CJ Hopkins & The New Normal Reich
on reality vs. "reality", values-decoding, the OG Reich & mass psychosis
In her Substack, Through the Looking Glass, Margaret Anna Alice had a Dissident Dialogue with CJ Hopkins. I feel like CJ is a secret everyone else knew that I’ve just been told, and it’s a juicy one! CJ publishes The Consent Factory Essays, including a book called The New Normal Reich. Margaret caught up the naive reader, like myself, by putting multiple quotes from CJ into her eight questions. And then she expanded the CJ universe by letting him build on those points.
Here are those much-abbreviated eight questions and answers, followed by my thoughts. I start the video by suggesting that you find something useful to do—some dishes, some dinner to cook—while listening. What I’m doing is not entertainment (way too much pressure) but education, best seeping into the back of the mind while otherwise occupied. The video has more of my commentary and the text has more extensive quotes. Pick your poison or take both!
#1. When you reflect on the cultural zeitgeist and transformations of that era [the ‘60s and ‘70s], how does it compare with what’s happening today?
CJ: I think the most significant difference between that era and now is that the Cold War is over. We’re no longer living in a world dominated by competition between two fundamentally opposed ideologies ... The disintegration of the USSR changed everything, more fundamentally than many people realize. Basically, we became a global-capitalist world in the early 1990s, a world dominated by one unopposed ideology ... a state of affairs that is unprecedented in human history.
I think the point that CJ makes is critical. My perspective in my book, How to Dismantle an Empire, is that we’re at the logical conclusion of 35 centuries of the concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands. Never before has there been the global coordination of economics, technology, media, education, agribusiness, transportation and governance to implement one unified plan.
#2. Do you think New Normality represents a hegemonic mashup of both fascism (GloboCap) and Marxism (socialism, wokeism, critical race theory), or is it irrelevant to speak in those ideological terms now?
CJ: … twentieth-century forms of totalitarianism sought to impose clearly articulated ideologies on society, whereas global capitalism does just the opposite. It strips society of traditional ideology/ values … until anything can mean anything, and anyone can “be” anything, because the global-capitalist marketplace is the preeminent arbiter of social values.
A really interesting point that CJ makes is that global capitalism is a:
… values-decoding machine.” In some ways this is good, he says, because it “invades territories coded with despotic values (i.e., values established and enforced by the will of kings, despots, religious institutions, political parties …) and substitutes its only value—exchange value—rendering everything and everyone a de facto commodity. A commodity has no inherent value. It is an interchangeable receptacle of value, which value is determined by the marketplace.
Anthropologist David Graeber, whose research forms the foundation of my book, talks about this in terms of debt and slavery. For a person to be turned into a commodity, they first have to be ripped from their context—lose the irreplaceable intrinsic value they have as a son, a sister, a father, a daughter. Only then can they become an interchangeable unit.
I define capitalism as the default ownership of the assets and the right to extend credit against them. In Debt: the First 5000 Years, Graeber shows how coinage enabled conquest, and put slavery and colonization on steroids. Taxation forced everyone to serve the interests of the lord or risk becoming slaves themselves.
I think that since the invention of money, it’s been a steady progression of concentrating ownership, aka capitalism, with both states and ideologies as useful tools. The artificial “value” given by a national, religious or political identity always comes down to moral superiority—us vs them. It replaces a person’s horizontal relationship value in the community with a vertical value relative to others.
Hierarchies say, “If you recognize my superiority over you, I’ll give you superiority over ‘them’.” Money calibrates superiority within the pyramid of capitalism. It allows mobility, unlike inherited hierarchies (literally, the inheritance order of the archons or rulers). In this way, it creates competition rather than rebellion.
In The War on Reality, CJ writes:
For most people, for most practical purposes, reality is … well, reality. It’s objective. Material. It actually exists. It exists independent of our beliefs. It isn’t just an arbitrary, empty signifier that doesn’t actually refer to anything, but which we use, strategically, to assert authority, or to impose ideology on society. If that were the case, there would be no reality. Nothing would be true, everything would be permitted … But just imagine, for a moment, if that were the case … if what determined reality was actually just a question of power rather than facts.
And he answers Margaret’s question that:
…“reality” … is always manufactured, collectively, by society. … That concept, “reality,” is not static. It is constantly revised according to the ever-changing needs of whatever system dominates the society in question. … The 1984 comparisons are apt. … Global capitalism is just the first system that has had the power and means to achieve that globally. We aren’t there yet, but that’s where we’re headed.
CJ’s statement is so important: real Reality exists independent of our beliefs. “Reality” is a mass psychosis and dependent on belief in order to exist, like Tinkerbelle. It’s an alt-reality rather than an unreality, a distorted mirror, a consensual delusion, a folie a deux taken to mob mentality extremes. It’s “a curated picture of reality” as Matthew Crawford says.
The one-page intro to A Course in Miracles sums up the next 1000+ pages in two lines:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
The premise of A Course in Miracles is that we’re One Mind having a very bad dream. The world is a figment of our imagination, a shifting shape in our One Mind, with bodies being the myriad roles we assign to carry out the morbid play—a literal play about death—with no particular body in “reality” having more importance or representing one’s self more than any other.
But We—our real Self—exist outside of the dream. Time is a bubble in Reality, a space where nothing exists, in the middle of infinity and eternity—which is a figure of speech because to be in the middle, infinity would need to have end points and eternity would need a beginning and a conclusion. So that would be a contradiction in terms but we have to talk in metaphors and in words that are symbols of symbols.
Those of us who see the mass psychosis of media propaganda have a head start on separating “reality” from Reality. We see the power of the mind to delude itself. Never in history has the psychoanalysis of humanity as a whole been a topic of so much discussion for so many people. I think there’s purpose and meaning to this, and that we’re on the brink of a breakthrough, like a patient who’s still psychotic but knows even in the middle of a psychotic break that they’re psychotic, and starts figuring out ways to know what’s Real.
#4. How does the Russia variable factor into your understanding of the post-ideological landscape? I realize this is no longer about democracy versus communism, so is it simply that Putin (and by extension, Russia) is one of those rogue characters threatening “reality” from within?
CJ: Yes, Russia is one of a handful of countries that have yet to be completely absorbed by GloboCap and thus continue to behave like sovereign nation states, at least occasionally. Global capitalism isn’t a bunch of bad guys sitting around in a room conspiring. It’s a complex economic/ideological system. Russia is both a component of the system and a pocket of resistance within the system. At the moment, it is flexing its muscles in an attempt to preserve what sovereignty it has left. Note how these pockets of resistance—Russia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, etc.—are portrayed by the global capitalist propaganda machine not as geopolitical adversaries but as criminals, threats stemming from within the system.
This is something I address at length in Russia: A Wrench in the Reset Gears? The policies being enacted by Putin and his brilliant economic advisor, Sergei Glazyev, are the opposite of the Great Reset agenda of dispossession and depopulation. He’s giving regions the mandate to build community centers, repair roads, and streamline small businesses. He’s giving mothers a stipend from the first few months of pregnancy until their child is 17. It’s the most comprehensive and detailed policy plan I’ve heard from any national leader.
#5. Do you think if GloboCap manages to corral everyone into a digital biosurveillance panopticon, we will shift from 1930s Germany to 1940s Germany? In other words, will they stop bothering with the illusion of freedom as Frank Zappa famously warned?
CJ: New Normal totalitarianism—and any global-capitalist form of totalitarianism—cannot display itself as totalitarianism, or even authoritarianism. It cannot acknowledge its political nature. In order to exist, it must not exist. Above all, it must erase its violence … That doesn’t mean GloboCap won’t transform whatever remains of society into an enormous biosecurity dystopia where a perpetual “state of emergency” is in effect … But it will be a smiley, happy biosecurity dystopia, where we’ll still be… physically employed in the organic-fabric–paneled, ergonomic cubicle farm or infantilized, officeless “campus” of some subsidiary of a subsidiary of some transnational corporate behemoth or investment bank, or whatever.
Margaret and CJ both have compared the current time to the rise of the Third Reich and have been criticized for it. I’m going to criticize it from a different direction that will be far more controversial—I don’t think we’re giving Hitler and the Nazis enough credit. Do we really think that WWII is the only war in US history where we’ve been told the truth? Is that likely? Let’s look at a people’s history of WWI and WWII from the perspective of the losers.
First the German people were forced to fight a war that their EMPEROR declared and the Reichstag Bank decided to fund through private foreign debt. Who was the real emperor in this case, the one wearing the crown or the bank? A debt-backed war pledges its citizens as slaves and their children’s children in exchange for a gambling chip. That bet lost. But whichever way the war went, the bankers who own the casino would always win.
Not only were Germans required to pay reparations for losing the war their Emperor forced them to fight, but they also had to pay back the debt that was their slave price. These were denominated in gold, of which Germany had none, and so had to buy foreign gold-backed currency at whatever price speculators were willing to take for the German mark. Then French and Belgian troops invaded to oversee shipments of coal directly as payment, so the workers slowed-down to a crawl.
Finally the financiers issued Rentenmarks (mortgage marks) pegged to the price of gold and the US dollar. Mortgages were reinstated at 25 billion times their value in the old marks, so the advantage of inflation in paying off debt was lost. Government bonds were promised at 2.5 billion of their original value but only after all reparations had been paid. The standard of living index was judged not relevant. They decided that bankruptcies, foreclosures, hunger, strikes, violence and insurrection were preferable to defaulting on foreign debts.
In Web of Debt, Ellen Brown quotes economist Henry C K Liu that:
The Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, at a time when its economy was in total collapse, with ruinous war-reparation obligations and zero prospects for foreign investment or credit. Yet through an independent monetary policy of sovereign credit and a full-employment public-works program, the Third Reich was able to turn a bankrupt Germany, stripped of overseas colonies it could exploit, into the strongest economy in Europe within four years, even before armament spending began.
And she quotes Hitler in saying:
We were not foolish enough to try to make a currency [backed by] gold of which we had none, but for every mark that was issued we required the equivalent of a mark's worth of work done or goods produced. . . . we laugh at the time our national financiers held the view that the value of a currency is regulated by the gold and securities lying in the vaults of a state bank.
What happened between 1938 when Germany had a thriving economy without the British banking system and Hitler was Time magazine’s Man of the Year, and 1939 when Hitler ‘invaded’ Poland? Does it compare, in provocations and proxy wars, to Putin’s ‘invasion’ of Ukraine today? Surely the bankers and foreign debtors didn’t let Germany repudiate its debt and walk away?
There’s a puzzle piece that’s missing. The Holocaust Encyclopedia tells us:
To justify the action, Nazi propagandists accused Poland of persecuting ethnic Germans living in Poland. They also falsely claimed that Poland was planning, with its allies Great Britain and France, to encircle and dismember Germany.
Sound familiar? And I would never have thought to question the Holocaust itself until they made it illegal to question the Holocaust. What is it they don’t want us to know?
#6. Let’s talk about Mattias Desmet’s mass formation theory, which I know you have expressed differences with. … At the risk of oversimplifying, it feels like you’re on different sides of the chicken and egg debate. Whereas Mattias suggests mass formation precedes totalitarianism, you believe totalitarianism produces the mass formation, right?
CJ: Totalitarianism can be imposed on any society if the government, or whatever structure rules it, controls the essential elements of power (i.e., the military, the police, the media, the culture industry, etc.). Once the transition to totalitarianism begins, you can count on roughly two thirds of the society either embracing it or acquiescing to it, not because they are in some vulnerable psychological state, but rather because they correctly perceive which way the wind is blowing and they don’t want to challenge the totalitarian regime and be punished for doing so. They are not hypnotized or under any other kind of spell. It’s pure survival instinct.
I agree with CJ that, as I say in my book, people are inherently good and when they behave badly, systems are to blame. We’ve been held hostage for 3500 years by this monetary system that coopts us and forces us to do things that cause cognitive dissonance so we can’t see what’s in front of our face. That’s something I think we’re about to come out of.
#7. Why do you think some people’s capacity for sociopathy is activated in times of crisis, whereas other individuals are immune to the forces compelling conformity? Why is it those twelve men and people in our karass retain our core values of freedom, independent thought, aversion to tyranny, and a steady moral compass instead of succumbing to cultural and political pressures?
CJ: I think it’s difficult for those of us who place great value on personal autonomy to accept that there are people who don’t, but there are, and they are the majority, and they have been the majority throughout history. There is nothing “wrong” with these people. They just have different values, different priorities. Which is to say, we are not going to “cure” them or “awaken” them. As Bauman noted in that quote you cited, we are the exceptions, the freaks, not them.
You ask how we “undo” it. Well, if totalitarianism is an oncoming convoy of explosive-laden semi-trucks driven by formerly basically decent folks turned fascist fanatics, you don’t stop that convoy by trying to “awaken” those drivers … you stop it by shooting the tires of the trucks. The drivers will “awaken” on their own as they crawl out of the wreckage, or they won’t. That’s not really up to us.
My youngest daughter says that people who think they could never fall for a cult just haven’t met the right one. We all have that narrative, that message we can fall for. Especially the cult of YOU, which is the most dangerous and seductive of all. So if we’re going to not fall for it, we have to push against any idea that we’re superior because we’re not falling for it. We may be seeing through one narrative and completely taken in by another.
That’s how I think we make ourselves immune, because it’s always superiority that tricks us. That whole way of thinking, I believe, needs to be rejected.
MAA: Shooting the semi-truck tires is a brilliant analogy. This is the part of the interview where I’m supposed to ask for practical solutions on how to dismantle totalitarianism so we can close on a note of hope. But you’ve already answered that question eloquently on numerous occasions.
CJ: The goal is not to show people the truth or disabuse them of some illusion that they have. The goal is to apply pressure from the other side. The goal is to apply the pressure by showing them the mirror because I believe most of these people are decent people with good hearts. I don’t believe that the vast majority of humanity are a bunch of sadistic monsters. They have been swept up into this movement. What I’m talking about is applying pressure from the other side, holding up the mirror and saying, ‘Look at the monster that you have become.’
I don’t think we can criticize people for not getting off the semi-truck if we have no vision of where they should go. That’s what I keep trying to get started, people engaging with how we’d create this alternative reality, how we build a society where everyone is equal and work is what backs our currency—not gold, not debt from bankers but our own labor.
I think it’s vision we need because you can’t motivate people through fear. Fear just makes them shut down. To motivate people to wake up, you need to give them something worth waking up to.
#8. How would you summarize the theatrical performance that has been your life and work?
CJ: I’m just trying to entertain folks, basically, and make them question a lot of stuff we tend to take for granted, and … well, OK, screw with their heads a little bit to short-circuit the programming we’ve all been subjected to relentlessly since more or less the moment we were born in order to generate fleeting opportunities for us to recall that we are not “consumers” or any other type of talking meat puppets stumbling through meaningless lives on a big fucking rock floating in space for no reason and are really, each and every one us, attributes of some Spinozan God-thing that we don’t understand, so maybe we should cease and desist from attempting to dominate and control everything and win some competition that isn’t even taking place and treat each other accordingly.
I think this is a great analogy for bring Reality into this “reality” of the world. We’re all just players. This body is a role in play; I can use it but I can’t identify with it. I am the dreamer. And you are the dreamer. There’s no role that’s more or less important, or that’s more or less us in the dream. Anyone we disparage is disparaging ourselves.
I’m so grateful to Margaret for introducing me to CJ and I will be reading everything he writes from now on with great relish!
If you’d like to go deeper into the “reality” of the world, here’s Russia: A Wrench in the Reset Gears?:
Is Putin a part of the Great Reset or an unintended consequence of sanctions gone awry? I take a closer look at the economic policies in Putin's St. Petersburg address: inflation protection for pensioners and families, state support for mothers, low-interest infrastructure loans, reduced expense and bureaucracy for entrepreneurs, and eco-friendly tourism with environmental restoration. He tasks regional governments with increasing self-employment and home ownership, and admonishes large business owners that a good name will mean more to their heirs than money and property.
and here is When Did You Stop Being Wrong?:
I look at the Art of Being Wrong as the sole (soul) measure of learning, which means to seek out opportunities to be wrong. I explain how I use my only dogma--that I am no better than anyone else--as a measuring stick to question narratives. The places where I differ from Matt Ehret and Cynthia Chung are in form, while we're in complete agreement on the content. In form, I agree with Ed Dowd that "CV19 Vax is Deadliest Fraud in History," but find his response of an investment strategy vaguely nauseating. I read Robert Malone's reflection on John Prine's death, and Ben Franklin's concluding address to the Constitutional Convention. I relate two areas where I'm daring to be alone in being wrong and hope that others join me.
and according to A Course in Miracles, God only asks one question: Are YOU Ready Yet to Help Me Save the World?:
Looks at undoing empire-thinking as a spiritual practice. ACIM says that God only ever asks one question, "Are you ready yet to help me save the world?" I look at why our answer is "not yet" because of our attachment to our own superiority. Our message to one another should be "You are magnificent" and "Here's why I think you're mistaken," using facts, logic and consistency. I connect the comments of three magnificent viewers and convey the views of four magnificent writers on Ukraine--Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Caitlin Johnstone and Andrew Bacevich. I end with hearing from the horse's mouth.