HomeArticleThe Sociopaths Are Cocksure While Those With Empathy Are Full Of Doubt

The Sociopaths Are Cocksure While Those With Empathy Are Full Of Doubt

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In a 1933 essay lamenting the rise of Nazism in Germany, Bertrand Russell wrote: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Which is of course a dynamic that’s still at play in the modern world; the Dunning-Kruger effect is a thing, and one need only to look at American presidents to see that there’s little relationship between one’s intelligence and how far they can rise if they get it in their heads that they ought to be in charge of things.

But I think a much bigger factor in the problems our world faces is not so much about intelligence as empathy.

I was very nervous to share my multimedia piece “The Wizard” for Julian Assange’s 50th birthday, because I didn’t know how it would be received. I’d worked so hard on it and I had to access some deep tender bits of myself to bring it into existence, and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle it if people online decided to shit all over it because I simply did not have any armor over the inner parts that had created it. I knew if it attracted a lot of scorn and derision after I put it out in the world it was going to hurt a lot, because I’m a sensitive person and this was a sensitive piece for me.

I thankfully didn’t have to deal with any of that because it got an overwhelmingly positive reception, but it got me thinking a lot about how messed up our world is because people who let themselves be vulnerable so often choose to be silent, while people with no empathy or connection to others can speak freely.

Have you ever noticed how the major influencers on social media are able to simply ignore all the mountains of negative feedback they receive online and just go on with their days unbothered, but for you it’s hard to ignore even one niggling comment? Have you ever wondered how they do that?

I know I have. My biggest challenge in the few years I’ve been at this writing gig has not been the writing itself or coming up with new ideas or keeping it fresh and interesting, but dealing with the massive influx of attention it’s brought to me and my life. All of a sudden I’ve got all these voices in my world yelling at me for saying something they disagree with, or saying I’m a propagandist working for a foreign government, or demanding that I write about about their pet issue all the time or else it means I’m a sellout, or insisting that I’m a closet Nazi because of some unskillful comments I made after I first started writing, and a nearly infinite list of other gripes which I have no real way of dealing with, all because I started typing my thoughts out on the internet in 2016.

It’s been a real challenge trying to figure this all out. I see other influential voices simply not engaging much with the crowd, which I’ve tried but it feels a bit dishonest and elitist, like you’re dismissing people because they’re not as important as you are. It doesn’t quite sit right to act like other people’s opinions don’t matter as much as mine just because my voice wound up having more influence than theirs due to some strange twists of fate that I’ve never understood and over which I’ve never had any control.

I say this not to complain; my job is awesome and most people have it harder than I do. I say it because I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this, and I’m sure the pressure is enough to silence many of those who do. I’ve got many years of intensive inner work under my belt, so if it’s hard for me I’m sure those who haven’t had the luxury of time to do much deep sea inner rabbit-holing are pressed much harder than I.

But you know who would have no problem simply dismissing the perspectives of others like they don’t matter? Narcissists and sociopaths. Those who don’t care about other people, those who view themselves as the center of the universe, or those who think they’re superior to other people.

You can see right away how this creates an imbalance. If those who don’t care about human connection are completely unintimidated by the attention of the crowd while those who care deeply about people are cowed by the spotlight, you naturally wind up with narcissists and sociopaths occupying the positions of influence in our society. Which says a lot about why things are as fucked as they are.

Combine this with the fact that the most influential voices in this model are those who have benefitted from the status quo, and the fact that wealth kills empathy, and the fact that money uplifts those who are willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead no matter who they have to step on, and it’s no wonder that we find ourselves ruled by sociopaths who manipulate public thought to their advantage.

Meanwhile the true artists and visionaries, those with the medicine for what ails us, are bullied into silence by people masturbating their inner wounds onto strangers on the internet.

I don’t see any easy solutions to this imbalance. We certainly don’t want to become heartless unfeeling creatures who dismiss the opinions of the crowd like they’re unimportant insects, but also we do need to find a way to continue speaking without having our light dimmed by those who are irresponsible with their inner misery. Near as I can tell, our best option is to become so deeply awake that we can continue to make art and speak out against the powerful even amid the vitriol and vituperation which comes the way of anyone who’s brave enough to shine bright. To become so conscious of our inner dynamics that abuse from strangers doesn’t silence us.

Here are some of my tools that I fall back on when people are mean.

(1) Take a minute. It’s not going to matter if I ever respond to a hurtful comment, let alone respond straight away. I can go have a glass of water, brush my teeth, hang the washing out, go for a walk, whatever, and it won’t actually matter. I have all the time in the world to respond, if I even choose to. And I don’t ever have to. I have a little saying I made up: “I am under no obligation to show up for a punishment I don’t deserve.” It’s surprising how many people think I do need to show up, though. But they are wrong.

(2) Zoom out a bit. Is it hurting anything real? I always remind myself that I’m not here to defend my little Caitlin ego. I’m trying to do this in the highest interest of everyone. I only really need to defend my reputation in as much as I need to keep my voice. If I am in danger of being silenced or having the influence of my voice marginalized by smears, then yes, I should defend myself, but if it’s just someone being impotently mean then I save my energy and shake it off. Which reminds me…

(3) Literally shake it off.  I personally have found a lot of healing in shaking things off quite literally, as well as other kinaesthetic movements. If I feel like crying, I will have a big wail. I often tap around my body with my fingertips while yawning, coughing, burping, or dry retching to get things moving. I go with my physical impulses, like you do in improv theater or dance.

Hugging someone, talking it through, writing out what I’d really like to say, making art for myself out of the feelings it inspired, are all ways that I go towards the discomfort rather than slamming the door on it and vowing never to do anything ever again. The only way out is through in my experience. Pretending I’m fine just gets me stuck and I can’t create. If you have any other tools or strategies, please share them in the comments below. This is one area where we can all help each other.

And maybe, in the meantime, we can all try and be kind to those who create as well. Collective awakening is a team sport, and there’s only one side. It’s in all of our interest to elevate the higher aspects of ourselves and see the beauty in each other’s creations and give each other the confidence we need to fight another day.

____________________________

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Latest comments

  • If anything bad is happening to you, do not let your emotions guide you to deal with it. Just do not blow your cool, take a step back, look at it and ask yourself what it will mean to you in a couple days. More often than not you will find out that it does not mean a thing and getting engaged fighting it is just a waste of time and energy

    • Thanks for the advice. I have at times been over-emotional and fly off the handle at perceived wrongs. I am learning to do as you stated, and am improving daily. Almost, if not there already.

  • Take personal satisfaction whenever you write something that expresses what you wanted to say clearly. Comments are useful to see if you did that successfully. Bomb throwers who just insult you don’t matter.

    Just pass the Sean Hannity test. Sean Hannity develops talking points to make his argument sound perfect. He will then repeat it, word for word until the say he dies. If you are able to drop a favorite argument after finding out it is wrong, then you are an angelic being compared to those on FOX.

    I believe you are an honest writer.

  • “The Wizard” is beautiful and brilliant! It kinda even made me cry a little bit. Thanks for continuing to put yourself out there Caitlin. Regarding people that have to throw poop at other people and other people’s creations, I’ve found trying to view them with compassion usually works for me. When that fails, viewing them with pity, as ugly as that sounds, works well too. Cheers!

    • Yes, I agree. The Wizard is simple and beautiful.
      Great Work of Art.

  • I find your work deeply inspiring, especially because I don’t agree with everything, which is a good sign of having left the echo-chamber. Mostly I only disagree with the “one side of the coin is bad and the other is good” stuff (right/left, socialism/capitalism) because I think all human constructs are vulnerable to psychopathic elite machinations.

    But I come here for the beautiful use of language and humor and ridicule to promote themes of global unity and narrative-busting, which is so hard to find these days. Much gratitude Caitlin, for doing the thing so many others can’t/won’t. And thanks for the tips.

  • I find your work deeply inspiring, especially because I don’t agree with everything, which is a good sign of having left the echo-chamber. I really only disagree with the “one side of the coin is bad and the other is good” stuff (right/left, socialism/capitalism) because I think all human constructs are vulnerable to psychopathic elite machinations. But I come here for the beautiful use of language and humor and ridicule to promote themes of global unity and narrative-busting, which is so hard to find these days. Much gratitude Caitlin, for doing the thing so many others can’t/won’t. And thanks for the tips.

  • God bless you Caitlin! You provide such clarity and love and solidarity!!

    The filthy rich are good at getting one half of the working class to kill the other half. Thank you for so reasonably and powerfully backing the half that continues to fight for the common good. No matter how bad things get, we can always see our brothers and sisters, our friends, our co-workers doing their best each day to help each other; continuing to do this in the face of immense and evil power. I think that is the way most people really are. We may be losing at the moment but solidarity will rise again thanks to good folks like you. You are a brilliant light!

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gm4hTcRhoqI
    Heart Sutra × Ikkyu-ji Temple,Kyoto / Kanho Yakushiji【Japanese Buddhist Monk music】

  • Well, as far as I know through the years reading shitloads of articles here. Booming from mediocre to remarkable. Endless useless loops about socialism and capitalism with no meaningful contribution to the real world. Most of the loyal followers limiting themselves to just praise and avoiding not to argue with the author. Strangers raiding your blog as barbarians not in accordance about what is written. I must confess I was surprised to watch the wizard. I didn’t know behind the troll could have someone with a beautiful small universe far different from the normal troll mood. But, anyways, there is little to gain wondering about what the other side is thinking. It’s a little box of surprises. No one can predict. Sometimes what is written here will have some impact in someone who will have the ability and the proper clearance to make some difference and you will never know about that. If one day, all this blah blah blah really helped to change something, you will know. You will recognize your voice and your thoughts written in some unexpected place. Maybe you will say to yourself: “Well, it was worth all what I have been through at home and with this blog.”

    • So hows about you posting a ‘meaningful contribution to the real world’ or two on here Jeremy.

      • PS And you’ve obviously missed the numerous times a poster has disagreed with Caitlin about a particular point she made. Somehow!

  • As Yeats wrote: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

    Meanwhile Capital rapes the world, unhindered, unchecked, uncaring. I suggest that many here visit Paul Jay’s The Analysis: https://theanalysis.news/

    Paul interviews many excellent and diverse commentators. Like Caitlin and others, he cares.

  • I post this comment occasionally, and this seems like a good time for it.

    If you want some insight into psychopathy and its influence in our lives, look at the website theauthoritarians.com.

    Robert Anthony “Bob” Altemeyer (born 6 June 1940) is a retired Professor of Psychology at the University of Manitoba. He produced a well-validated test and scale for “RWA” or right-wing authoritarianism. He did extensive research on authoritarianism, identifying the psychological makeup of authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders. He has devised
    a test which reliably identifies psychopaths and has performed many social experiments
    with his grad students which clearly illustrate the destructive influence of psychopathic
    authoritarian leaders and their unthinking followers in social situations.

    His research is depressing, but should be better known. Maybe we can protect ourselves as a society from right wing psychopathic authoritarians, and maybe we can’t, but we should know what science tells us about them.

  • I want to amplify on your #3, physically discharging uncomfortable emotions. What you’re talking about there is Rehabilitation Cocounseling, something I got into in the 70s but never hear of anymore. The idea is that you get together with others for peer co-counseling–no big daddy therapist, just you and someone else mutually listening and encouraging the discharging of emotions. We typically got together for an hour–30 minutes each way, sitting holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes while the one who was counseling would encourage, often with “What’s on top?” The one being counseled with delve into anger, grief, embarrassment, fear, anxiety, guilt…verbalizing the feelings, sometimes with opposite language (“Hey, THAT didn’t bother me at all!”) which elicits laughter and shaking…or for other emotions, crying, shouting, and the lightest, yawning. Sounds like you’re doing this instinctively.

  • Of course Narcissus was very handsome and was told that he would lead lead a long and happy life if he DIDN’T look at at his own reflection !

    He wandered through the lands and one the ‘nymphs’ who fell in love with him and was rejected went to a ‘lonely’ place and called out his name – her name was ‘Echo’ !

    Narcissus continued on his ‘worldly’ journey until he came across the goddess ‘Nemesis’ – who made him look at his own reflection in pond !

    When he did – he fell in love with himself – Nemesis then turned him into a ‘Myrrh tree !

    There is a very valuable lesson to be be be learned from this Myth !’

  • The Wizard made me cry, so beautiful. That’s what art can do, keep our feelings alive so we don’t turn into hardened stone technocratic Greywalkers. The only feeling they’re interested in is how to induce as much easily avoidable stress as possible. Maybe in the world of unfettered capitalism, stress is their daily life, backstabbing left and right. Misery loves company, as they say.

    Jon Rappoport just wrote a brilliant article:

    It’s The Poets Who Destroy The Old Order Of Mechanical Consciousness

    “The greatest sum is no sum at all. It isn’t the addition of facts or numbers. There are mythic qualities in existence that come from us…myths greater than machines…and in order to give voice to the myths we need to go where poets go. We need to go there badly. For our own sake, we have to put that peculiar precision that splits a tiny particle into smaller and smaller pieces on the shelf…” (The Magician Awakes)

    https://blog.nomorefakenews.com/2021/07/06/poets-destroy-the-old-order-of-mechanical-consciousness/

  • So Copernicus says, ‘Y’know, it really looks like all the planets go round the Sun.’
    And the powers that be say, ‘It does! But we have the power to declare that it just ain’t so.’
    Deja vu, anyone?

    • The quality of the PTB has become more lethal over the past few decades. This has happened in the past, the banks and monopolies becoming too big to listen to anything and anyone.

      “Basically, we need to be smarter than the banks, because by letting them become the “Masters of the Universe” in the last 40 years, they have made fools of us.”

      “…the finance sector is a good servant but a terrible master, and that’s what the Neoliberal obsession with deregulation has actually allowed to happen: finance has become the economy’s master, rather than its servant.”

      The Westphalia Treaties of 1648 created what is known today as sovereign nations, which ended the feudal system.

      MMT emphasizes FISCAL policy, sovereign nation-state economics, as opposed to banker dictatorship governance. We should call MMT Nation-State Economics, which the banks have been seeking to destroy these past 40 years and are busy trying to implement a techno-neofeudalism, using technology to enslave us in the past.

      “The nation-state as a fundamental unit of man’s organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state.” ~ Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, 1970

      The Peace of Westphalia
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIigOJtBHcw

      “The Peace of Westphalia, just like the American Revolution that it inspired, and the UN Charter that served as its continuation is like garlic to the Vampires of today’s Wall Street and City of London.”

      The Peace of Westphalia: A Phase Shift in Universal History [RTF Lecture with Matthew Ehret]

    • It pays to read through the comments section. People offer some brilliant insights, like this one:

      Unfettered capitalism is destructive. I think that should be clear enough by now. The USA is a glaring lesson in this simple fact. The argument that the USA is not following true capitalism because market forces are being ignored is an unrealistic argument. Capitalism gives rise to wealth inequality. Wealth inequality leads to oligarchy. Oligarchy captures government and ignores market forces when those elements might work against its interests. It is a cruel yet inevitable sequence. Moreover, capitalism moves down that path very, very rapidly. It did so in the 1890s and again in the 1920s.

      Now we are here once again. A near-fatal downward spiral 3 times in 150 years indicates a very unstable approach. Left to its own devices, capitalism will destroy itself every time and it will take all of society down with it. It has the reliability and empathy of a meth addict (and that’s being cruel to meth addicts).

      The only forces that have ever managed to harness capitalism are socialist forces – government regulation and social programs like unemployment and medicare. These forces protect the people from the worst ravages of capitalism. Anti-trust laws, environmental regulations, oversight, unions, safety nets – these are the forces that created actual stability in the USA, leading to its vaunted “golden era” of prosperity from the late 1940s to the 1970s.

      From the 1980s forward, these protections were systematically dismantled. Union busting, deregulation, the corruption of oversight agencies like the SEC, and the attack on social welfare programs have ushered in the demise of the middle class and runaway wealth redistribution. A captive government has meant little or no real action from either political party. Neo-liberalism and modern conservatism are merely reflections of capitalism’s natural transformation to oligarchy.

      And that is why the USA stands on the verge of possible civil war. The culture wars are not real, but the outrage that fuels them is very real. What we are seeing is a population engaged in a collective primal scream. Two sides have clearly formed around manufactured issues and I don’t see how to avoid an ending drenched in blood. There are those in positions of leadership and influence who would be perfectly happy to see it descend into chaos, so long as they maintain power. In fact, many of them would never have achieved power in a more normal and sane political climate.

      As for the oligarchs, they don’t honestly care what the little people do to each other. Their wealth will survive, since they can step outside these national borders at a moment’s notice. The resulting chaos will likely provide a lucrative opportunity for them, to be honest. When the USSR collapsed in 1989, it was an almost instant transformation to criminal oligarchy. There is lots of opportunity in chaos.

      I believe the USA has reached the “5 minutes to midnight” moment – the last chance for any meaningful change to happen. That change will have to strike at the heart of the primary pain of the population – the belief that they don’t matter and that there is no way to achieve financial security for themselves and their families.

      This is a moment that calls for a Teddy Roosevelt, an FDR, or an LBJ. It requires an epic leader figure who can impose the necessary changes. The simple fact is that, each time, the changes required to pull the USA back from the brink are never popular with the oligarchs. Necessary changes are universally anti-capitalist and anti-oligarch. Anti-trust laws and unionization rights. Social Safety Net programs. Civil rights and environmental oversight. But this is what it takes to stop the downward spiral into self-destruction.

      Furthermore, I am honestly tired of the tendency to equate democracy with capitalism. Democracy gives voice to the people, who want wealth and opportunity. Capitalism and oligarchy try to that voice away because it stands in the way of wealth accumulation. Democracy and capitalism are not compatible ideologies. They work against each other. I wish that was more obvious to people.

      Oligarchy is why voting rights are being attacked. It is why unions have been essentially wiped out. It is why government regulations have been consistently dismantled. It is why you have been told that “government is the problem”.

      The fact is that a healthy, functional government that is not in the pockets of oligarchs is your only true protection. And that is oligarchs will always systematically enslave it – to remove your only real guardian. Once the government is crippled, all of your protections are laid bare, ready to be destroyed.

      I am simply pointing out the logical destination of the current trends in the USA – trends that have been in motion since 1980. The USA’s house is on fire. At some point, the fire will clearly be unstoppable and all we will be able to do is watch it burn this house to the ground. Anyone in California or BC knows that moment all too well. I feel like we are moments away from that collective realization. I hope not, though. I hope for a last-minute rush of bold leadership. I try not to have expectations. Only hope. A small hope, at that.

      In the event that the worst occurs, I hope that something healthier will rise from the ashes of the country where I was born.

      ~ Jonathan Ginter

  • Damn Caitlin. ANOTHER great piece. You might be interested in this: https://asianintelligencereview.blogspot.com/2015/09/are-you-psychopath.html. Entitled “Embrace Your Inner Dexter written by the epynonymous Oracle.

  • Beautifully stated Caitlin.
    You are in a good place.
    We are not our thoughts, opinions, reflections or even our bodies.They are merely manifestations we present to the world. How we cope with the world.
    Once we realise that, we are free to ‘float’ above the chaos and see the Truth.
    But you already know that.

  • Sociopaths & psychopaths make an interesting subject.
    Prof. Bob Altemeyer was my first introduction to it.
    He suggests they comprise about 6% of the population (US).
    His little book is free: http://whale.to/b/authoritarians.pdf
    It’s not what you think — some really good insights here.

  • Popular propagandist/entertainers aren’t offended by negative comments since they’re “paid actors.” As long as they’re well-reimbursed they don’t give a fuck if some of their followers verbally abuse them. They just worry about remaining relevant in a competitive market.

    Some might say these paid propagandists are sociopaths, while others say they’re simply “presstitutes.” However when all is said and done, these creeps are happy to have a great paying gig by just being a charismatic bullshitter.

    The psychopath hires and pays the actor/propagandist to manipulate public sentiment.

    It should be stressed, that the average person is not adherent to any one ideology, but rather “thinks eclectically” and reaches opinions “selectively.” However, It’s the job of the entertainer/propagandist to eliminate “instinctual thinking” and replace it with irrational thoughts. The better the entertainer/propagandist is at persuading the more abundantly they’re rewarded by the psychopath and his chums.

    The need for skilled charlatan commentators to advance “official narratives” is imperative. If they didn’t exist everything would just fall apart. Populations are not permitted to think for themselves. Publicizing a preponderance of “misleading information” is a must for promoting acceptance of insidious actions only benefiting a handful of psychopaths.

    After all, how many Americans would risk their own lives for needless wars to enhance the wealth and power of anti-working-class multinational corporations and trillion dollar hedge funds. And how many Americans would willingly take a jab of “toxic gene therapy” unless they were endlessly told it was a safe way to eradicate a mysterious virus causing a deadly pandemic targeting all humanity, and especially grandma’s.

    Convincing well-scripted entertainers know how to instill just enough “fear” to convince their followers that either a foreign nation-state is attacking or a virulent virus is causing mass planetary death.

    A tried and true successful tactic is using misinformation to trigger “political sectarianship.” Similar to the religious sectarianship used to balkanize stable nation states. Each faction must have contempt for the other. Once this acrimony is established thespian/propagandists flatter their following saying they’re the “intelligent ones” who believe in “science” and those who question scientific principles are a threat to democracy, while the other “opposing” propagandists flatter their followers emoting patriotism saying those who do not share our patriotic beliefs are a threat to democracy. Notice the “running theme”—each opposing group considers the other anti-democratic.

    When all is said and done, the cunning psychopaths convinced half of the population the other half is jeopardizing their way of life while in actuality the “entire population” is living in a “fantasized democracy” which has long been transformed into a monopolistic oligarchy controlled by international financiers, Wall Street, and the security state.

    • Caitlin is Brilliant,and I must say I have never read anything of yours till now,but without doubt you are also Brilliant,Please keep up the good work,
      Greetings from Ireland,another western country that never seems to access the true Picture of our World.

  • For most of my life I’ve gotten beaten up, totally ignored, pigeonholed, labeled, called a Communist, extremist (both right and left wing), radical, kook, wingnut, reactionary … the list goes on. Nowadays, in some forums like Farcebook, my posts and pleas are largely ignored. Note that the root of ‘ignorant’ is ‘ignore.’

    And that’s where we’re at. I spent decades as a journalist writing editorials and columns warning of the dangers of public apathy, lack of knowledge of history, gullibility toward the propaganda of the government and the corporate press. I’ve posted extensively online since the days of the internet, fearlessly, about all manner of ‘taboo’ topics that put a big fat bullseye on my back.

    I can’t say that it hasn’t been worth it, but I’ve gotten to a point where – for me personally – it seems rather futile. People are more worried about getting the “Delta variant’ than they are about ungodly hot temperatures in places that didn’t use to have such extremes. Or the storm clouds of war. Or environmental collapse. Or the blatant phoniness of the vaccine narrative. Or the ever diminishing liberties Americans totally take for granted.

    Americans are the most poorly informed and historically illiterate people on the planet. They act like sheep, or parrots, but seldom like free men and women exercising their inalienable rights to liberty. It’s pretty sad, and to have seen it coming since I was a young man, having spoken out about it to not end, and to feel the futility of it all …

    Never stop. Just keep on speaking your truth no matter what.

  • I keep reading articles or listening to podcasts that seem to point to the need for real people to run for office. Honest, humble and hard working people. Ones that want to be left alone to live their lives as free as possible. But that’s the problem with the system. Those of us that want that don’t want to run or office. Maybe one day it will be too late. And that right there is the struggle.

    Beautiful film and article.

  • I was a committed Christian for 50 years until I experienced a minister do the wrong thing with finances among other things and saw the Regional authorities cover it up and get authoritarian. So I started looking at religion as a sceptic instead of a believer and noticed the difference. It occurred to me that we are bound to celebrate God’s marvelous creation weekly (on the seventh day He rested and hallowed it) but He seems to let it decline individually and collectively, despite his ultimate power (and with great power comes great responsibility).
    So what standard to live by now? My conclusion is to make the most constructive decision in the circumstances and follow it until better information dictates otherwise. I use “constructive” in its broadest sense, not limited by politics or religion but obviously limited by my experience and understanding, which at 73 is about as good as its going to get. Keep up your good work and perhaps this perspective will assist when things get difficult. Regards, Richard.

  • Try being a scientist, lol. Believe it or not science isn’t exactly what Dr Fauci says it is. It’s a process of browbeating, shitting on and nagging every hypothesis to the point of implosion until only the purest remain. But it’s not personal. It often feels personal. It can easily be taken personal. But it is all for the lofty aim of achieving a pure truth for the benefit of all. It rarely happens. There are but a handful of laws in science. Those assertions for which no observable case can be found in violation. The rest of the time it’s almost an exercise in futility amidst an endless onslaught of questions and doubt just to learn one new thing that can, at least sometimes, stand as truth. So I get where you’re coming from. I have at times disagreed with you and made known my reasons why. It was never personal. Quite to the contrary I felt more like it was the two of us working together to purify an idea to make it as good and relevant as possible. But nonetheless were all human and somewhat fragile and it hurts sometime even when that wasn’t the intent. Just remember that nobody would pay you any attention if you were absurdly off the mark. As the old saying goes you get the most flak when you are over the target. You are so often right over the target. And from outward appearances you seem to handle it well all things considered. You would have made a great scientist. But you’re a great commentator and writer and thinker too. It’s a labor of love. Never easy but undertaken for the right reasons. Kudos to you for the labor and the love. We all see it and appreciate it whether we’re as eloquent at saying it as you are.

  • I do hope Julian himself got to see The Wizard

  • Strategy: I listen to Pema Chodron a lot. When I first heard her say that we should sit with the discomfort, I thought I could never do that. Meditating with her on the Internet helped me with it a lot.

    Tool: PLEASE read Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class! You don’t have to write about it. Just read it. He explains how and why we elevate sociopaths to the highest places.

  • I’ve sometimes wondered if sociopaths/psychopaths – what with them being devoid of normal emotions – can ever enjoy music and be uplifted by it. Anyway, what you said made me think of this beautiful song by Ian McDonald, about love:

  • And then there are the Pentecultists!

    Bravissima, Caitlin. No matter what or how you say it – it’s always in line with my own thinking – and – by the way – I am not always in line with any thinking. James Bradley, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Studs Terkel, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Patrick Lawrence – Linda Jaivins, Bruce Haigh, John Menadue, Stuart Rees, Caitlin Johnstone – just a few of my favourite people!

  • That makes me think of philosophy, the more your learn, the less you know.

    e.g ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ (the first truth) by René Descartes when trying to think of things that a provably true.

    And Plato convincing everyone that they know more about something than he does.

  • “The stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
    It could also simply be the difference between the psychotics and the neurotics: the psychotic is persuaded that 2 + 2 = 5 and he’s perfectly happy with it (as illustrated by the photos on top of your piece) while the neurotic KNOWS that 2 + 2 = 4 and IT DRIVES HIM MAD! :o)

  • That’s pretty insightful, and I think you make a pretty good point.

  • “…the true artists and visionaries, those with the medicine for what ails us, are bullied into silence by people masturbating their inner wounds onto strangers on the internet. I don’t see any easy solutions to this imbalance.”
    .
    On the road to seeing solutions is first to understand what you’re dealing with.
    .
    There are billions of people on the Earth who’ve made it their life mission to criticize and tear down others. Why? Healthy, well-adjusted people don’t do things like that.
    .
    So what made these people ‘not’ healthy and ‘not’ well-adjusted? Several things. Bad upbringing (or NO upbringing). Bad peer group and social influences. Corporate media pumping horse manure into their heads without stopping for a moment. Not learning to respect people. Not learning to value people (or themselves). Lots of reasons why people spend their day living to be hurtful and tear down others. And ultimately, that they don’t even value themselves. Regardless of the social posturing they hide behind.
    .
    So let’s simplify. Every one of us has been bullied in our lives. Think about the bully. Is this a ‘nice’ person? Did you ever see them do anything useful or helpful for someone? Did they get so sick pleasure in hurting others? If so, why?
    .
    Why? Because they are damaged goods. They have been hurt and they are hurting. They are lost deep in the Dark Cave that we all have been in and must emerge from if we are to live happy, useful lives. But these people haven’t done that. Sadly, they most likely never will.
    .
    So, what do we do when they confront us? You can’t just try to inflict more pain on them by responding in-kind because they are already hurting. In fact, to do so would just further feed their anger and pain. You just… stand your own ground. Live your own truth. Help them if you can… but understand they may not want anything from you.
    .
    Albert Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”

    That’s not a bad place to stand upon. When dealing with bullies and trolls and hurtful people… they are that way because they want to be that way. So, let them be.
    .
    But for you, don’t bring in the same hurtful consciousness into the equation or certainly not into your own thoughts and spirit.
    .
    Let them be. And live your own life as free from the pain that life may try to give us as possible. And toss out prayer in their direction and let Universe take it from there.

    • I hear you Shaman. but we need to fight back. These people intend to not only kill over seven billion people over the next three or four years, but also initiate a world fascist totalitarian police state, with no hope for the slaves, our children, for all future generations. BUt hey, they hurt, so let them do that. I disagree.
      Because I fight back does not make me hurtful. It makes me smart. I don’t buy into the Roman-created New TEstament which promotes a submissive and slave mentality to impose rule over their citizens for easier rule over them in hell.

    • Wow, thank you for this. This had to be helpful for Caitlin; it certainly was for me. Caitlin, your article and suggestions were perfect. I tried to explain this but, oh, never so eloquently as you along with Roundball’s incredible response did here. I fumbled through trying to explain to my 6th grader at a new school, caught off guard, how to handle the bullies that were making his life miserable.Somehow, telling him to take the “Kick me” sign off of his back pales by comparison.

      I think nice people who don’t even think like those who live to see you squirm, are always a bit shocked when it happens because we’re not wired that way. There was a push years ago about bullies in grade school. Interestingly, it was being reported on by bullies on TV. I went through a really hard time at work at a very vulnerable time, having just returned to work after cancer treatment. A couple of new, strong willed employees, I lost top billing in my dept = disaster. I couldn’t understand and was embarrassed, but wanted to cry out, “You’re being mean to me.” It is hard to sort out at first but if not prepared, results in you (me) acting in ways to keep it going, i.e. not confronting it as it happens.

      This was most inspirational and needed today after reading several articles about vaccines and “graphene oxide.” I’m still facing many family and friends who are trying to bully me into the experimental injection; this was needed strategical information. Thank you both.

      • Four million dead worldwide, more will take that last breath soon. Your friends aren’t trying to bully you, they’re trying to help you.

    • I don’t think that there are “billions of people on Earth” who are doing that. I think there are thousands of people in the United States who are doing it.

      It’s easy to conflate the problems in the United States with the rest of the world. We’re not everybody.

  • Loved “The Wizard.” Love the phrase “deeply awake” even more.

  • Dunno how I missed the wizard but it is awesome!

  • No one gets understood much, it seems. No matter how clear the words are, readers bring a storm of contexts.

    I used to hurt terribly when my work got reviewed–more than now, I should say, since I am not altogether “over it.” One day it struck me that criticism did not have to be correct to be useful and that even ill-intentioned criticism revealed all sorts of things about the human obstacles that confronted my work. I started to read it to figure out where and how people had failed to understand or succeeded at failing.

    It is often us mugs who don’t know whom you help, though, for whatever all that might be worth. It doesn’t get acknowledged much.

    Glad you’re still out there working. There are damned few voices in this sector, and some of the people responding to your work do so as professionals.

  • At ~74, and an activist since before I knew the word, ditto “environmentalist” as I saw NYC spill over onto Long Island, 30 miles out from where I supposedly “grew up,” I have a few simple responses.

    Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket. (Likely paraphrased as is most of what I attempt to quote.)

    Better to light a blowtorch in the dark than curse the dark.

    Speak your truth. Others can take it or leave it.

    Metaphorically, in this case, Go Balls Out!

    Don’t look back, lest you turn to salt.

    From a friend of mine, to me and my wife, when I taught a week long course on airships on a Hopi Reservation, “F’m all!” Which he followed with a long list.

    With “deep Platonic love,” Dan

    • Hats off to you Dan!! At 70 I’m finally getting to where you are. 40 years ago I was a die-hard Conservative. Excited about the possibilities of Right-wing government until I clearly saw same-old-same-old with my fellow right-wingers accepting that fact the current system only works for some and not caring about anyone else. The poor are poor because they’re lazy that idiotic belief. The ‘everyone for themselves’ society is failing and it’s time we realized either we all survive or we all go down.

  • “our main problems have been caused by the way we keep designing systems which elevate psychopaths to positions of leadership”
    With that I’m in complete agreement. Unfortunately, far too many have concluded they cannot live without such a system. As if we always had one. The instant such a system claims authority to use violence to maintain its ascendance, it has become a system of sociopaths. Sane people do not engage in such.
    Speaking out is hard. Writing out as well. If one favors a different system that others are committed against, they hold back no punches. Whether they understand that other system or not. Socialism vs Capitalism. No living person has any experience with either.

    • I’ll take that back. Most families, the sane ones at least, operate as socialist within the immediate family. They aren’t buying or bartering for goods or services from each other.

  • Great video, Caitlin. Well done!
    When people give me shit; I throw it right back at them with something extra. Feck em!

  • The Second Coming

    W. B. Yeats – 1865-1939

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    • Just one of the Greatest poems ever

  • My favorite Bertrand Russell: “The infliction of cruelty is a delight to moralists. That is why they created hell.”

  • Thank you for putting yourself out there, Caity! You are an inspiration to the rest of us who hold back because our souls have been trampled on too many times.

  • I love your sensitivity, Caitlin. This is the true reason you are such an astute writer. It is your compassion for suffering that drives your anger at Injustice and your courage to write about it. You are my hero and role model. Thank you for your contribution to higher values and leading the way for us to follow your incredible bravery.

  • Caitlin, all the commenters so far are holding your hand. I will not. I will give some advice.
    Instead of worrying about what others think about you, worry only about who that gal in the mirror thinks you are. Confidence based on others’ opinions is like the waves, it will go back and forth due to the wind and the currents of thought of the day.
    A better measuring rod of your character and worth is your accomplishments, what you have overcome, the sweat equity. Confidence from inside will be stronger and more accurate.
    The reason that some assholes don’ t care what people think is because they are sociopaths, they have no conscience, what matters to them is what benefits them only.
    Obviously that isnt you.
    I was like you for a while, but now have rock solid confidence born of accomplishments, overcoming obstacles, knowledge of my motivations, and such. You cant shake me easily with any insults. I have inborn confidence. It is a huge effort and a future misjudgment on my part that will cause my downfall, if it ever happens. I am confident due to my own righteousness and history of actions for the people for 35 years. I have armor like never seen before. You could also.

  • Ah, the Buddha Ms Caitlin Johnstone with the courage and the fortitude and the wisdom to lead humanity out of the darkness!! I do not agree with everything that she says; but who am I to ever perceive that my battered old mind would come up with anything worthy of her time. Ms Johnstone is helping my sanity stay intact; I am forever grateful for that! I am sure there are many people that come to this website that are extremely joyous that it exists!! May The Heavens Bless And Keep You Ms Johnstone!!

  • I respect this column very very much!! I think the following is crucial to being a good person:

    “I always remind myself that I’m not here to defend my little Caitlin ego. I’m trying to do this in the highest interest of everyone. I only really need to defend my reputation in as much as I need to keep my voice. If I am in danger of being silenced or having the influence of my voice marginalized by smears, then yes, I should defend myself, but if it’s just someone being impotently mean then I save my energy and shake it off.

    Thank you!

    I would just add that I am fortunate to learn from some wise men and women that, like everyone else, as much as I want to be expressed, I can also just want to “it by the side of the road.” My ego wants to make a hurtful comment or situation look much worse than it is so I have an excuse to back away, and that I should see that my doom and gloom thoughts are fake.

  • Fascinating insight into how you cope with the spotlight. Thanks for sharing. (And “Free the Wizard” was brilliant!)

  • And then there is this psychopath. He’s the highest paid player in the Major League. This monster’s name is Trevor Bauer. https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/31742289/woman-says-domestic-violence-restraining-order-los-angeles-dodgers-pitcher-trevor-bauer-strangled-unconscious-multiple-occasions-sex

  • Great stuff, thanks Caitlin. To me, part of this problem is the inability of many people to see that we all have different perspectives. So many believe their perspective is “truth” and will defend it, seemingly to death, by attacking perspectives (and people) they disagree with, instead of trying to understand where another person is coming from, even if they disagree. Thanks for shining a light.

  • Beautifully articulated by a beautiful soul. Never doubt that you have legions behind you, Caitlin.
    With profound thanks.

  • LOVE The Wizard.
    Tears in my eyes.
    Lovely Work.

    • Ditto.
      I’m so glad you overcame your nervousness and shared it.
      And I notice it’s been reposted on a few other sites, so I guess we’re far from alone in appreciating it.

  • Wow. This one really hit me, Caitlin. Thank you for sharing it.

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