Why the Powerful Are So Desperate to Control the Narrative

The disempowered want change; those in power want predictability and consistency. The more you can guarantee predictability and consistency to those in power, the more those in power will reward you.

By Caitlin Johnstone and cross-posted from Steemit

I’ve been writing a lot about how the ability to control public narratives is the only real power in this world, and how the need of the ruling elites to wield that power explains everything from the feigned panic about “Russian propaganda” to Wikipedia’s bizarre editing policies to why Joy Reid still has a job. In my opinion it is impossible to overemphasize the impact that narrative and the myriad agendas to control it has on human life. Indeed, if a critical mass of individuals experienced a deep enough insight into the nature of mental narrative, all of our challenges as a species could be resolved very easily.

A search for the word “narrative” on the WikiLeaks website turns up tens of thousands of results. This is because the manipulators who work for the institutions that tend to have documents leaked to that outlet are well aware that the actual raw information about a government, a political campaign, event, etc. have far less impact on the way the public thinks about them than the sparkly, simplified, tweet-sized stories (narratives) that get circulated about those things on a large scale.

For example, if you ask an American political pundit about the president’s dealings with North Korea, you will likely be told that Trump is either a brilliant strategist who is almost single-handedly bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula or an incompetent imbecile who is getting “played” by Pyongyang, depending on which side of the partisan divide that pundit is loyal to. Both sides have access to the same information, but they are advancing wildly different narratives about it, because each side has an agenda that they know will be advanced if their narrative becomes dominant. In reality, neither narrative has much to do with what has actually been going on in the Korean negotiations, but that’s another story.

Narrative rules our world today, from our most basic concepts about ourselves to the behavior of nations and governments. Right now your direct experience of life is little more than the air going in and out of your respiratory system, your gaze moving from left to right over this text, and perhaps the sensation of your bum in a chair or sofa; without any narrative overlay, those experiences are all you are in this moment. Add in mental narrative and all of a sudden you’re a particular individual with a particular name and a particular story, who has perhaps some concerns about the future and regrets about the past, with all sorts of desires and goals and fears and aversions. As far as your actual present experience is concerned, all that stuff is pure mental noise. Pure narrative.

The same is true of things like power, money, and government. There is nothing grafted onto the electrons of the universe which says that the world needs to be mostly ruled by a few billionaires and their lackeys. Only the made-up rules about how power, money and government operate cause that to be the case, and those rules are only as true as we all collectively agree to pretend they are. They are all mental constructs that people made up, and we can therefore change them whenever we want to. Which is why so much plutocratic effort goes into making sure that we don’t…

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