Disrupt The Culture Wars

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readAug 5, 2023


Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

One of the great challenges faced by westerners who oppose the political status quo today is the way the narrative managers of both mainstream factions continuously divert all political energy away from issues which threaten the interests of the powerful like economic injustice, war, militarism, authoritarianism, corruption, capitalism and ecocide and toward issues which don’t threaten the powerful at all like abortion, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

This method of social control serves the powerful in some very obvious ways, and is being used very effectively. As long as it remains effective, it will continue to be used. The worse things get the more urgent the need to fight the class war will become, anf the more urgent the need to fight the class war becomes the more vitriolic and intense the artificial culture war will become in order to prevent political changes which inconvenience the powerful. This is 100 percent guaranteed. And what’s tricky is that all the vitriolic intensity will create the illusion that the culture war has gotten more important, when in reality the class war has.

It’s just a straightforward fact that the more miserable, impoverished and disempowered the public becomes, the more hateful and all-consuming the artificial culture war will be made to prevent revolution. That’s what’s been happening, and that’s what will continue to happen. You can hate hearing it, and you can hate me for saying it. But it is a fact, and I think we all pretty much know it’s a fact.

So what’s do be done about this? Obviously it’s not an option to just throw disempowered groups to the wolves and ignore the abuses they’re suffering under the directed hatred coming after them from the right. And obviously it’s not an option to run to the other side of the artificial partisan divide and play along with the mainstream faction which says we should focus only on culture war issues, as in Hillary Clinton famously arguing that breaking up the banks won’t end racism and sexism.

As with most problems, the first step toward finding a solution is to bring consciousness to what’s happening. Draw attention to the fact that marginalized groups are being used and abused by mainstream narrative managers to keep the public from turning their gaze on the abuses of their rulers. Draw attention to the way rightist narrative managers direct hatred toward marginalized groups to keep hatred away from our rulers, and to the way liberal narrative managers seize on that to direct their herd away from issues that can inconvenience the powerful and toward exclusive focus on the culture war.

Stop letting people get sucked up into the performance, and instead draw attention to what’s really going on here. Act like a loud jerk at a movie theater who keeps yelling “None of this is real! Those are actors on a movie set!”

Can you imagine how hard it would be to get lost in the narrative of a movie if somebody was constantly doing that to you? After a while you’d stop seeing Oppenheimer and you’d only be able to see Cillian Murphy.

Basically all you’re trying to do is take all the emotional heat that’s being diverted into partisan feuding over issues whose outcomes will never inconvenience power in the slightest, and stear that emotional heat toward the people who are directing all this. This is both easy to do and completely honest, because how fucked up is it that they’re doing this? How fucked up is it that the most influential voices in our society on both sides of the mainstream partisan divide are facilitating the abuse of marginalized groups in order to protect the powerful?

It’s about as loathsome a thing as you could possibly come up with. They’re pitting human against human at the expense of society’s most vulnerable members and watching them fight from on high like Greek gods. Can you think of anything more vile?

Draw attention to how disgusting what they’re doing is. Draw attention to how deeply evil this behavior is. Keep shouting in that movie theater and drawing attention to what’s really going on to highlight how profoundly depraved these monsters really are.

Draw people’s attention to this dynamic wherever you see it. When right wing “populists” babble about LGBTQ conspiracies and shriek about wokeness, mock them for the ridiculous sheep they are for playing into a dynamic that directly serves the elite power structures they claim to oppose. When liberals are ignoring economic injustice, war, militarism, authoritarianism, corruption, capitalism and ecocide to focus on culture war battles whose outcomes will never even slightly inconvenience the powerful, highlight the disgusting way they themselves are feeding into a dynamic that imperils the marginalized communities they claim to defend.

People on both sides of the divide will object to this message. The source of their objection is the exact programming I just described. The truth hides just beneath that objection. On some level you all know this is happening.

Keep breaking the spell and drawing attention to what’s really going on, and you can stomp out the abuse at its source.


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