Very nice article here from Caitlin.
The part about how civilization is simply a bunch of stories that we’ve all agreed are true whether they are or not is very interesting. In other words, society means believing in a huge set of stories, many of which may be false, distorted, or nonsensical. But to succeed in society, you have agree that all the stories are true, even the made-up bullshit ones.
In other words, society is simply narrative. In a larger sense, since narrative is simply language, society itself is made up of not just language but language games.
All games have rules and all rules of games are completely made up without any objective logic or sense to them outside of the game. In other words, the rules of the game may be ridiculous or absurd, but if they do well to help you play the game, then they work and cannot be questioned. The notion of society itself as a game, say as a baseball game that never starts, stops, or ends is a most interesting one. And those who refuse to follow or break the rules are thrown out of the game, just as they are in a real ballgame.
It never starts it never stops it just goes it never zeroes.
– from some on my unpublished fiction:
“Meandering in the Midzone: The Thief of Love on the Loose in the Last American Frontier.” 🙂
The idea that a lot of the stories we must believe are nonsense is interesting. Suppose one gets tired of being ordered to believe bullshit. One day you stand up and point out the obvious: the emperor has no clothes! You can lose your job or career. You can lose your home and become homeless. You can even lose your freedom and end up in jail or prison. This is the price one pays in society for a commitment to truth, a determination to point out the obvious, and a stubborn refusal to believe bullshit.
I can’t quite wrap my head around these ideas about society being a game, civilization being based on a set of stories we have all agreed are true, and the whole thing being just a narrative and ultimately a game involving language. In a sense, I get it, but I don’t get it get it, you know what I mean? It doesn’t resonate in my head with a pure understanding to where it becomes obvious and completely makes sense. You follow?
Caitlin’s mind is more advanced than mine is on that score.
by Caitlin Johnstone
Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):
The US won WW2 and then immediately plunged into the Cold War. The US won the Cold War and then immediately set to work destroying the Middle East. The US destroyed the Middle East and then immediately started another cold war in preparation for another world war. The US is war.
A normal country wages war with the goal of getting back to peacetime. The US wages war with the goal of getting to the next war.
The “Uyghur genocide” narrative is a lie, the “debt trap diplomacy” narrative is a lie, the “social credit score” narrative is a lie, they’re lying about Taiwan, and they’re lying about China trying to conquer the world. They lied about every other disobedient nation, and they’re lying about China.
You cannot understand the geopolitics and major conflicts of the 2020s without understanding that the US empire has been actively amassing military threats in the immediate surroundings of its top two rivals that it would never tolerate anyone else amassing near the US.
How can anyone still support the idea of progressive reform in the Democratic Party after watching AOC transform into Nancy Pelosi before their very eyes?
I used to dismiss the idea of lesser-evil voting because it causes people to vote for evil political parties, thereby ensuring they vote for continued evil. Now I just dismiss electoral politics altogether, because you’ll get evil no matter how you vote since “voting” is itself a fake diversion to help manufacture the illusion of freedom and control.
It’s crazy how we let wealthy corporations run the media who then spend all day every day telling us we should definitely support political norms that are friendly to wealthy corporations.
A normal person has a conflict with someone and begins communicating and working to sort out the true from the false. A manipulator has a conflict and immediately begins working to establish narrative dominance. This is true of individual sociopaths and sociopathic empires alike.
Too many people look at authoritarian measures like government surveillance, online censorship etc in terms of how it will directly affect them personally rather than how it shapes society as a whole. Sure you yourself may not be directly affected by surveillance or censorship, but you have to live in a society where people’s thoughts, words and behaviors are being strictly regulated by authority in ways that serve the interests of authority.
You have to live in a civilization of brainwashed, power-serving automatons instead of free thinkers who come up with creative solutions to our problems, who hold power to account, and who put the powerful in check when they don’t serve the interests of the people.
Civilization is a game. Like any other game, there is a points system set up to determine how well everyone is doing. Like any other game, there are people who fare better and get more points than others. And, like any other game, the rules are completely made up.
The rules consist of made-up financial and economic systems which make up the “points” system of this game, along with made-up laws and government policies, and made-up cultural norms and societal expectations.
One major difference between the made-up game of civilization and other made-up games is that players who don’t do well suffer real-world consequences as a result. They can go hungry or be made homeless if they don’t get enough of the made-up points. They can wind up in prison if they try to get some points in ways that are against the rules. They can even get military explosives dropped on their homes by other players if they happen to live in the wrong part of the world.
This despite the fact that it’s all made of language — made of words. All of civilization is just a collection of stories we’ve all agreed to pretend are true. Stories about how money works. How trade works. How labor works. How society works. How we all need to be moving, organizing and consuming on this planet we were born on.
The good news is that, like any other game, we are free to change the rules if enough players decide that’s what they want to do. It’s all made of narrative, and the narratives are only as real as we agree to pretend they are. If the current agreed-upon stories aren’t working for us, we can collectively agree to start playing by another set of rules, and if enough of us decide to do this there’s not really anything anyone can do to stop us.
Those who benefit from the current rules of the game understand this and do everything they can to make sure we keep playing by the current rules. That’s why so much of our media is dedicated to normalizing status quo politics and manufacturing consent for the actions that are necessary to maintain the current order of things. Our information ecosystem is continually saturated with the narratives of the people who get the most points in this game we are playing.
But again, that’s all just narrative. It’s all just story. They put so much effort into manufacturing our consent because they know they absolutely do need our consent, because we can collectively decide to change the rules of the game at any time.
So the bad news is that we’re in a rigged game that’s stacked against us for the benefit of a few manipulative players. The good news is we don’t have to play anymore, and can choose to start playing something else whenever we are ready.
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