Political Partisanship Is a Propaganda Lubricant

Creating big psychological identity structures out of our politics makes the job of the propagandists so very much easier, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

(Jared Rodriguez / T r u t h o u t;  Adapted: Thomas Hawk, Horia Varlan, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Studying the unfolding of the new mainstream UFO narrative has been very interesting, because it highlights the dynamics I always talk about in a fresh light which makes them easier to see.

One theme that keeps resurfacing is people marveling at how low-key the public response to the whole thing has been. One might expect the U.S.  government officially stating that the military has been frequently encountering strange unknown aircraft of unthinkable technological advancement would rank a little higher in public interest, but so far that really hasn’t been the case.

[Listen to a reading of this article.]

A YouTuber recently summed up this sentiment with a 13-minute rant about how weird it is that everyone isn’t screaming about this all day long:

I’ve seen numerous attempts to explain the apathetic response to UFOs being in the news. The most common is that people have so much on their plate these days that even the possibility of extraterrestrials buzzing U.S. navy ships just doesn’t rank high on their priorities. Others suggest that it’s such an obvious military psyop that the public is dismissive of the story.

Neither of these are particularly convincing. We see vapid nonsense attracting mountains of public interest every day, so the idea that people have no mental bandwidth for this story doesn’t hold water. While the belief that the UFO narrative looks like some kind of military psyop is widely accepted among the sort of people who’d be likely to read this article (I’ve been saying it for a while now myself), skepticism toward suspicious U.S. government claims is not a very widespread posture for people in the mainstream public.

It seems pretty clear to me that the reason there’s not as much public interest in this story as you’d expect is because it doesn’t fit neatly into any of the little boxes that people have been trained to file news into in this society. There’s no partisan angle to it, so it doesn’t appeal to any of the egoic constructs to which the general public tends to hook incendiary news stories.

The likelihood of a news story going viral in our society has little to do with its newsworthiness, its unusualness, or even whether or not it is factually accurate. The single most likely factor in whether or not a news story will have mass appeal is whether it appears to validate the worldview of one of the two mainstream political factions.

MSM Sowing Division

This is why the mainstream media have been deliberately sowing partisan divisiveness and marketing toward increasingly distant partisan echo chambers instead of just reporting the news; they have an obvious profit motive to do so, because tickling people’s egos with hate porn and illusory validation is the best way to get clicks and generate ad revenue.

This is why those who promoted the theory that Trump was a secret Russian agent saw their ratings soar for years before it was conclusively discredited by the very special counsel to whom they’d been literally singing Christmas carols and for whom they’d been lighting prayer candles. There is more evidence that space aliens are cruising around in earth’s atmosphere than there ever was that Vladimir Putin had covertly infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government. But because Russiagate inflamed liberal passions and made them feel like their partisan worldview was about to be vindicated any minute, it sold like crack.

You can immediately tell if something is going to go viral by the degree to which it is tinged with mainstream partisan appeal. A story about how schools want to make your kids transgender. A popular conservative acting like an idiot. A black Trump supporter saying Trump isn’t racist. Marjorie Taylor Greene doing literally anything. Take it too far outside the mainstream, like the U.S.  government getting caught tampering with an OPCW investigation in Syria for example, and you won’t see a ton of clicks, but if it appeals to tens of millions of mainstream partisans you will.

Ego Appeal

In a society that’s enslaved to egoic consciousness as ours is, the things that generate the most public interest will be those which flatter or infuriate common egoic constructs. This is not unique to politics; advertisers have raked in vast fortunes by associating products with common cultural mind viruses like body image issues and personal inadequacy, and TV show hosts like Jerry Springer and Maury Povich figured out decades ago that you can attract massive ratings by letting people feel smug and superior at the sight of poor and uneducated guests acting out emotionally.

To make something go viral, it needs to appeal to the ego. Advertisers understand this. Media executives understand this. Propagandists understand this.

Creating big psychological identity structures out of our politics makes the job of the propagandists so very much easier; it’s like a lubricant which lets mass-scale psyops glide smoothly into public consciousness. From there it’s a very easy task to get people hating Russia or China for this or that partisan reason, or to get people believing former President Donald Trump or current President Joe Biden are helping the American people despite their both continuing and expanding the same murderous and oppressive status quo of their predecessors.

This is why the partisan divide is the most heated and contentious it’s ever been, while the actual behavior of each mainstream party when it’s in power brings in only the most superficial of changes. The oligarchs who own the political/media class desire the continuation of the status quo upon which they have built their empire, but they also want to keep the public as plugged in as possible to the partisan perspectives which facilitate the propaganda that cages our minds.

The solution to this, on an individual level, is to dismantle any egoic attachment you might have to either of the mainstream political factions which preserve the status quo. This includes any attachment to the phony populism of progressive Democrats, and it includes any attachment to the phony populism of Trumpian Republicans. These factions within the mainstream factions are themselves propaganda constructs which will never be permitted to advance any agenda that isn’t desired by the oligarchic empire; they serve only to keep people who would be inclined to reject mainstream politics plugged in to mainstream politics.

And of course, the ultimate solution to this problem is for humanity to awaken from the ego. All propaganda relies on egoic hooks in public consciousness to circulate itself, so if humanity begins dropping its habit of creating psychological identity structures altogether (which it looks like it might), we will become harder and harder to propagandize. Since humanity’s collective problems ultimately boil down to the fact that sociopaths manipulate our minds at mass scale, such a transformation would make a healthy new world not just possible but inevitable.

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 Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article is from CaitlinJohnstone.com and re-published with permission.

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

12 comments for “Political Partisanship Is a Propaganda Lubricant

  1. June 20, 2021 at 17:05

    Besides its too-long history of broken lives, broken dreams, broken promises and broken spirits on a scale unworthy of an Earthly society which refers to itself as “civilized”, their are other characteristics of war which – if plainly articulated – may raise the odds of ending the unnecessary, cruel, near-always criminal and 110% disappointing human activity.

    War is also stupid. So … might the suggestion go far and wide to always – when mentioning the sickening phenomena known as war – utter or write the word “stupid” in front of it. In the same way, when talking or writing about war criminals, always insert stupid first, as in “Stupid war criminals” – for an example: “The stupid war criminals who live up to their characterization by continuing to blatantly and brutally persecute [apparently to death] genuine peacemaker Julian Assange.”… #FreeAssange Now!

    #EndStupidWar Now!


  2. Piotr Berman
    June 20, 2021 at 16:12

    [we should eliminate] any attachment to the phony populism of progressive Democrats, and it includes any attachment to the phony populism of Trumpian Republicans.

    Caitlin may comment on that: what is a genuine populism? I assume that phony is used here as an antonym of genuine.

  3. June 20, 2021 at 14:33

    An excellent treatise Caitlin, bolstered nicely by the Matt Taibbi clip; and thanks to ConsortiumNews for giving you both the attention you deserve.
    The following excerpt really gets to the heart of the matter:
    “The oligarchs who own the political/media class desire the continuation of the status quo upon which they have built their empire, but they also want to keep the public as plugged in as possible to the partisan perspectives which facilitate the propaganda that cages our minds.”
    As Usual,

  4. June 19, 2021 at 18:44

    This is big stuff, how to bring down existing power centers(a lot of powerful like minded people sticking together to manipulate and exploit the rest of us). They are well armed and control the flow and content of information. They divide and weaken us so that no real opposition can grow strong enough. Few would argue today with this description and most just play along, hating Russia, hating China and Iran and whatever or whoever and go about what is currently and pretty comfortable life for most. Why rock the boat when the next relief check is just around the corner. Why we may wake up someday and wonder why we are no longer rich and prosperous, why our cities are unlivable, why people are like George Orwell’s people it will probably be an acceptance of our fate. Stuff happens.

    But then again, we may all awaken to decide why are we fighting each other and figure who is the real enemy.

  5. Cal Lash
    June 19, 2021 at 12:50

    See hXXps://poestories.com/read/balloonhoax

  6. John P
    June 19, 2021 at 12:39

    I think this take is about right. Most of the shouting I’m hearing or seeing recently is even more tribal/cheerleading than earlier. People were focused on Palestine while the OFFICIAL bombing of Gaza was underway. When it OFFICIALLY ended, influential people looked around and found the low-hanging fruit of the hypocrisy of others. And that’s just the left. The acceptable political divide was treated to more “a lot of people can’t find X on a map. Idiots!” Or blatant corruption of the other team, which is always easy to find in any political consultant’s back pocket.

    Meanwhile the human habitat and the condition of millions of humans and their friends are continuing to worsen. We shouldn’t be paying any attention to politicians, but that’s easy to say if you’re not incarcerated, unhoused, unfed, unhealthy, unheard. Our egos have to be the first casualties in any revolution that will endure.

  7. June 19, 2021 at 10:51

    “And, of course, the ultimate solution to this problem is for humanity to awaken from the ego”.— and for the leopard to change its spots.

    • Stephen Blobaum
      June 20, 2021 at 08:59

      Evolution or extinction. Extinction is acceptable.

  8. Susan Leslie
    June 19, 2021 at 08:05

    The political structure in this country is a farce – get a clue people! Remember, there are more of us than there are of them…

  9. Moi
    June 19, 2021 at 02:50

    With the major political parties, even in Caitlin’s native Australia, the left is just the right with higher taxes. There’s no _real_ alternative any more.

    So I wonder if the Green’s would be any different when it comes to propaganda.

  10. Jeff Harrison
    June 19, 2021 at 00:50

    I’ll tell ya, Caitlin, you got this nailed. The reality is that I grew up when I stopped watching TV.

  11. Dfnslblty
    June 18, 2021 at 19:45

    Population control defined.

    Keep writing and investigating.

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