Some Common Criticisms Of My Work Addressed, By Caitlin Johnstone
It’s a relatively slow news day so I thought it might be good to just tap out a few responses to common criticisms of the writing I’ve been doing since I started this gig two and a half years ago. I try to put all my cards on the table in full transparency so that people can decide if they trust me or like what I’m doing.
Obviously when you do what I do for a living you get truckloads of criticisms every day ranging from the reasonable and thoughtful to the downright bizarre, so I’ll only be able to focus on the most common ones:
“Caitlin touts the Kremlin line. Everything she writes is in accordance with Kremlin talking points.”
It is true that my foreign policy views often align with the foreign policy positions promoted by the Russian government, but this is only because I oppose US interventionism. Russia, like many other sovereign nations, also opposes US interventionism, because it is in their interests to do so. This is unrelated to my own reasons for opposing US interventionism, namely that it is consistently disastrous and unhelpful, and that US military violence serves as the glue which holds together a powerful empire which is oppressive, ecocidal, omnicidal, and increasingly Orwellian. More on this here.
For the record, I have nothing to do with the Russian government, and to my knowledge I have never received any money that came from the Kremlin. I’ve been offered to appear on various RT programs, but I’ve always declined because I don’t want my arguments tainted with any perception of loyalty to that network. I’m an entirely reader-funded writer, and I have my Patreon information on the most transparent settings available. The particularly Russia-allergic are unable to fathom that I’d write what I write without being paid to by the Russian government, but I really do believe the things I say and westerners really do enjoy reading me so much that they help me financially so that it can be my full time job.
“Caitlin is an Assad apologist.”
What’s that? Is it like those “Saddam apologists” everyone was fretting about in 2002?
I have no loyalty to the Syrian government, and it’s bizarre that anyone thinks that’s a thing. I did not wake up one morning and decide that some random Middle Eastern leader on the other side of the planet is awesome. I oppose the longstanding US regime change agenda in Syria because it is immoral and has, like all US interventionism, proven extremely disastrous. I advocate skepticism of all western narratives about the Syrian government because that’s what every sane person should do in a post-Iraq invasion world, and it’s what should have been done regarding US government narratives about Saddam Hussein.
“Caitlin advocates an alliance between fascists and leftists.”
Completely false. Fascism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism run directly counter to everything I stand for, as is evident to anyone who reads me even semi-regularly. A couple of years ago I published an article suggesting that the left could be more open to interacting with the anti-establishment right (meaning libertarians and anti-interventionist Trump supporters, not fascists and Nazis) and figuring out how to work together on specific points of convergence where they agree. This was spun by some bad faith actors on Twitter and the lefty outlet CounterPunch into an advocacy for a “red-brown alliance”, neither of which I was able to defend effectively because Twitter’s then-140-character limit made nuanced discussion impossible and CounterPunch refused my right to respond. So the narrative was locked in, and there are still a bunch of leftists on Twitter who believe it.
In hindsight I could have articulated my ideas better and defended them more skillfully, but it was my first Twitter hate mob and I had no idea how to deal with it. Still it’s frustrating to have a lot of the people with whom I most closely align ideologically continue to associate me with one clumsy argument made nearly two years and six hundred articles ago. Everyone who reads me knows I’m not “fascist-adjacent” or a “Strasserist” or a “Nazbol” or any of the other weird esoteric labels I’ve had thrown at me. I’ve written more about this here.
“Caitlin wrote an astrology book.”
This one is true. I fed my two infant children while putting myself through university working for a gift company that paid me to rapidly churn out books of their choosing, mainly horoscopes but also a book on how to play the harmonica. People like to bring that 2002 publication up as though it invalidates my unrelated political analysis nearly two decades later, but I’m not ashamed of it. I needed the money to provide for my children, the content wasn’t my choice, and I wrote them to be as healthy and helpful as my abilities at the time allowed. Maybe if I’d have known strangers on the internet would be trying to dismiss me by calling me an “astrologist” decades later I’d have chosen a different workplace, but you only know what you know.
“Caitlin is a conspiracy theorist.”
Also true. It’s a known fact that secret conspiracies among the powerful happen all the time, and there need to be theories about how those conspiracies happen since they don’t happen out in the open. My position is that it’s always okay to question official narratives, even if people want to question things like 9/11, JFK, Seth Rich, or even really out-there stuff like elite pedophile networks or mass shooting events, because placing limits on the things people are allowed to question leads to things like the credulous acceptance of the Iraq narrative. I won’t always agree with all lines of inquiry, but I fully support people’s right to ask questions and if I see them being shamed into silence I’ll sometimes come forward and tell them they have permission to speak. Skepticism and critical thinking should be encouraged.
Personally I think the things our rulers are doing out in the open far exceed the evils alleged in any conspiracy theory, but there’s certainly value in bringing critical thinking to every official narrative, as long as it’s actually critical and not just blind faith thrown in the other direction for partisan reasons. I used to place more emphasis on conspiracy theory in my writings than I do now, not because people dislike conspiracy theories, nor because I have any problem with them, but simply because I find pointing at known, verifiable full stories to be a far more effective means of attacking establishment propaganda narratives.
“Caitlin’s writings are actually written by her husband, Tim Foley.”
Partially true. I have a longtime internet stalker who keeps creating new sock accounts to circulate this narrative on Twitter among anyone who criticizes me, but the truth of the matter is simply that my husband and I work together. We’re joined at the hip and nothing I write is separable from the ongoing conversation I have with him every day, a fact I’ve always been open about and have mentioned many times over the years. I retain sole authorship and authority over everything I publish and tweet, however, and all decisions made about anything that goes on under my name are my own. This narrative only gains traction among my most virulent haters, because no psychologically healthy person would have a problem with a person helping his spouse, but it comes up often enough to warrant address.
“Caitlin is an evil scum sucking socialist.”
True. The ideology I mostly align with is socialism, because if our species is going to have to survive, its members are going to have to overcome their competitive relationship with one another and start collaborating in the interests of the whole, both with the whole of humanity and with our ecosystem. As I said recently, the ideas advanced by socialism thus far have been in and of themselves insufficient as far as steering our world into health is concerned, but the healthy sort of society I believe we need to create looks more like socialism than any other currently existing conceptual model. A new world will need radically new ideas, but right now socialism comes closest.
That said I find it very funny that my conservative followers get so triggered by my being a socialist, considering I hardly ever write about it. I am aware that we’ll be unable to create a healthy society as long as we’re locked down by an oligarchic government and a plutocratic propaganda machine which constantly manipulates people into accepting the status quo, so that’s where I place my emphasis. But simply the fact that I have “socialist” in my bio is deeply triggering for a certain subset of capitalism cultist, so they often flip out at me just for privately holding that idea.
“Caitlin lives in Australia, she has no business writing about America.”
You know it’s interesting, I write about UK politics a fair bit too, but I’ve never had a single British person tell me I shouldn’t write about their nation. Only in America is it considered strange and unacceptable for people in other countries to write about their country, despite the fact that the behaviors of the US government impact everyone in the world far more than any other country on earth.
I’ll butt out of America’s business as soon as America butts out of mine, thank you very much. I can’t imagine what kind of bizarre mental contortions one has to do to live in a country that constantly uses its military and economic might to bully and manipulate the rest of the world, and then bitch when people in other countries have a problem with it. Australia gets sucked into all of America’s idiotic wars, we’re functionally a US intelligence/defense asset, and the CIA staged a coup here in the seventies to oust our Prime Minister. Stop telling me that America is none of my business.
That said, I do believe it or not have a code of conduct when writing about US politics: I stay away from state and local politics, writing only about things which directly or indirectly impact the rest of the world. I have a strong belief in the primacy of sovereignty, and significantly involving myself beyond that which impacts the rest of the world feels in violation of that. I don’t even have any plans to endorse a presidential candidate this race, though that would be within my sovereign jurisdiction according to my rules.
And that’s about it for the big ones, I think. If you’d like more information about who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with my platform here, check out this article I wrote back in December.
Added August 12, 2019: “Caitlin is a plagiarist.”
I forgot about this one when I first wrote this article, but I see it re-surface every so often so I figure I should address it head-on. Back in 2017 a couple of weirdly similar progressive Twitter accounts began claiming I was stealing their work, and their claims were repeated as fact by influential leftist accounts like Robbie Martin and Alex Rubinstein.
These claims are completely false; I have never plagiarized anyone. Plagiarism is the easiest thing in the world to prove, yet both of the accounts who initiated this smear consistently refuse to even try to provide proof of their claims and block anyone who asks them to. This smear has been circulated by people who chose to believe it not because there was any evidence for it, but because they already disliked me and wanted another reason to.
You’d think this one would invalidate itself by the fact that the people who accuse me of plagiarism are the same people who accuse me of being a secret Nazi. How would plagiarizing the work of leftists advance the cause of fascism and white supremacy, exactly? Nobody’s bothered to explain this to me.
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