Ideological Echo Chambers Are Making Us All Stupid: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readMay 14, 2023

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

American liberals just spent days raging at CNN for hosting a town hall with Donald Trump like it’s the worst thing CNN has ever done. CNN isn’t horrible because it “platformed” Trump, CNN is horrible because it’s an imperialist propaganda firm whose whole job is to deceive people into supporting the most depraved agendas of the world’s most powerful people. Hosting that town hall was one of the least evil things CNN has done.

Liberals shouldn’t be upset at CNN for betraying their trust by platforming Trump, they should be upset with themselves for trusting CNN. It’s so, so much worse than they’re giving it credit for.

If you find Elon Musk’s hiring of a new Twitter CEO with a background in mainstream media and the World Economic Forum shocking and contradictory, it’s probably an indication that your worldview isn’t informed by an accurate perception of what’s really happening. You probably haven’t been thinking accurate thoughts about Musk, and you probably haven’t been thinking accurate thoughts about the WEF. Nothing about this stands out as surprising for those who see both as figures of status quo global capitalism.

In many right wing circles Musk’s beneficence has been massively overstated and the WEF’s nature has been wildly distorted. Really they’re both just garden variety manifestations of the mundane capitalist dystopia we live in, and are deeply invested in maintaining this dystopia.

Lately the WEF has served as an ideological scapegoat for rightists who are critical of the establishment but are ideologically unable to see capitalism’s role in this mess. They paint the WEF as some freakish aberration rather than the true face of the capitalism they support. In such circles the WEF has taken on a narrative role as a villainous antagonist that capitalism supporters can point to and say “Look at those freaks, they’re ruining the capitalism!” When in fact the WEF is just the face of what capitalism looks like when it gets to this stage.

Musk’s new hire isn’t an indication that anything has changed or that anything new is happening. Whatever happens with Twitter from here on out was the trajectory Twitter was on from the moment Musk bought it.

The Biden administration eliminating think tank funding transparency requirements set by the Trump administration is one of the most Biden administration things that has ever happened.

Having an ideologically diverse audience has really opened me up to how politically cloistered everyone’s used to being these days. People are always expressing surprise at the fact that they agree with me on some things yet disagree with me on others, either positively like “Wow we’re not on the same page economically but I love a lot of what you say”, or negatively like “OMG how can someone be so right about war and authoritarianism but SO WRONG about capitalism??”

This wouldn’t stand out to them as something surprising or unusual unless it was something they don’t normally experience in life. Which is a sign that something is off, because agreeing with people sometimes and disagreeing with them other times is the normal state of human interaction. That’s what you experience constantly in life if your interactions are allowed to move naturally.

That just shows how successful the powerful have been in herding the populace into ideological echo chambers where propaganda that’s custom-made for their ideological preferences can be administered to them:

  • We need to fight Russia because Putin’s a homophobic Hitler.
  • We need to fight China because the Asian commies are coming for us.
  • We need internet censorship to fight right wing extremism.
  • We need more militarized police to fight thugs.
  • Etc

Empire propaganda is tailored for each ideological echo chamber so that it slides in with as little resistance as possible.

That’s why I consider it a win whenever I can get healthy ideas and information over the echo chamber walls. When I’ve got a bunch of shitlibs or rightists in my notifications responding to something I’ve put out there, that means I’ve been successful in punching holes in the matrix.

We’re not supposed to agree with every political opinion we’re seeing. It isn’t natural to agree with any person or political faction all the time. If you find yourself agreeing with your preferred slice of the political spectrum all the time on every issue, that means you’ve stopped thinking for yourself and are just letting yourself be pulled along by the herd. Disagreement is normal. Universal agreement is a symptom of a debilitating disease.

I’ve never encountered anyone with whom I agree all the time, and it would be silly for me to expect to. I agree and disagree on various subjects with the communists I follow, and the libertarians, and everyone else. I’ve agreed and disagreed with things I’ve heard from Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, Alex Jones, Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. And you should too. That’s normal.

____________________

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.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Featured image via Adobe Stock.

--

--