Discover more from Caitlin’s Newsletter
This Civilization Is Mentally Ill: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix
It's time for another US presidential race where populist factions on both sides spend a few months angrily decrying the establishment before voting for candidates in the general election who will fully serve that same establishment.
I think this is just the norm now. Public discontent with the US political status quo is now so great that there's going to be a new "Hey kids, you can vote your way into revolutionary change!" feature built into every presidential election. 2012 was the end of a political era.
The biggest misconception about politics is that political differences have any meaningful existence at all. Everyone's herded into two mainstream factions who both serve the interests of the powerful, while those few who can't be herded are marginalized into political impotence.
And I am of course mainly talking about the English-speaking world here. The global south has real political diversity of real consequence, and has real differences from the status quo politics of the US-centralized empire. But within that empire, political differences are effectively illusory.
I feel like maybe we didn't make a big enough deal about that revelation the other day that the US government now has so many institutions dedicated to "perception management" and regulating "disinformation" that it created a new agency within the ODNI to oversee all of them. I mean everyone made a lot of noise about the DHS's "disinformation governance board" last year, and rightly so, but as a whole this seems way more egregious in terms of government interference in human communication.
The problem with opposition to dissent-crushing measures is that it mostly only comes from those at whom such measures are directed. Mainstream journalists know they won't be imprisoned like Assange, because they won't do work like Assange did. Mainstream liberals know they won't be censored online, so they're happy to cheer for online censorship.
Measures designed to control the narrative and suppress dissent are directed at the fringes, not the mainstream, because that's where dissent of real consequence always first emerges. It won't be those with mainstream political leanings seeing their speech increasingly marginalized and hidden away by algorithms and AI, it will be those who oppose the political status quo. In the future it won't be those with a mainstream worldview being oppressed by things like tech surveillance, police robots and CBDCs, it will be those well outside the Overton window of permissible debate. The average person will be unaffected by such measures, because in our current mind-controlled dystopia the average person is compliant and innocuous.
This is why attempts to get a large movement of opposition to these totalitarian measures typically fail to gather significant public traction: because only people on the fringes have reason to fear them. By controlling the mainstream consensus, our rulers eliminate any meaningful opposition to their tyranny toward the real dissidents whose politics generally lie well outside that consensus. And since it's only widespread mainstream opposition that would ever give them reason to fear public backlash, they can keep ratcheting up these dissent-crushing measures.
I don't really have any solution to this problem; I've been staring at it for years and don't see any easy answers. I'm just putting it out there in the hive mind so that awareness of the problem can grow and we can start collectively looking for solutions.
This civilization is so mentally ill that you'll get treated like a gibbering lunatic for expressing the most sane and rational opinions anyone can possibly express. Something as basic as "The world's most powerful government should stop ramping up nuclear brinkmanship on multiple fronts" will get you treated like a kook, when really it's so obvious and common sense it shouldn't even need to be said. That's how crazy mass-scale brainwashing has made everyone.
I will never support any form of capitalism, because no form of capitalism — real or hypothetical — will ever have an answer to the problems of ecocide and the need to care for the needful.
Every capitalism-based solution that has ever been proposed for these problems is self-evidently ridiculous; the notion that privatizing the natural world can preserve oceans and rainforests is infantile nonsense that's refuted by all of human history, as is the notion that the needful can be cared for solely by voluntary charity. No intellectually honest person believes this is true. No ancap who's thought hard enough about ecocide and caring for the needful sincerely believes that capitalism can address these problems. At their most honest, they'll say that ecocide and starvation are necessary sacrifices that must be made for the freedoms and conveniences they want to have for themselves.
I appreciate a right-libertarian who straight up admits that they're fine with environmental destruction and the weakest members of society dying off rather than pretending the "free market" can address these issues, because at least they're being honest about where they stand.
And of course the current western status quo model of capitalism with a little state welfare and a few superficial environmental restrictions isn't working either, because here we are. Every possible capitalist school of thought has failed to find a solution to these problems. You can yell "but communism bad" at me all you want, but that doesn't address the fact that people are struggling to survive and our biosphere is hurtling toward collapse, and that literally nothing anywhere in capitalist thought has anything resembling a viable answer for this.
We won't ultimately have a solution to ecocide and exploitation until mass-scale human behavior ceases to be driven by the pursuit of profit altogether, because ecocide and exploitation are profitable. We're going to have to find another organizing principle if we're to survive on this planet.
Never let yourself lose sight of the reality that as bad as things are, the fact that there are things at all is vastly more significant than any of our puny human problems.
It's not something you can talk about all the time because people will think you're being callous about human suffering and all the problems that we do have, but the truth of the matter is that even if things were ten times worse than they are now, it would still be vastly less significant than the fact that we get to live in a world and perceive it and think about it and share ideas about it instead of nothing existing at all.
Yes, pay attention to our problems and do what you can to fix them, but never, ever let yourself lose sight of the fact that we are living in the middle of a continuous miracle of unfathomable beauty, and that we ourselves are inseparably unified with that vast miracle. If you only fixate on thoughts about our problems you will become bitter and ineffective in the fight against injustice, and more importantly, you will have wasted your time here failing to appreciate the wondrousness of a human life on this amazing planet.
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.