Annual Write-Up On What I’m About And What I’m Doing Here
Listen to a reading of this article:
Every year around my birthday I like to write an article where I try to articulate as clearly as I can who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do here. I do this for three reasons:
- Because as a crowdfunded writer it’s important to be fully transparent about exactly what it is my patrons are supporting here.
- Because I find it’s good practice to continually hone my ability to distill the entirety of my message into a single article as lucidly and concisely as possible.
- It’s also good practice for me to annually kind of renew my vows and remind myself of my mission here.
Who I Am
I am an Australian mother of two who just turned 47. I received a BA in journalism in 2003 but had figured out by then that working in news media would just mean regurgitating garbage from Reuters and AP and the spin jobs of think tanks and PR men. So rather than waste my energy on something I knew would be dissatisfying I threw myself into environmental activism, personal growth, a small business, and the unspeakably profound adventure of motherhood.
In 2016 I found myself writing a lot of Facebook posts about the suppression of the Bernie Sanders campaign, which turned into writing opinion articles for a self-publishing news aggregate site called Inquisitr, which turned into this weird crowd-funded independent project which combines elements of journalism, polemics, philosophy, social commentary, poetry, music and art.
That’s Caitlin Johnstone the person. “Caitlin Johnstone” as readers know that name is actually two people: myself and my husband Tim Foley. Tim and I married when he moved here from the States in 2016, and ever since we’ve been engaged in a nonstop conversation like two kids at an endless sleepover about what we reckon is going on in the world and what can be done to save it from disaster. Most of the things you read in this space are the products of that conversation, and we both work on them. It’s hard to describe our intimate and complementary collaboration toward that end, but in terms of roles I’m the decision maker and our output follows my overarching vision and perspective, while Tim’s unique mind is responsible for many of the jokes and turns of phrase you’ve enjoyed here over the years. Tim is also the voice you hear doing the audio recordings for the stuff we publish.
It’s been a wild ride and we’ve learned so much along the way. Our early writings look unskillful and sometimes downright cringey looking back on them, but we feel like we’ve got a pretty good handle on what’s going on now, and we’re only getting better.
Where I Stand
It seems pretty obvious to me that our species is headed for disaster if our large-scale behavior remains dictated by systems in which people and nations compete with each other for power and profit rather than collaborating with each other for the good of everyone. The pursuit of profit for its own sake is killing our biosphere and the agenda of unipolar domination is driving us ever closer to nuclear war, so I find it no exaggeration to say that our very survival depends on abandoning capitalism and imperialism in favor of collaboration-based models of operation.
This perspective places me far to the left of most people, and I seem to only be moving further in that direction with each passing year. I no longer bother correcting people when they call me a communist rather than a socialist, and I suppose I could someday begin applying that label to myself, though I suspect if humanity does move into the kind of global-scale collaborative models we require for survival the end result will be so different from the current status quo that it won’t look quite like anything we’ve been able to imagine in any of our pet -isms.
But we’ll never move into the kind of healthy systems we need for survival as long as we are being successfully manipulated into accepting the status quo by those who benefit from it. A tremendous amount of my work goes into attacking the establishment propaganda machine and highlighting its malignant effects, because from my point of view that’s the glue holding the whole extinction stew together.
There’s a loose alliance of plutocrats and government agencies roughly centralized around the United States who make the real decisions of consequence behind the theatrical displays of electoral politics and official governmental systems, and those decisions are what’s driving us to extinction via environmental collapse or nuclear armageddon. It seems clear to me that these power-hungry individuals are far too deeply unconscious and unwise to take any interest in steering us away from this suicidal trajectory, so things aren’t going to get better until ordinary people rise up and use the power of their numbers to force them to. But this will never happen as long as people are being successfully propagandized away from doing so by the mass media and other systems geared toward controlling the dominant narrative about the world.
I use the terms “narrative” and “narrative matrix” a lot because this is fundamentally the foundation upon which our enslavement is built. Humans are storytelling animals; most of our interest and attention goes toward mental stories, narratives, about what’s going on with us, with our surroundings, and with our world. So if you can control what stories the humans are telling each other about what’s going on, you control the humans.
Power is controlling what happens. Ultimate power is controlling what people think about what happens. In order to take power, ordinary people are going to have to reclaim our minds from those who are manipulating us into consenting to our oppressive, exploitative, ecocidal, omnicidal status quo. This is going to mean helping each other awaken to the many ways in which we are being manipulated by the powerful; once we’re conscious of the manipulations they no longer hold their power, because consciousness and dysfunction cannot coexist.
More than this, though, what humanity is going to need to give rise to a healthy world is a completely different relationship with mental narrative altogether. A relationship where mental stories about self, other and world no longer run the show in our experience, where thought simply becomes a useful tool that can be picked up when it’s needed and set down when it’s not. Humans have been writing for millennia about the capacity we all have within us to make this shift, which is commonly known as spiritual enlightenment.
When I’m at my most direct and to the point, this is what I write about. The fact that humanity as a whole will need a profoundly transformative psychological awakening from its old way of functioning if it is to survive into the distant future. This might sound like an outlandish request from reality, but I really don’t think so. Every species eventually hits a point where it either adapts to a changing situation or goes the way of the dinosaur; we are at such a point right now, and a collective awakening appears to be the adaptation we’re going to have to make. We absolutely have the potential within us for this, waiting dormant and ready to be fired up when we’re ready. And we’ll either become ready and make the adaptation that’s required of us at this juncture in order to survive, or we will not.
What I’m Trying To Do Here
Everything I write points to the dynamic outlined above in some way, whether it’s news commentary, art, or philosophical musings. I use this platform to try and expand consciousness in every direction possible with regard to humanity’s current plight as I see it, which one day might mean drawing attention to the dangers of nuclear brinkmanship and the next day trying to breathe some oxygen onto that sacred spark within all of us using artistic expression.
All positive changes in human behavior always arise from an expansion of consciousness; from someone or a group of someones becoming aware of something they previously were not. This is true whether you’re talking about someone becoming aware of the psychological dynamics which feed their self-destructive behavior patterns or society as a whole becoming aware of the injustice and toxicity of racial prejudice. So my goal is to push the light of consciousness outward in every way I can in all the areas I see as most crucial for humanity’s current situation.
And I try to make a living doing this in the most conscious way I can. My patronage system is set up to be as close to a gift economy as possible, where I put out the best quality daily work I can regardless of whether I received any donations that day and patrons donate without getting anything in return beyond having donated. Anyone is allowed to re-publish my work or use it in any way they like, including making money off of it, with or without attribution, free of charge. I encourage anyone who wants to try making a few bucks selling quotes or art I’ve made on print-on-demand platforms like Redbubble or CafePress, and if anyone wants to sell my books I can order them at author’s cost for you (just get in touch via email or Twitter DM).
This gift economy approach is what I suspect a healthy and awake human society will have in the future, so that’s what I try to embody in my livelihood.
Where I’m Headed
I’d like to set the intention for this year to write more about healthy models I imagine we could find ourselves using in the future, just to help put some positive things to shoot for out there in public consciousness. I never really feel like I have control over exactly what I’ll write about, but we’ll see if the inspiration gods hear me.
Other than that, I simply intend to keep working to help expand awareness in all the best ways I can until humanity becomes so healthy that I am made obsolete and my work is no longer needed or wanted.
Thank you all so much for walking with me on this crazy adventure. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for all of us.