Every time you speak out against western imperialism in a given nation or question western propaganda narratives about that nation’s government, you will inevitably be accused of loving that nation’s government by anyone who argues with you.
When I say “inevitably”, I am not exaggerating. If you speak in any public forum for any length of time expressing skepticism of what we’re told to believe about a nation whose government has been targeted by the US-centralized empire, you will with absolute certainty eventually run into someone who accuses you of thinking that that government is awesome and pure and good.
I have never, ever had this fail to occur, even once. If I write an article about the mountain of evidence suggesting we were lied to about a chemical attack in Syria, I get people telling me I think Bashar al-Assad is a girl scout who’s never ever done anything wrong. If I express skepticism of the flimsy narratives we’re being fed in the escalating propaganda war against China, I get “If you love Beijing so much and think Xi is so innocent you should go and move to China!” It’s one of the only completely predictable things about this job.
Which is of course idiotic. Understanding that the US government and its allies lie constantly with the full-throated support of western news media in no way suggests a belief that the targeted government in question is wonderful, and there’s absolutely no legitimate reason to infer such a thing. The indisputable fact that US-led military interventionism is universally disastrous and based on lies has nothing to do with anyone’s level of emotional support for the governments targeted for destruction by the US-centralized empire. Yet everyone reading this who’s ever tried to speak out against US foreign policy has encountered the behavior I’m describing here.
Why is that? Why do establishment loyalists engage in such a weird, nonsensical behavior with such reliable consistency? Why do they literally always accuse anyone who questions any narrative about any empire-targeted government of having positive emotions toward that government, even though there is no rational reason for them to do so?
I’ll tell you why: Hollywood.
Well, not just Hollywood. Really the dynamic we’re about to discuss has been going on for as long as there have been war stories. But the dominant storytellers of today are in Hollywood, and that’s where the dominant war stories are told.
For as long as war stories have been told, those stories have been framed as a battle between good and evil. The good side is the side you identify with, and the evil side is the one you want to lose. You see this in almost all depictions of war coming out of Hollywood today, from movies based on actual wars to sci-fi and fantasy films like Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Over and over and over again from childhood we are trained to assume that mass military violence must have a Good side and an Evil side, so when we see a war being depicted anywhere we immediately start trying to sort out who are the Good Guys and who are the Bad Guys, usually without even thinking about it.
Obviously war isn’t actually about Good versus Evil; usually it’s nothing more noble than geostrategic agenda versus geostrategic agenda. But because people are conditioned from an early age to overlay any ideas about large-scale conflict with this false Good or Evil dichotomy, there’s an immediate assumption that if you’re suggesting that one side might not be Good, then the other side are the Good Guys. If you say the government pushing regime change in Iran is doing something immoral, then you’re saying they’re the Bad Guys, which means you think the Iranian government are the Good Guys.
Yes, the behavior in question really does boil down to something that stupid. This phenomenon where empire apologists will predictably accuse you of loving an empire-targeted nation just because you oppose imperialist agendas is primarily due to a combination of dumb binary thinking and watching too many Hollywood movies. In other words, it’s due to bad information meeting bad thinking.
All we can really do to address this dynamic is bring consciousness to it. When someone’s acting out the unexamined assumption that because you are critical of western imperialism you must necessarily believe that all of its targets are perfect and wonderful, you can point out the absurdity of this position and invite them to think a little harder about it. Or just link them to this article.
Beyond that, all you can really do is understand what you’re looking at, roll your eyes, and sigh.
Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.
Ilya G Poimandres / January 4, 2020
“Why do establishment loyalists engage in such a weird, nonsensical behavior with such reliable consistency?
Your Aristotle’s 2nd and 3rd laws of thought: law of no contradiction, law of excluded middle.
Western minds have been polluted by this idiocy for 2000 years.
ricardo2000 / December 30, 2019
It would be easy to rage at the smug ignorance of some comments here opposing everyone’s right to state their opinion based on observable fact and the behaviour of ‘leaders’.
But that would merely waste everyone’s time. I do love the following quotes though as they perfectly capture broad US opinion, and are centuries worth of wisdom.
Billy Bragg, “If you’re not getting flak, you’re not over the target.”
H.L. Mencken: ‘Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.’
Voltaire: “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
Piotr Berman / December 29, 2019
“For as long as war stories have been told, those stories have been framed as a battle between good and evil. The good side is the side you identify with, and the evil side is the one you want to lose.”
The story in the oldest war epic that I know starts with a rigged beauty contest in which every contestant tried to bribe the juror, and one, Aphrodite, got the prize by offering the love of the most beautiful mortal women, Helen of Mykenai (later, Troy). What I see is “us versus them” with a serious depletion of attempts at morality. This easy to trace quote frankly describes that way of thinking:
I’ve not only gotten texts about people being fucking WEIRD at sports but I’ve gotten texts about people actually cheering for the opposing team. The opposing. Fucking. Team. ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID?!! […] I don’t give a SHIT about sportsmanship
Alas, in subsequent paragraphs the writer went a tad overboard and now it helps to add “deranged” to “letter sister” to find her text. Anyway, Caitlin is guilty of cheering for the opposing team and now pretends to be coy. A responsible person thinks before she writes. And Caitlin whines in her bitchy voice “but I was checking if my story is correct, doesn’t it count for something?” No, it doesn’t, you stupid cow! Check what is important! Did you think for a nanosecond if this story/tweet/interview will make Putin/Assad/Tulsi happy?
John Day / December 28, 2019
You’re either with us or you’re with the TERRORISTS.
Tightening up identity politics net these days.
Don’t get caught in it.
JWK / December 28, 2019
ALL governments are our enemies, as the sole basis for their authority is their monopoly on violence. No edict they proclaim has any weight whatsoever without the threat of murder. It’s absurd to suggest that murder is OK as long as the “right” side is doing it.
Khatika / December 28, 2019
All governments lie to all the people. Besides who said you could question the decisions of those in authority. Believe what you are told. Live a life of ignorance and bliss.
Ssssnakey / December 28, 2019
What I find fascinating was that I grew up and was a teenager in an age where this was not always true. It was a short time, late 60’s into the 70’s, where filmmakers explored films where there wasn’t such a strict “good guy vs bad guy” theme. Even stranger, back then there was money and studios willing to support such film makers. That was also back before the Pentagon and the CIA got their hands into ‘script control’ over what Hollywood puts out.
That just means that it is quite obvious that today’s Hollywood garbage is back to the old 1950’s and before stuff where the Good Guys Always Win. But, there was a brief window of Glasnost in Hollywood towards the end of the revolutions of the 60’s. Back then, there were more free minds about, so Hollywood had to do it to sell tickets.
Davey Windship / December 27, 2019
The T shirt is hilarious. Kim’s fire-breathing unicorn destroying it’s own food supply. It’s where we are all headed, unfortunately. Believing in capitalistic perpetual growth is far worse than believing in unicorns.
I don’t personally like Maduro but give the guy and Venezuelans a chance! Crippling economic sanctions and theft of national assets are indictable acts of war.
On the other hand, I really do like Morales, so it’s sickening to watch the US and Canada, two countries build on the near genocide of the indigenous populations, bleeting like CIA sheep for the insanely violent military coup in Bolivia that set fire to a fairly legitimate democracy.
Do unto others as ye would wish done to you.
Fethon Naoum / December 27, 2019
It happens all the time, in addition to stupidity and binary thinking I think it’s also due to lack of counter arguments.
Paul / December 27, 2019
Nice analysis. Seems to me that when the establishment wants to ramp up the narrative about a country being the Bad Guys, they almost always start talking about the Evil Leader rather than the country. When they start always referring to Saddam Hussein rather than Iraq, or Assad rather than Syria, or Putin rather than Russia, you can smell a Good-vs-Evil story developing. Perhaps its easier to demonize a leader than an entire country.
Ron Campbell / December 27, 2019
Evidence of Absence by JHK
What is most perilous for our country now, would be to journey through a second epic crisis of authority in recent times without anybody facing the consequences of crimes they might have committed. The result will be a people turned utterly cynical, with no faith in their institutions or the rule of law, and no way to imagine a restoration of their lost faith within the bounds of law. It will be a deadly divorce between truth and reality. It will be an invitation to civil violence, a broken social contract, and the end of the framework for American life that was set up in 1788. Read this article here:
Joe Van Steenbergen / December 29, 2019
Outstanding article; thanks for the link here. We’ll know pretty soon how this next “let them off the hook” iteration turns out.
Frank Thompson / December 27, 2019
Of course this is encouraged by certain supporters of a certain mid-East nation. If one criticises Israel for its treatment of the Palestinian Arabs, then one is accused of hating Jews.
I hesitate to use the term “anti-semitism” because the meaning of the term “Semitic” has been hijacked by pro-Israel factions. Merriam Webster defines Semite thusly:
“1a : a member of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs
b : a descendant of these peoples
2 : a member of a modern people speaking a Semitic language.
Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews and Arabs. And, so, Palestinian Arabs should be recognised as “Semites” to which the term anti-semitic” could attach when the Israeli government unleashes its military and legal system against them. That is, if one accepts the entire racial and ethnic framework of catagorising humans.
But, I digress. It is common in the United States, at least, that if one is critical of the treatment of the Arab population of the mid-east, then one is accused of anti-semitism. Recently, Senator Sanders of Vermont, for instance, has been the target of such characterisation when he has made remarks about how U.S. aid to Israel might be better directed to the Palestinian Arab territory of Gaza.
Skip Scott / December 27, 2019
I have experienced the same false dichotomy expressed again and again regarding our two parties in the US. If you criticize the ridiculousness of the impeachment proceedings, you are immediately labeled “pro-Trump”. It is beyond the average person’s understanding that it is possible to despise both parties. When I say “sometimes there is no one to root for”, all I get in response is a blank stare.
When it comes to Theater of the Absurd, I prefer Laurel and Hardy to Trump and Pelosi.
ricardo2000 / December 27, 2019
It should be noted that every lie told inevitably makes the target stronger. People will not believe the next statement even if it undeniably true. In the end people will not believe anything but their own ignorance and prejudices are true. This is the real point of telling political lies: it makes honest debate impossible.
Antipholus Papps / December 27, 2019
Where can I buy that awesome t-shirt?
Ishkabibble / December 27, 2019
Groundhog Day, again.
Just exactly why are perpetual war and warmongers so attractive to US voters that they vote for them election after election? It has absolutely nothing to do with being bamboozled by MSM propaganda!
Google “governmentcontractswon”; go to that site and see that in 2018, “private” businesses in the state of Virgina (population 8.4 million) were awarded 324,283 contracts worth $46.4 billion and that there are 17,538 private DoD contractors in Virginia, and that from 2000 to 2018 private DoD contractors in Virginia were awarded over $733.9 billion for 936,040 contracts.
Virginians’ economic well-being depends upon those DoD dollars continuing, year after year, decade after decade, literally forever! Therefore, no majority of voters in Virginia is ever, and I do mean ever, no matter how “woke”, going to vote for a candidate, maybe like Gabbard, who might be promising to destroy Virginia’s war-based economy and destroy many well-paying jobs. They’re going to CONTINUE to vote for warmongers for POTUS and congress! They do not give a damn how many people are killed by the weapons that they are helping to produce.
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 a detailed alternative to their present “war way” of making a living and no D or R candidate is spelling out such an alternative.
But there is still a faint glimmer of hope.
Trump proved that a complete political outsider could/can “go around” the MIC and be elected. Trump paid a helluva price when he shook hands with Putin in Helsinki. That summit proved that the US MSM is also an MIC tool and that the MIC’s pockets are very deep — in fact, infinitely deep. The Fed will fund the whole nine yards. This is the reason that Trump has had to endure the siege of the Deep State. Shiff’s impeachment “witnesses” spelled it all out, letter by letter. If the US does not fight Russia in Ukraine, it will have to fight Russia in the US. No applicant for a job in the Deep State Department will get that job unless they espouse exactly what those witnesses espoused. The HR dept should have a sign on its door stating “Russiaphobes only”.
Antiwar candidates can be elected, but if they are elected, just like Trump they’ll be fighting the MSM and civil service and intelligence deep state every day of their political lives, which does not make for a very nice way of life for those politicians’ families. This is why a majority of congress must also be real anti-war so that they can support each other as a bloc against the unelected deep state.
Present reality is that politicians are selected by voters every two or four years. None of these politicians are going to change absolutely anything about the election system or rules of campaign financing (bribery). Therefore, to stop the MIC and change the US’s war-based economy, antiwar candidates must somehow get elected within that very same system. If that does not happen, the US is doomed to suffer financial or nuclear destruction.
(Furthermore, if the US cannot develop an economic system that does not absolutely depend upon perpetual population/economic growth, humanity will certainly suffer an environmental disaster. IMO, designing and implementing such an alternative economic system will be far more difficult than getting antiwar POTUS and congress people elected, which is really saying something. When people cannot even agree upon the meanings of words as a vitally necessary first step, this may simply be a bridge too far for the supposedly most intelligent species on the planet.)
Again, for the present moment, here in reality-land, at least the number of voters who voted for Agent Orange have to somehow be enticed into voting for an anti-war candidate for POTUS and a majority of anti-war candidates running for seats in the legislative branch. That is the one and the only way that the MIC is going to go away.
How do antiwar candidates “entice” millions of voters all across the 50 United In Warfare States Of America, who make their living in the MIC or its spin-offs, into voting for these anti-war candidates? That is the question, not whether “to be or not to be?” If those candidates can not be elected, the US, and perhaps all the other nations of the world, are not going “to be” for much longer.
To entice those MIC etc. voters, those anti-war candidates are going to have to promise that if they are elected they are going to maintain the present DoD contract system, so that these millions of voters will not lose their jobs; but their jobs will be to produce all the great things that will improve the lives of all their fellow citizens. And by “improve” I mean that instead of making military aircraft that will in a few years end up sitting in a bone yard, they will make, for just a few examples, wind turbines, solar panels, bullet trains, etc. The services or electric power from these devices would not be “free”, just as the weapon systems of today are not free.
Which would millions of voters enjoy more, the benefit they receive from weapon systems, or electric power, a trip across the country in an electric-powered bullet train, etc.? How would millions of voters feel about the US becoming energy independent in very few years of spending under a slightly-altered DoD contract system?
If I were an anti-war candidate, I would propose to millions of voters that the nation create another “Liberty Ship” program (again, under the existing DoD contract system). Liberty Ships were the workhorses of World War II. They were built in 13 states by 15 companies in 18 shipyards. The first of 2,710 Liberty ships, the SS Patrick Henry, was launched in September 1941, after 150 days of construction. (The shipyard was built at the same time as the ship.) Under this highly automated ship-building system, the SS Robert E. Peary liberty ship was built in 4 Days 15 Hours 29 Minutes.
These were not small boats, not by a long shot. Here are some specifications.
Displacement: 14,245 long tons
Length: 441 ft 6 in (134.57 m)
Beam: 56 ft 10.75 in (17.3 m)
Draft: 27 ft 9.25 in (8.5 m)
Propulsion: Two oil-fired boilers; triple-expansion steam engine; single screw, 2,500 hp (1,900 kW)
Range: 20,000 nmi (37,000 km; 23,000 mi)
Capacity: 10,856 tons
Again, in just a few years of assembly-line development, one of these vessels was assembled in only 4 Days 15 Hours 29 Minutes. Imagine such an assembly line system for relatively simple wind turbines, bullet trains, vehicles of all types, etc.
This is what anti-war candidates have to promise those millions of voters in the MIC in order to capture their votes. This is precisely what Gabbard and other anti-war candidates have to start proposing today, not 6 months down the road. If she were to do this today, she would start a firestorm of a debate, which is precisely what is needed to shake up the present arrangement. Does she have the intellectual wherewithal and “courage” to do this?
Unless anti-war candidates specifically propose such a detailed transition from a war-based economy to one based upon peace, they will not be elected and the US MIC’s perpetual wars will go on until the nukes start dropping.
The above is the one and the only realistic, practical, politically acceptable way that humanity has a future. But will capitalists be as eager to increase the national debt for peace as they are for war?
John Day / December 28, 2019
Tulsi is a surfer, and has also gone twice to war, inside the maw of the beast, and she knows what that is, and she opposes it. I think she may actually be the leader for rebuilding America, but I would be surprised if this is the election. I suspect Trump needs to keep draining the swamp, or maybe just dousing it with kerosene and lighting it on fire.
It’s hard to predict details, but the wave needs to crash on us all.
I think Tulsi might be ideally positioned for the next wave after all of the current establishment wipes out.
I’m presuming a whole lot.
Obama was a surfer, too, of course…
Normand / December 27, 2019
When the Canadian government arrested a Huawei executive, it was for political (American) reasons. It was an illegal, immoral, unconstitutional act, a perversion of Justice.
A family member replied: but the Chinese are doing worse! This response left me speechless. Thanks to Caitlin, I can now answer: Hollywood!
Stephen Morrell / December 27, 2019
A defeat for US imperialism, militarily or otherwise, is always a good thing.
billbowman53 / December 27, 2019
Good stuff as always, Ms. Johnstone. If I might add, it is always extremely helpful to identify as an anarcho-capitalist, as in cases like you describe, you can truthfully claim to be against all coercive government. (Coercion period.)
O Society / December 28, 2019
Anarcho-capitalist? ha ha ha!
J.B. / December 28, 2019
And that made me realize I had on my Lew Rockwell’s Anarcho-Capitalism shirt.
billbowman53 / December 29, 2019
While it seems you (as can be seen from your website) have developed strong opinions about anarcho-capitalism, I do not accept them. You either accept coercion is the world or you don’t. I don’t, regardless of who is doing the coercing..
Jim Robertson / December 27, 2019
You are the best. Thank you, thank you, thank you for speaking sanity in a mad country.
Ron Campbell / December 27, 2019
I call them the ” Masters and the Owners ” because they believe that they own everyone and everything on this whole damn planet.
Washington,D.C. must think the rest of the world is as stupid as many of its own politicians are. Its passing into law – signed by President Trump this week – of sanctions to halt the Nord Stream-2 and Turk Stream gas supply projects is a naked imperialist move to bludgeon the European energy market for its own economic advantage.
This relevent article is here:
Uriah / December 27, 2019
I would just ask such people:
Do you really think that everybody who was critical of the last gulf war was an ardent supporter of Saddam Hussein?
And do you really think that all those American presidents (including Reagon) who did not attack the Soviet union directly and try to change its government were passionate supporters of Soviet Russia?
It seems there are many very *naive* [to put it mildly] people running around … people who don’t know how to think and argue logically.
Dwyer Worrell Peri / December 27, 2019
I was thinking about this yesterday when I signed a lease on an apartment in Mexico. My realtor is a Venezuelan. He was “rescued” 11 years ago by Halliburton because he was a qualified petroleum engineer and they arranged residency in Mexico for him to work on developing the bay of Campeche
He described the privations and oppressions under Chávez, and the violent crackdown on dissent under Maduro. He described the thriving black-market currency exchanges that enable him to transfer money to his parents to help them survive.
Does this mean US intervention in Venezuela is justified? Hell, no! Even the Venezuelans who wish for a US invasion (and there are a lot of them) don’t realize what they’re asking for.
J.B. / December 27, 2019
Caitlin, I’ve put up with this shat since I was a teenager getting(supposedly)for war in Vietnam. Well, if you hate this country so much move to Vietnam or Russia. And then there was the old mantra that swept the idiots of this country of “love it or leave it”. I’ve had a fight or two over this one. No you stupid MOFO, you leave it, it’s my country as much as yours.
Alabama had a great song that sorta addressed it since they were freebird rednecks. You couldn’t be a proud Southerner either.
Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the southland
I miss Alabamy once again and I think its a sin yes
(ooh… ooh… ooh…) Well I heard mr. young sing about her
(ooh… ooh… ooh…) Well I heard ole Neil put her down
(ooh… ooh… ooh…) Well I hope Neil Young will remember
A southern man don’t need him around anyhow
This was a spinoff of the alt. country we had when I was young.
My wife and I were driving down Sunset Lane in Harlingen, Texas listening to Waylon sing about Green Gables and there it was, closed at that time of the morning and we were headed 800 miles to the Panhandle.
I got sick of that “love it or leave it” crap really quick. And those who would say it had nothing else to say. They didn’t have a clue and the guys coming back from Vietnam damned sure weren’t saying it.
O Society / December 27, 2019
You are on to something. It’s not your imagination. In America, this is a thing:
Joe Van Steenbergen / December 29, 2019
Excellent point. It doesn’t help matters that the CIA and other MIC agencies work hand-in-glove with Hollywood movie makers.
Paula Densnow / December 27, 2019
The deeper part of this is the smug self-righteous belief that the US has the right to destroy other countries, if their leader is a Bad Guy. This is endemic in almost every American, or other Westerners, no matter if they swing left or right. Maybe it’s the TV, maybe it’s the movies, maybe it is just the entire gestalt of the society, the belief is strong that the US gets to control other people’s governments.
I concentrate on international law, for this reason.
Why get caught up arguing the merits of other peoples’ leaders, when it is against the law to attack other countries, assassinate other people’s leaders, support terrorists and death squads in their countries, blow up their infrastructure, blockade food and medicine from their people, etc., no matter how horrendous their leader might be?
The UN Charter guarantees that the people of each nation get to decide how their nation is to be run. It is true that the Charter is not being followed, but the Number One Most Wanted Criminal in that regard is the USA, and it is up to Americans to do something about that.
No other country is allowed to bomb us, starve us, support death squads, assassinate our president, etc., just because we have done such a piss-poor job of running our own country.
Roy / December 27, 2019
Anyone who wants a guessament of when the next nuclear war will start should try typing , “Holos”, into their search engine, not only has the US military ordered these and other small portable nuclear reactors for use on the battlefield( they can be flown to the site by plane or helicopter) but they also want small tactical nuclear weapons that can be fired from the shoulder, for use in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq(no Iran?)
Karen Buckley / December 27, 2019
Re your email on “Opposing Interventionism…” shockingly this happened to me very recently. Maybe because this was the second time I felt comfortable telling someone I thought I knew well about what we are doing in Syria. He said all kinds of things like I’m being unpatriotic. How could I not believe what we are told, etc. This actually shut me up. How could I argue with an otherwise intelligent (PhD) person? Silly me. The first time I told someone about what is going on in Syria was to my boy friend of 35 years. He listens carefully, usually choosing to be skeptical. That’s a good start. He’s beginning to think more critically about 911 too. You are one of the very few people who are articulate enough and brave enough to speak out. Thank you.
Lee Gloster / December 27, 2019
You should send a copy of this posting to Louis Proyect. It’s not only right-wingers and establishment types that do this.
Piero Colombo / January 2, 2020
I don’t think Caitlin has limited this to “right-wingers”, given that most of the War Party enjoys calling itself the “Left”. Anyway. Trotskysts like Louis are definitely part of the War Party and have the gall to call themselves Left, too.
Joseph Mirzoeff / December 27, 2019
So you’re not going to see the new Star Wars?