By Charles Eisenstein

[This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Germany License. It may be distributed and reproduced subject to the terms of the license.]

Someone sent me a video on January 19 [2021] in which the host, citing an undisclosed source in the White Hat Power faction, said final plans are afoot to bring the criminal deep state into a for to fall every time. Joe Biden's inauguration will not take place. The lies and crimes of the satanic human trafficking elite would be exposed. Justice will prevail, the Republic will be restored. Perhaps, he said, the Deep State will make a last-ditch effort to stay in power by staging a fake inauguration, using deepfake video effects to make it appear like Chief Justice John Roberts is really becoming Joe swearing in Biden. Don't be fooled, he said. Trust the plan. Donald Trump will continue to be the actual President, even if the entire mainstream media says otherwise.

Democracy is finished

It's hardly worth the time to criticize the video itself as it's an unspectacular example of its genre. I'm not suggesting you do it yourself - with video. What needs to be taken seriously and is alarming is this: The fragmentation of the knowledge community into disjointed realities has now progressed to such an extent that a large number of people to this day believe that Donald Trump is secretly President, while Joe Biden is a Hollywood masquerading as the White House -Studio inhabited. This is a watered down version of the much more widespread belief (tens of millions of people) that the election was stolen.

In a functioning democracy, the two sides could debate whether the election was stolen through evidence from mutually acceptable sources of information. Today there is no such source. Most of the media has fractured into separate and mutually exclusive ecosystems, each the domain of a political faction, making debate impossible. All that's left is, as you may have experienced, a scream duel. Without debate, you have to resort to other means to achieve victory in politics: violence instead of persuasion.

This is one reason why I think democracy is finished. (Whether we ever had them, or how much of it, is another question.)

Victory is now more important than democracy

Suppose I wanted to convince a far-right, pro-Trump reader that the allegations of voter fraud are unfounded. I could cite reports and fact checks on CNN or the New York Times or Wikipedia, but none of it is credible to this person who has some justification for assuming these publications are biased against Trump. Ditto if you are a Biden supporter and I am trying to convince you of massive voter fraud. Evidence of this can only be found in right-wing publications, which you will immediately dismiss as unreliable.

Let me save the outraged reader some time and formulate your scathing critique of the above for you. “Charles, you are setting up a false equation that is shockingly ignorant of certain undeniable facts. fact one! fact two! fact three! Here are the links. You are doing the public a disservice by even considering the possibility that the other side is worth hearing.”

If even one side believes that, we are no longer in a democracy. I'm not trying to treat both sides equally. My point is that no talks are taking place or can take place. We are no longer in a democracy. Democracy depends on a certain level of civic trust, on the willingness to decide the distribution of power through peaceful, fair elections, accompanied by an objective press. It requires a willingness to engage in conversations or at least debates. It requires a substantial majority to hold something - democracy itself - to be more important than victory. Otherwise we are either in a state of civil war or, if one side is dominant, in a state of authoritarianism and rebellion.

So the left becomes the right

At this point it is clear which side has the upper hand. There is a kind of poetic justice that the right wing - who perfected the information technology of sedition and narrative warfare in the first place - are now their victim. Conservative pundits and platforms are quickly being pushed off social media, app stores and even the internet altogether. To say that at all in today's environment raises the suspicion that I am a conservative myself. I'm just the opposite. But like a minority of left-wing journalists like Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald, I am appalled by the deletion, social media ban, censorship and demonization of the right (including 75 million Trump voters) - what can only be described as all-out information warfare . In total information warfare (as in military conflicts), making your opponents look as bad as possible is an important tactic. How can we have a democracy when we are incited to hate each other by the media, which we rely on to tell us what is real, what is "news" and what the world is?

Today it appears that the left is beating the right at its own game: the game of censorship, authoritarianism and the suppression of dissent. But before you celebrate the eviction of the right from social media and public discourse, please understand the inevitable result: the left becomes the right. This has been going on for a long time, as evidenced by the overwhelming presence of neocons, Wall Street insiders, and corporate officials in the Biden administration. The partisan information war that began as a left-right conflict, with Fox on one side and CNN and MSNBC on the other, is rapidly turning into a struggle between the establishment and its challengers.

Enforced Illegitimacy

When Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Wall Street are on the same page as the military, intelligence agencies, and the majority of government officials, it won't be long before those who disrupt their agenda are censored.

Glenn Greenwald sums it up well:

 There are times when repression and censorship are more directed against the left and times when they are more directed against the right, but it is neither an inherently left nor right tactic. It is a ruling class tactic, and it is used against anyone perceived as dissenting from the interests and orthodoxies of the ruling class, no matter where they fall on the ideological spectrum.

For the record, I don't believe Donald Trump is still President, nor do I believe there has been massive voter fraud. However, I also think that if there had been, we would have no guarantee of finding out because the very mechanisms used to suppress voter fraud misinformation could also be used to suppress that information if it were true. If corporate government powers have hijacked the press and our means of communication (the Internet), what is to stop them from quelling dissent?

As a writer who has taken countercultural views on many issues over the past twenty years, I face a dilemma. The evidence I can use to support my views is disappearing from the body of knowledge. The sources I could use to subvert dominant narratives are illegitimate because they are the ones that subvert dominant narratives. Internet guardians enforce this illegitimacy through a variety of means: algorithmic suppression, biased autofilling of search terms, demonization of dissenting channels, labeling dissenting views as “false”, account deletions, censorship of citizen journalists, and so on.

The cult character of the mainstream

The resulting knowledge bubble leaves the average person just as unrealistic as someone who believes Trump is still president. The cult-like nature of QAnon and the far right is clear. What is less obvious (especially to those within it) is the increasingly cult-like nature of the mainstream. How else can we call it a cult when it controls information, punishes dissent, spying on its members and controlling their physical movements, lacks transparency and accountability in leadership, dictates what its members should say, think and feel , encouraging them to denounce and spy on one another, and maintaining a polarized us-versus-them mentality? I'm certainly not saying that everything the mainstream media, academia, and academics say is wrong. However, when powerful interests control information, they can mask reality and trick the public into believing absurdities.

Maybe that's what's happening with culture in general. "Culture" comes from the same linguistic root as "cult". It creates a shared reality by conditioning perception, structuring thought and directing creativity. What is different today is that mainstream forces are desperate to maintain a reality that no longer fits the consciousness of a public fast moving out of the Age of Separation. The proliferation of cults and conspiracy theories reflects the increasingly unhinged absurdity of official reality and the lies and propaganda that perpetuate it.

In other words, the madness that was the Trump presidency was not a deviation from a trend toward ever-greater sanity. She was not a stumble down the road from medieval superstition and barbarism to a rational, scientific society. It drew its strength from an increasing cultural turbulence, just as a river creates increasingly violent countercurrents as it nears its plunge over the falls.

Discrediting evidence of another reality

Lately, as a writer, I've felt like I'm trying to talk a madman out of his madness. If you've ever tried to reason with a QAnon follower, you know what I'm talking about when I try to reason with the public mind. Rather than presenting myself as the only sane individual in a world gone mad (and thereby demonstrating my own madness), I want to address a feeling I'm sure many readers will share: that the world has gone mad. That our society has drifted into unreality, lost itself in an illusion. As much as we hope to attribute the insanity to a small and deplorable subset of society, it is a common condition.

As a society, we are called upon to accept the unacceptable: the wars, the prisons, the deliberate famine in Yemen, the evictions, the land grabs, the domestic abuse, the racist violence, the child abuse, the rip-offs, the forced meat factories, the soil destruction, the ecocide, the beheadings, the torture, the rapes, the extreme inequality, the prosecution of whistleblowers... At some level we all know that it's crazy to go on with life as if none of this is happening. Living as if reality weren't real – that's the essence of madness.

Also marginalized from official reality is much of the wondrous healing and creative power of humans and other than human beings. Ironically, when I mention some examples of these extraordinary technologies, for example in the fields of medicine, agriculture or energy, I accuse myself of being "unrealistic". I wonder if the reader, like me, has direct experience of phenomena that are officially not real?

I am tempted to suggest that modern society is confined to a narrow unreality, but that is the problem. Any examples I give from beyond acceptable political, medical, scientific or psychological (un)reality automatically discredit my argument and make me a suspect figure to anyone who doesn't agree with me anyway.

Information control creates conspiracy theories

Let's do a little experiment. Hey guys, free energy devices are legit, I saw one!

So, based on that statement, do you trust me more or less? Anyone who challenges official reality has this problem. Look what happens to journalists who point out that America is doing all the things it accuses Russia and China of (interfering in elections, sabotaging power grids, building electronic backdoors [for secret service interception]). You won't be on MSNBC or the New York Times very often. The manufacture of consent described by Herman and Chomsky goes far beyond consenting to war.

By controlling information, the dominant institutions create a passive public assent to the perception-reality matrix that maintains their dominance. The more successful they are at controlling reality, the more unreal it becomes, until we reach the extreme where everyone pretends to believe but nobody really does. We're not there yet, but we're fast approaching that point. We are not yet at the level of late Soviet Russia, when virtually no one took Pravda and Izvestia at face value. The unreality of official reality is not yet so complete, nor is the censorship of unofficial realities. We are still in the phase of repressed alienation where many have a vague sense of living in a VR matrix, a show, a pantomime.

What is repressed tends to emerge in extreme and distorted form; for example, conspiracy theories that the earth is flat, that the earth is hollow, that Chinese troops are massing at the US border, that the world is ruled by baby-eating satanists, and so on. Such beliefs are symptoms of trapping people in a matrix of lies and fooling them into thinking it's real.

The stricter the authorities control information to preserve official reality, the more virulent and widespread the conspiracy theories become. Already, the canon of “authoritarian sources” is shrinking to the point where critics of US foreign policy, Israeli/Palestinian peace activists, vaccine skeptics, holistic health researchers, and ordinary dissidents like me risk being relegated to the same internet ghettos as the thoroughbred conspiracy theorists. In fact, we dine at the same table to a large extent. When mainstream journalism fails in its duty to vigorously challenge power, what other choice is there than to turn to citizen journalists, independent researchers and anecdotal sources to make sense of the world?

Search for a more powerful way

I find myself exaggerating, exaggerating, to tease out the reason for my recent feelings of futility. The reality offered to us for consumption is by no means internally consistent or complete; their gaps and contradictions can be exploited to invite people to question their sanity. My purpose is not to bemoan my helplessness, but to explore whether there is a more powerful way for me to conduct the public conversation in the face of the derangement I have described.

I have been writing for almost 20 years about the defining mythology of civilization, which I call the narrative of separateness, and its implications: the program of control, the mindset of reductionism, the war against the other, the polarization of society.

Apparently my essays and books have not lived up to my naïve ambition to avert the very circumstances we face today. I have to admit that I'm tired. I'm tired of explaining phenomena like Brexit, the Trump election, QAnon and the Capitol Uprising as symptoms of a much deeper illness than mere racism or cultism or stupidity or insanity.

Readers can extrapolate with recent essays

I know how I would write this essay: I would uncover the hidden assumptions that different sides share and the questions that few ask. I would outline how the tools of peace and compassion could uncover the root causes of the affair. I would forestall accusations of false equivalence, both-sideism and spiritual bypassing by describing how compassion empowers us to go beyond the endless war on the symptom and fight the causes. I would describe how the war against evil has led to the current situation, how the program of control creates ever more virulent forms of what it is trying to eradicate because it cannot see the full range of conditions its enemies are creating. These conditions, I would argue, contain at their core a profound dispossession that springs from the breakdown of defining myths and systems. Finally, I would describe how a different mythology of wholeness, ecology, and togetherness might motivate new politics.

For five years I have pleaded for peace and compassion - not as moral imperatives but as practical necessities. I have little news about the current internal struggles in my country [USA] accept. I could take the basic conceptual tools of my earlier work and apply them to the current situation, but instead I pause for breath to hear what might lie beneath the exhaustion and sense of futility. reader[UR1] Insiders who want me to take a more detailed look at current politics can extrapolate from recent essays on peace, war mentality, polarization, compassion and dehumanization. It's all there in Building a Peace Narrative, The Election: Hate, Grief, and a New Story, QAnon: A Dark Mirror, Making the Universe Great Again, The Polarization Trap, and more.

Turn to a deep confrontation with reality

So, I'm taking a break from writing explanatory prose, or at least slowing down. That doesn't mean I'm giving up and retiring. But on the contrary. By listening to my body and its feelings, after deep meditation, counseling and medical work, I prepare myself to do something I have not tried before.

In "The Conspiracy Myth" I explored the idea that the controllers of the "New World Order" are not a conscious group of human evildoers, but rather ideologies, myths and systems that have developed a life of their own. It is these beings who pull the puppet strings of those we normally believe hold the power. Behind hatred and division, behind corporate totalitarianism and information warfare, censorship and the permanent biosecurity state, powerful mythical and archetypal beings are at play. They cannot be addressed literally, but only in their own sphere.

I intend to do that through a story, probably in the form of a screenplay, but possibly in some other medium of fiction. Some of the scenes that came to mind are breathtaking. My aspiration is a work so beautiful that people will cry when it's over because they don't want it to end. Not an escape from reality, but a turn towards a deeper confrontation with it. Because what is real and possible is far greater than the cult of normalcy would have us believe.

A way out of the cultural impasse

I freely admit that I have little reason to believe I am capable of writing anything like this. I never had much talent for fiction. I will do my best and trust that such a hauntingly beautiful vision would not have been shown to me if there was no way to get there.

I've been writing about the power of history for years. It is time for me to put this technique to full use in the service of a new mythology. Extensive prose creates resistance, but stories touch a deeper place in the soul. They flow like water around the intellectual defenses, softening the ground so that dormant visions and ideals can take root. I was about to say that my goal is to bring the ideas I've been working with into fictional form, but it's not quite that. The point is that what I want to express is larger than explanatory prose can fit. Fiction is bigger and truer than non-fiction, and each explanation of a story is less than the story itself.

The kind of story that can break me out of my personal impasse might also be relevant to the larger cultural impasse. What can bridge the gap at a time when disagreement over a valid source of facts makes debate impossible? Maybe it's stories here too: both fictional stories that convey truths that are otherwise inaccessible through the barriers of fact control, and personal stories that make us human again.

Exploit the knowledge commons of the internet

The former includes the kind of counter-dystopian fiction I want to create (not necessarily painting a picture of utopia, but striking a tone of healing that the heart recognizes as authentic). If dystopian fiction serves as a "predictive programming" that prepares audiences for an ugly, brutal, or devastated world, we can also achieve the opposite, invoking and normalizing healing, redemption, change of heart, and forgiveness. We desperately need stories where the solution isn't for the good guys to beat the bad guys at their own game (violence). History teaches us what inevitably follows: the good guys become the new bad guys, just like in the information war I discussed above.

With the latter kind of narrative, that of personal experience, we can meet one another on a central human level that cannot be refuted or denied. One can argue about the interpretation of a story, but not about the story itself. With a willingness to seek out the stories of those who are outside one's familiar corner of reality, we can unlock the Internet's potential to restore the knowledge commons. Then we will have the ingredients for a democratic renaissance. Democracy depends on a shared sense of “we the people”. There is no "we" when we see each other through partisan cartoons and don't engage directly. As we hear each other's stories, we know that in real life, good versus evil is seldom the truth, and domination is seldom the answer.

Let us turn to a non-violent way of dealing with the world


I have never felt so excited about a creative project since writing The Ascent of Humanity in 2003-2006. I feel life stirring, life and hope. I believe that dark times are upon us in America and probably in many other places as well. Over the past year, I've experienced bouts of deep despair when things happened that I'd been trying to prevent for twenty years. All my efforts seemed in vain. But now that I'm heading in a new direction, hope blossoms in me that others will do the same, and so will the human collective. After all, haven't our furious efforts to create a better world also proved to be in vain when you look at the current state of ecology, the economy and politics? As a collective, aren't we all exhausted from the struggle?

A key theme of my work has been the appeal to causal principles other than violence: morphogenesis, synchronicity, the ceremony, the prayer, the story, the seed. Ironically, many of my essays are of a violent type themselves: they gather evidence, employ logic, and present a case. It's not that technologies of violence are inherently bad; they are limited and insufficient for the challenges we face. Domination and control have brought civilization to where it is today, for better or for worse. No matter how much we cling to them, they will not solve autoimmune diseases, poverty, ecological collapse, racial hatred, or the trend toward extremism. These will not be eradicated. Likewise, the restoration of democracy will not come because someone wins an argument. And so I gladly declare my willingness to turn to a non-violent way of dealing with the world. May this decision be part of a morphic field in which humanity is collectively doing the same.

Translation: Bobby Langer

Donations to the entire translation team are gladly accepted:

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(Original text:

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Written by Bobby Langer

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