This Ain’t Putin’s Price Hike: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Sunday, 13 March 2022 — Caitlin Johnson

by Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to a reading of this article:

Higher fuel and food prices are a sacrifice I’m prepared to make in exchange for a greatly increased likelihood of nuclear armageddon.

Let’s be clear: you’re not paying more for necessities to punish Putin and save Ukraine, you’re paying more for necessities to fund an economic war of unprecedented scale geared toward collapsing Russia to help secure US unipolar domination of this planet.

It’s not “Putin’s price hike”. This was all orchestrated by the empire, from root to flower. The goal is to use economic warfare and a costly counterinsurgency against western-backed Ukrainians to either collapse and balkanize the Russian Federation or foment enough discontent to secure regime change in Moscow. This is because Putin refuses to kiss the imperial ring.

The western empire could not possibly care less about Ukrainians beyond the extent to which they can be used to roll out this agenda. There hasn’t been nearly enough public rage about the fact that the US government knew this war was coming, knew exactly how to prevent it with very low-cost concessions to Moscow, and chose not to. They made that choice in order to advance this agenda.

That’s what you’re paying for as the your cost of living skyrockets. Not freedom and democracy. Not saving Ukrainian lives. Just the very mundane and unsexy unipolarist objectives of a few sociopathic empire managers. Empire managers who, of course, will have no trouble paying for things like fuel and groceries while ordinary people struggle.

And if you think these cold war escalations against Russia are hurting your bank account, wait til the imperial crosshairs move to China.

One under-appreciated aspect of online censorship is how the fear of losing a valuable platform understandably causes people to self-censor, thereby widening the radius of the censorship campaign’s effectiveness a lot further than the actual censorship.

Never thought I’d be so worried about being censored all the time. Very carefully and cautiously watching what I say and how I say it, deciding I shouldn’t even say it at all. Some democracy we have here on the internet. Very healthy.

— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) March 12, 2022

It’s exactly the same as the “cooling effect” that the persecution of whistleblowers and journalists has on leaks and investigative journalism. People shying away from speech they could be punished for does a lot more to restrict speech than the punishments themselves.

If for example a chemical attack occurs in Ukraine and is blamed on Russia, there will be great fear of questioning the official narrative about it on YouTube for fear of losing one’s platform because YouTube has banned skepticism of official stories about violence in that nation. People will self-censor to avoid being punished for their speech.

This is the exact same principle as a king having an artist who spoke ill of him tortured in the public square in order to deter future acts of dissent. Just re-packaged to be more palatable for the modern world.

When someone brings up bad things the US does in response to outrage over bad things Russia does, it’s not to defend Russia. It’s to get the US to stop doing bad things.

Bleating “whataboutism” at sincere attempts to get the US empire to stop doing evil things is just defending those evil things. You’re basically just saying “Shut up! Now’s not the time to talk about the bad things the US power alliance does, we’re on something else right now!” Okay, so when? Never? Nothing has ever been done about the crimes of the empire. No meaningful changes whatsoever were made after Iraq.

Russia invading Ukraine doesn’t magically erase the fact that the western empire has spent the 21st century slaughtering people by the millions in wars of aggression and working to destroy any nation which disobeys it. Putin would have to work very, very hard to catch up to those numbers. That still needs to be talked about, and it still needs to end.

EXCLUSIVE: Twenty years after 9/11, compelling statistical data suggests that the true death toll of the ‘War on Terror’ is a staggering *6 million people*: which is likely a conservative estimate. I breakdown the data for @BylineTimes https://t.co/YTV6IoZ3ic

— Dr Nafeez Ahmed FRSA (@NafeezAhmed) September 15, 2021

People talk about this like it’s something in the past, something the US and its allies did back in history but now it’s Russia doing it. No, this is happening currently in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela etc, and will continue to happen unless drastic changes are made.

The murderousness, tyranny and omnicidal recklessness of the US-centralized empire is a problem of unequalled urgency regardless of what Russia happens to be doing. You can’t just bleat “whataboutism” and make that go away. It’s a problem that urgently needs to be dealt with.

It’s an objectively good thing if more attention is brought to that urgent problem by someone saying “Oh you’re upset about this war? Wait til you hear about what your own government has been doing.” Any attempt to interfere in their pointing this out is facilitating mass murder. Either help draw attention to this problem or stop interrupting people who are drawing attention to it with power-serving gibberish about “whataboutism”.

Western leaders appear to have gone to the NYPD Academy of De-Escalation.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis everyone had a healthy fear of nuclear annihilation, and people wanted de-escalation above all else. Today hardly anyone even cares about the insane nuclear brinkmanship games being played, and all mainstream factions are calling only for escalation.

Schrödinger’s Putin: Simultaneously a crazy deranged lunatic and also much too level-headed and rational to respond to western escalations with nuclear weapons.

Love how shitlibs finally decide to become “anti-war” the second their “anti-war” activism has a chance to help manufacture consent for World War 3.

Four years of demented propaganda about an imaginary Trump-Russia conspiracy, Kremlin Facebook memes and GRU bounties in Afghanistan turned liberals into a bunch of gnashing, frothing zombies starved for Russian flesh. Ukraine just gave them something to sink their teeth into.

Always wondered how long it would take for DuckDuckGo to get absorbed into the imperial narrative management campaign. https://t.co/yRHoUQHxe3

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) March 10, 2022

I don’t understand the common sentiment on the left that we need to spend a lot of energy criticizing Putin for this war in the same way we criticize our own rulers for their warmongering. Like even forgetting about all the things western powers did to give rise to the war in Ukraine, what specifically is the argument here? That the English-speaking world doesn’t have enough criticism of the Russian invasion, and has too much criticism of NATO aggression? That if more antiwar lefties scream about Putin he’ll go “Ah shit I pissed off a few fringe westerners, let’s cancel the war you guys”? It just doesn’t seem like those who make such claims have thought very hard about the position they’re trying to advance.

Our voices can do far more good criticizing the actions of our own governments, which receive barely any criticism, than those of someone else’s government which gets tons. It also can’t be denied that there’s a major propaganda push to manufacture consent for dangerous agendas which pre-date the invasion by many years. Is my voice better used opposing those dangerous agendas, or in helping to facilitate them by saying the same things everyone else is already saying?

Putin is bad! Putin is bad and his war is very bad!

There. I did the thing. Can anyone tell me what I just accomplished, apart from greasing the wheels for new cold war escalations? Did I plow any new ground? Expand awareness in any new direction? What specific good did I do?

None that I can see.

The fact that the Russian people are doing a better job of holding their government to account with massive antiwar protests than people in western nations have says terrible things about us and our obsequiousness to our warmongering masters. If you can’t criticize your government, you are more obedient than Russians living under Putin.

Criticizing Putin is the easiest thing in the world for a westerner to do right now. Low cost, maximum clicks, but has zero impact on the conflict and will save zero people. Criticizing the west for its role is hard; it gets you outrage mobbed, deplatformed and shunned. But it could work.

None of these outrage merchants would ever dream of going against their own government, because if they tried they would find themselves smashed against the invisible walls of our inverted totalitarian cage. On some level they know this. That’s why they project.

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