The Grayzone‘s Max Blumenthal has published the first part of an investigative series on how so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are being used to manipulate the narrative about what’s going on in Syria by posing as impartial investigative bodies and circulating pro-imperialist disinformation to the western political/media class as objective fact. Part one is titled “Behind the Syrian Network for Human Rights: How an opposition front group became Western media’s go-to monitor“, and it documents a mountain of evidence that one of these “NGOs” is in fact very much state-funded and highly biased in favor of anti-Assad forces, yet still gets cited as an independent source by western mass media outlets in a way that just so happens to help make the case for western interventionism in Syria.

“Citing the Syrian Network for Human Rights as an independent and credible source is the journalistic equivalent of sourcing statistics on head trauma to a research front created by the National Football League, or turning to tobacco industry lobbyists for information on the connection between smoking and lung cancer. And yet this has been standard practice among correspondents covering the Syrian conflict,” Blumenthal writes. “Indeed, Western press has engaged for years in an insidious sleight of hand, basing reams of shock journalism around claims by a single, highly suspect source that is deeply embedded within the Syrian opposition – and hoped that no one would notice.”

I’ve taken to calling such things “narrative management operations” lately, because that’s a much clearer illustration of their function than simply labeling them propaganda constructs and psyops (though those labels are certainly accurate as well). Countless operations have been set up both inside and outside of Syria to control the narrative about what’s happening there, and now if a casual observer decides to find out more about the Syrian conflict they’ll almost certainly be consuming information that has been filtered through narrative management ops that have been funded by governments within the US-centralized power alliance.

It’s like trying to figure out what’s going on at the other end of a large room that’s been filled with smoke and mirrors.

As Blumenthal notes, the Syrian government has “been the target of one of the most expensive and sophisticated disinformation campaigns in recent history.” I would call this a charitable understatement. People who think it’s impossible that we’re being lied to about what’s going on in Syria are simply ignorant of, and/or uninterested in, the extensively documented fact that the whole country is encased in a thick veil of high-level, high-budget narrative management operations. They see Fox News, MSNBC, The Guardian, the BBC, the British Foreign Office and the US State Department saying the same things, so they assume it must be true, even though they’re all reporting information that has been filtered through the same narrative management lens.

But narrative management is in no way limited to Syria. You see all sorts of organizations used to manipulate public narratives all the time, like the cybersecurity company Crowdstrike for example, whose highly suspicious analysis of the DNC’s servers formed the foundation of the official Russian hacking narrative, and whose CEO is now a billionaire. Whether it’s longstanding foreign policy agendas like shoving Russia off the world stage, or longstanding domestic agendas like preserving the dominance of the plutocratic class and expanding surveillance and police militarization, our understanding of what’s going on in the world is constantly being messed with.

Narrative is how we form our understanding of the world. It’s the mental stories we tell about ourselves, our surroundings, our community and our world that allow us to orient ourselves in relation to abstract concepts: “My name is Steve.” “I work at Rusty’s over there on Mulberry Street.” “I currently have about a thousand dollars in my checking account.” “That person is my friend.” “That other person is my enemy.” Our entire day-to-day experience of the world is filtered through these mental narratives as we use thought to navigate our way from morning coffee to bedtime.

Narrative dominates our experience of reality and our ability to act within it. You can understand, then, how powerful someone would be if they found a way to control a large portion of it.

Narrative is so powerful that just captioning a picture with a certain story can cause people to see a photograph completely different than they otherwise would. This Daily Mail smear piece on Julian Assange, for example, was published after his arrest and is titled “Assange inside his fetid lair: Revealed, the full squalid horror that drove embassy staff to finally kick him out.” As proof of this “fetid”, “squalid” “horror”, the Daily Mail provided photographs like this one of a clean, normal looking bathroom and this one of the WikiLeaks founder using a dish that is dirty because he’s still using in the photo.

These are obviously photographs of perfectly normal and innocuous things, but the forceful language used combined with human suggestibility saw the article shared by propagandized individuals on social media with expressions of shock at what a filthy, disgusting man Assange is, including this Sky News Australia reporter who tweeted the ridiculous article with the caption, “This is why I would rather live alone than have random housemates. Wash your plates, mate.”

They were looking at the same photos you just looked at, but because they were perceiving them through a different narrative filter, they saw something completely different from what you saw.

In the movie The Matrix, the film’s hero is plugged into a digital simulation and asks his guide, “This… this isn’t real?”

“What is real?” the guide replies. “How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

In exactly the same way, what we take to be “real” about world events is information that we have taken into our senses and assessed as true. We’ll often put as much faith in these beliefs as we do in what we’ve seen, heard and touched for ourselves, but understandings of world events are made of narrative, and narrative can be manipulated in the interests of the powerful.

And it is.

Those who engage in narrative management are not merely guilty of diddling with a few stories; they are actively controlling people’s experience of reality. As far as human experience is concerned, perception is reality. The most talented manipulators among us are fully aware of this and understand that, by controlling people’s perceptions, they can in a very real way control their reality.

What happens when you can control people’s experience of reality? Well, in a world of social creatures who build their society based on dominant consensuses about circumstances and events, you can to an extent control reality itself. You can create a reality where all resources are funneled toward you, your allies and your lackeys. You can create a reality where war and economic sanctions are inflicted upon any government which acts against your interests. You can create a reality where you are functionally a king, without the inconvenience of having the unwashed masses realize that that’s what you are.

The media-owning plutocratic class and its allies in opaque and unaccountable government agencies are in this way able to control reality, both in the way we experience it in our minds and in the way it expresses concretely. The ability to reach into people’s minds on a mass scale and interfere with their ability to understand what’s happening on their own planet and in their own society is a power so immense it’s hard to appreciate, and so staggeringly creepy it’s hard to comprehend. It’s a violation of a part of us that is so intimate and so sacred it could almost be said to border on the metaphysical.

If we could truly see what grave intercessions into every human’s mental sovereignty these manipulators are getting away with, it would look not unlike the British Empire of old as it slaughtered, stole, raped and enslaved its way across the planet. These same colonialist actions are occurring today, largely from the descendants of these same groups of people, but stories are being fed to us day after day to keep it hidden from us.

The stories don’t just keep us docile and unquestioning, they keep our energy and output enslaved to the story-masters. Just as an example, if people could really see how hard they work compared to how lazy the plutocrats they work for are, they would down tools in a hot second, but we don’t because we get told over and over how you get money if you work hard, so our perception is that the billionaires are the hardest workers of all. There are all these layers of story which prevent us from seeing what’s really going on, and those stories are hammered into our brains by the people who they benefit. Another example is how none of these wars ever benefited a single one of us plebs, but you see plenty of us disseminating, cheerleading and volunteering to help with these barbaric power grabs for the rich because “freedom”, because “democracy”, because “humanitarian”, etc.

Set your intention right now to strip the veils from your eyes and let the world reveal itself as it really is, in all its jarring, horrific ugliness. Only when we’re truly committed to seeing things as they are will we be able to allow the wisdom of our whole guide us back to safety and sanity, and the good news is that it doesn’t have to be every single one of us. Just enough of us seeing and speaking the truth about the Emperor’s new clothes will stir the rest of them from their slumber.

Be the tipping point.


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21 responses to “Narrative Management = Reality Management”

  1. All terrific, bright and spangly.

    However I couldn’t help noting an offhand mention of the climate thing. You spent all that time researching “kings then and now” and failed to identify that the climate change narrative is just another sneaky means the elites are using in their enslavement model?

    All the evidence is there. Go find out how the US Supreme Court unexpectedly reversed the legal immunity enjoyed by the UN controlled World Bank. Look up how a class action suit has multi generations from Indian fishing villages suing the World Bank. They are suing because the World Bank provided sweetheart low interest loans to Indian elites to build two of the biggest coal fired power stations on the shores from where they have fished for generations. Obviously the power stations destroyed the coast and their livlihoods.

    But, as bad as that is, ask yourself how and why is the World Bank financing massive coal fired power stations in India while the UN tightens the screws to ensure all such power generation is ended in developed nations? Oh by the way one of the World Bank loans was to an Indian elite family run conglomerate called Adani.

    Join the dots, the evidence isn’t that hard to find. Sure the climate change cultists will label you a denier for even having the curiosity to search. But the facts will lead any reasonable person to see that the climate change hoax is just another tawdry fiction globalist elites are using to impoverish the ordinary people of developed nations.

    You’ve woken up to a lot of new facts. It’s time to wake up to this enormously destructive fiction being used against us by globalist elites.

  2. I dont think anyone really knows whats going on, no matter how rich they are. I do think those at the top like it there and want to stay and they have vast resources to help them stay.
    My solution is a first rate education for all and focused on teaching how to think.

  3. Michel Bélisle Avatar
    Michel Bélisle

    Every narrative the mainstream medias have invented since 9-11was a sure success since the people refuse to recognize 9-11 for what it was, mainly because it was so obvious that the narrative about it was not true.

    So after the narrative about that sad event has been accepted, there was no turning back and the other lies were to be accepted as well.

    What was to happen in our days was prophesied by Saint Paul 2000 years ago:

    “to them that perish . . . God shall send the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.” (II Thess.II, 10–11).

    It refers to the end times. So no doubt we are there and I cannot wait for the Second Coming because I have already seen enough. Keeping my Rosary close.

  4. Very nice analysis. As you have, I’ve been following this process for a long time. For me actually back to the First Gulf War, but back then the information operations were much more limited. At this point, much of the official narrative is a collection of old information ops that have been debunked, half forgotten, or left to linger on at the margins of public awareness. So much contradicts every day experience, and while this seems to be internalised inside the Empire, outside the Empire the coherence of their Weltanschauung seems to be crumbling. The farther one is away from the Washington-London axis, the more threadbare their whole narrative becomes. This is simply due to the basic assumption that their narrative is based on, that of full spectrum dominance, of unrestricted power, and of the will to exercise that power. As the actual foundations of the Empire’s power dissolve, their narrative gets louder and shriller, more divorced from the reality increasing numbers of people see . . . both within and without . . .

  5. Caitlin, Here is what you said in a previous article; “We will remain in this collective dead-end, hurtling toward either Orwellian dystopia or extinction via climate collapse or nuclear armageddon, until we find a way out of it. It won’t come from the tools our rulers have given us, and it won’t come from repeating any of the old patterns which got us here. In order to escape from the increasingly adept narrative control matrix that is being built around our collective mind by the powerful, we’re going to have to change our relationship with narrative altogether” which is kinda what I said earlier. It’s really not rocket science. The answer to our issues is just so foreign to us humanity that it is hard to grasp or conceive how it would work. It could start here though. Right here on these pages. The real “Revolution”. It would be a bag phone at first . It would still be an advancement . Please read here:

  6. I’ve put in my new email address and got “an OK” but haven’t received an email confirmation which you say was sent!

  7. When I discovered at 15 that Winston Churchill had nearly caused the deaths of both my parents (my mother in the Coventry Blitz, which was known about by Churchill beforehand, and my father at the fall of Singapore, which Churchill had left exposed) I asked them about it over the dining table. A heated argument began. They assured me Churchill was A Great Man, and that if I didn’t agree, I could leave the family for good. Now shut up and eat your vegetables.

    I think I was 18, at a very left-wing University (Southampton Uni in 1967), when I first understood the US /UK machinery for running an Empire and controlling the people . It didn’t seem all that complicated or hard to understand. I assumed that all adults understood it, and it was only a matter of time before everyone rose up and had a revolution.

    But it didn’t happen, and US power has gone on and on, with the narrative getting more and more desperate as it tries to prevent the revealing of the elite as evil, greedy capitalists. “Freedom and Democracy” is the label put on this ridiculous farce, despite the US people being imprisoned at the highest rate of any country in the world, and Democracy being a farce to keep power in the hands of just two teams of self-serving players.

    Some people will never “get it”. It is tempting to think that this is due to their individual lack of intelligence, but it is more polite to say that Homo sapiens is just not up to the job of working out a peaceful and fair way of running society.

    Yet it can be done. First of all we have to get rid of the idea that it is OK for Capitalism and its first principle that its OK to have poor people living in squalor alongside billionaires sipping champagne. Second the people MUST have a way of sacking/imprisoning democratically elected officials when they don’t perform for the people. Those two simple principles threaten the ruling elite so much that they must label these ideas as communist/anarchist/extremist, or even (all shudder) “terrorist!”.

  8. Quite an excellent article and yes, such efforts are well worth supporting. “Hear ye hear ye!”, or perhaps “y’all get that!”… Send this gal some coins!

    Regardless of anyone’s level of mindfulness ranging from being a dead slug on the sidewalk to being a full fledged shameless (and perhaps more than a little paranoid) devotee of The Perception Deception (David Icke), at some point one still has to make a personal decision whether to maintain a quiet, fatalistic acceptance of the status-quo and somehow make one’s way as best can, or choosing to make one’s own personal developmental progress steadily towards loudly screeching, rattling the cage and perhaps figuratively throwing feces at your keepers. (IMHO)

    Whatever path is taken, hopefully the invisible hand of Adam Smith will from time to time kindly stroke what little fur remains on most of these naked apes which irrepressibly insists on becoming ruffled even under the best of “being kept” conditions, so it seems. Regardless, yet another invisible hand seems to insist upon “twisting my melon” but the optimist in me insists it’s for my own good – in the long run.

    “Every country has the government it deserves” and “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.” – Joseph de Maistre

    When in doubt, pray about it, but if you don’t believe in the power of prayer, the default answer is “Aliens”.

  9. Mr. Donald Jeffries knows who committed the 9/11/01 attacks; and so do a lot of other people who dare not bring it up for fear of starting a nuclear war:

  10. Firstly, Sister Caitlin, as I have said before, you may have Buddhist tendencies. 🙂
    Secondly, President Trumpf thinks he may know who did 9/11, “and you may know, too” to Stephanopoulis.
    I may know, too, and so may y’all…

  11. Wow, I just received a narrative management alert – that while the Japan official was in Iran to negotiate a trade deal, the Iranians attacked two Japanese tankers to intimidate the Japanese into signing the agreement. HOW DASTARDLY.

  12. Caitlin, As always you are greatly appreciated. I agree with you on all points concerning the narratives. It is your solution that I have issue with. Here is a quote from an article Michael Krieger put forth. The quote is from Buckminster Fuller and it goes like this; “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” The solutions I often see presented by authors are much like yours; “Set your intention”, “when we’re truly committed”, “allow the wisdom of our whole guide us”, “us seeing and speaking the truth” The problem I see with this is that these are all elements that are already present. The idea that we can somehow accentuate these to a “tipping point” I do not see as realistic. Why, because the environment and the mechanisms within the environment have not changed. This is simply a power redistribution. If it all did work somehow we would still end up in the same place sometime in the distant future, 40-60 years perhaps. The fundamental issue is that we live in a world/environment dominated by individual intelligence that works on “perceptions” as you said. We need to do as Mr. Fuller said and completely change the playing field. We need a world dominated by a collective intelligence that makes all this “narrative management” obsolete. Here is an article that explains more. Thank you

  13. What’s finally going to unite US voters is what has always united them – wars and identifying new enemies. THIS is the real reason for the INTERNATIONAL Deep State’s crusade against Agent Orange. When AO talked about making nice with Russia during his presidential campaign and then, after his taking office, he went to Singapore and Helsinki for “summits” with Kim and Mr. Putin, that INTERNATIONAL Deep State’s Coup against AO shifted into high gear through its MSM.
    Why do I say this? Because the US economy LITERALLY CAN NOT AFFORD to let peace break out! VIP George Kennan explained exactly why just a few short years before the end of the Soviet Union. (What he said is even more true today.)
    “Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”
    The situation Kennan described has grown infinitely worse during the last 30 years. For at least the last 18 years, China and Russia have been rising economic and military powers. The very serious problem for the transnational US Elite is that USD hegemony is now being seriously challenged by those and other nations’ economies and their currencies AND their weapons. Things are no longer going completely the Superpower US’s way. China’s economy is perhaps even now larger than that of the US.
    To boil it all down, we are living in the competition of all tribal competitions and the outcome of this “contest” will determine the role of the US economy in the world, as well as the ultimate fate of the Fed’s hundreds of trillions, perhaps quadrillions of printed-out-of-thin-air USD.
    The US’s imposition of all these tariffs and “sanctions” and wars are absolute proof of the transnational US Elite’s and their Deep State’s flailing desperation to do only one thing –maintain USD hegemony in order to prevent Kennan’s “unacceptable shock to the American economy”. These measures will ultimately fail and, therefore the only really important question that remains is whether the increasingly-desperate US Elite will “go gentle into that good night” and develop a peace-based economy amidst near-certain economic/political/social chaos, or will this insane Elite “false-flag” the rest of the world into a no-win nuclear shootout at the OK Corral. The US Secretary of the Interior’s recent threat to perhaps use the US navy to blockade Russian exports, the US ambassador to NATO’s recent threat to “take out” Russian missiles on Russian soil, and the US’s decision to pull out of the INF treaty indicate that the shoot-out is being seriously considered.
    Therefore, the one and the only “idea” that can possibly “unite the nation” is not only the MAINTENANCE of Russia and China as enemies, but the INTENSIFICATION of the PERCEPTION of these nations as enemies in the minds of the US bewildered herd of voters.
    Google “governmentcontractswon”; go to that site and see that in 2017, “private” businesses in the state of Virgina (population 8.4 million) were awarded 61,576 contracts worth $43.1 billion and that there are 17,165 “private” DoD contractors in Virginia, and that from 2000 to 2017 “private” DoD contractors in Virginia were awarded over $683.5 billion for 619,034 contracts. Therefore, no majority of voters in Virginia is EVER, and I do mean EVER, going to vote for a candidate who promises to destroy Virginia’s war-based economy and destroy many good-paying jobs. They’re going to vote for warmongers!
    Virginia is not alone in the war business. Check out what “private” DoD contractors in other states such as California receive annually. It’s mind boggling.
    Therefore, the US will NEVER, and I do mean NEVER, be politically capable of changing it’s “foreign policy” unless and until, once again with feeling, Virginians (Americans) are given an alternative to their present “war way” of making a living and no D or R candidate is spelling out such an alternative.
    Again, IMO, we are going to see and INTESIFICATION of the already-intense anti-Russian rhetoric which may lead to a rabid anti-Russian candidate being elected president. Of course Mr. Putin will be watching what transpires in the US. What is he going to do if he sees a rabid anti-Russian elected president – say one who promises to force Russia and China to “come to heel” by the even-more-aggressive use of the US military power?
    Americans’ choice is simple. Either somehow organize / design a peace-based economy, and that right soon, or suffer nuclear devastation.

  14. Ah, the Buddha Ms Caitlin always speaks the truth! Magnificent, a truly magnificent article, Ms Johnstone.
    Thank You!

  15. Hmmm

    Caitlin, perhaps you can take this excellent analysis a step further by examining how and why this massive attempt to brain wash the the Western World is designed to benefit israel despite clearly being detrimental to the America and the American people……

  16. “New Think Progress and the Ozzard of Wiz” > Multilevel Information Racketeering for Sheeple > take a break from your daily 2 minutes of hate > satire at FauxScienceSlayer

  17. The narrative itself isn’t all that sophisticated. It’s the WWF wrasslin’ storylines I saw on TV as a kid. The trick is being able to own it, to take personal responsibility for playing our parts in it. Everybody likes laughing at everyone else but no one wants to realize I have been fooled. Here’s an explanation of how HyperNormalisation works.

  18. Douglas Newman Avatar
    Douglas Newman

    A most excellent analysis of our current, totally captured and Corporatized world system of greed and psychopathy. Thank you, Caitlin. Will share and repost!

  19. Thank you Caitlin for helping folks see how the reality TV show works. Adam Curtis does his bit to explain how we got here in HyperNormalisation, which is also quite helpful:

  20. Probably one of the few things we can do to defeat the war-mongering MSM is to share articles by journalists such as Caitlin and Max Blumenthal among as many people as we can. But I wonder how much success people are having in getting friends/family to at least question the MSM propaganda. I must confess I don’t think I’ve made a scrap of difference to anyone I know. In fact, when issuing a social invitation, one friend slips in a ‘friendly’ warning to me not to discuss politics, and another occupies himself with his phone when the conversation turns to war, the MSM, or similar. Some listen but cut it short saying it’s all too depressing and there’s nothing we can do about it anyway. I hope fellow consumers of quality investigative journalism are having more luck than I am.

    1. Human beings are by nature self-absorbed. It is only after one has developed a high level of empathy are they able to listen to a conversation such as those you attempt to have and actually care enough to want to hear your viewpoint. Empathy can be learned, but is not considered a priority in our society and, sadly, it is often not even considered at all. One must literally be placed ‘in the shoes’ of another in order to learn to empathize. We have had a couple examples of this type of learning in our country, first, the programs in which young at-risk youth are placed into a jailhouse to see the conditions first hand, however, the emphasis on being ‘scared straight’ rather than just being allowed to remain naturally in the environment for a few days may be less helpful. Another more recent variation on this is the tv program wherein the ‘Boss’ comes into work with his employees incognito. Often, this is the first time these higher-ups had any idea what the workers did on a daily basis and often served as a wake-up call.

      Not only are we on a precipice in our world due to climate disaster, but as a species emotionally. No longer can religion be the string that ties up the loose ends and forces humans to live amongst each other peacefully (that barely worked as it was). Slowly but surely, science is forcing an awakening and it is hard for an animal species that has such a cognizant awareness of themselves to come to grips with their mortality and with the ways humans have treated each other and the planet. Until such time as society’s human beings reach a level of empathy that allows everyone to share the planet peacefully, things may get worse.

      What can we do? First and foremost, our leadership and our form of government is corrupted beyond repair, so we can’t count on them to help out – yet. We need to work on electing ethical and moral leadership, encourage education, because it’s not just ‘learning’ that is important, but the coming together of many people in shared spaces learning together that teaches tolerance and stimulates empathy. Lastly, and although it seems a bit strange, we need to encourage more ways to ensure that people are ‘placed in other’s shoes’ to further enhance empathy. One way could be via the courts. Instead of the burden of a financial penalty as a payment for a crime, a judge could sentence an individual to spend time in the ‘shoes’ of the types of people that the individual hurt when they committed a crime. Any fees could be paid to the ‘host’ for allowing the individual to live amongst them to see what life is like from their viewpoint.

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