Pay Attention To The Everyday Horrors

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readSep 10, 2023


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

Have you ever noticed how the criticisms that both mainstream US political factions make about their opposition tend to be cartoonish exaggerations and whole cloth lies with little or no grounding in reality?

It’s the strangest thing. Since 2015 Democrats have been insisting that Trump’s election would spell the end of American democracy and would turn the United States into a Nazi dystopia with goose-stepping brownshirts rounding up minorities for concentration camps. On top of that they began insisting that Trump is a secret agent working for the Kremlin and that Vladimir Putin was secretly operating as the de facto president of the United States.

On the right side of the aisle it’s even more ridiculous. They’re constantly babbling about a hostile takeover of the United States by socialists and communists, as though the Democrats are anything other than the same garden variety neoliberal capitalists that Republicans are. The more extreme factions prattle on about satanic plots to legalize child molestation, turn children transgender and make everyone eat bugs, which Americans will be powerless to resist because their guns will have been confiscated and their mandatory estrogen jabs will have made them too soft and feminine to fight back.

It’s just ridiculously bogus drama queenery from both sides, but they push it anyway, day after day, year after year, each year with more sensationalist melodrama and hyperbole than the year before. They do this for a couple of reasons, the first being that if they started criticizing each other for the actual things they are actually doing, people would start to notice that there’s not much meaningful difference between the two parties in terms of actual governance. If Americans started to notice that the US government behaves more or less the same way regardless of which party is in power, the illusion of the two-party puppet show would be shattered, and empire managers would lose a crucial means of social control.

Secondly, both parties criticize each other for fictional offenses because criticizing each other for their actual offenses would draw attention to just how evil they both are in real life. The warmongering. The starvation sanctions. The ecocide. The soaring authoritarianism. Making their citizenry poorer and poorer so their donors can get richer and richer, and then destroying social safety nets and imposing crushing austerity on their poverty-ravaged populace. Facilitating a mind-controlled dystopia in which everyone is brainwashed by propaganda to align their thoughts, speech, labor, actions and votes in accordance with the will of the powerful.

The basic, mundane, ordinary status quo is a waking nightmare that should make us all scream in terror; the only reason we don’t is because we don’t notice it, and the only reason we don’t notice it is because we’re used to it. We’ve never known anything besides this abusive dystopia, so we’ve got no perspective on what a healthy society would look like and how very, very far we are from it. But if someone was transported from an alternate universe where human civilization was functioning in a healthy way, they would fall to their knees and bawl at what they saw here.

They make up fictional horrors because they don’t want you looking at the real ones. They don’t want you looking at the suffering of the homeless on the street. At the working poor flailing in endless toil unable to get their heads above water and relax for a minute. At the families in nations like Venezuela, Syria, North Korea and Iran struggling to obtain food and medicine because of imperial economic warfare. At the emaciated bodies of Yemeni children. At the shredded corpses of drone bombing victims. At the inconvenient facts behind the horrors in Ukraine. At Julian Assange languishing in a maximum security prison for the crime of good journalism. At the indoctrinated masses marching blindly to the beat of the imperial drum while being trained to believe they are free. At the biosphere we depend on for survival being poisoned and fed into the machine of global capitalism. At the nuclear holocaust dangling over our heads by an increasingly tenuous thread.

Those are the real horrors. Not the imaginary ones the politicians and propagandists train you to fixate on, but the real ones they train you to overlook. The mundane horrors. The everyday horrors. The horrors we were born into, and got used to over time.

Stop focusing on the threat of some future hypothetical dystopia and pay attention to the dystopia we’re living in right now. That’s where the real tyranny is at. And that’s what the real tyrants work continuously to prevent us from noticing. The more they can keep us shaking our fists at imaginary problems, the longer they can keep us from solving the real ones.


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