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Every year around my birthday I like to write an article outlining my overall perspective and what’s driving my output on this little platform of mine. I do this primarily in the interests of transparency: I believe that all journalists and commentators have biases and agendas, and the best they can do given that reality is be transparent about what those are. As a crowd-funded writer it’s important for me to be clear about where I stand and what I’m trying to do so that people can decide if my project is something they want to contribute to advancing. What follows is my most recent article about who I am, published on December 11, 2020, and an article detailing my strange business model that was first published as My Experiments With Hacking Capitalism on May 24, 2021.
So first a little about me. I’m an Australian mother of two working in collaboration with my American husband Tim Foley. Everything I publish is the result of an ongoing all-day conversation between myself and Tim about what’s going on in the world and how we can push to create a healthy and harmonious world for future generations. I have editorial control over everything published here and the ideals and ideology promoted here are very Caitlin Johnstone in origin, but Tim and I are in consistent agreement on how we see things and at this point we operate pretty much like a single unit in the way we create content together.
I have a journalism degree but it became clear to me before I graduated that there’s no real path to doing real journalism in the legacy media which was dominant at the time, so I focused on the motherhood adventure until I stumbled into this commentary gig by accident in 2016 just from writing my opinions about Bernie Sanders and how unjustly the progressive movement was being treated by the mass media and the Democratic establishment.
Since then I’ve been trying to put out articles as close to daily as I can manage, writing what I see as the major obstacles to human thriving in our world based on what I’ve learned and come to understand over the years. When I first started out my perspective was as unrefined as you’d expect from any novice, but over time I’ve cultivated an understanding of global power dynamics and the way power structures use mass-scale narrative manipulation to advance their agendas which has given my analysis a lot more lucidity.
I am an avowed socialist and always have been. I believe if human behavior remains driven by competition and profit we will compete ourselves into extinction by chasing after whatever world-traumatizing endeavor is profitable from day to day. If humanity exists in the future, it’s because we learned to move out of our individualistic model of competition and into a collaborative relationship with each other and with our ecosystem where everyone and everything is cared for by the collective. I don’t know if that collaborative relationship will be called “socialism” or something else, but for now I find it a good placeholder word and the basic direction I’d like to see things moving in.
Even more than socialism I support transparency of the powerful. I believe if the public just had a clear image of what’s happening in our world and the murderous oligarchic forces that are steering us into destruction, they would naturally use the power of their numbers to force drastic changes away from our omnicidal, ecocidal status quo and toward something much healthier. It is only the ability of the powerful to use government, corporate and financial secrecy, internet censorship and mass media propaganda to hide and distort the truth which prevents this from happening. This is why nobody is so reviled and demonized by establishment propagandists as those who reveal inconvenient truths and promote unauthorized narratives.
Most of my writing revolves in some way around the idea that we as a collective need to fight to wake each other up to reality–and to the lies we’re being fed about it–before it’s too late. A meaningful shift toward health will not happen unless people use the power of their numbers to force it to happen. People won’t use the power of their numbers to force real change as long as they are being successfully propagandized not to do so by the ruling class. Our task therefore is to disrupt the establishment propaganda machine and find creative ways to pass messages to each other through the cracks in the narrative matrix.
This is why I constantly promote and prioritize the idea of a grassroots guerrilla psywar by the people against the establishment narrative control apparatus. The plutocratic class which owns the mass media sets it up to promote narratives which are favorable to the status quo upon which those plutocrats have built their respective kingdoms, but trust in the mass media is at an all-time low and humanity’s ability to network and share information is at an all-time high, which means we’ve got a one-time shot at breaking public trust in the mass media using our unprecedented information-sharing abilities and waking people up to the fact that they’re being propagandized. Propaganda only works if you don’t know it’s happening, so we have to wake people up to the reality that it is happening.
And that’s primarily what I’m doing here: my part in helping to bring consciousness to the fact that our world is ruled by manipulative sociopaths who are pouring massive amounts of resources every single day into controlling the way people think, act and vote so as to preserve the interests of existing power structures.
I also see it as necessary for humanity to awaken its consciousness inwardly as well. If humans are to survive we cannot remain driven by ego and fear, because as long as we are we’ll remain easy to manipulate and propagandize and we will inevitably keep finding our way onto self-destructive trajectories. For millennia wise humans have been writing about the potential within us all to bring consciousness to our inner processes and begin functioning in a healthy and harmonious way, and our current evolve-or-die predicament means we’re about to either see that potential unlocked in us at mass scale or go the way of the dinosaur.
I point to these things in as many different ways as possible: sometimes with humor, sometimes with poetry, sometimes with aphorism, sometimes with fiction, sometimes just by laying out the raw data and saying what it looks like to me. But that’s all I’m ever really doing here.
And that’s what I’ll continue to do, better and better every year as my inner and outer consciousness expands and I see the full picture with more and more clarity. I am deeply grateful to everyone who’s come along with me on the journey in whatever way suits them.
Easily the most interesting aspect of my weird little operation here is how I make a living doing what I’m doing. I’ll put the information out there just in case it’s useful to anybody.
Like anyone else who criticizes capitalism within earshot of hardcore capitalism enthusiasts, I get the “and yet you participate in capitalism ha ha” line all the time. They claim that because I have links to Patreon and Paypal at the bottom of my articles I am hypocritical for criticizing capitalism, which is silly for a number of reasons.
It’s silly because we live in a capitalist society which requires participation in capitalism to engage in, so it’s a lot like telling prisoners who complain the prison system that they are being hypocritical because they live in prison. It’s also silly because it implies that the only people who can criticize the status quo are those living in a log cabin in the woods with no electricity eating squirrel meat and yelling their grievances into a hole in the ground.
And, in my case, it’s also silly because it’s less true of me than it is of most people.
I make my living entirely from the goodwill of other people. I work as hard as most people, but I don’t charge money for my labor; I work for free and demand nothing from anyone who enjoys the fruits of my labor. All my work is free to view, free to republish, free to use, free to alter, on no conditions whatsoever; even my books are comprised entirely of stuff that’s free to view online. There is no trade, and there is no exchange; you already have the product. I just have a digital tip jar at the bottom of every article that people can toss a few coins into if they want to.
I decided early on in this commentary gig that I wanted to write about the healthiest things I can possibly write about from the healthiest parts of myself, and if I’m going to get paid I want it to be by the healthiest impulses of the healthiest sort of people. In my case that means writing from every angle I can about the ways our society is unhealthy and how it can move toward health, and it means doing so in full dependence on the goodwill of people who care about the same thing.
As near as I can tell the major problems with the world I am leaving to my children ultimately boil down to the fact that money tends to elevate the very worst kinds of people: those who are willing to step on anyone to get ahead, even if it means impoverishing everybody else, or starting wars, or destroying the ecosystem we all depend on for survival. My goal has been to try and “hack” this trend by getting money to reward health instead, thereby allowing me to embody the opposite of the disease and proving that a better way is possible.
Because money is power and money rewards sociopathy, we wind up ruled by greedy sociopaths. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that wealth has been shown to kill empathy in those who have it, which makes sense if you consider how money functions as a kind of prosthetic goodwill currency. Without a lot of money you depend on the goodwill of your neighbors to get by; you need to always be attuned to what their needs are, how you can help them, and how they’re feeling toward you in order to make sure they’ll help you fix your car when it breaks down or whatever. If you are wealthy you don’t need to think about goodwill at all, so that attunement to other people’s needs and feelings will atrophy.
By contrast, in societies that aren’t dominated by money, goodwill is the prevailing currency, and sociopaths tend to wind up dead. From Scientific American:
In a 1976 study anthropologist Jane M. Murphy, then at Harvard University, found that an isolated group of Yupik-speaking Inuits near the Bering Strait had a term (kunlangeta) they used to describe “a man who … repeatedly lies and cheats and steals things and … takes sexual advantage of many women—someone who does not pay attention to reprimands and who is always being brought to the elders for punishment.” When Murphy asked an Inuit what the group would typically do with a kunlangeta, he replied, “Somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking.”
In such tribal cultures your worth is measured not by how much money you have, but by the extent to which you improve the quality of life for those around you. If you make life pleasant for the collective you’ll receive plenty of goodwill from them, and if you make life unpleasant for them you run out of goodwill and get pushed off the ice. But in our society a kunlangeta’s disregard for goodwill and his willingness to do anything for profit could make him a CEO.
My goal here is to get by on goodwill currency instead of kunlangeta currency, while hopefully helping to move us out of our kunlangeta way of life.
This is why I don’t have any tiers or rewards on my Patreon page; it’s important to what I’m doing here that it be an entirely goodwill relationship on both ends, because in my experience the healthiest relationships all come from a mutual desire to give freely while the unhealthiest are “you give me that I’ll give you this” transactional relationships. I put just as much effort into my work whether I get a lot of money on a given day or none at all, and patrons get the same whether they give me two dollars or two hundred. That way we’re all operating entirely from intrinsic motivation, driven by the inner rewards of having done something helpful and advancing something we value, rather than the extrinsic motivation model of capitalism that is driving our world toward disaster.
And that’s ultimately what I’d like to see for humanity going forward: a world where we’re not stepping on each other and our ecosystem in pursuit of profit, but collaborating with each other and with our ecosystem out of intrinsic motivation toward the common good of all beings. My way of life is the best personal testament I can offer that such a world is possible.
And seeing that it is possible is the first step. Mark Fisher writes:
Watching Children of Men, we are inevitably reminded of the phrase attributed to Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Žižek, that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism. That slogan captures precisely what I mean by ‘capitalist realism’: the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it.
I am trying to help us all imagine a coherent alternative to it. I don’t know precisely to what extent my path can be traveled by other people, much less by the entirety of our species. But walking this path for myself has given me a lot of hope that I can leave my children a much healthier world.