Caitlin on The Official Story

15 Feb

Caitlin Johnstone just read my mind again.

Or is it just that anyone who thinks about the state we’re in with any seriousness and sincerity will find themselves arriving – this is the nature of truth – at strikingly similar conclusions?

Yeah, I guess that’s it. But she has a knack of packing them in powerful prose.

Here’s what she has to say today:

The Official Story

The official story is that we live in a free democracy where our teachers tell us the truth about our nation, our government and our world when we are children, and then the free press continue telling us the truth about our nation, government and world when we are grown, and then every few years we have free and fair elections in which we use this truthful information to make decisions about which politicians and policies to vote for, and it is only by pure coincidence that what we vote for just so happens to benefit the most wealthy and powerful people on the planet.

In the official story, the democratic process consistently fails to let us progress beyond a status quo of profound inequality, injustice, oppression, exploitation, war and ecocide because that’s simply how people are voting in their free and fair elections. The official story maintains that this occurs because the populations of all free democracies coincidentally happen to be organically divided into two ideologically opposed camps of equal size, creating a political deadlock which just so happens to benefit the people who profit from profound inequality, injustice, oppression, exploitation, war and ecocide.

Per the official story, society is driven by the majority, and it is only by an immensely widespread and startlingly consistent series of coincidences that society remains perpetually shaped in a way that benefits a small minority of rich and powerful individuals.

“These are some pretty strange coincidences,” you might find yourself thinking. “What are the odds that a society which is driven by the will of the people would so consistently benefit a small minority of rich and powerful individuals to the disadvantage of the voting majority, across so many separate nations, from generation to generation for many decades, without ever deviating from this pattern? Seems like the rich and powerful must be tipping the scales in their favor somehow.”

The official story holds that you are a crazy conspiracy theorist if you say this, and should be shunned and denied any platform from which to speak to a large number of people.

The official story is that this sort of society, which only serves the worst people in the world by pure coincidence, is so wonderful that it needs to be exported to every corner of the earth. Also by pure coincidence, all of the nations which most urgently need freedom and democracy always just so happen to occupy land of immense geostrategic importance for planetary domination and resource control.

In the official story, the United States and its allies are always on the right side of every international conflict, and it is only by a series of unfortunate accidents and intelligence blunders that this alliance is killing far more people with military violence and starvation sanctions than any other power structure in today’s world. The news media feed us accurate information about each and every one of those conflicts, explaining truthfully why each country’s government needs to be toppled to free the people of that nation, and it is only by coincidence that we suddenly stop getting news reports about how those people are doing once they have been liberated from their tyrannical oppressors.

The official story tells us that while the US might not always make perfect foreign policy decisions, it’s better to have them leading the free world than to risk some tyrannical regime like Russia or China taking over. If the US wasn’t constantly invading countries and dropping bombs and staging coups and starving civilians and fomenting unrest and arming terrorists and torturing people and escalating cold war aggressions against nuclear-armed nations, the world could find itself ruled by bad guys.

The official story protects the official story. Anyone who disputes any part of the official story is peddling misinformation, or is a Russian propagandist, or is an anti-semite, or is a dangerous extremist, or is mentally ill, or is whatever they need to be in order to ensure that they are never taken seriously by anyone and are silenced on social media and are never given a mainstream audience. Any dissent from the official story is evidence that you must be prevented from interfering in the official story, according to the official story.

In the official story, our world will be guided by this truth-based free and democratic status quo in a way which benefits all of humankind. If it seems like inequality is getting worse or governments are becoming more authoritarian or capitalism is becoming more exploitative or wars are getting out of control or the ecosystem is dying or we’re hurtling toward nuclear war on multiple fronts, that’s just your stupid brain trying to trick you, and you should stop listening to it immediately and re-acquaint yourself with the official story.

Here. Here’s some celebrity gossip. Did you see that Superbowl ad? Come watch a movie on this streaming service. Take some time off, calm down, have a beer, and then plug your mind back into the official story. Just ignore the parts of yourself which find it intolerable. Only the official story is trustworthy. Only the official story has the answers. Block out all the other noise, jack your mind firmly into the matrix, and be the loving loyal gear-turner you were born to be.

* * *

13 Replies to “Caitlin on The Official Story

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘The Official Story’ with this morning’s cuppa tea. Reminded me of ‘1984’.
    Both being lucid on the same theme.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Alice at the Madhatter’s tea party!

    We all know there’s something very wrong with the official story but the magnitude of what’s needed to change the narrative is huge! Corbyn tried and was soon cut down to size. As satisfying as it is to know that you’re one of those that sees the official story for what it is, a scripted Hollywood spectacle, a big ole piece of apple pie in your face, the scale of the deception and what’s needed to correct it is overwhelming. How would it even be possible?

    • Hi Deb. I don’t actually find it satisfying to see the official story for what it is. It imposes both a sense of imperative and, for the reasons you outline, a sense of futility. At ToW I have on my masthead a Leonard Cohen quote from Heart With No Companion:

      though your promise count for nothing, you must keep it nonetheless

      All I feel able to do – and it wins me few friends – is tell the truth as best I can. Spiritual types will recognise the bigger surrender implicit in that.

      On a more important note, how do you like – I ask because you speak French – that Pomplamoose cover of Jacques Brel’s Vesoul, my tune for the day?

    • Definitely you should check them out before we all get nuked, Deborah. They’re francophone Americans who, though billed as indi-folk with a soupcon of jazz, delight in the chanson. Try this cover of a Georges Brassens song, Je Me Suis Fait Tout Petit

  3. Really enjoyed reading it. It exposes what we know of the so called official story in a witty manner
    As always we keep wandering
    What is to be done and even more importantly how to to do it

    • Well we do keep wandering, Jawed – both of us being seasoned Asia travellers – but I think that was a typo and you hit an ‘a’ when you meant to hit an ‘o’.

      Yeah, Caitlin really has the knack of piercing the wall to wall propaganda with zest, wit and irresistible force.

  4. The official story, as CJ argues, seems to cover not only the external geopolitical line but also an equally (increasingly) imposed and enforced ideologically dogmatic set of domestic narratives.

    Narratives which are simplistically black and white, with the with us or against us narrative. Creating one dimensional cartoon level caricature hero’s and villains which cut across the traditional left/right silos. It was thus always the case with the “looney left” trope. Which has now been reversed to “far right” against any meaningful challenge to those narratives now that a sufficient number of those associated with the political left (from Paul Mason to Owen Jones and their entourage of followers and hangers on) have got on board with the program on the key narratives.

    Which range from depicting leaders of officially designated foreign enemies as ‘evil’ through to labelling women protecting their rights as ‘transphobic’ and right wing. From designating anyone who questions the methodology of dealing with the COVID pandemic as ‘anti-vaxer’ far right terrorists through to insisting on the exclusive rights to impose extra territorial punishment on everyone and anyone who stands up against any official narratives.*

    It will interesting to see how the general populace across Zone A reconcile the official narrative of imminent invasion of Ukraine set for tomorrow (Wednesday – which should henceforth be popularly referred to as not the 16th March but the 12th of Never) with the solid narrative destroying evidence of RF and Belarusian military units and their equipment travelling back to barracks?

    After all, the official narrative has succeeded in persuading the majority of those who count, both individual and organisational/institutional, that men are actually women and women are cervix havers.

    On which note; I picked up a news item on GETTR and Twitter this morning about fourteen Womens Groups coming together under one umbrella organised initiative for sex based safe spaces.

    What caught the eye was a quote from one group who observed they were loath to comment as an individual group against the official (Jackanory?) story line in case they lost their funding. Hence being part of a larger umbrella grouping.

    Which, for a brief moment, generated the thought that perhaps they should short circuit that problem by crowd funding? Until encountering the other news story reporting that the Canadian authorities have not only enforced emergency powers to freeze and seize crowdfunder assets donated to protesting truckers but also to go after the bank accounts of those who support and donate to them.

    Having set such a precedent it’s but a short step from applying such action to anyone else who attempts to question or challenge the official story/narrative on other issues. Whether it’s the war mongering narrative or the misogyny against natal women hiding under the trans narrative.

    What does seem clear is the official story CJ writes about is increasingly encroaching on and impacting upon an increasing number of the populace who are being forced into a stark choice of shutting up and pretending that fantasy is reality or putting their heads above the parapet and defending reality.

    *The latest extra territorial narrative on the part of the US empire – in addition to the ones we are familiar with – is to insist on having the extra territorial right to impose fines and prison sentences against individuals and organisations deemed to have ‘cheated’ (another official storyline) US athletes out of winning.

    I very nearly brought this morning’s breakfast up on reading a statement from some US official functionary that pumping children full of drugs is unacceptable. Except of course when it comes to the official story on children ‘tranistioning.’

    The Mad Hatter just cannot compete with this level of surrealism.

    • And, as if to emphisise CJ’s point:

      “Can you see the domestic political scenario that has been created out of thin air?….

      ……First, accuse Vladimir Putin of doing something he never intends to do, a fabricated scenario. Second, tell the world you will strongly respond to the fabricated scenario. Third, tell the world the exact date when the fabricated scenario is supposed to happen. Then, when the fabricated scenario never happens, it is because you are so brilliant and strong to have outmaneuvered and cowed the Russians.”

      Which is no different to my scam of sitting in the back garden of a sunny summer afternoon with a few tinnies/bottle of wine claiming success at guarding the house from marauders when non turn up.

      • Or the bloke asked why he was pumping shark repellent into the River Loxley at Malin Bridge.

        But there aren’t any sharks in the Loxley!

        That’s right: effective innit?

    • Out of interest, would you say that 2we can’t afford the luxury of indulging in this painful woke psychodrama2? Would you also say that if “we were confident in our values, we would not be obsessing over pronouns”, and that “this represents an ideology that if not confronted threatens to rob us of the self-confidence we need to uphold those very values”?

      It’s one thing to suggest that those with a particular agenda which is essentially misogynist and repressive are manipulating certain identity focused movements to fight against each other, which given the prevalence of divide and rule is no surprise, its another to attack those who are being so manipulated in a partisan manner.

      When promised fulfilment through meaningful work, self discovery and consumer indulgence, all individual based, only be denied by debt, bullshit jobs, and the failure to understand the essential impermanence and insubstantiality of our existence, is it any wonder that people focus on differences and themselves, rather than community and commonality?

      In effect, you seem to be blaming the victims of the very system you deride.

      • Struggling here to see anything explicitly making such a claim to be honest.

        Most of those taken in by the Official Narratives (c) are those who have a stake in it, in the main the professional and managerial middle class types in the media, academia and the political parties who look down on what remains of the working class.

        A typical example can be found here:

        as Paul Mason goes Full Metal neo-liberal grifting for that professional and managerial class by dog whistling a narrative which paints Canadian Truckers as Fascists and Nazis organised by the Far Right – which has taken over from ‘Looney Left’ as the go to label for any protest.*

        A narrative no different, just lazily using opposite political labels, to that used against the Miners in 1984 – as well as every other dispute and protest in my lifetime from strikes to CND, WEF/DAVOS gatherings to Occupy.

        And Mason is not only totally oblivious to the fact he’s on the same side of the line on this as Rupert Murdoch he fails to ask the basic question as to why – taking his allegation at face value – the Truckers and their grievances are being organised by the political right rather than the political left.

        In effect Mason’s article is raising the White Flag for the political left. With the Labour Party abandonment of the Working Class and Class politics over the past half century which has led to that ground now being occupied by the political right – producing Brexit, votes for UKIP and so on Mason and those he represents are the ones blaming the victims and reduced to being shills for an Official Narrative (c) which, as it did with the Miners and other workers led industrial disputes, de-legitimises any grievances with the interchangeable dog whistle labels.

        Signaling as clearly as its possible to do that the self appointed Official self identifying ‘left’ has joined the Labour Party in abandoning class politics and what remains of the Working Class.

        The fact that some sections of the populace placed in such positions opt for reactionary approaches – whether its blaming immigrants and refusing point blank to accept the link with wars of choice (and that’s not a hypothetical by the way as I usually experience this at least once a week) or trying to occupy the top of the hierarchy of oppression pyramid at the expense of others via self-id purity spirals does not shield those who adopt such approaches and positions from criticism.

        However, criticism is not the same as blame.

        *I recently saw one clip on GETTR which purported to show a counter demonstration in Ottawa chantiing “Trans rights are Human rights.” Quite what this has to do with any grievances, real or imagined, on the part of Truckers remains somewhat obscure. Although it seems par for the course these days in terms of members of the professional, managerial and middle classes – with their identity lifestyle which surgically mutilates and abuses its own children – finding yet another outlet to project their own power by punching down on others, usually natal women.

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