telling you about human nature, they’re telling you about their own nature. I look within myself and find none of those things, but if you tell me that’s what you find when you look within yourself, I believe you.

The self-destructive behavioral patterns we’re seeing play out in our species are not the result of some unalterable feature inherent in our nature. This is evidenced by the existence of many human beings whose behavior is kind, gentle, generous, and collaborative. Humans are not inherently self-destructive, it’s just a behavior we see exhibited to varying degrees in some humans.

Most adults understand that it’s wrong to judge a racial, ethnic or religious group for the immoral actions of a few of its members, but sometimes it seems like they often fail to extend this same principle to humanity as a whole. The problem is not “human nature,” the problem is that some humans fail to develop functioning empathy centers in their brains, often as a result of early childhood trauma. Those humans then use the competitive edge their lack of empathy gives them in a system which rewards competitiveness and a willingness to do anything to get ahead to ascend to positions of power. That is why we are in the mess we’re in.

Important Distinction

The Principia Discordia, if read literally, encourages the worship of the Greek goddess Eris. (Wikimedia Commons)

This is an important distinction, because it means we’re not up against some intrinsic aspect of our being here. We’re up against a small minority of manipulative sociopaths and psychopaths and a system which rewards a lack of empathy. The maxim that there are more of us than there are of them remains true, and it means that we can indeed use the power of our numbers to force real change. To move our world into health. To stop.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with humanity itself that is making a mess of things. The problem is that we’re swimming in lies that we’ve been indoctrinated into by liars who benefit from our remaining deceived. All our problems can be solved by moving from lies to truth.

There are no human-generated problems that can’t be solved by truth. The truth about imperialism. The truth about capitalism. The truth about power. The truth about propaganda. The truth about mental narrative. The truth about consciousness. There’s nothing inherently wrong with us as a whole; we’ve just been confused by lies.

All that’s required is for enough people to become sufficiently aware of what’s true for a real revolution against our sociopathy-rewarding systems to become possible. All positive human behavioral changes are always the result of our becoming more aware of the dynamics underlying our negative behaviors, whether you’re talking about addictions, poor anger management, bigotry and prejudice, or unjust political systems. Every single positive development in the way humans behave in the world has been preceded by an increase in awareness, throughout our entire history.

This is how we change things. This is how we stop. We become sufficiently aware in sufficient numbers of the abusive nature of our systems, and of who is doing the abusing, to open up the possibility of a revolutionary movement away from our sociopathy-serving competition-based models to systems in which we collaborate with each other and with our ecosystem for the common good.

There is nothing in us which is preventing this. We’re just not aware enough yet. We have yet to wake up. But just like awakening from sleep, awakening from our propaganda-induced coma can happen suddenly, and lead immediately to a situation that is unrecognizably different from the situation which preceded it.

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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15 comments for “The Problem Isn’t Human Nature

  1. April 3, 2021 at 05:22

    OSHO !

  2. Rob Roy
    April 2, 2021 at 11:50

    If the majority are fairly decent people, why are the rulers everywhere of the ugly variety? Sometimes good people take the reins momentarily, but they are asap removed, coup-displaced, assassinated, warred against, lied about, destroyed and someone more compatible to the PTB (the USA, capitalist countries who follow the USA) is given figurative control. I.e., why is this pattern never permanently changed? Is it that the bad have control, money and arms and the good don’t? We all know by now the US will never be allowed to have a good president. It’s helpful that Russia and China have stability. The US, of course, will do all it can to change that, but will be thwarted, we hope.

  3. Helen O. Guyonnet
    April 2, 2021 at 10:15

    ?Hi. Been reading your articles with great joy whenever I come across one (CN etc.) and just watched you and your book being interviewed on the Jimmy Dore Show on YouTube.
    I am an 83yr.old Scot now widowed and through fate living in Switzerland. You are young but I think you’re already up there among the greats like James Cameron RIP, Christ Hedges, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky etc. Etc. – the greatest thing ‘since sliced bread’ as we used to say in the old days. I’d send you some money if I had any but all I can do is share everything I find written by you on the Internet so am sending this with gratitude for the hope you seed around you. If you’re here there must be more of your ilk! Stay safe.

    Sent from my iPad

  4. Rex Williams
    April 1, 2021 at 17:25

    How sad it is that after the dramatics represented during the last US election, this slowing fading empire ends up with a Secretary of State named Blinken, the equal go the previous one, Pompeo. From the same caste, the same values and promoting the same false diplomacy. Power and hatred.

    Diplomacy in 2021 is controlled by the US #1 weapon of choice, sanctions , used as a bludgeon to gain support. It will never work.

  5. rosemerry
    April 1, 2021 at 17:22

    The terrible observation is that these psychopaths are the ones who rule us, and I do NOT mean Russia and China! The presidents of those two nations seem to be icons of sanity in comparison with Biden and Blinken, the models for US diplomacy, Boris Johnson, who thinks Brexit and a huge increase in British nukes will be just fine for world domination, and of course the EU, which hates Russia, China, Iran and cannot even arrange vaccines because only profit-making “Western” Big Pharma varieties are acceptable, not the enemy types which actually help the people in real need. 130 countries have no vaccines yet, but the “world leaders” dither and find ways to blame anyone else for their errors and incompetence.

  6. Truth first
    April 1, 2021 at 16:08

    At one point when Bush Jr. was killing many people due to his war on terror a reporter suggested to him that this must be a heavy burden to bear. Bush replied, “No burden, I sleep like a baby”.
    This also applies to FDR, Lenin, Churchill and Hitler. Not one of them tried to stop the war. They all wanted to win it!!

    • The Squirel
      April 1, 2021 at 23:34

      Actually, not Lenin: the essence of the October Revolution was precisely to withdraw from the war at any cost. The cost has been heavy but it lead to the end of WWI.

  7. Donald Duck
    April 1, 2021 at 15:55

    The human nature theory as trotted out by the paid pessimists and their paymasters has been a consistent historical leitmotif. Shakespeare was quick to take not of this in his play Julius Caesar. It ran as follows:


    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

    In short we can change things if we have the will and volition to do so. The question is – do we?

  8. penrose32
    April 1, 2021 at 15:37

    Actually, the problem is human nature. It’s human nature which consistently allows the psychopaths and sociopaths to be so successful and controlling. It’s human nature which causes so much jealosy, greed, and needless animosity. Even so-called do-gooders are the victims of human nature which causes them to often be short-sighted and end up doing more harm than good.

    • James Simpson
      April 2, 2021 at 04:03

      So your solution is what? Religion? I see how well that has worked out.

    • Manifold Destiny
      April 2, 2021 at 06:25

      This part of the article is worth repeating:

      “The problem is not “human nature,” the problem is that some humans fail to develop functioning empathy centers in their brains, often as a result of early childhood trauma. Those humans then use the competitive edge their lack of empathy gives them in a system which rewards competitiveness and a willingness to do anything to get ahead to ascend to positions of power.”

      You must try to consider the advantage this gives the psycho/socio-path to operate. Also consider that since most of us have the compassionate gene, we assume these people are acting on our behalf as well.

      It follows then, that “When psychopaths are the policy makers in government and the CEOs of big business, the way they think and reason – their ‘morality’ – becomes the common culture and ‘morality’ of the population over which they preside. When this happens, the mind of the population is infected in the way a pathogen infects a physical body. The only way to protect ourselves against this pathological thinking is to inoculate ourselves against it, and that is done by learning as much as possible about the nature of psychopathy and its influence on us. Essentially, this particular ‘disease’ thrives in an environment where its very existence is denied, and this denial is planned and deliberate.” – Laura Knight-Jadczyk, publisher red pill press

      Even John Lennon understood the phenomenon: “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”

  9. April 1, 2021 at 15:28

    Most humans may not be sociopaths, but altogether too many humans are gullible, believe whatever they want to believe, and follow those sociopaths who have convinced them that destruction and violence against others will bring victory, wealth and salvation. Is that stupid? Yes it is stupid. But unfortunately it’s what we have to deal with.

  10. R. Billie
    April 1, 2021 at 15:19

    Being an old bastard now

    Being rather old now (80) I have a lot of snippets of memory/information up in the old cranioid that float to the surface sometimes, like answers in a magic eight ball. To wit: during the run up to the 1956 presidential election some bright eyed and bushy tailed young reporter asked the renegade poet Allen Ginsberg what advice he might have for the various candidates. What he suggested was simply this “tell the truth once and for all and then shut up forever”. Sage advice now as it was then, and heeded as much then as it would be now.

  11. Antony Manolis
    April 1, 2021 at 14:27

    My daughter-in-law – a social worker told me that 6% of the population were sociopaths. (We might include a sub-group of psychopaths among them and we might stretch this out with a Gaussian curve to varying degrees of sociopathy among a larger population). However, the bottom line is, I have always believed that it is these people who by hook or by crook generally end up running the world. I have long ago given up on the “right” and the “left” and other political groupings as meaningless as Protestant vs Catholic or Lilliput vs Blefescu. In the history of my country Canada, right wing provincial governments have turned out to be more “left wing” than “left wing” governments and vice versa. As a scientist I have observed first-hand the nature of many people who are elected or run corporations.
    I characterize governments as simply varying degrees of good or evil. It is the latter that are generally in control. Unfortunately that is the nature of human society. As I footnote I should note that I have met some remarkably brave and good people in government, but these are the exceptional few.

  12. Daniel
    April 1, 2021 at 13:45

    Quiet right again, Ms. Johnstone. You are a breath of fresh air in our ‘this is just how shi!!y people are’ world.

    That picture at the top of the article, though! Nothing says ‘diplomacy’ quite like a Secretary of State being surrounded by storm troopers.

Comments are closed.