What The Hell Is Going On Here, Anyway?

Caitlin Johnstone
6 min readJul 28, 2019

Over the course of my young career here I’ve amassed a very eclectic group of readers from all across the political spectrum, which I quite enjoy. Sometimes I read the comments sections just to watch what happens when you bring people together from wildly different worldviews who wouldn’t normally interact with each other very much and see how those reality tunnels dance together in a conversation or debate.

I can’t rightly call my whole audience left-wing or right-wing, conspiracy theorists or anarchists, activists or intellectuals, or almost any other label I can think of. There’s only one attribute that comes to mind which unites pretty much all of my readers and social media followers, and that’s a drive to know what’s really going on in the world. Their curiosity about what’s going on in what specific field may differ from person to person, as do the conclusions they reach, but basically I think we’re all united by a desire, perhaps often an obsessive one, to come to some understanding of what’s really happening in the world.

If schools, news media and politicians told people what’s really going on in the world, this curiosity wouldn’t exist. There’d be no need to do deep investigations into what’s really happening, because it would be public knowledge, right there in our faces every day, and I’d be out of a job. The only reason people like me get to make a living trying to expose what’s really happening in the world to as many people as possible is because the teachers, news reporters and politicians don’t do that job for us, and instead dedicate themselves to the craft of filling public consciousness with power-authorized lies. So people gather in little fringe communities like this one in an attempt to help each other slice through the fog of propaganda and disinfo.

We are truth seekers. We seek in different ways and we find different answers, but we are united by a burning desire for truth. By the question, “What the hell is going on here, anyway?”

And this is why I don’t make any distinction between the quest to punch through the veil of establishment narrative management and the quest to come to a deep understanding of our own true nature. Some readers complain about the way I’ll be writing about Russiagate or Venezuela one minute and then suddenly pivot to the illusory nature of the ego or processing early childhood trauma the next, but to me they’re all exactly the same thing: it’s all an attempt to describe the truth about what’s really going on.

I made a conscious resolution long ago to always try to tell the truth as I see it rather than to say what people want me to say, and sometimes talking about human consciousness and the importance of inner work is the most truthful way I know to speak about what’s going on. So I’m sorry if I don’t always stick to writing about what you want to see me write about, but the alternative would be just seeking popularity and clicks, which would quickly lead to support for mainstream partisan narratives since that’s where the most clicks are, at which point I might as well whore myself out to MSM. So I just stick with telling the truth as honestly as possible based on how it looks from behind these eyes, which sometimes looks like a discussion about inner exploration.

Because here’s the thing: the investigation into what’s really going on goes two ways. It extends outward into discovering the truth about events and power structures underneath the fog of propaganda, and it extends inward to discovering how we really operate underneath all our fundamental assumptions and beliefs.

Both directions of investigation are equally important, because the truth about what’s going on in each direction is equally obscured. In exactly the same way that world events aren’t happening the way most people believe they’re happening because of what they were taught at school and in the news media, internal phenomena like thought, self, consciousness and perception aren’t happening anywhere remotely like the way most people assume they’re happening. Sincere inner work leads to a clear perception of the way one’s internal dynamics are occurring that makes it possible to live wisely and joyously, in the same way that sincere research into what’s going on in the outer world makes it possible to skillfully address the dilemmas that our species faces on this planet.

Most of us prefer the outer stuff. It’s fun to make fun of shitlibs and war whores and expose the corruption and lies of our rulers for everyone to see. It gets us plenty of accolades on social media, which give us highly addictive neurochemical rewards. It’s egoically pleasing.

Much less fun, and much less egoically pleasing, is honoring the fact that one’s own ego is actually part of the problem, and setting to work unburdening the world of our own inner bullshit. But it’s so important, because it happens that you can’t effectively investigate what’s going on in the outer world when your eyes are clouded by your own inner illusions, and you can’t help the world when your own actions are being ruled by your own unconscious conditioning. If you don’t resolve the sources of your own suffering, your attempts to help the world are like a child covered in mud trying to help his mother clean the house; you’re just spreading your suffering around.

(As an aside, there are also lots of people who much prefer inner exploration to outer exploration, and they’re just as useless and deluded as those who neglect inner exploration in favor of outer exploration. Many spiritual types will happily sit in meditation for hours on end, go on spiritual retreats and immerse themselves in contemplation while compartmentalizing away from their political responsibilities to the world using spiritual-sounding arguments. I’m not addressing these types here because they don’t read writers like me, but it’s worth noting that the delusion can go either way, and in both cases it’s ultimately about running from aspects of reality that one finds uncomfortable instead of courageously facing the truth, come what may.)

I’m not interested in recommending any particular path to inner investigation here, and you don’t need me to. Everyone’s journey to self-realization is different, and you already have what you need to guide you to all the necessary tools: your burning desire to be free from illusions and know the truth about what’s really going on. All you need to do is turn that burning desire to know what’s true onto your own inner processes, and you can be confident that you’ll discover the truth there in the same way you’ve discovered so much truth about what’s going on in the world. There are plenty of teachings, pointers and tips available online to show you how to do this. Your burning curiosity will guide you to the best ones for you.

There’s a lot of bullshit in this world, and it just so happens that we each own an acre of it over which we have total and complete control. Turn your attention toward eliminating your own acre of inner bullshit, and the world will be less one acre of bullshit. From there, your newfound clarity of vision will help you find and eliminate all the bullshit in the outer world as well.


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