Imperial Narrative Managers Always Try To Make Peace Seem Unnatural

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readMar 12, 2023

Listen to a reading of this article:

I’ve been ranting all week about the shocking war-with-China propaganda escalation in Australian mainstream media, and I feel like I could easily scream about it for another month without running out of vitriol for the disgusting freaks who are pushing this filth into the consciousness of my countrymen. One really really can’t say enough unkind things about people who are openly trying to pave the way toward an Atomic Age world war; in a remotely sane world such monsters would be driven from human civilization and die cold and alone in the wilderness with nothing but their bloodlust to keep them company.

One of the most obnoxious things said during this latest propaganda push appeared in the joint statement provided by the five “experts” (read: empire-funded China hawks) recruited by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to share their obscenely hawkish opinions in an official-looking media presentation. This paragraph has been rattling around in my head since I first read it:

“Australia must prepare itself. Most important of all is a psychological shift. Urgency must replace complacency. The recent decades of tranquillity were not the norm in human affairs but an aberration. Australia’s holiday from history is over. Australians should not feel afraid but be alert to the threats we face, the tough decisions we must make and know that they have agency. This mobilisation of mindset is the essential prerequisite to any successful confrontation of China.”

Do you see what they’re doing there? These professional China hawks are explicitly trying to frame peace as a strange “aberration”, and war as the status quo norm. They’re saying Australians require a “psychological shift” and a “mobilisation of mindset” from thinking peace is normal and healthy to thinking war is normal and healthy.

Which is of course ass-backwards and shit-eating insane. Every normal, healthy person regards peace as the default position and violence as a rare and alarming aberration which must be avoided whenever possible.

We know this is true from our normal human experience of our own personal lives. None of us spend the majority of our time getting into fist fights, for example; anyone who spends most of their waking life physically assaulting people has probably been locked up a long time ago. If you have ever been in a fist fight you will recall that it was experienced as a rare and alarming occurrence, and everything in your body was screaming at you that this was a freakish and unnatural thing which must end as quickly as possible the entire time. In healthy people violence is experienced as abnormal, and its absence is experienced as normal.

This normal, baseline position is what imperial narrative managers spend their time trying to “psychologically shift” everyone away from, propagandizing us instead into accepting continuous conflict and danger as the norm. Such a shift is beneficial to the empire, to war profiteers, and to professional war propagandists, and is entirely destructive to everyone else. It causes us to accept material conditions which directly harm our own interests, and it makes us crazy and neurotic as a civilization.

You see it all the time though, like whenever there’s a push to withdraw imperial troops from some part of the Middle East they’ve been in for years, or the slightest discussion of maybe not raising the military budget this year, or skepticism that pouring weapons into a violence-ravaged part of the world is the wisest and most helpful thing to do.

Any time we see the slightest beginnings of the tiniest movement toward stepping away from the path of nonstop warmongering and militarism, pundits and politicians begin bleating words like “isolationism” and “appeasement” in an attempt to make calls for de-escalation, demilitarization, diplomacy and detente look freakish and abnormal in contrast to the sane, responsible status quo of hurtling toward nuclear armageddon at full tilt.

Their job is to abnormalize peace and normalize war, which means our job as healthy human beings is to do the exact opposite. We must help everyone understand the horrors of war and the unfathomable nightmares that can be unleashed by reckless brinkmanship, and help people to understand that peace is what’s healthy and to imagine a future where it is the norm.

The bad news is that we are pushing against a narrative-manufacturing apparatus that is backed by the might of a globe-spanning empire. The good news is that our vision is the one that’s based on truth, and deep down everyone can sense it. All we need to do to get people viewing peace as normal and war as abnormal is to remind people of what they already know inside.


My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, or buying an issue of my monthly zine. 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