HomeArticleThe Real Giants Whose Shoulders We Stand On

The Real Giants Whose Shoulders We Stand On

The press gather around Rich Fancyboi in his first public appearance since becoming the wealthiest man in the world at an event named after Rich Fancyboi in a library that is also named after Rich Fancyboi because he paid for its construction at a sum which took him 13.5 seconds to earn.

“Mister Fancyboi! Mister Fancyboi! How does it feel to be the wealthiest person on earth?” asks a reporter groveling on the floor with footprints on his face.

“What’s the secret to your success?” asks another, holding a microphone up to the plutocrat’s mouth.

It is a good microphone. It was assembled in China by a factory with some five hundred full-time employees out of plastics and metals from all over the world. If you were to add up all of the people who played a role in harvesting the raw materials, selling them, delivering them, turning them into their component parts, selling and delivering those, assembling the actual microphones, selling them, distributing them, and then selling them to consumers, the number of people responsible for that microphone appearing before Rich Fancyboi’s enormous head would number well into the thousands.

If you were to add in the number of people responsible for building and maintaining the roads, ships, railways, buildings, systems and infrastructure which made the movement of all of those various forms of microphone materials possible, and all the people who harvested and gathered the materials for all of those systems, the number is in the millions. Millions of human beings–some alive, some no longer with us–put time and effort into getting that microphone in front of Rich Fancyboi’s gigantic, weird-shaped head.

And the same is true of every single piece of equipment which plays any role in the operation of Fancyboi Industries, the multitrillion-dollar megacorporation owned by Rich Fancyboi. And the same is true of all the vehicles which all two million Fancyboi Industries employees worldwide use to transport themselves to work every day for controversially slavelike wages. And the same is true for all the fuel, energy systems and other infrastructure used to make all that transportation possible. And the same is true for the food industry which provides sustenance for all those employees and all the other millions upon millions of people directly and indirectly responsible for getting them to work each day.

And the same is true of the entire deeply interconnected worldwide human collective which provides the underlying foundation which makes the existence of Fancyboi Industries possible. No part of any of this cacophony is happening separately from the collective tumult of human civilization. The factory workers who operate the machinery, the people who operate the various transportation vehicles, the people who grow the food, the people who mop the floors, the people who raise and teach the children who will one day leap headlong into this chaos, the people who tend to the sick and dying as the workers grow old and shuffle off this mortal coil, the people who keep all the small, unnoticed wheels turning which allows civilization itself to happen.

All of these people have played an indispensable role in making Rich Fancyboi’s lavish and powerful lifestyle possible; indeed, as a whole, they have played a vastly greater role in it than Rich Fancyboi himself.

But they’re not the ones with the microphones in their faces. They’re not the ones making celebrated appearances at events named after them inside of buildings named after them. They’re invisible. Unrecognized. Unacknowledged and unvalued by a system that is, by design, incapable of recognizing and valuing them.

We stand upon the shoulders of giants. Yes, we do. But the giants are not the “great men” like Rich Fancyboi who have received all the acclaim and attention throughout recorded history, they’re the ones doing the actual moving, making, mothering and maintaining in our world upon whose heads the famous figures stand.

“Hard work, dedication, and a refusal to take no for an answer,” said Rich Fancyboi in response to the question, completely oblivious to the millions upon millions of feeling, thinking, hard-working giants he will never ever meet who made it possible for that moment to even happen.

_____________________

_____________________

_____________________

Image via Picryl.

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 at  or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is , so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on , following my antics on throwing some money into my tip jar on  or , purchasing some of my , buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book . For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, . Everyone, racist platforms excluded,  to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!

Latest comments

  • Dear Caitlin, thank you for your continuing efforts to shine light in the murk.

    My Fancyboi was fortunate to have learned how to use the system for his advantage.

    But just to humour my anal retentiveness, can you change the title to “The Real Giants, Upon Whose Shoulders We Stand!” 😀

  • Actually, the Bezos to get behind is his ex-wife. sure, she got a lot of money in the settlement, but she has already given half of it away to help the hungry and the needy. Mr. Rich Fancyboi dos do squat to truly help the less fortunate.
    If you aren’t already boycotting Amazon, Whole Foods and the Washington Post (his three most visible holdings), then maybe this column will explain just a little of why you should.

  • Holy smokes this is an inversion of reality; fundamentally twisted and flawed. I know that being open to ideas other than your own emotionally driven perspective or idealized desire is not a liberal strength. Geez… Read I-Pencil? LOL You have just made the case for capitalism and you don’t even realize it. You’ve just turned it upside down and have lost the point. It’s sort of like an earth-centric view of the solar system. Or assuming that the planet is a affixed to you, and all the other planets and stars are orbiting around you… oh wow, that IS the liberal mindset (oops). That the world continues to produce people who hit the planet with a mindset that is ignorant of the past, of history, never fails to stun me. You need to do your homework. You need to read!!!

    Again, thanks to all for your efforts with CAPTCHA. We need the training data.

    Sheeple are the shoulders of the giants we stand upon!

    Love ya! Keep producing for free.

    • No, it seems to me that it’s you that has missed the point. Caitlin acknowledged that capitalism exists and that the super-wealthy take credit for the hard work of others. That is an included argument for the end of capitalism and the reward of a better system in which everyone is taken care of and acknowledged for his or her contribution.
      The world produces people, most of whom haven’t the time to learn of the past. They are too busy living in a present in which the government lies to us, commits illegal, imperialistic wars and in which they are enslaved, if they want to acquire means of survival. What is at the heart of U.S. divisiveness is that most people are never sufficiently free to learn about history (even that which is taught in schools is a fiction). Like a dog returning to a master that has repeatedly beaten it, most people, globally, have little opportunity to examine the worlds of government and even less time and opportunity to question their government. So, the enslavement is cyclical and permanent. and those of us who are (mainly) self-enlightened still only amount, in the U.S., to about 1% of the population. Until we can get the others, who live mostly out of fear, to understand the truth, we will continue to be looked on and ridiculed as kooks,
      The COVID-19 pandemic may be the best thing to happen to humanity in years. Despite all the individual grief and death, more than half of the people have no come to learn that capitalism is not their savior; it is their slave master and Fancy Richboi is the biggest slave master of all.

      • Somehow they all seem to manage to have time for television, a tool to alter their perception of the world around them, to instill wrong values, mindsets, and worldviews, to fit into the boxes of thinking as created by the world masters,= those whom the richest have been inheriting (Not earning)their wealth from. By fixing their minds correctly, the “real giants” are made into willing footstools for the people on top. Basically, they are the prison walls and bars that the people don’t even know exist.

    • … er…???

  • “We stand upon the shoulders of giants. Yes, we do. But the giants are not the “great men” like Rich Fancyboi who have received all the acclaim and attention throughout recorded history, they’re the ones doing the actual moving, making, mothering and maintaining in our world upon whose heads the famous figures stand.”
    .
    There is literally no end to the shoulders that we all stand upon. Way too many to ever count. Our parents? Sure, that’s easy. But they had parents, too. Without them, no parents for us. And our grandparents had parents… back and back and back it goes on into infinity. But not just that. What about all the people who grow and deliver the food we ate today? And yesterday? And last year? And what about the people who write and perform the music we listen to that gets us through the day? The guys at the power company that keep our lights on? The people who process our paychecks each month so we have something to pay our bills with? And all those people and services we pay those bills to? And, our families and friends and love partners? And all THEIR parents and grandparents and…
    .
    OK, you get the idea. Each of us is not a “me” but a “we”. Who we are and who we think we are includes countless people who help create, sustain, and enrich us in ways we don’t even recognize and understand. And even the A-holes in our life. We learn from them, too. We learn what NOT to do and what not to be like. And what about our Sun and Moon? Without them, we are NOT having this discussion right now nor anything else. And gravity? What are we without gravity? Yes, elemental forces are as much a part of who and what we are as is the nose on our face.
    .
    Each of us a not a “thing” or even a person but a FIELD of BEING. A coming together of energies and circumstances that are truly Once For All Eternity and never, ever to be duplicated. And yet, there are people who take all this for granted and their big concern is making sure we wear a damn mask on our face all the time? Good Lord.
    .
    A big thank you to the Great Mystery for giving us all the experience of Life.

  • Well said Caitlin! You described it spot on.

  • Forgive the length of this comment, but I want to share thoughts strikingly similar to Caitlin’ s, expressed not in this 21st Century Gilded Age but in the first Gilded Age of the late 19th. “‘The main factor in the production of wealth among civilized men is the social organism, the machinery of associated labor and exchange by which hundreds of millions of individuals provide the demand for one another’s product and mutually complement one another’s labors, thereby making the productive and distributive system of a nation and of the world one great machine…. The element in the total industrial product which is due to the social organism is represented by the difference between the value of what one man produces as a worker in connection with the social organization and what he could produce in a condition of isolation…. Now tell me, Julian, to whom belongs the social organism, this vast machinery of human association, which enhances some two hundredfold the product of every one’s labor?”’ ‘Manifestly, I replied, ‘it can belong to no one in particular, but to nothing less than society collectively. Society collectively can be the only heir to the social inheritance of intellect and discovery, and it is society collectively which furnishes the continuous daily concourse by which alone that inheritance is made effective.’ ‘Exactly so. The social organism with all that it is and all it makes possible, is the indivisible inheritance of all in common. To whom, then, properly belongs that two hundredfold enhancement of the value of every one’s labor which is owing to the social organism?’ ‘Manifestly to society collectively–to the general fund.’ ‘Previous to the great Revolution,’ pursued the doctor, ‘although there seems to have been a vague idea of some such social fund as this, which belonged to society collectively, there was no clear conception of its vastness, and no custodian of it, or possible provision to see that it was collected and applied for the common use. A public organization of industry, a nationalized economic system, was necessary before the social fund could be properly protected and administered. Until then it must needs be be subject of universal plunder and embezzlement. The social machinery was seized upon by adventurers and made a means of enriching themselves by collecting tribute from the people to whom it belonged and whom it should have enriched. It would be one way of describing the effect of the Revolution to say that it was only the taking possession by the people collectively of the social machinery which had always belonged to them, thenceforth to be conducted as a public plant, the returns of which were to go to the owners as the equal proprietors, and no longer to buccaneers.'” “Equality,” Edward Bellamy (1897), the most persuasive argument ever made for a socialist revolution, still free to read on the net

    • That only works if everyone produces. There are those who would rather steal than earn, those too lazy, too antisocial etc to join the collective. Then you have the infirmed, mentally disabled etc. What of them. Will you tax us to provide for them. Tax us to protect us from them. So you see the problem with such a system.

      • Post-Revolution, there are no taxes. If you shirk, you are shunned. And if you want to opt out of the system, the means to do so are provided.

        • The amazing thing, and the great idea OF the Reset is, the 99% are all about to come to the same level of equality as the rest of the world. For far too long, rich nations have lived TOO well, while the poor didn’t. The Reset will return us to the standard of living of all the worlds others, but will improve the lives of others who are poor, (all while reducing unhealthy, fat ppl lifestyles). We just won the end of meat issue! Lab grown or 3D printed meat will satisfy! But animals won! Rockefeller Foundation’s we report: ResettingTheTable, ends the horror of meat, & we will finally go nearly vegitarian -no fishing off shore, no raising animals, because they can’t be counted by AI. But there are 2 types of fish that will be made raised & we can have some mullosks, We will keep track of each morsel of food, tho, so everyone can comply with the program. UBI will finally make us free, as income will be the same for everyone, cuz work will be automated, so no one needs to struggle anymore, AI will do our heavy liftng, our work, our peacekeeping, our edu, our thinking, our new normal. Huxley was right. He told Orwell his vision would win the day. We all won., tho. Brave New World is still way better than 1984. The 99% will soon be very equal. Thank the 1%!

          • I assume, perhaps wrongly, Agnes, that this is tongue in cheek. Clearly, whatever great reset gradually comes into place MIGHT engender a better world than the neoliberal nightmare we’ve been living in for some 50 years. Whatever degree of concern for humanity and the environment that the Covid crisis has managed to summon from the elite, it will be up to us non-elite people to make sure that the best ideas are included and the worst excluded in the grand plan. I very much like this article by another Johnstone, Diana, which points to a new movement in this regard that is out there but yet to form.

            https://consortiumnews.com/2020/11/24/diana-johnstone-the-great-pretext-for-dystopia/

    • great quote, thank you 🙂

  • In order to bring out – to highlight the potential best, and the very worst in all of us, one has to know which buttons to press.
    And this, Caitlin Johnstone does so poetically.
    It’s too beautiful for words alone!

  • So you hate success. Without people like Mr. fancyboi people would not have jobs. I do not begrudge people their billions. They worked like fiends for years to achieve it. We cannot all be worker bees because we would have no work. We must have employers as well. What I disagree with is the squeezing out of small businesses by government cooperation with these billionaires. Corrupt government, corrupted by the money of these mega corporations.

    • You really missed the whole point of this piece……………………………

      • No. I read the socialist slant very well. The workers make it happen. Well the organizers and financers make it happen too. Factories dont just appear for these workers. Employers are needed far more than workers since tgere is fewer of them.

    • Khatika, this is what many of us are taught, but if we think about it, the theory dissolves like candyfloss. Has Mr Fancyboi worked a billion times harder than the children in his sweatshops? Why does being the organiser mean that he deserves to get paid a billion times as much? There is no ethical or rational reason why organisers should get paid a billion times more than anyone else. My Fancyboi is not rich because he worked hard or has any special talent. My Fancyboi is the beneficiary of centuries of effort by financiers and capitalists to create a system that allows them to get rich at other peoples expense, and he was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, with the education that allowed him to take advantage of the system.

      The real problem here is that the system that has been created over the centuries allows a few individuals to gain enormous power of the lives of billions. The capitalist system is not the best system for human happiness. It is simply wrong that anyone should get this rich, however hard they work. Just because it is possible it does not mean it is right.

  • “take your place on the great mandela, as it moves through your brief moment of time…
    …and it’s been going on for ten thousand years”

  • Rich Fancyboi is not the problem. If you know a good life does not center around money why be jealous of Fancyboi? It makes more sense to feel pity for him. But even that would be foolish. Tend your own garden.
    *
    Rich Fancyboi is not your problem. The problem is people pushing microphones in his face. The problem is all the people who want to be just like Rich Fancyboi. The problem is most people thinking if a person is rich they must be superior in other ways.
    *
    Is Fancyboi at fault when the society he lives in tells him to worship money? He is only doing what he has been told to do all his life.
    *
    The problem with Rich People is that they are like everyone else. The only difference is they have a lot of money. But simple possession of money will not give wisdom on how money should be spent. It never has before.
    *
    Being average deep down, a talent to be responsible with money, to use it for a greater good. Most of the time, is simply not there.
    *
    If a Rich Fancyboi builds a library say thank you. Fancyboi could have bought a bigger boat.
    *
    You are expecting brilliance from a dim bulb. How smart is that?
    *
    The problem is money making all the important decisions and a society that lets this go on. The problem is not with idiots who have money.
    *
    The problem is letting money make important decisions when money should not be making any decisions at all.

    • Well put.

    • I don’t know why the hell I’m posting here, but I think I said awhile ago I’d have some discourse with you Keith and so to be true to what I said let me say that I agree with your summary of things.
      ~
      Here is the thing about effing “money” that I think is happening as we speak, and this is a moment of much flux. There are some who have got it in their thick skulls that money (lets call it “currency”) is infinite, and this false idea is based on the premise that a country has unlimited good faith. Well, if you don’t know it already, let me be the one who tells you that good faith is NOT unlimited. Therefore, fiat currency has limits and if you spend too much without regard, then get ready for a storm of uncertainty that will teach you a lesson about nature and the concept of money…..economics is such a soft science that really it might as well be another form of propaganda.
      ~
      That is how it seems to me.
      ~
      Happy Holidays
      ~
      BK

      • All true. A reckoning is coming. The goodwill has not only been used up but abused.

        • Yep. Your right or maybe you are left. I don’t know and it makes no difference to me. No matter, cause you are correct. The reckoning is coming and it is gonna happen soon.
          ~
          That is why my sweet baby doll friend Khatika, how I imagine ya, 2021 is a year of serious business if you want my stinking opinion. And even if you don’t want it, guess what, I just gave it to ya. Ha, ha.
          ~
          So lets do it, lets get down to getting the business done….one local community at a time. It all starts local. If the communities decide they are going to control their own fate, then the federal state and the stinking federal entities better watch out cause they will learn soon enough.
          ~
          They can SHOVE IT UP THEIR ASS!
          ~
          Enough of the talk Khatika cause we already know and so what more is there to talk about? Actions speak louder and such. It is easy to talk and to tell about the flaws of others but if you want to make something better than talk is cheap and flaws are easy. We all have flaws. Time for action is what I think and get ready cause this shit is fixing to happen.
          .
          Happy Holidays and I’ll post a link later to a place that is worth checking out – in my opinion.
          ~
          BK

    • No, Mr Fancyboi is the problem. Mr Fancyboi has no right to that money when hundreds of millions are starving. I know it is legal, I know we have been taught to admire it – but it is wrong. We should not thank him for building a library because it is ethically repellent that he should have the money in the first place.

  • Good point!

    This also (found on Z/H):
    https://consentfactory.org/2020/12/16/year-zero/

  • They are the “Working Class Heroes.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTGjqiVLdBA

    My Dinner with Andre Guards and Prisoners

    • Nice.
      It frightens me to here someone describe it so well.
      Because it makes it hard to convince myself that it is just my imagination or a bad dream and that I will wake up and realize that really everything is going to be OK.

    • Thanks for the clip. We have built our own prison and we are building the walls higher and stronger every day.

  • Thank You! This is my daily driving thought when I’m told by a Libertarian or really any form of capitalist that that rich person worked hard and deserves their wealth. If hard work deserves a greater share of prosperity than not working hard, the rich should all be poor compared to single working moms, double if they work in the food or cleaning industry. It’s such a simple concept but capitalist apologists squirm away from it every time I present it.

    • The “hard work” most of the super wealthy did to become super wealthy, is how best to use the power of the state to get there. If you can lobby the state to restrict or eliminate your competition, your chances of getting there are immensely improved. If you can lobby the state to force the purchase of your product, your chances of getting there are immensely improved. If you can lobby the state to get the state to purchase your product, your chances of getting there are immensely improved. If you can throw a million dollars at a candidate, and receive billions as a result, your chances of getting there are immensely improved. Without the state, a monopoly is impossible. Monopoly is the result of all of the above. Which is why Pharma is one of the most profitable ventures in the world. Other examples are abundant. In a free market, one can only get there by delivering a product or service that people want or need, at a price they are willing to pay. In other words, by serving others. The vast majority of those that have gotten there have done so serving the state. A thing founded on the monopoly of violence. If you boil down any action by the state, it is only possible by armed enforcement. Whether that action is desired by the majority or not, the threat of violence is the tool used to apply it. If you wish a single mother working in the food or cleaning industries to gain wealth, hand them as much of your assets as may please you. Don’t hold a gun to my head and force me to hand them mine. That is exactly the same method the super wealthy use.

      • agree. some people who [or corpos]: Ford, jeep, ellison/Oracle, rockefeller, harrington, rothschilds, Perot/EDD, Watsons/IBM, Lockheed, Boeing, DuPont, Nobel,
        mitsubishi, messerschmidt, all banks, bankers, getty, stanford, Lilly, gould, mellon, scaife, IG FARBIN, Thiel/paypal, so many more…i can’t get it out of my head that monarchy [UK] financed our RR, steel, banking, cotton and thus slavery…
        and gov’t condoned, or protected, all of it.
        and assets always escaped taxes.
        instead we taxed work.

    • One wealthy man as president got there by his constant strenuous lifting of a phone to his ear and mouth, by laboring with the pen on paper, had to struggle by wheeling and dealing, getting bailed out of bad decisions, and by the hard work of scheming and deceiving and cheating. But the hardest part was making it look like he was smarter, and looking out for the interest of the country. He does like the image he puts out, and is quite proud of himself.

  • Or, as John Donne so eloquently put it:
    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself,
    Every man is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
    Or of thine own were:
    Any man’s death diminishes me,
    Because I am involved in mankind,
    And therefore never send to know
    for whom the bell tolls;
    It tolls for thee.

  • Economics, wherein goods and services are willingly conveyed for other goods and services or lucre representing such value chiefly according to supply versus demand. This is not to be confused with theft and/or taxes, the latter term being redundant in many cases.

    • and then santa klaus plopped down the chimney and ate the milk and cookies, and distributed packages wrapped by elves around the noble tree with an angel on top, and the easter bunny and the tooth fairy nodded approvingly.

      • And then Santa said I’ll give you something at the end of the year near the solstice when your hearts feel so dismal. I’ll do it to make you remember that the spring is not far off…….or so it was said.
        ~
        Yet the children cried and the babies died and Santa seemed nothing but imagination.
        ~
        And it was this way. The Christmas you get is the Christmas you deserve. Here is a song about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfY4b1NszpY
        ~
        It is true there are “giants” who make such a difference in the lives of us each individually, but for most of them the difference will never be known and my guess is this makes no difference in the big scheme of things. This is the way it is because recognition is not all it is made out to be and usually those who deserve it remain unrecognized. No harm in that if you are with the one you love because then recognition doesn’t really matter. It is secondary.
        ~
        Here is the link I mentioned earlier on this thread: https://crowdpol.com
        ~
        Check it out in 2021, and if you live in NC, VA, KY, or TN, then I hope you join the community I have created.
        ~
        BK

  • As usual, extremely well written – but anyone that believes Fancythem got where they did without the toiling of millions of those that do all the ‘real’ work is a fool. But there have always been Fancythems throughout history; whether in a democracy or totalitarian regime. Some folk know better than other folk how to manipulate the dials, buttons and Fancythem of their time. But being Fancy doesn’t make them bad humans..

    • Good and bad is the engine that drives that manipulation. The issue isn’t if they’re are good human beings or not, the issue is that they don’t deserve a bigger share of societal output than anyone else. Yet they’re the first to say that homeless people or addicted people deserve pain and poverty.

      • We should have equal opportunity, not equal equity. Unfortunately some people are not smart or motivated and get less equity. Everyone is not entitled to the equity. They must toil for it. We must fight for equal opportunity, not equal equity. The flawed thinking of socialists.

      • yep!

    • are you kidding: they are heinous, megalomaniac, egocentric, and selfish beyond “normal” imagination….and they have legalized capitalistic power to lie and expunge anyone who trips, stumbles, sickens or dies under these stringent working conditions…this greedy monster has installed.
      and they evade taxes.
      what does it take to become a “bad human?” Hitler, Benito, Salazar, Franco, Somoza, Marcos, Stalin, Batista….blackrock, blackwater, ROCKY, RED SHIELDS, Gates, sterilizing 100,000 Kenyan women w/o mentioning this minor point? shipping vaccine to Guatemala in boxes marked male and female…then what is a “bab” human?

  • Well there’s all the oil, too. The oil does all the heavy lifting. Rich wouldn’t go fast or far without it, and he’s be hungry, too.
    That’s the invisible-energy-slave for ya.

    invisible…

    • but using that particular slave is changing the climate we evolved in and for, and too many rich fancybois make a lot of money off that so they pretend it isn’t happening.

      • Climate is another term for genocide. Less energy means less food means less people. One of the tenants of eugenist Bill Gates and others. Watch environmentalists clamor for nuclear energy soon when they hated it before. People are so blind and easily led.

leave a comment