Caitlin Johnstone: The Fact That Americans Think Biden Has Changed Things Shows How Narrative Rules Our World

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    • #413887
      salemcourt
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,644

      Nothing of significance has changed since Trump left office, apart from the narratives about how much things have changed.

      The wars are still going. Washington is still the hub of an oligarchic globe-spanning empire. Americans are still being impoverished and propagandized into political impotence by an unfathomably wealthy plutocracy. Sanctions are still squeezing people to death in Venezuela, Syria, Iran and North Korea. The world’s worst mass atrocity is still continuing in Yemen. The kids are still in cages. Authoritarian creep continues to metastasize. All the old abuses roll on completely uninterrupted, along the same trajectories they were on before.

      If you were to take the entire US-centralized power structure and assess its overall behavior as a whole, you would find that the actual behavioral changes amount to the tiniest fraction of a single percentile of the total. If you’d just been analyzing the raw data without looking at the news stories, you’d see that the money, troops, weapons and resources have continued to move in more or less the same ways after January 20th as they were moving before.

      What has changed is the narratives, the stories that Americans are being fed by those who are responsible for controlling the way people think, act, organize, and vote. If you are a Democrat, you have been hearing that the country is now a thousand percent better without the Orange Menace in charge. If you are a Republican, you’ve been hearing that it’s a thousand percent worse. In reality, in terms of the overall operation of the empire both domestically and internationally, hardly anything of significance has changed apart from the narrative overlay.

      Pacific Standard

      @PacificStand

      “A growing body of research tracked the detrimental impacts of Trump-related stress on broad segments of the American population, from young adults to women, to racial and LGBT communities.” @jaredbkeller on the biological response to living under Trump. https://bit.ly/2TRhIWF 

      Research Suggests Trump’s Election Has Been Detrimental to Many Americans’ Mental Health

      Particularly that of the country’s most marginalized groups.

      psmag.com

      18 people are talking about this

       

      Which is not to say that nothing of significance has changed. It is significant that US liberals are no longer being psychologically pummelled with hysterical narratives about a looming fascist takeover and their government being infiltrated at its highest levels by Kremlin operatives. This relentless barrage of emotional intensity has been literally making people sick, and the fact that they are no longer being psychologically abused in this way is not insignificant.

      So the actual US empire is chugging along in essentially the same way it was before Trump left office, but people’s actual quality of life is different anyway, simply because they are being fed different narratives by the mass media. They truly feel inside as though they are living in a very different America now than they were prior to January 20th, even though as far as the real world is concerned they most certainly are not.

      And this is just such a perfect illustration of how pervasively human consciousness is dominated by mental narrative.

      So much of our society is made out of mental stories in our heads. Identity, language, etiquette, social roles, opinions, ideology, religion, ethnicity, philosophy, agendas, rules, laws, money, economics, jobs, hierarchies, politics, government–these are all made-up conceptual constructs with no existence in the physical world, no existence outside our shared stories we’ve come to collectively regard as true.

      Our society is made up of collective narratives, and our experience is dominated by mental narrative as well. The majority of most people’s interest and attention from moment to moment goes not to the raw data their senses are feeding their brains about the material world, but to thought. To mental chatter about a “me” character (which is itself ultimately just another conceptual construct) and all its adventures real and imagined, what it wants and what it doesn’t want, who has wronged it and who has won its approval. For most people, present-moment awareness of their actual surroundings is largely eclipsed by mental narrative the majority of the time.

      Caitlin Johnstone ⏳@caitoz

      The Real World And The Narrative World

      We each inhabit two very different worlds simultaneously: the real world, and the narrative world. Manipulators exploit the differences between these worlds to trade narrative-world currency for real-world resources.https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-real-world-and-the-narrative 

      The Real World And The Narrative World

      We each inhabit two very different worlds simultaneously: the real world, and the narrative world. The real world is the physical world of matter, of atoms and molecules and stars and planets and…

      caitlinjohnstone.substack.com

      337 people are talking about this

       

      So both externally and internally, human life is dominated by narrative to a truly massive extent. Is it any wonder, then, that the cleverest and greediest of humans expend so much effort working to determine what our society’s dominant narratives will be?

      From news media propaganda to Hollywood to internet censorship to government secrecy to think tanks to Bellingcat to Wikipedia entries, vast fortunes are continuously poured into controlling the dominant worldwide narratives by the power structures who benefit from them. This narrative management campaign is so far-reaching and ubiquitous that even highly intelligent people are swept up in its manipulations, simply because they are receiving the same narratives from so many different sources and receive insufficient contradictory input to create doubt in them.

      The dominant narratives all tell us the same few things over and over again. Capitalism is working great. Your government is your friend. The governments who oppose your government are bad. The so-called “liberal world order” is a planetary status quo of nonstop murderous imperialism, exploitative neoliberalism and ecocidal capitalism running underneath a propaganda soundtrack babbling endlessly about how everything is fine and it’s going to get better any minute now.

      And it’s all lies, half-truths and distortions. The status quo is killing, oppressing and exploiting human beings all around the world while rapidly destroying our ecosystem and putting us on an increasingly dangerous collision course with nuclear war. We will transcend our enslavement to mental narrative and evolve into a mature species with a mature relationship with its recently evolved capacity for abstract thought, or we will continue on our self-destructive trajectory until we meet an unpleasant end.

      With permission from Caitlin Johnstone

      https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2021/03/29/the-fact-that-americans-think-biden-has-changed-things-shows-how-narrative-rules-our-world/

    • #413889
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 20,152

      May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'MALCOLM X WARNED US MORE THAN 50 YEARS AGO! THE MEDIA'S THE MOST POWERFUL ENTITY ON EARTH. THEY HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE THE INNOCENT GUILTY AND TO MAKE THE GUILTY INNOCENT, AND THAT'S POWER. BECAUSE THEY CONTROL MINDS THE MASSES. THE PRESS IS POWERFUL IN ITS MAKING ROLE, IT CAN MAKE THE CRIMINAL LOOK LIKE HE'S THE VICTIM AND MAKE THE VICTIM LOOK LIKE HE'S THE CRIMINAL. IF YOU AREN'T CAREFUL, THE NEWSPAPERS HAVE WHO ARE OPPRESSED AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE DOING THE OPPRESSING.'

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

    • #413891
      djean111
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 5,898

      .

      America is not a country, it's just a business. (Brad Pitt, Killing Them Softly)

    • #413894
      Cold Mountain Trail
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 12,404

      One thing’s changed: Trump is no longer spewing his daily provocations to one & all, including his followers, and that has made my mornings, at least, more peaceful.

       

      • #413896
        JonLP
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 3,359

        I also like that we can deal with facts when it comes to Biden. If you criticized Trump you can be accused of TDS. I pretty much hated every President since I have been alive — I was born during the Reagan administration. However, no one accuses you of BDS for criticizing Biden.

        Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair - Mariame Kaba

        Like many public systems, GOP want to rip the battery out + say the whole car doesn’t work, so they can sell it for parts - AOC

        • #413902
          Ohio Barbarian
          Moderator
          • Total Posts: 20,152

          Come on, man! I haven’t seen anybody saying Biden is Hitler or a Nazi or a “threat to our democracy” or the puppet of Putin or Xi. Well, maybe a few Republicans will, but they say that about every Democratic president, except they say Commie instead of Nazi.

          It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

          You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

          • #413905
            JonLP
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 3,359

            Meaning I would have to go into details.

            I do think Trump is a far right nationalist. Before 2016 I was at a friend’s house and him and his wife were watching Alex Jones and he was firing them up with Jade Helm conspiracy theories. When Obama came on the screen she was shouting at him. I saw that there was rising far right nationalist movement. Another sign I saw was when Trump called Mexicans rapists and the crowd cheered. I saw his success coming when the media was predicting his failure.

            Before 2016 there was a migration crisis to the EU. This is what led to Brexit. It also lead to right wing populists being elected but the European ones are smarter than Trump. They support expanding the Welfare state which helps them draw votes from the left but they exclude immigrants known as welfare chauvinism. They also frame their Islamaphobia as protecting women and LGBT from them.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-wing_populism

            Isn’t “Right-Wing Populism” Just Fascism?

            https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/06/isnt-right-wing-populism-just-fascism

            Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair - Mariame Kaba

            Like many public systems, GOP want to rip the battery out + say the whole car doesn’t work, so they can sell it for parts - AOC

        • #413906
          Yanath
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 1,805

          Criticizing the Trump administration’s policies is not what made people look like lunatics. It was all that Russia bullshit.

          • #413935
            JonLP
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 3,359

            I do remember there was an Independent Special Counsel and they indicted Manafort, Flynn, and others. People who worked on the Trump campaign. Someone like Flynn actually visited the GRU. Either way I’m not a fan of a right winger like Flynn in military intelligence.

            I do understand there were Democrats taking things too far in their speculation. I focus more on his campaign associates and also Trump pardoned them and fired Comey rather than distancing himself from the investigation.

            Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair - Mariame Kaba

            Like many public systems, GOP want to rip the battery out + say the whole car doesn’t work, so they can sell it for parts - AOC

        • #413963
          Cold Mountain Trail
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 12,404

          the TDS thing was (IMHO) coming from a factional stance.  iow, it wasn’t a thing.  or wasn’t any more of a thing than ‘CDS’ or BDS’ or ‘OBS’ could be claimed to be.

          in certain quarters just more people using the meme.

          • #413976
            Yanath
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 1,805

            No doubt, style matters. This president is the most uncivil, crassest, crudest, ugliest (in several meanings of the word) U.S. leader in memory. Maybe ever.

            But style is only style. Style is not substance. Conflating Trump’s weird crazy demeanor with his generically Republican politics exacerbates a problem afflicting our national discourse, our pundits’ tendency to obsess over the distraction of personality rather than the politics that govern our lives.

            Though repugnant, neither Trump’s politics nor his policies are significantly worse than those of his precedessors.

            https://www.laprogressive.com/trump-derangement-syndrome/?amp=1

          • #413978
            JonLP
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 3,359

            I can also criticize Biden’s personality or style as well as his politics. For example I was able to criticize Biden for comments like “Look fat” or “Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” Or his past statements like “you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.” Or in the 2008 primary when he said that Obama was a “clean” and “articulate” African-American. Or when Biden said he has “no empathy” for millenials.

            Point is I never had a problem with criticizing Biden’s personality but I will also criticize Trump if he is campaigning against Ilhan Omar or telling The Squad to go back to where they came from. I also don’t like most of Trump’s policies.

            Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair - Mariame Kaba

            Like many public systems, GOP want to rip the battery out + say the whole car doesn’t work, so they can sell it for parts - AOC

      • #413901
        Yanath
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 1,805

        Which is not to say that nothing of significance has changed. It is significant that US liberals are no longer being psychologically pummelled with hysterical narratives about a looming fascist takeover and their government being infiltrated at its highest levels by Kremlin operatives. This relentless barrage of emotional intensity has been literally making people sick, and the fact that they are no longer being psychologically abused in this way is not insignificant.

        • #413904
          Cold Mountain Trail
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 12,404

          Nope.  It was Trump who was making me sick, not the response to trump.

          Seriously, every day he was attacking someone, spewing things which demanded fact-finding, generally talking trash (pussy etc) & touting how great he was.  Plus changing his mind/tack daily so you never knew where you were (I think it was a learned tactic, purposefully used to disorient) etc etc.

          I thought he was a toxic persona.

          The other I could deal with; Trump was very literally making me sick.  The only way to avoid it was not to look at the news.

          And contra caitlin, I didn’t see ‘narratives about america being taken over by fascism’ on a daily basis. unlike trump’s daily attacks — not always on the same person/entity, but always on something/someone.  In addition to his very noticeable/sick obsession with his self/self-image.

           

          Also, his assholery had very noticeable repercussions in my own community and neighborhood, and not for the good imho.

      • #414048
        salemcourt
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 2,644

        Red states.  Now they have to be mentally bombarded with all sort of nonsense about how fooled they were with Trump even though their fortune did go up the first three years due to lower migration and lower imports.  So, the mental anguish on the red team is the same as it was for the blue team under Trump, no more and no less.

        • #414052
          Cold Mountain Trail
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 12,404

          “their fortune did go up the first three years due to lower migration and lower imports”

          –any economic evidence of their fortune going up?

          • #414056
            salemcourt
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 2,644

            about real wages going up from 2016 to 2019.  I was told that it was all due to Obama.  So, maybe it has nothing to do with Trump, however the data is there for you to see.  Can’t be bothered doing another internet search for this once again.

            • #414063
              Cold Mountain Trail
              Participant
              • Total Posts: 12,404

              Composition effect:  Higher income workers more likely to remain employed during Covid:

              “The onset of COVID-19 in spring 2020 prompted an unprecedented rapid rise in the unemployment rate. However, a popular and widely cited wage measure—average hourly earnings (AHE)—rose sharply as the health crisis grew. We show that the anomalous behavior of AHE growth was largely due to a dramatic change in the composition of the workforce produced by the economic fallout from the pandemic.

              COVID-19 hit the U.S. last March, and by the end of April, more than 22 million jobs were lost. This created tremendous slack in the labor market, with the unemployment rate leaping from 4.4 percent to 14.8 percent. A natural assumption would be that such an unprecedented rise in unemployment would result in a marked slowing of wage growth.

              In the case of AHE, however, wage growth accelerated as the unemployment rate shot up.”

              https://www.dallasfed.org/research/economics/2021/0209

               

              So even Trump’s supposed boon to working class wages was largely a mirage.  And ‘the data’ doesn’t always speak for itself.  Average wages v. median wages, composition of the labor force, etc. are part of ‘the data’ too, but such distinctions are rarely discussed in the headlines.

              • #414064
                Cold Mountain Trail
                Participant
                • Total Posts: 12,404

                “Donald Trump may have the knack of talking to blue-collar workers, and I suppose union leaders need to do their best to work with whoever’s in the White House. But as Trump said to them about unions, “they cost me a lot of money.” That part was real. The little laugh that followed wasn’t. Unions cost Trump and the rest of the business class a lot of money, and they’ve spent the last 50 years conducting a scorched-earth campaign to destroy them.

                So when, one way or another, it turned out there was no Trump infrastructure bill and never would be; and Trump started whittling away at public sector union rights; and Trump repealed the “overtime” rule put in place by President Obama; and Trump’s NLRB overturned a couple of key labor rules; and Trump appointed Eugene Scalia to be the next Labor Secretary; and Trump said not a peep when Boeing workers tried to organize in South Carolina; and Trump’s trade war started hurting union jobs—well, you’d be foolish to wonder why he did all that. The answer is simple. He’s a Republican. It’s what he does.”

                https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/08/in-big-non-surprise-trump-turns-on-labor-unions/

    • #413927
      closeupready
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,233

      There are great sociologists like Noam Chomsky who built their early careers on social minutiae like, for example, how language = action.  Leading to his famous book (which he co-authored with another social scientist), “Manufacturing Consent”.

      Caitlin is gifted in terms of seeing how a given set of circumstances can lead logically to a horrific outcome, but IMO, society is more complicated than how she sees it.  I will give her this, that 75-80% of the time she’s correct, but not always.  This is one of those times.

      For example, people have instincts, like the need to eat.  Go hungry, and all the narratives in the world telling you that starvation is good are not going to work.  Family is another super-transcendent feature of human groups.

      The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.

    • #414055
      Cold Mountain Trail
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 12,404
    • #414133
      sadoldgirl
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,226

      I think her main point is to quote:”Nothing will fundamentally change”.

      Biden meant obviously policies. Trump used atrocious and abusive

      language, but basically did everything any Repug would have done.

      Biden calls Putin a “killer” and his team tries to lecture China on

      how to behave. Unlike under Trump though the media plays along

      with Biden. Cripes, the questions by the media at press conferences

      now have to be submitted beforehand. Congress is asking the IT

      community to use stricter censorship on line. Thus people are fooled

      into a belief of a serious improvement, which it is NOT! The Overton

      window is being narrowed more and more; and the word PEACE is

      still being avoided while more troops are sent to the ME and Syria is

      bombed. The media serve the empire, not the people even though they

      don’t recognize it. That is Johnstone’s point, imo.

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