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Caitlin Johnstone: “How To Tell If Someone Is Controlled Opposition”

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Written by Caitlin Johnstone; Originally appeared at her blog

Every day in my article comments and social media I get people warning me that this or that journalist, activist or politician is “controlled opposition”, meaning someone who pretends to oppose the establishment while covertly serving it. These warnings usually come after I’ve shared or written about something a dissident figure has said or done, and are usually accompanied by an admonishment not to ever do so again lest I spread their malign influence. If you’ve been involved in any kind of anti-establishment activism for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered this yourself.

Caitlin Johnstone: "How To Tell If Someone Is Controlled Opposition"

Paranoia pervades dissident circles of all sorts, and it’s not entirely without merit, since establishment infiltration of political movements is the norm, not the exception. This article by Truthout documents multiple instances in which movements like the 1968 Chicago DNC protest and Peter Camejo’s 1976 anti-establishment presidential campaign were so heavily infiltrated by opaque government agencies that one out of every six people involved in them were secretly working for the feds. This trend of infiltration is known to have continued into the current day with movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter, and we’d be ignorant not to assume that this has been at least as rampant in online circles where people organize and disseminate ideas and information.

So it’s understandable that people are extremely vigilant about prominent figures in dissident circles, and it’s understandable that people feel paranoid. Over and over again we see shining anti-establishment movements fizzle or rendered impotent, often seemingly with the help of people we once trusted, and it’s hard not to get frustrated and become suspicious of anyone who starts shining bright in antiwar, leftist, or other dissident circles.

The trouble with this paranoia and suspicion is that it doesn’t seem to function with any kind of intelligence. I have received such “controlled opposition” warnings about pretty much every prominent dissident figure in the English-speaking world at one time or another, and if I believed them all there’d be no one in the world whose words I could share or write about, including my own. I myself have been accused at different times of being a “plant” for the CIA, the Russians, Assad, the Chinese Communist Party, the Iranian mullahs, the alt-right, Trump, Pyongyang, and the Palestinians, which if all true would make me a very busy girl indeed. Since I know I’m not a plant for anybody, I know for myself that such accusations don’t come from a place of insight with any degree of reliability, and I’ve therefore had to find my own way to navigate this confusing landscape.

So since I know that infiltration and manipulation happens, but I don’t find other people’s whisperings about “controlled opposition” useful, how do I figure out who’s trustworthy and who isn’t? How do I figure out who it’s safe to cite in my work and who to avoid? How do I separate the fool’s gold from the genuine article? The shit from the Shinola?

Here is my answer: I don’t.

I spend no mental energy whatsoever concerning myself with who may or may not be a secret pro-establishment influencer, and for good reason. There’s no way to know for sure if an individual is secretly scheming to sheep dog the populace into support for the status quo, and as long as government agencies remain opaque and unaccountable there will never be a way to know who might be secretly working for them. What I can know is (A) what I’ve learned about the world, (B) the ways the political/media class is lying about what I know about the world, and (C) when someone says something which highlights those lies. I therefore pay attention solely to the message, and no attention to what may or may not be the hidden underlying agenda of the messenger.

In other words, if someone says something which disrupts establishment narratives, I help elevate what they’re saying in that specific instance. I do this not because I know that the speaker is legit and uncorrupted, but because their message in that moment is worthy of elevation. You can navigate the entire political/media landscape in this way.

Since society is made of narrative and power ultimately rests in the hands of those who are able to control those narratives, it makes no sense to fixate on individuals and it makes perfect sense to focus on narrative. What narratives are being pushed by those in power? How are those narratives being disrupted, undermined and debunked by things that are being said by dissident voices? This is the most effective lens through which to view the battle against the unelected power establishment which is crushing us all to death, not some childish fixation on who should or shouldn’t be our hero.

Have no heroes. Trust nobody but your own inner sense-maker. If someone says something that disrupts establishment narratives based on what you understand those narratives to be, go ahead and help throw what they’re saying into the gears of the machine. Don’t make a religion out of it, don’t get attached to it, just use it as a weapon to attack the narrative matrix.

This by the way is also a useful lens to look through in spiritual development, if you’re into that sort of thing. When you enter spiritual circles concerned with enlightenment, you’ll see all sorts of debates about what teachers are really enlightened and which ones are just pretending, and these conversations mimic precisely the exact kinds of debates you’ll see in marginalized political circles about who’s the real deal and who’s controlled opposition. But the truth is there’s no way to know with certainty what’s going on in someone else’s head, and the best thing to do is to stop concerning yourself with who has and has not attained some special realization or whatever and just focus on what they’re saying. If a spiritual teacher says something which helps you notice something you’d never noticed before about consciousness or perception, then use what they said and maybe stick around to see if they have anything else useful to say. If not, move on.

There’s no reason to worry about what journalists, activists and politicians are coming from a place of authenticity if you know yourself to be coming from a place of authenticity. As you learn more about the world and get better at distinguishing fact from narrative, you will get better and better at seeing the narrative matrix clearly, and you’ll come to see all the things that are being said about what’s going on in the world as weapons in the battle of narrative control. Pick up whatever weapons seem useful to you and use them in whatever ways they’ll be useful, without wasting energy concerning yourself with the individuals who created them. Call the bullshit what it is and use the truth for what it is.

Or maybe I’m fulla shit! Maybe I myself am being paid to say these things by some powerful influencer; you can’t know for sure. All you can know is what’s useful for you. If you really find it useful to try and organize individual dissident figures into “hero” and “controlled opposition” boxes, if that genuinely helps you take apart the system that’s hurting us all, you’d know that better than I would. But if you find what I’m saying here useful, pick it up and add it to your toolbox.

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  • John Whitehot

    why occupy isn’t wall street anymore?

    • LR captain

      when group losses its leader and organizers it will fade out of existence. so the feds paid people to in these play an active role so they become and those lead and organize.

      example 1 person can leader 10 people. so protest of about 220 people means 20 leader 200 followers. so the feds pay 15 people to go play an active role in the protests. and single out the most capable leaders.

      then the fed arrest those 15 capable people. So the 15 moles can take their place.

      then those 15 moles don’t tell their followers there is gonna be a protest next week.

      when said protest happen there is only 55 people there and cops make and mass arrest to catch the remaining 5 leaders, other 50 go free in order to show that government is merciful.

      • Tommy Jensen

        Conclusion: Finance rule. And who Finance all riots, fights and wars? The bankers.

      • John Whitehot

        thanks for the clarity.

      • goingbrokes

        This is the de-capitation tactic.

  • NWOD

    Caitlyn is right and I’ve said this for years: the quickest and most reliable way to be controlled like a cow being pulled by a nose-ring is to become a partisan or a “fan” of some “leader”.

    Support principles and actions, not people. People are corruptible and at the end of the day will be corrupted if they aren’t already.

    • Pave Way IV

      The cult of personality scheme isn’t as effective as it was in the past. Throw in a horrible enemy to fight and the marketing package becomes a lot more popular to the cattle. They’ll march right into the slaughter chute for the leader if they think that’s what’s needed to fight the manufactured evil villain.

  • BL

    It’s easy to figure out who the controlled opposition figures are. You can basically summarize it in two words: “Consistency” and “Honestly”. A real opposition figure is always consistent with his/her message and ideology. You will not be able to catch him/her being a hypocrite and using a double standard when dealing with two different situations/events. A real figure is also honest, leaves avenues for feedback and answers questions of his audience. You should not be able to find this figure ever trying to hide and or deceive his audience in any way. Any figure that deviates from these two principles is almost certainly a controlled opposition shill.

    Let’s look at a few examples of shills and how it is easy to spot them:

    – Alex Jonestein: (Never mentions the Jewish role in all the problems he talks about, pretends he is against “generalizing” yet on many occasions has falsely accused other groups like “Muslims” or “Communist Chinese” of doing things they have never done (In many cases accusing them of doing crimes committed by Jews. Alex Jonestein also repeatedly creates fake scenes where he is either confronting or is confronted by other shills within the “Alternative” scene. He’s currently involved in a fake fight with another CIA plant “Joe Rogan”.)

    – Noam Chomsky: (Pretends to be an independent enemy of “the establishment”. In most occasions correctly criticizes many of the crimes that are being committed by this “establishment” yet never mentions details, does not point out the Jewish role in virtually all the problems he talks about, and most importantly protects the same criminal establishment at the most crucial times such as when they committed the 9/11 terror attacks. Chomsky intentionally and knowingly discourages his naive audience from investigating these crucial events and finding out the truth about them. He also promotes the agendas of this criminal Zionist establishment on many occasions such as during the Syrian war.)

    – Democracy Now: (Another Jewish institution and Mossad front that follows the same script as the Jew Noam Chomsky. Pretends to be a “leftist” anti-establishment network while promoting Neo-con crimes against humanity such as the Syrian war.)

    – Brandon Martinez: (Started off his “Truther” career by heavily exposing past Zionist crimes against humanity. Was promoted by and interviewed by many anti-Zionist media outlets including PressTv. Once he made a name for himself and established an audience he reversed course in a deceptive and subtle way and started promoting Neo-con Zionist agendas such as “Assad must Go”, “Iran and Russia and evil”, etc.)

    – Red Ice Radio: (Pretends to be a pro-White Nationalist radio and has on many occasions produced good material and interviewed good people in this sphere, however dishonestly censors its channel and does not allow people such as myself from commenting on its videos and exposing its deception. They regularly interview openly Globalist Neo-Con anti-Nationalist anti-White pro-Zionist figures and agents and regularly spread complete lies and made up nonsense by people who have no authority or expertise about the topic which they are talking about.)

    I can keep going for a while but hopefully the point has been made.

    • Joe Kerr

      Consistency is the key e.g. reading Chomsky’s books of the 1970s – 80s and comparing what he said then with his recent pro-establishment dribble. I remember his reply to a question from a concerned woman during a speech he gave at the UNSW in Sydney in 1996 about how to deal with the rise of the internet and his reply was a short “don’t worry, we’ll manage it”.

    • S Melanson

      I have read many books by Chomsky and I have issues with his writing such as repetitiveness and giving the reader a feeling of powerlessness. But he certainly has been critical of Israel and his book Fateful Triangle (which I have read) is devoted to the subject of Israel.

      • BL

        He has to spew some truth in order to gain your trust so he can shove that knife deep in your back at a critical time. I grew up idolizing that Zionist scum Chomsky myself until I saw what he was saying about 9/11.

        • S Melanson

          understood

        • goingbrokes

          Yes, and one way to recognise a “truther” (no precise definition) is that they are ready to talk openly about this method that you mention, that is, give the truth where it doesn’t hurt but at the critical moment the stooge turns his coat and stabs the truth in the back, and suddenly buys the neo-con etc. line hook line and sinker.
          “I’m critical of Israel – but the Iraq war was necessary!” that kind of stuff.
          That is the method – the sudden turnaround and the stab in the back.

  • Tommy Jensen

    Exactly. Attention solely to the message, not the person.
    Avoid to fight in negative, avoid to fight against a person or a false campaign. Fight in positive, promote facts and true reality.
    Try to follow my excellent example: Fight for Israel´s security, love your US government and kiss arses everywhere there is money.

  • R PLobo

    Sounds like a gatekeeper – looks like a gatekeeper – acts like a gatekeeper. Than it is a gatekeeper. Just the facts is all that matters and when gatekeepers speak they always try to steer the discussion away from the facts and focus on the abstract nature of humanity or some other obfusaction propaganda.

  • Barba_Papa

    These days people are so quick to denounce people, just for having a different opinion of them. You question the feminist agenda? You’re a bitter incel. You question the Western narrative against Russia and Assad? Russian troll. You disagree with some of the things being said in the alternative media? Hasbara troll.

    I must be so many things right now I’m really getting confused.

  • FreeYourMindinSC

    MacReady: How you doin’, old boy?
    Blair: I don’t know who to trust.
    MacReady: [swallows, sighs] I know what you mean, Blair. Trust’s a tough thing to come by these days. Tell you what – why don’t you just trust in the Lord?
    ~JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING (1982)