Discover more from Caitlin’s Newsletter
Our Systems Reward Dysfunction And Destruction: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix
Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):
Our civilization is sick because all its systems ensure that human behavior is driven by profit, and health isn't profitable. Nobody gets rich from everyone staying healthy all the time. The gears of capitalism will still keep turning if its populace is made shallow and dull by bad education and crappy art made for profit. Billionaires aren't made by leaving forests and oceans unmolested, consuming less, mining less, drilling less, using less energy. The economy doesn't soar when the world is at peace and nations are working together in harmony.
If you programmed an advanced AI to arrange human behavior solely around extracting the maximum amount of profit possible using existing technologies, its world wouldn't look a whole lot different from the real one. We're being guided by unthinking, unfeeling systems that don't care about the good of our minds, our hearts, our health, or our biosphere, which will sacrifice all of the above to accomplish the one goal we've set them to accomplish.
It's just a dogshit way to run a civilization. It doesn't work. It's left us with a dying world full of crazy morons hurtling toward nuclear armageddon on multiple fronts. Our systems have failed as spectacularly as anything can fail.
It's simple really: we settled for capitalism as the status quo system because it's an efficient way to churn out a lot of stuff and create a lot of wealth, but now we're churning out too much stuff too quickly and society is enslaved by the wealthy. So now new systems are needed.
So much of modern political life consists of the ruling class tricking the public into trading away things the ruling class values in exchange for things the ruling class does not value. Trading revolution for the feeling of being revolutionary. Trading actual freedom and democracy for the story of having freedom and democracy. Trading away the civil rights our rulers actually care about like unrestricted speech and freedom from surveillance in exchange for culture wars about racism and transphobia. Trading real labor for imaginary money. In every way possible we're being duped into trading away real power for empty narrative fluff.
One part of the problem is that in this mind-controlled dystopia people are prevented from knowing how deeply evil their government is, so the idea of their government surveilling them and regulating their speech and their access to information doesn't scare them like it should.
This is why it annoys me when people say "Stop talking about the problems, we need to talk about solutions!" It's like mate, we're so far from ever being able to implement solutions — we haven't even gotten to a point where a significant number of people know the problems exist. Step one is spreading awareness of the problems and their sources, because nobody's going to turn and fight an enemy who they still believe is their friend. Systemic solutions are pretty far down the track from that point.
It's a pretty well-established fact by now that free will doesn't exist nearly to the extent that most religions, philosophies and judicial systems pretend it does. Our minds are very hackable and propaganda is very effective. If you don't get this, you don't understand the problem.
Do a deep dive into cognitive biases and how they operate. Look into the research which shows our brains know what decisions we're going to make several seconds before the conscious mind thinks we're making them. You're going to tell me these are organisms with free agency?
In order to understand what we're up against you have to understand psychological manipulation, how effective it is, and why it works, because mass-scale psychological manipulation is the primary force preventing the public from turning against our rulers in our own interest.
It seems like a lot of the inertia and self-defeating hopelessness that people have about fighting the machine comes from knowing the political awakenings of the sixties fizzled out, but I don't think that would be the case if people understood just how much hard work the machine had to put into making them fizzle.
I mean, we all get that the death of activist movements didn't just happen on its own, right? We all know about COINTELPRO? Known instances where one out of every six activists was actually a federal infiltrator? The roll-out of the most sophisticated propaganda machine that has ever existed?
The amount of energy the western empire has poured into killing all leftist and antiwar movement is staggering, but people just think the acid wore off and the hippies turned into yuppies and the Reagan administration happened on its own. It didn't. They had to work hard at that.
The revolution didn't organically fizzle out, it was actively strangled to death. And what's left in its place is this defeatist attitude where people want a healthy society but believe it can't be attained, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We COINTELPRO ourselves now.
People think we can't use the power of our numbers to force the emergence of a healthy society, and we don't deserve one because we dropped the ball. But we didn't knowingly drop the ball, we were manipulated out of it. And the manipulators had to work very, very hard to do so. Those movements died out because the machine understood very clearly that it needed to stomp them out with extreme aggression and knew exactly what it needed to do to accomplish this, while ordinary people did not. It's not a fair fight if only one party knows it's a fight.
The machine won one battle and everyone's acting like they won the war. They didn't. We can absolutely pick up the fight again, and we can overwhelm them with our numbers. If we had any idea how hard they had to work to win that one battle, this would be clear to everybody.
Caitlin’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon, Paypal, or Substack, buying an issue of my monthly zine, and following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.
Featured image via Adobe Stock.