It’s Good When Idols Get Knocked Off Pedestals: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Caitlin Johnstone
6 min readMay 2, 2023

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

Jeffrey Epstein, Woody Allen, and Noam Chomsky went out to dinner one night.

There’s no punchline, that’s just something that happened.

Of course, nothing that comes out about Epstein himself will ever be as significant as the first fact that powerful intelligence agencies use kids as sex slaves to manipulate our society with blackmail.

Anti-China propaganda needs to be opposed ferociously. US military encirclement of China is rapidly increasing and the floodgates are being opened to pour weapons into Taiwan as quickly as possible, and it’s getting almost no resistance anywhere. People barely know it’s happening.

The propaganda campaign against China needs to be opposed right now because it’s a threat right now, and also because otherwise when the time comes to actually send out the war ships the public will just consent to it, since the war propaganda went unchallenged that whole time. After a certain point a propaganda narrative can gain enough momentum that there’s simply no resisting it. We can’t just ignore this.

The US alliance is indisputably encircling Russia and China in ways it would never permit itself to be encircled. The only way to defend this discrepancy is to say “Well it’s okay when we do it because they are Bad Guys while we are Good Guys,” which is an infant’s understanding.

Believing that “democracies” should be allowed to do things that “autocracies” shouldn’t be is just subscribing to an adult-sounding iteration of the “Good Guys vs Bad Guys” plotline of every children’s cartoon. It can’t withstand an instant of critical thought.

Even if you do subscribe to an infantile “Good Guys vs Bad Guys” worldview, all facts in evidence say the US should be considered the latter. Russia and China haven’t spent the 21st century killing people by the millions in wars of aggression, for example. Russia and China haven’t been strangling entire nations around the world with economic warfare for the crime of disobedience. Russia and China haven’t been circling the planet with hundreds of military bases in order to rule the world. Russia and China haven’t been plotting to destroy any nation which disobeys them. Only the US is doing these things.

A great question to ask someone is “What conspiracy theory do you think might be true?” If they struggle to come up with even one, then that means they don’t question anything. If they don’t question anything, they’re not thinking at all.

If you believe The Official Story about everything that happens, then you’re not thinking, you’re repeating. If the only thing you question is the questioners, then you’re not an individual with your own mind, you are enforcer of the status quo. You’re as much a separate person with your own thoughts as a car radio speaker is separate from the sound of the disc jockey.

The contradictions and hypocrisy of the empire are so in-your-face right now it sometimes barely feels worthwhile to point it out. But it needs to be pointed out every time, because the majority of people still manage not to see it.

I think it’s probably a good thing when our idols get knocked off the pedestals we put them on. Chomsky. Bernie. The Dalai Lama. It’s not healthy to elevate others to a lofty status above ourselves instead of seeing them as normal human beings who are as capable of error as anyone else.

Our entire culture — movies, schoolbooks, religions etc — tells us to always be looking for heroes. Tells us to look outside ourselves for celebrated leaders who will show us where to go. And I just think that’s a terrible dereliction of duty — of our duty to find the truth for ourselves.

One of the worst mistakes you can make is neglecting your responsibility to cultivate a truth-based understanding of reality for yourself. People hand off that responsibility to journalists, pundits, “thought leaders”, teachers, preachers and gurus, but to do this is to neglect a very sacred duty. As Terence McKenna said, “You have to take seriously the notion that understanding the universe is your responsibility, because the only understanding of the universe that will be useful to you is your own understanding.” Don’t pass off that responsibility to someone else.

You are the sole authority over your own understanding of the world. You’ve no business abdicating that authority because someone else is speaking about something with a confident and authoritative tone. Find out the truth for yourself. Place blind faith in no one when it comes to understanding reality, including me obviously.

It’s disempowering to have idols on pedestals, because they create the false impression that the solution to our problems exists somewhere outside ourselves. In reality no one individual will ever solve the massive problems humanity now faces. It’s going to take all of us.

Truth doesn’t exist in some other person; it’s for you to sort out for yourself. Revolution isn’t hiding in some celebrated hero; it’s going to have to come from within us. Enlightenment doesn’t exist in some lofty future state; it’s here presently and just needs to be recognized.

The healthy way to relate to famous figures is to relate to them as anyone else: if they say something useful then use it, if they say something unhelpful then don’t. You never need to elevate them so high that there’s an expectation that they’ll always get everything right, or that you feel a sense of disappointment or betrayal if they get something wrong.

It’s disempowering to put people on pedestals, and it’s no fun to be on the pedestal either. I always cringe a bit when I see someone constantly praising me as a person instead of focusing on the specific merits of my work on a case by case basis, not because I have a problem receiving compliments but because I know they’re going to have to knock me off that pedestal one day. Anyone who’s sincerely interested in truth will eventually have to knock some idols off of pedestals, because keeping them there inevitably becomes an obstacle to your own understanding of what’s true. The whole relationship is just deeply unpleasant for everyone involved.

Hero stories keep you looking for heroes outside yourself. Idols keep you looking for truth outside yourself. Gurus keep you looking for enlightenment outside yourself. It’s good to make use of all the knowledge and wisdom that exists in the world, but don’t let it get you digging for treasure in the wrong place.


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