Listen to a reading of this article:
One of the great sources of distress in people’s lives is that we don’t get to be the narrator of other people’s stories about us. That we don’t get to control what other people are thinking and saying about the things we do and the kind of person we are.
We’ve all been there in some way at some point.
“If he really knew me he’d like me.”
“If they’d understood what I meant by that joke they wouldn’t have gotten offended.”
“If she could see my heart and my intentions she’d understand why I did what I did.”
“No no, that’s not what happened; they’re getting it all wrong and it’s making me look like the bad guy.”
It’s pretty normal to feel misunderstood or mischaracterized by the people in our lives from time to time. But there are some people who take that experience to very unhealthy extremes and respond to it in very unhealthy ways.
People with an underdeveloped sense of empathy, like those with narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders, don’t experience other human beings the way normal people do. To whatever extent they lack empathy for others, they see them not as sovereign people but as tools to be used to get whatever it is they want, whether that’s power, wealth, sex, respect, etc.
This view of others tends to cause people who lack empathy to become manipulative, because their interest in others is not in connecting with them, understanding them and helping them but in using and exploiting them. However perceptive and clever they are will determine how skillful they can be in manipulating people toward that end.
For such individuals, the inability to narrate other people’s stories for them is experienced not as a sometimes painful but necessary reality but as an intolerable obstacle which must be overcome. Finding ways to manipulate the thoughts people think in their minds about the manipulator, about themselves, and about others takes on a central role in their lives.
This is one of the ways you can spot a manipulator who lacks empathy in your life: they spend an inordinate amount of energy trying to influence your opinion of them, your opinion of others, and/or your opinion of yourself. I’m this way and I do such and such. She’s such a bitch, she’s always blah blah blah. You’re defective in this-and-that ways. You need me for such-and-such reasons. You wronged me in such-and-such ways.
A virulent manipulator’s entire social existence revolves around influencing the narratives people have about what’s going on in their circle in a way that benefits the manipulator. Influencing the thoughts they think to themselves, and influencing the stories they’re telling each other.
A narrative is a story. Often when people hear the word “story” they think of a whole cloth work of fiction, something made up for the amusement of others. But the overwhelming majority of the stories we experience are about our own lives and the lives of others, both in our own heads and in our conversations with people.
“Joe went to the store” is a narrative, whether Joe did in fact go to the store or not. “Joe is a jerk” is a narrative, whether the arguments for Joe being a jerk contain factual claims or not. It’s a description of an occurrence or situation, whether accurate, inaccurate, or a mixture of both.
This ambiguous relationship between narrative and truth is where the manipulator lives. They spend their days weaving tall spires of language, framing reality in a way which benefits them using truth, half-truth, and falsehood as necessary. Filling people’s minds with a version of the world which consistently paints them in a sympathetic light and their targets in an unsympathetic light.
Because their lives revolve around manipulation, anything which poses an obstacle to their ability to manipulate is seen as a threat. Getting caught doing something gross which would make people less likely to believe the things they say in the future. Someone noticing that they are being manipulated and refusing to believe anything the manipulator says. Or, worst of all, everyone they know starting to talk to each other about what a dishonest and untrustworthy manipulator they are.
For the manipulator, being fully seen by everyone is one of the most frightening existential threats imaginable. You’ll often see them projecting this fear onto others, threatening to expose the secrets of people they don’t like, because for them that’s one of the most terrifying threats that can be made.
The US-centralized empire is a giant macrocosm of this entire dynamic. It pours vast amounts of energy into narrative control in the form of propaganda, censorship, Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation, government secrecy, and the war on journalism. It weaves nonstop narratives about how great it is and how horrible its enemies are. And it fears being seen more than anything in the world.
The vast globe-spanning power structure that is loosely centralized around the United States is a powerful military force and a powerful economic force, but its most potent weapon by far is its ability to control the narrative about what’s happening in the world. The use of oligarchic media, Silicon Valley and Hollywood to manipulate public thought and thereby control the way people think, act and vote at mass scale all around the world is unlike anything ever seen in any empire in history.
Propaganda only works if you don’t know it’s happening. Censorship only works if it doesn’t draw attention to the information being censored. The US empire’s nonstop campaign to control the world’s dominant narratives only works if it isn’t in the spotlight of public scrutiny. This is why those who draw attention to these things are smeared, demonized, censored, marginalized, imprisoned and worse by the managers of empire.
Manipulators hate to be seen, but if you ever find yourself in a relationship with one, your ability to escape depends upon your seeing them. This extreme clash of interests often brings up white hot rage in the manipulator which can be frightening and dangerous.
And I think humanity is entering that stage of the relationship with the US empire. A manipulator who’s just beginning to be seen by a few more pairs of eyes than it would like, causing flickerings of panic to begin to surface. Because once those eyes see what’s hidden underneath the veil of narrative manipulation, they don’t often look away. If anything, they tend to point and draw more attention to it.
It’s a scary time to be alive. But it’s also fascinating. Unlike anything that has ever happened on this planet before.
I look forward to finding out if we escape.
My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my American husband Tim Foley.
K-Dog / June 13, 2022
“Propaganda only works if you don’t know it’s happening. Censorship only works if it doesn’t draw attention to the information being censored. ”
NO and this contradicts what you said in you most recent article:
‘”not helpful when you’re trying to cultivate truthful beliefs while surrounded by screens that are repeating the same bogus talking points over and over again.”
The lie repeated becomes the truth. You know this.
Allan Howard / June 14, 2022
I don’t follow your comment K-DOG. Obviously propaganda only works on people who don’t know it’s happening – ie are unconscious of the fact that they are being subjected to it. How could it be otherwise. And one of the key aspects of the vast majority of propaganda – ie black propaganda – is that it’s directed at and designed to evoke emotions, because the propagandists know that once this or that emotion is evoked, critical thinking goes out the window. Tens of millions of people – and not JUST in the UK – had their emotions evoked by the complete fiction that the Salisbury poisonings were. But – and this is another important aspect of black propaganda – it was of course totally inconceivable to the vast majority of people that ‘Salisbury’ was all a massive big scam and, as such, a perfect example of the bigger the lie – the deception – the more effective it will be in duping people.
And just to be clear, there are two ways that inconceivability can work: 1. That someone considers whether something is true or not and, as such, concludes that it’s inconceivable that it’s not true; and 2. Something is inconceivable in the sense that it doesn’t ever enter their mind that it’s not true. And it’s the latter that applies to most people in respect of ‘Salisbury’.
And Repetition is just a subtle form of brain-washing of course.
Vera Gottlieb / June 13, 2022
Not a day goes by that I am not utterly disgusted, appalled at all the negative happenings in this country. Filled with hatred and against all.
BB Benderhaus / June 13, 2022
If you think the wheels are coming off the wagon now, just wait. I saw an interview with Martin Armstrong yesterday. In an off subject comment he said their program predicts oil to be $250 per barrel by 2024. This is when we enter the true war cycle beyond regional conflicts.
mike / June 13, 2022
as a longtime caitoz reader, this explains a lot to me.
Mike / June 13, 2022
NATO : “In cognitive warfare, the human mind becomes the battlefield. The aim is to change not only what people think, but how they think and act. Waged successfully, it shapes and influences individual and group beliefs and behaviours to favour an aggressor’s tactical or strategic objectives. In its extreme form, it has the potential to fracture and fragment an entire society, so that it no longer has the collective will to resist an adversary’s intentions. An opponent could conceivably subdue a society without resorting to outright force or coercion.
The aims of cognitive warfare can be limited, with short time horizons. Or they can be strategic, with campaigns launched over the course of decades. A single campaign could focus on the limited aim of preventing a military manoeuver from taking place as planned, or to force the alteration of a specific public policy. Several successive campaigns could be launched with the long-term objective of disrupting entire societies or alliances, by seeding doubts about governance, subverting democratic processes, triggering civil disturbances, or instigating separatist movements.”
Seems to me like this has been applied to the US populace for decades now.
Alan / June 15, 2022
thanks for the good read–
Mike McDonnell / June 13, 2022
A 2003 movie The Corporation
discusses a corporation as a person and decides that that person is a narcissistic psychopath.
Since capitalism treats our government as a corporation, it is logical that the US government has these same
characteristics. If we don’t change this, we are in deep trouble.
pasha / June 12, 2022
“Textbook manipulative sociopath” is just a mask, underneath which is “textbook solipsistic psychopath”.
Pascal / June 12, 2022
History helps relativize the uniqueness of events. Life is cyclic and we are now in a phase of control-tightening. That’s happened a lot of times before, first with religions. If we go back to the Bible, while Moses was having a chat with Big Brother on Mount Sinai, the guys back in the canyon, fed up with walking in circles in the sand, declared him a phony and started to make an alternative idol.
How a golden calf was going to solve their problem remains open to debate but a few leaders speculated it would and the rest went along with it.
When Moses came back down with his two godgraphed stones, lo and behold, what’s that shit?
He could have gently told his folks to cut the bull and pointed at the calf saying “Does it talk too?” but Moses had a very limited – quasi imperceptible according to sources speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution – sense of humour. He thought life was damn serious stuff and people meant to be in abject submission to his authority, laying the foundation for the concept of modern cop.
He smashed the precious stones – albeit God’s intellectual property – to smithereens in a hissing fit, named his brother high priest and ordered him to massacre thousands of them calf lovers to teach the rest who was boss.
So far, social media have remained orders of magnitude more moderate in their attempts to force compliance.
Even if less and less people believe in the historicity of that stuff, high priests had the upper hand for centuries, measuring their power by the incongruity of the beliefs they were able to force into the brains of the illiterate masses while most of them didn’t believe in any of this themselves – including God, some of them -, just busy making a career as benjamins through fatter and fatter abbeys while the elder was managing the family domain and the next in line had become a cadet.
And then they invented the Inquisition to enforce the narrative by which popes and kings had absolute power by divine right over the rest of the creation – leading to occasional pissing contests between them laying the foundations for MMA competitions.
The best part of the Inquisition though was that the possessions of the guy found guilty of heresy (the “Russian disinformation” of the time) were split between the secular authorities and the clergy. Yummie! Plus, his pretty wife was now back on the market, which was at the root of more than one denunciation. And as always, people hated their neighbours like themselves. So there were numerous incentives to turn folks into carbon footprints beyond their mere violations of social media protocols.
We’ve still got a margin of progression to reach such levels of control and corruption, not even mentioning the turpitudes of all the “isms” later brought about to correct the above.
But it does look like we’re heading that way, doesn’t it?
Inna / June 12, 2022
Catholic church was the most corrupt ever. St Frances started a new order to protest the greed of the church, and they absorbed his order after his death to look like they follow Jesus and to take competition off the market.
I listened to what Joseph Campbell had to say, and he said that Judaism is the most ancient and unchanged religion, and it is time to, pick a new religion for our times.
Pascal / June 12, 2022
The best religion is none. It’s when spirituality (that implies gratitude, empathy and joy) morphs into religion that the troubles begin because you then have organization, hierarchy, finances, power-struggle and money-grab and before you can say Jack Robinson, you end up fighting crusades and burning people alive in the name of universal love or exterminating men and beasts in the conquest of some promised land.
Inna / June 12, 2022
I was doing my spiritual practice this morning, and trying to answer a question from a Devotional book, “Who are my people ?”. So I looked up my maternal DNA haplogroup, and read up some more on it. It is actually thought to originate in Northern Europe, and then move to Southern Europe because of the Ice Age. At present my maternal relatives live in the British Isles, N. Europe, E. Europe, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, N. Turkey.
Of course I had no prior knowledge of my extensive relations :).
It seems the only difference between all of us is the narrative we are buying into.
Pascal / June 13, 2022
To the three fundamental questions “who are we”, “where do we come from” and “where are we going”?, I reply I am me, I come from home and I’m going back there :o)
Dannyh / June 15, 2022
Awesome! Very clever.
Inna / June 12, 2022
To gain and keep power, you don’t have to be the smartest or richest, you have to choose to do what other people will not do, thus sociopathy – you have to break rules of human society.
Why would American people play along? Because we are told that the other people we are attacking, starving, and wishing dead, are different and frightening.
The US moved its warmaking from Afghanistan to Ukraine, and even said so. They said they want Ukraine to become Russia’s Afghanistan.
I am recognizing their horrible narrative against the people in the Middle East and Central Asia, that was used to justify 20 years of US deathmaking in Afghanistan, to be now applied against Russians.
It works like this: you attack people militarily and starve people with “economic sanctions”, and you run a 24/7 press campaign to declare them devil incarnate. The undercurrent of the campaign, though, is that they are racially different, so it is not a big deal to wish them dead.
As I read online comments from different people in many countries that question European and American government’s motives and actions, I realize that these governments do not represent the will of their people. Instead, they get their power by “separating and conquering” us.
They tell us we have to hate each other because we are different, and the other guys wish us dead.
And then we seek the protection of the government, with their militaries, which actually serve the bankers, and not even governments.
You would hope that the Internet can help people around the world unite against the hereditary predators, who want to continue to separate, conquer and rule our otherwise perfect world.
If Internet can be used to peddle their homicidal news on us, it can also be used against the rule of “the elite”.
All we have to do really is to replace monopolistic currencies, and the bankers are out of their power.
Gregory Herr / June 12, 2022
We had better work fast—because they are:
Inna / June 12, 2022
Max424 / June 12, 2022
Jimmy Dore knows “the war” is lost, and so does Jackson Hinkle, which clearly makes them two of the finest military minds my country has produced in this century. .
Jimmy is envious of General Twitty’s medals. He shouldn’t be. Just cuz you got medals on your chest doesn’t mean you know jack shit about winning high-tech proxy wars.
I mean who can forget retired and highly be-medaled four-star General David Petraeus, who agreed with medal-less CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, that the best way to fend off Russian tank attacks, and thereby win the war, would be to throw Molotov Cocktails at their air intakes from close range.
What the General and the anchor forgot, or maybe never knew, was in modern wars, the side that controls the skies controls the battlespace, and should the side that controls the battlespace also have vastly superior long range firepower at their disposal, there is unlikely to be any battles involving tank vs gasoline filled bottles, simply because there is no earthly reason for the superior side to engage in such wasteful – and frankly quite silly – military activities.
Moon of Alabama making an appearance on the Jimmy Dore Show with Jackson Hinkle as a guest. Hinkle talks to The Duran, Brian Berletic at the New Atlas, Douglas MacGregor, Scott Ritter. They all read the Moon, and Moon links to Caitlin Johnstone (as he should). There are other honorable men and woman I haven’t mentioned that might be defined as being within this virtuous circle, but not nearly as many as one would hope or expect if one were interested in putting together a game changing coalition of the sane.
Unfortunately, it looks as if at the moment we have a scenario resembling something like this: The Fantastic Few vs Total Madness!
A new Marvel adventure/thriller coming soon to a theater near you!
Lmao … It really is a fascinating time to be alive.
Pascal / June 12, 2022
Looks like Petraeus and Cooper overdosed on that scene in Saving Private Ryan:
Max424 / June 12, 2022
Indeed. The only thing missing in their close combat tactical discussions, was how to properly use a “sticky bomb.”
“General Petraeus, can Ukraine babushkas fill up socks with plastic explosive and attach them to the treads of the Russian tanks?”
“I don’t see any reason why they can’t Anderson. And if they love their country as much I do, they’ll do exactly that.”
Pascal / June 12, 2022
Without even mentioning that patriotic Ukrainian babushkas can also use slingshots and flying saucers and if it gets to close combat, frying pans and rolling pins. Who says Ukraine is toast?
Max424 / June 12, 2022
More Dore.* He’s on a role today. Not only is he quoting the Moon, and Larry Johnson (wow), he’s plugging Andrei Martyanov’s books!
He always figures it out Jimmy does. He’s my favorite gumshoe of all time.
The war was lost on Day 1, from the moment the first Russian fighter “violated” Ukie airspace. The rest of the of this shitshow has been a mop up operation. A big one , and a complicated one to be sure, but once the US made it clear to the Russian Federation they were not going to negotiate, or engage in an epic airbattle over the Ukraine for primacy of the battlespace, it meant the Ukraine Army had one fate left, to get pulverized out of existence.
Yes, the Pentagon knows exactly what’s going on, anyone who believes otherwise forgets Speaker of the House Pelosi complaining – while possibly inebriated – that she couldn’t bomb the shit of The Infamous Russian Column, as it sat there to the west of Kiev in full view of our satellites, brazenly and tantalizingly, for over a month, because “her” military people were telling her that “the Russians have these thingy dingies that fly up from the ground, that can really cause some trouble for our bombers.”
I have pointed out, time and again, that the Russian Army is fighting this war in a gentlemanly fashion, and leaving the evidence of this noble conduct behind for everyone to see.
Mariupol was a prime example. Look at drone footage of the city in its post-battle state. There is no rubble. Yes, most of the taller buildings in the city have multiple large holes in them, their windows are all shattered, many of their rooftops have been ripped apart by 30 millimeter cannon fire, but they were not “reduced” to rubble.
Because the Russians did not want to kill the civilians that were being held captive in those buildings, and because they want to rebuild the once beautiful port city of Mariupol as fast as they can.
However, this “no rubble policy” will not hold true in these Donbass cauldron battles that are underway. The civilians in this region had nearly 3 months to clear out, plenty of time, and most of what will get flattened by Russian heavy weaponry are enemy trenches, enemy forests, enemy farmhouses, enemy small towns, regrettably an enemy minor city or two, but really, enemy war material of any kind no matter where it shows up this free-fire zone of annihilation, be it metal or flesh, will be reduced to rubble, or mist.
That is war.
And I defy anyone to give me one example in history where a military facing an existential threat to its existence gave its enemy 90 days to prepare the battlespace, so that every civilian that dies in that space will be the direct fault of the army that is being wiped off the battlemap because it wouldn’t surrender.
Note: More Dore. I’m going to trademark that one, if the estate of J.R.R.R.R.R. Tolkien lets me.
Pascal / June 13, 2022
Agree about Jimmy Dore! And he’s got rock solid backup too with Max Blumenthal, Jackson Hinkle, Aaron Maté and occasionally Glenn Greenwald. Can’t lose the common sense battle with that dream team! :o)
Newton Finn / June 12, 2022
I continue to take issue with the division of the world into the sane, empathetic masses and the insane, psychopathic elite. I suspect that the former quickly become the latter upon the acquisition of wealth and power. If so, the problem lies either in human nature, which can’t be changed, or in our socioeconomic systems, which can be. Here lies the difference between the classic right and left. And here also lies the futility of othering the elite.
James / June 12, 2022
The term ‘othering’ sounds like silly liberal speak. Is there really a classic right and left? We name things and the people who rule should be called out even if power will corrupt the next guy in line. Peter Joseph figured out a resource based solution to political economy. It will absolutely work, but how to get it implemented. So there’s a bang bang revolution, then someone or group grabs power. The Marxists don’t have the guns and that dictatorship of the proletariat sounds like a bad fit in this current age. How do we change society so the highest position is selflessness and service and hoarding is the new rape?
Newton Finn / June 13, 2022
Perhaps we begin to get there by learning to call out our enemies, in charge of an evil system, while simultaneously trying to love them, to see something of ourselves in them. The greatness of the Jewish prophetic tradition, for example, lay in the fact that the prophets spoke from within Israel, as fellow Jews subject to the same condemnation.
Alan Ross / June 12, 2022
This excellent column is also praise of Julian Assange, who more than any other journalist, gave us a look behind the masks of the powerful people who see the world as their toy.
allen / June 12, 2022
This is so right on the money. This reality is what is so frightening about the Ukraine situation. The USA’s plan to use this proxy war to consolidate its hegemony into a solid uni power has collapsed completely. Rather than strengthening the hegemony, it is being weakened. The sanctions are strangling the USA and Europe, not Russia. The Russian banking system is thriving and the Ruple has regained everything it lost within the first month of the invasion. The Russian-China alliance is growing stronger and the East including Africa and many South American nations are seeking to establish stronger trading ties with Russia and China, not less.
Putin in his wildest dreams, though he is very intelligent, could not have predicted this total debacle of the USA/NATO plan.
These times are extremely frightening because the hot rage described in this article is where these neo libs/cons find themselves at the moment. The wet-dream they’ve nurtured for the last century is rapidly slipping away from their grasp and they are very afraid and full of rage.
They are going to respond like a gaged animal and will use the full force of their extreme wealth and power. They have never had any concern for humanity or the planet. They don’t care what is destroyed, they will just vent their rage no matter the consequences.
These are frightening times.
Les / June 12, 2022
All these sad truths and here – just why the US Imperium will collapse. And take the UK and NATO Western European countries with them.
The era of The Great Eurasian Integration is at hand and much resisted, especially here in Australia.
Yet something of a silver lining after all . . .
Max424 / June 12, 2022
“The past fifty years of the transferring of industrial capability to The East in the belief that it would be a compliant outpost and workshop for Western Capitalism is the last major civilizational failure of The West. Essentially it is over for The West, the centers of power know it, they don’t like it and there is little they can do except to be spoilers and dangerous spoilers at that. Very dangerous spoilers.”
Yup. Spoilers with nukes that have a spoiled brat mentality that says if I’m going down, I’m taking everyone with me.
“Russian commanders are in the battle space, not behind the lines in HQ, directing matters via digital screens.”
Yup. And that’s the main reason the Chateau Generals in the Pentagon – and the uber-wealthy retired ones parading around on CNN – are “butt hurt,” as Andre Martyanov calls it, as they watch Operation Z steadily succeed at all levels. It’s a simple case of red-faced professional jealousy, and nothing more.
“Russia plays Chess; China plays Go; The West – Snakes and Ladders.”
Lmao … The only thing I disagreed with in the piece. More like the West is playing Go Fish. Snakes and Ladders, if memory serves, requires some nuanced thinking.
A great read. Thanks for it.
tjrich / June 12, 2022
“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”
― John Maynard Keynes
grandy / June 12, 2022
Enjoy reading your articles and comments. It’s kind of surprising, for me to find people who are not direct victims of the US/nato “defence” of the world but can see what they are doing. Those of us who have been their victims but painted even by their respected sources as genetically lower and born killers/rapists find it much easier to see what’s going on. From inventing the stories that are very different from the reality to hiding what’s going on.
Wendy / June 12, 2022
The sad truth is when the mask falls (as it always has), all those around them are basically damaged like them and just degrade them with cheap talk. It’s like worker bees complaining about what business does to them but never steps out from under their boot. Narcs bribe, cajole and endear themselves and before you know it, they’re right back to dancing with the devil. I say Rest In Peace.
toolate / June 12, 2022
“Propaganda only works if you don’t know it’s happening”
I dont think that is always true. Others have long warned us that propaganda can work when it intentionally seems untrue: as a demonstration of brute power.
Bramble / June 12, 2022
Here in England it is all too obvious that people are willing accomplices in their own manipulation. They want to believe that Brexit is a success, that covid has been conquered, that Johnson is a great leader and that Russia is evil. The truth is clearly visible, but they deliberately ignore it. Democracy seems to have morphed into mutual indulgence in a blatant pack of lies.