Caitlin Johnstone: Trapped In the Slaughterhouse

This is no civilization. It’s a fake plastic performance staged to funnel human life into the gears of an insatiable machine.

Trapped. (Helena Bezecna, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Western civilization is a story of full bellies and starving hearts. Of a feast of information and a famine of truth. Of conveyor belts churning out processed food, conformity-enforcing media and power-serving culture. Enough food to stay alive but not enough sustenance to live.

They keep us alive but they don’t let us live. They give us enough carbohydrate to turn the gears of industry, but they keep us too busy, poor, propagandized, confused and crazy to actually drink from the waters of life. To actually experience the beauty of this world. To let the crackling potentiality of advanced terrestrial life blossom to fruition within us.

The modern empire rules us by filling our markets with Wonder Bread and our schools and media with lies. By filling our bellies and starving our souls. By churning out mountains of useless landfill without ever producing anything of real value. By making more while providing less.

They improve food production and medicine just enough to lengthen our lifespans, only so that they have more life to drain us of. They let us populate the earth with more humans only to drain us of our humanity.

We’re not people to them. We are batteries. We are fuel.

This is no civilization. It’s a slaughterhouse. A fake plastic performance staged to funnel human life into the gears of an insatiable machine. A fake plastic culture designed to keep us on the conveyor belt so that our life force can be converted into fuel for a soulless empire. A fake plastic society built to keep us marching into the food processor.

There are so very many more of us than there are of them. We could crush them like an insect the moment we decided to. But the brainwashing is so very, very effective, and the matrix hallucination seems so very, very real. Our propaganda-induced coma keeps us fueling the machine.

Not until we awaken ourselves from the coma will our adventure on this planet really begin. Not until we can unplug our minds from the empire’s life-siphoning control mechanisms we can begin to really live.

We’ll either wake each other up, or we’ll remain trapped in the slaughterhouse.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

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


38 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Trapped In the Slaughterhouse

  1. Kev
    August 4, 2022 at 14:47

    Wow, Caitlin!! You are appropriately angry today. I have nothing to add, but here are some early ‘70s Frank Zappa words reminding us that people are plastic too:
    “What would you do if the people you knew, were the
    Plastic that melted, and the chromium too?
    ….who are the brain police? “

  2. Aqua
    August 4, 2022 at 03:36

    “A fake plastic culture” made me think of the Barbie Girl song, but it’s not only Barbie’s world that is made of plastic. Even when trash is properly thrown away, plastic in landfills degrades and breaks down into small pieces that are carried away by rainwater and it ends up in the ocean. If we don’t start being more conscious of our impact on the planet, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050!

    • Realist
      August 4, 2022 at 16:05

      A billion years from now, plastic deposits at the bottom of the ocean may be the only residue of formerly living material left on this planet, all other organics having been long ago oxidized to CO2 and carbonates in a hellscape like currently found on Venus.

      What ancient photosynthesis hath put together let no geological force put asunder!

  3. Realist
    August 3, 2022 at 03:17

    Today’s frankly poetic article by Caitlin was perhaps her best ever, most touching work since she commenced her public life. Sort of like turning water into wine at Canna.

    How can I say this? Look at the quality of posts by readers of CN today. She inspired them with a full dose of the “force” tonight. They’ve never collectively produced a better body of enlightened and inspiring work in response. Although many often do, CN’s readership is filled with sharp, erudite genuine intellectuals. Tonight they have all, every last one, come through with a memorable response worth groking to the full.

    • John Ressler
      August 3, 2022 at 13:04

      Thank you for this comment Realist.

  4. cascadian
    August 2, 2022 at 23:07

    Caitlin, Your thoughts channel those of George Carlin. His “One big club and you ain’t in it” monolog especially. One of his best ever.

  5. CNfan
    August 2, 2022 at 19:06

    A very accurate, factual summary.

    Our collective resistance will begin with our collective realization of the scam.

    Some compact, reasonably comprehensive information on the coordinating center of the scam is at War Profiteer Story

    [To use this link please delete the asterisks and replace the XX with tt.]

  6. August 2, 2022 at 17:44

    Yes, more impetus for changing the system, right? Before we’re all slaughtered. People are educating themselves, I hope, and realizing that WE need to unite broadly directing our attention to those who control our economy and government, the banks. They control the system that has wreaked havoc upon the world for their profits. Money is power which is why it needs to be publicly controlled.

    • J Anthony
      August 3, 2022 at 05:17

      So very true. Losing focus on that (as a “nation”) has been nothing short of devastating.

  7. August 2, 2022 at 17:13

    Whilst I agree with Caitlin’s sentiment, the issue is much more complex than the simple scapegoating of those *in-power*. As herd animals that are both biologically and culturally determined – the latter being a form of societal, familial and educational neural programming that takes place from birth through to late teens, our domesticated fate is well and truly sealed by the time we begin *work*. As R D Laing so eloquently stated:

    ‘You’re born and before you know it you are hooked, and you don’t even know you are hooked.’

    Ironically, the vast majority of humans erroneously believe that they have *free will*, and that what I have outlined above – is simply not true. Just like cows that have no understanding of what a fence is or why it is there, they meander around within it, believing they are free. Yes, this nonsensical ruse of *free will* is promulgated and knowingly used by *elites* in order to maintain the domesticated herd order and their *power*, but the willful ignorance of the herd to this ongoing state of affairs cannot be dismissed as some kind of inconsequential factor. Indeed, if one attempts to *awaken* any member of the herd with this truth, one will be met with outraged defensiveness – (see Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’).

    What’s more, despite the attempts of numerous writers, philosophers and others, over millennia, (contemporary attempts include those like The Matrix and The Truman Show), the safety, security and comfort of our deluded neural programming has continued to win out.

    How could this change?

    We would need to fully understand that we live in a *cause and effect* Universe.
    We would need to truly understand that *determinism* does not mean *fatalism*, but that it can indeed be *fatal* (as we are witnessing now) if we do not do the hard work of truly critically thinking for ourselves, making wiser informed decisions and then, vitally, acting on them.

    For a new era to emerge, it would require large numbers of people who are courageous enough, because of the ridicule, castigation, marginalization and alienation they will receive, to do this.

    The Anthropological record, to date, shows little promise of this happening……

  8. doris
    August 2, 2022 at 16:57

    Thanks again, Caitlin, for your insight on the terrible situation our planet is in.
    As I said in my reply above, industrial hemp and permaculture are two important investments we need to look at as a start to saving the planet. Could you write an article about the amazing properties of hemp? Your reach could spark a lot of interest in the wonder weed of the world.

  9. Brenda
    August 2, 2022 at 13:32

    Reading this commentary on the state of the world is like reading Dante’s 9 circles of hell. I’m an optimist and a believer in the saving grace of Christ. We were made in the image of God, albeit at times that doesn’t seem very plausible. There is heaven and there is hell. What we make of our lives here on this earth is all up to our own doing. God gave us love and dignity, we on the other hand don’t choose to use that love and dignity. Satan’s world is full of hell and the only way to get out of it is to think of heaven and how we can get there. The answers to all these questions are in the Bible, the word of God. Stay close to Him and you will do well in this life and in the next.

  10. August 2, 2022 at 12:53

    After leaving the military in my early 20s (I’m now 67), I firmly decided NOT to be one of the soulless minions who march, as stated by Caitlin Johnstone, into a “slaughterhouse. A fake plastic performance staged to funnel human life into the gears of an insatiable machine. A fake plastic culture designed to keep us on the conveyor belt so that our life force can be converted into fuel for a soulless empire. A fake plastic society built to keep us marching into the food processor.” I refused to educate myself for a “career” (whatever that means) but instead to become enlightened, become HUMAN! Because of my choices in life, I honestly have obtained the ability to distinguish the “real” from the “counterfeit” as my mind can envision the vastness of existence while enjoying the day-to-day pleasures of simply being alive. Thank you, Caitlin Johnstone, for your wonderful piece. Keep writing and I will keep reading.

    • J Anthony
      August 3, 2022 at 05:23

      Much props to you for that…I find in my own life that resisting the meatgrinder, if you will, is a full-time job that has rendered me an outcast, not “economically viable” enough, and a “loon.” I am a cog as much as anyone but I will only allow myself to be to as least a degree as possible. Still too many of our fellow citizens willfully play the game as it’s the only way for them to survive or thrive in the here-and-now (though fewer are actually thriving all the time)

  11. Brian Murray
    August 2, 2022 at 12:44

    Hi Caitlin,
    Your poem describing our darkness in the “belly of the beast” is beautifully written and very disturbing. We Americans are 90% responsible to allow this suicide train we are on to continue to the abyss ahead. The long history of violence in these United States started in 1619 with the first Africans ripped from their societies and brought here in chains. The white man, aka, Anglo Saxon white men, who have ruled this continent with indescribable violence to enrich themselves, built the empire we are living in, while destroying the environment we need to live. As you so aptly describe, we are mere fodder for the machine we live in.

    • Ted P.
      August 3, 2022 at 04:24

      Don’t over look the violence from 1492-1619.

    • Yu Ma
      August 4, 2022 at 16:03

      Sadistic violence has been a human trait since probably since stone age. Slavery is only a part of it and has been for thousands of years and it is still in existence now. It is not unique to North America, they just did it well due to being well organised and having most modern ships for the time just as ethnic cleansing is not unique to Germany (WW1 and WW 2), they just did it particularly well due to new armament technologies etc. Problem is our nature, as humans. Unfortunately, technology is advanced enough now that married with our propensity for violence and tyranny, we can render the entire planet surface into a wasteland or we can enslave %99 of population forever.
      Orwell and Huxley would be truly horrified to learn how we have surpassed their ugliest ideas.

  12. Frank Lambert
    August 2, 2022 at 11:44

    Definitely agree with you Caitlin! Here’s one for you and hubby Tim from one of the jokes a friend sent to me. Quite appropriate for your article.

    “So let me get this straight. I go to the grocery store and buy a pound of sliced ham wrapped in plastic, a loaf of bread in a plastic bag, a gallon of milk in a plastic jug, a pack of napkins wrapped in plastic, a Greek salad in a plastic container, a plastic bottle of mustard, a plastic bottle of ketchup, and they won’t give me a plastic bag to carry it home because the plastic bag is bad for the environment?”

    • Aqua
      August 4, 2022 at 03:43

      Lol. Thanks for the laugh.

  13. Deborah Hodges
    August 2, 2022 at 11:02

    Caitlin Johnstone, you should go visit a real slaughterhouse and see what goes on there. Listen to the animals scream in terror and agony. Then maybe you will understand what human civilization is all about.

  14. JayB
    August 2, 2022 at 10:28

    I was looking at images from the Webb telescope showing the vastness of space and pondering the probability of other forms of life carrying on somewhere out there. And then I reflect on what has become of life on this planet, the obsession by a handful of self-professed masters of the universe hell-bent to control life on this speck, and how futile and meaningless are the spoils of their labor. The threat to civilization is not global warming or the elite-stoked battles of race and “inclusion” The threat is our toleration of being slaves to the meaningless and existing to be nothing more than the fodder of others’ dreams of grandeur. Alas, there is nothing left to leave to future generations. There is only more of the same.

  15. August 2, 2022 at 10:25

    Brilliant as always. She dives deep into the heart of American darkness so we don’t have to and exposes our ignorance and complacency to the light of day. Stunning how much in the Matrix we are. Keep those red pills coming.

    The terms “red pill” and “blue pill” refer to a choice between the willingness to learn a potentially unsettling or life-changing truth by taking the red pill or remaining in contented ignorance with the blue pill. – Wikipedia

  16. Glen Livingston
    August 2, 2022 at 09:32

    Soylent Green anyone?

  17. Dfnslblty
    August 2, 2022 at 09:26

    Excellent and scary commentary on north america and its sycophants.
    Thankyou for your constant attempts to rouse us from our numbness and addictions.
    Keep writing.

    • Rex
      August 2, 2022 at 14:06

      It is much more encompasing than just north america, this is the situation world wide. Control is the name of the game. Unfortunately for “them” , the controllers, the endgame is waaaay above their puny thoughts. To have control over a dying planet is pretty short term, but thats all they have.

  18. mgr
    August 2, 2022 at 08:00

    Thank you, Caitlin. In the States, it seems like there is no longer even one part of the government that is seeking peace in the world, or anywhere, foreign or domestic. It may very well be that the US has past the point of self-correction, much like a coke addict on still one more and even more costly binge. If our addict has any real friends they might stage an intervention. If not, there is nothing standing between this person and catastrophe.

    Nations are no different. Like it or not, for good or bad, it seems like the other major independent players in the world are doing just that, intervening. The US, like our addict, is aghast. And nothing it is doing is rational, the lunatics are running the asylum. This is no longer a metaphor. This comes following year after year and decade after decade of steadily growing addiction and the loss of control, over oneself. Nonetheless, the US wants to control others. It in fact insists. What chance is there of peace in the world so long as the US led uni-polar world is running the “world-order”? “World-order,” of course, is a misnomer. It is the “American neo-liberal order” which is being imposed on the world, like it or not.

    The US had the opportunity for over 30 years to actually lead the world somewhere useful. It declined. Instead, its addiction to the ideology of power and profit for the sake of power and profit simply expanded, both at home and abroad. This outcome was easily foretold for most everyone except the American people themselves. But now the bill is come due and the American government has absolutely no rational idea what to do. And now we have the appearance of still more craven lunatics with their pet agendas crawling out of the woodwork to take charge. Of course, there are many other forces in the world trying to tear the globe apart by making life-saving cooperation impossible. But it seems the US is the major world-wide funder, trainer, and radicalizer of most of them. A slaughterhouse tragic-comedy. Perhaps we will survive.

    • doris
      August 2, 2022 at 16:48

      It could be so easy if they didn’t own the media and actively discourage the myriad solutions there are at this point. When so many are so brainwashed to believe capitalist extremism is the only way to go, it IS like an addiction and addicts don’t think right, so here we are.

      I’ve been fighting the system for decades and have finally gotten it through my head and heart that the only way change can happen is to invest ourselves in solutions like industrial hemp and permaculture food systems. People need solutions, not just railing against the bastards in control. Only when people realize that they need to create their own systems by growing even one tomato plant in their apartment, and getting together with communities to grow their own food will there be the change. People like Ron Finely, the Gangsta Gardener in South Central LA, Marjory Wildcraft with the Grow Network, John and Ocean Robbins of the Food Revolution Network, and Vandana Shiva with Navdanya, are changing the way we look at food and food sovereignty. The garbage that passes for food in the west is a huge part of the problem,
      and growing and supporting those who grow real, organic food is one of the things we can do to take back our lives from those who make us sick for profit.
      Industrial hemp is another investment we need to make as a planet. Anything that petroleum, trees, cotton, and corn can do, industrial hemp can do better, all while sequestering carbon like crazy! Think of every paper product being manufactured in hempcrete buildings, that need no heating or air conditioning! Every fiber product. Every plastic product. Every home being built with material that HEALS THE ATMOSPHERE instead of destroying it! All of this is possible if We the People invest our own time and money into healthy systems instead of continuing to support the planet murderers. Hemp is the healthiest food on the planet, so just investing in hemp seeds for human consumption, like say, school lunches will go a long way to improving the health of the population and of the planet.
      So, Permaculture TODAY! and HEMP, HEMP, HOORAY! Time to get started now, before the evil-doers win.

    • Mia
      August 4, 2022 at 04:48

      Biden, Nuland, Pelosi…the unholy trinity are dragging us along with them down the path to nuclear war. It is frightening, though entertaining at times. First president to fall off his bicycle, etc.

      I agree, intervention is necessary, but addicts generally don’t like when someone notices an addiction. I doubt the US is an exception. Any suggestion of it may be unwelcome and cause a backlash. It’s astonishing the size and scale of the empire and how it wrapped its tentacles around the globe. The course is unsustainable…in an increasingly multipolar world…and yet from the outside as only spectators we don’t know what we could do to help prevent catastrophe.

  19. peter tusinski
    August 2, 2022 at 07:34

    Caitlin keep struggling, your article expresses the despondency we often feel when overwhelmed by the lunacy of gov’t and corporate policy. Keep on keeping on !!!

  20. Vesa
    August 2, 2022 at 04:48

    Gradually i have noticed that i dont want to see people. The episodes of covid and Ukraine has been too much to my mind to bear. Even before 2020 it made me wonder how all the others seemed to be under some spell. They didnt know anything about the evilness of the empire. I had all kinds of plans to create a blog, to write a book, i even planned to go into politics. I thought that i can change something. I sent mails to journalists and politicians including great articles by eg. caitlin, blumenthal, mate, pilger, prashaf, lawrence and so on but it didnt make any impact. They just ignored or denied everthing. They are all under the spell. During covid and now the SMO it is impossible to say anything that does not conform the current narrative. Even the most ignorant people who typically say that politics does not interest them, are fervent in their opinions. Covid kilks everybody but jabs can save you, Putin is bad, Zelensky is a hero and so on. When you see their anger, it is impossible to even try to give them facts. It terrifies me to think what the constant propaganda in Ukraine (russophobic 2014-2022) and in Taiwan has made to minds of people there.
    All these has changed me and nowadays i prefer to be alone. The only light on tunnel, is the emerging powers of east. Although there are enormous risks involved in those processes, they at least provide some hope of change. The current western way of thinking is no for me any more. I know now that i have bern lied for whole of my life and it hurts. Lets hope the east will be better than west.

    • doris
      August 2, 2022 at 16:52

      It doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are things in the east that aren’t good for the planet. We need a blend of wisdom from all cultures, which is totally prevented these days by the corporate media.

    • John Ressler
      August 3, 2022 at 12:59

      Vesa – what can I say to you other than I feel what you have written in the depths of my own soul. We have always been lied to. It hurts. I don’t want to see people either Vesa, I too prefer to be alone, it is easier that way. I will not pretend the darkness is light. Trust your own knowing. You are good. Stay open to possibility, but don’t count on it. I wish you well Vesa.

  21. Moi
    August 2, 2022 at 02:47

    A fake plastic culture designed to keep us on the conveyor belt so that our life force can be converted into fuel for a soulless empire. A fake plastic society built to keep us marching into the food processor.

    Ukraine civilian casualties toll since February 2022 (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as at 23/7/22):
    5,237 deaths
    7,000 injuries

    US gun violence casualties year to date 25/7/22 (
    25,067 deaths
    21,967 injuries

    The US is one very sick puppy.

    • David Verrall
      August 2, 2022 at 16:52

      That’s Democracy for you. Safety is the artificial sweetener, an addictive happiness that the doctors are told to get you off so you want more. Gotta get that gun.

  22. Alonso99
    August 1, 2022 at 22:46

    They are us, we are all part of this crazy species. Have human beings ever behaved differently – at least in recorded history?

  23. Michael Perry
    August 1, 2022 at 22:13

    Within the main stream media on down, our “free” thoughts are being constantly drummed into us by the investor point of view.

    … Hey, they got their constitutional rights. In fact, they have “all” of the rights. … Don’t cha know…

    Empirical investor polarizaion is a flat out lie.
    … And, the investor led globalization is a flat out lie as well.

    In 2015, Robert Parry was writing a little about Natalie Jerasco:
    US Tax Dollars and Ukraine’s Finance Minister
    October 3, 2015
    Special Report: By Robert Parry
    “..The U.S. government is missing or withholding audit documents about the finances and possible accounting irregularities at a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund when it was run by Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who has become the face of “reform” for the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev and who now oversees billions of dollars in Western financial aid..”

    … Back then, I was thinking that that we should start a Consortium News for High School and College kids.

    You are all a very special breed. Thank You So Much For All That You Do!

  24. Mahatma
    August 1, 2022 at 20:27

    “Western civilization”, it would be a good idea.

    • WillD
      August 2, 2022 at 23:29

      Civilisation? No, we’ve never achieved that. The human race aspires to being civilised, but has failed dismally. At the rate we are gong, we will never achieve a truly civilised state of being. As a species, no – a few individuals, yes.

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