Why I respect Caitlin Johnstone

11 Dec

An exchange below one of my pieces in OffGuardian a few months ago had me ‘othered’ by a posse of commentariat for “approvingly” quoting writers this armchair clan frowns upon. How did I recognise my BTL detractors as an armchair clan? Long experience is one answer. More to the point here, as the charge sheet was read out of my Satanic sources, no issue was taken with the specifics of what I’d quoted, nor their relevance to the wider arguments I’d been making. It sufficed that I’d polluted their air with forbidden voices.

(Such lack of specificity is seldom, for obvious reasons, advanced above the line in any medium where critical comment is allowed. And while daily congregating to make BTL snipes is logically compatible with active political engagement, in my experience such a pairing is rare in practice. Activists have other things to do with their time and energy.)

One such voice is Caitlin Johnstone’s. To those critical of official narratives on CV-19 – a broad church taking in serious and well informed questioning, and lightweight theories of the whole thing as cooked up – she has committed the heinous crime of not writing what they want her to write. (Similar crimes have been laid at the door of Media Lens and Jonathan Cook.)

CV-19, Brexit and 9/11 are magnets for reductionists who see in each an acid test of fitness to be heard on any matter. Assuming these critics correct in their takes on the chosen issue, itself an act of faith on my part, the non sequitur – wrong on 9/11 = wrong on everything – dismays me. When venom and illogicality come together, as they so often do in BTL comments (even in the best media) I’m left with a temptation – it can last a whole minute in really bad cases – to give up on humanity and take up stamp collecting.

Caitlin has had her share of flak, not least at the hands of some writers in CounterPunch. For a sample of their vitriol and condescension – ‘idiots’ … ‘facile’ … ‘doltish‘ – see this Eric Draitser piece, Enough Nonsense … We can argue all day about the rights and wrongs of these spats, the misquotations mendacious or just sloppy. I regard myself as Marxist but the tones adopted by Draitser and others – citing greater acquaintance with theory and praxis; even, snobbishly, journalistic credentials they say trump hers – carry to my nostrils a whiff of misogyny.

I frequently cite her on this site, often via full replications of her articles. My reasons are, I think, self evident. She has tremendous energy, wit and courage. Her daily pieces have zing and zap, conveying ideas, unfamiliar to most of the West’s brainwashed public, with lucid panache. Ditto her assembling of potent facts ignored by mainstream media

But there’s another reason I like her. As I write this I’m in the midst of a process of synthesis; of seeking to integrate my experiences on the ‘spiritual’ path with materialist critiques of a world run by and for the criminally insane. I see Caitlin and a few others as doing something similar, seeking to connect thoroughly materialist critiques of those forces most threatening humanity’s survival with pleas for that same humanity ‘to awaken its consciousness inwardly as well’.

Do I see consciousness as powerfully shaped by the ways human beings organise themselves, impelled to do so by the imperative of producing and daily reproducing the material conditions of existence? Yes I do, and this places me at odds with the vast majority on the ‘spiritual’ path. Do I see the relationship between materially underpinned social relations on the one hand, consciousness on the other, as one-way and non dialectical? No I don’t, and this places me at odds with the more vulgar currents of Marxist thought.

But enough of me. The quote ending the last paragraph but one is from Caitlin’s post today. My cue to hand over the mike.

What I’m About and What I’m Trying to Accomplish Here

Every year around my birthday I like to write an article outlining my overall perspective and what’s driving my output on this little platform of mine. I do this primarily in the interests of transparency: I believe that all journalists and commentators have biases and agendas, and the best they can do given that reality is be transparent about what those are. As a crowd-funded writer it’s important for me to be clear about where I stand and what I’m trying to do so that people can decide if my project is something they want to contribute to advancing.

So first a little about me. I’m an Australian mother of two working in collaboration with my American husband Tim Foley. Everything I publish is the result of an ongoing all-day conversation between myself and Tim about what’s going on in the world and how we can push to create a healthy and harmonious world for future generations. I have editorial control over everything published here and the ideals and ideology promoted here are very Caitlin Johnstone in origin, but Tim and I are in consistent agreement on how we see things and at this point we operate pretty much like a single unit in the way we create content together.

I have a journalism degree but it became clear to me before I graduated that there’s no real path to doing real journalism in the legacy media which was dominant at the time, so I focused on the motherhood adventure until I stumbled into this commentary gig by accident in 2016 just from writing my opinions about Bernie Sanders and how unjustly the progressive movement was being treated by the mass media and the Democratic establishment.

Since then I’ve been trying to put out articles as close to daily as I can manage, writing what I see as the major obstacles to human thriving in our world based on what I’ve learned and come to understand over the years. When I first started out my perspective was as unrefined as you’d expect from any novice, but over time I’ve cultivated an understanding of global power dynamics and the way power structures use mass-scale narrative manipulation to advance their agendas which has given my analysis a lot more lucidity.

I am an avowed socialist and always have been. I believe if human behavior remains driven by competition and profit we will compete ourselves into extinction by chasing after whatever world-traumatizing endeavor is profitable from day to day. If humanity exists in the future, it’s because we learned to move out of our individualistic model of competition and into a collaborative relationship with each other and with our ecosystem where everyone and everything is cared for by the collective. I don’t know if that collaborative relationship will be called “socialism” or something else, but for now I find it a good placeholder word and the basic direction I’d like to see things moving in.

Even more than socialism I support transparency of the powerful. I believe if the public just had a clear image of what’s happening in our world and the murderous oligarchic forces that are steering us into destruction, they would naturally use the power of their numbers to force drastic changes away from our omnicidal, ecocidal status quo and toward something much healthier. It is only the ability of the powerful to use government, corporate and financial secrecy, internet censorship and mass media propaganda to hide and distort the truth which prevents this from happening. This is why nobody is so reviled and demonized by establishment propagandists as those who reveal inconvenient truths and promote unauthorized narratives.

Most of my writing revolves in some way around the idea that we as a collective need to fight to wake each other up to reality–and to the lies we’re being fed about it–before it’s too late. A meaningful shift toward health will not happen unless people use the power of their numbers to force it to happen. People won’t use the power of their numbers to force real change as long as they are being successfully propagandized not to do so by the ruling class. Our task therefore is to disrupt the establishment propaganda machine and find creative ways to pass messages to each other through the cracks in the narrative matrix.

This is why I constantly promote and prioritize the idea of a grassroots guerrilla psywar by the people against the establishment narrative control apparatus. The plutocratic class which owns the mass media sets it up to promote narratives which are favorable to the status quo upon which those plutocrats have built their respective kingdoms, but trust in the mass media is at an all-time low and humanity’s ability to network and share information is at an all-time high, which means we’ve got a one-time shot at breaking public trust in the mass media using our unprecedented information-sharing abilities and waking people up to the fact that they’re being propagandized. Propaganda only works if you don’t know it’s happening, so we have to wake people up to the reality that it is happening.

And that’s primarily what I’m doing here: my part in helping to bring consciousness to the fact that our world is ruled by manipulative sociopaths who are pouring massive amounts of resources every single day into controlling the way people think, act and vote so as to preserve the interests of existing power structures.

I also see it as necessary for humanity to awaken its consciousness inwardly as well. If humans are to survive we cannot remain driven by ego and fear, because as long as we are we’ll remain easy to manipulate and propagandize and we will inevitably keep finding our way onto self-destructive trajectories. For millennia wise humans have been writing about the potential within us all to bring consciousness to our inner processes and begin functioning in a healthy and harmonious way, and our current evolve-or-die predicament means we’re about to either see that potential unlocked in us at mass scale or go the way of the dinosaur.

I point to these things in as many different ways as possible: sometimes with humor, sometimes with poetry, sometimes with aphorism, sometimes with fiction, sometimes just by laying out the raw data and saying what it looks like to me. But that’s all I’m ever really doing here.

And that’s what I’ll continue to do, better and better every year as my inner and outer consciousness expands and I see the full picture with more and more clarity. I am deeply grateful to everyone who’s come along with me on the journey in whatever way suits them.

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4 Replies to “Why I respect Caitlin Johnstone

  1. 100% on Caitlin – especially paragraph 8 – we should call them out at every opportunity.

    PS Thanks for Jammu Africa, too.

    • An old mate, a Brit in Catalonia: passionate secessionist and ardent Barcelona FC fan, turned me onto Ismael Lo.

      Oh, yeah, Caity … a warrior for truth …

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