Electoral Politics Does Not Work: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readSep 24, 2021

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It says a lot that AOC wasn’t even able to vote against an Israeli apartheid measure that everyone already knew would pass regardless of her vote.

I mean, how far gone is your progressive revolution if you’re not even allowed to have a perfectly safe performative “no” vote? If even the illusion of opposition is banned?

People say, “Why pick on AOC when other lawmakers are way worse?”

They’re not worse, they just perform different functions. The Manchins and Sinemas kill leftward movement openly, the AOCs encourage the left to feed their political energy into a party that’s built to kill leftward movement.

It happens that one of these manipulations is much easier for leftwardy-inclined people to see than the other; it’s easier to recognize Manchin and Sinema-type bullshit than AOC-type bullshit. So you’ll see some factions on the left putting special emphasis on pointing out the one that the general public needs a lot more help recognizing.

I don’t know who needs to hear this but there is no functional difference between a politician who votes a certain way because they want to and a politician who votes a certain way because systemic pressures push them to.

It’s like Trump supporters saying he wanted to fight the Deep State but the Deep State wouldn’t let him. It’s like, okay, so? Who gives a fuck? Either he’s an asshole or an impotent puppet, either way fuck him. Same with AOC and her constant establishment capitulations. Whether they’re serving the empire because they want to or because they have to, it’s clear and undeniable that electoral politics isn’t the way to advance the interests of normal human beings. The system simply does not allow for that.

The absolute least important thing in the universe is how some politician’s feelings are feeling inside. It does not matter what secret intentions they have in their heart. All that matters is what they do. If they can’t do what you need them to, it means they’re useless. Period.

The single greatest threat to freedom and democracy is not foreign governments, nor the authoritarian measures being implemented by our own governments, but the fact that giant media and tech companies are used to continuously manipulate the way people think about all of those governments.

You are not free if your mind is not free. It doesn’t matter if you were free to say and do whatever you want if the powerful are still actively manipulating the thoughts you think, because all your words and actions will arise from those thoughts. Mental sovereignty comes first.

In an alternate universe the governments of a parallel Earth responded to the pandemic by pouring money into healthcare systems, transferring wealth from their nations’ richest to their poorest, and saying “Here’s a new vaccine but it’s up to you whether you use it or not.”

It’s true that knowledge is power. That’s why the powerful work to control people’s access to knowledge through the internet and news media. It’s also why there’s privacy for the powerful and radical transparency for the public, instead of the other way around as it ought to be.

Biden proclaiming that the US is no longer at war because he moved a few thousand troops out of Afghanistan is the most Trump-like thing that has happened so far in this very Trumpian administration.

The US is like “We do not seek a new cold war, we simply seek to remain the unipolar dominator of the entire planet and maintain the ability to unilaterally destroy smaller nations which disobey us. And we’ll do anything to accomplish this, including waging a new cold war.”

George W Bush should never be able to give any speech anywhere without people in the audience cutting him off to yell about his war crimes.

Invented a highly effective new antidepressant that I hope to get to the market ASAP. It’s not a pill it’s just a big wad of cash taken by force from giant corporations.

Mothers and nurses work harder than any billionaire on earth.

People complain about how I do my thing here and say I should do it some other way, and I totally get it. One time I went to an AC/DC concert and they played not one note of smooth jazz. I was so angry.

We are ruled by a nuclear-armed globe-spanning power structure which is driving our world to its doom in myriad ways and that power structure has somehow seamlessly paced us from fearing terrorists to fearing Russian hackers to fearing anti-vaxxers instead of fearing it.

Someone who calls you an “anti-vaxxer” for expressing moderate and reasonable human rights concerns about brand new government policies that affect everyone deserves as much respect as someone who calls you an “anti-semite” for voicing legitimate criticisms of Israeli apartheid.

Having principles means having them even when they don’t further your personal agenda. You may enjoy the sight of having your politics enforced by gunpoint today, but it completely demolishes your voice and integrity when police brutality comes for you tomorrow. Those little self-serving lies that we tell ourselves about how our principles don’t apply here because of blah-blah reason are the levers by which the powerful manipulate us into further and further submission.

Propaganda works because it plugs into our most fundamental egoic mechanisms: identity and fear. Identify tightly with a group or political faction and you’ll accept propaganda which comes from there. Be driven by fear and that will be used to herd you into power-serving agendas.

If you want to free your mind from the chains of power it’s not enough to do research and memorize a bunch of facts. The most important step to freeing your mind from its shackles is to remove from yourself the psychological hooks to which those shackles are attached.


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