By Caitlin Johnstone
Have you ever noticed how rare sincere apologies are in politics? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Normal people apologize to each other every day, for accidentally interrupting someone or standing in their way, for being inconsiderate or forgetful, for being unable to satisfy a customer’s needs; it’s just a part of life we take for granted at work and at home. But in the highest levels of the most powerful governments on earth, where thousands of human lives can be snuffed out by a single unwise decision and ecosystems and economies destroyed on a whim, apologies are almost unheard of. You only ever see them when a leader is cornered in a complete political checkmate with no other options available to them.
This is because the highest levels of the most powerful governments in the world are dominated by highly manipulative people. If you serve truth, humanity and the world, you are almost certainly delightful to be around and you will almost certainly never have a career in federal politics. The system is set up to serve a ruling class of plutocrats and their lackeys, so the way to get to the top of the political ladder is in the exact opposite direction of serving the weak and defenseless and being truthful and compassionate. To win elections you first need to win the blessing of the ruling class, and the way to do that is by kissing the right asses while regurgitating the right sound bytes whenever the cameras are rolling.
This is why all the top career politicians all seem so fake; the Hillary Clintons, Ted Cruzes and Nancy Pelosis didn’t get to where they’re at by serving truth and justice, they got there by manipulating and deceiving in the service of the powerful. They are not interested in honesty and sincerity, they are interested in getting up another rung on the ladder.
Anyone who has ever had a close relationship with someone who is highly manipulative has probably noticed how they never apologize for anything if they can avoid it, but if you apologize to a manipulator for something they will never, ever let you forget it and will bring it up any time you step out of line. For normal, empathetic people, apologies are a way to improve relations with each other and avoid hurting one another in the future; they’re a way of saying “I understand that I did a thing that hurt you, and I’ll try really hard not to do it again in the future.” Narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths and other chronic manipulators don’t see them that way, since they don’t care if they hurt other people and only care about getting what they want. For a manipulator, an apology is a weapon to use against the person making it, which is why you never see them making apologies of their own.
Comedian and activist Jimmy Dore published a sincere, heartfelt apology today to Mother Jones senior reporter Shane Bauer and comedian/progressive media personality Francesca Fiorentini for some Twitter drama, because that’s what normal human beings do when they regret a transgression they feel they’ve made against someone else. Fiorini responded to Dore’s apology the way normal human beings do, tweeting, “Thanks for this Jimmy. I hope we can begin to patch things up.” Bauer responded to Dore’s apology by tweeting a six-part rant calling for Dore’s termination from The Young Turks and smearing him with a litany of other accusations which have nothing to do with Bauer.
One of these folks is not like the others.
Bauer is one of the most virulent proponents of pro-regime change narratives against the Syrian government, aggressively smearing and attacking anyone who questions official allegations leveled by the US-centralized empire against Iraq’s next-door neighbor. Earlier this year he called on blogging outlet Medium to ban me from its platform for my opposition to regime change interventionism in Syria, tweeting after the deplatforming of a few right-wing writers that “If @Medium is serious about cracking down on conspiracy theorists, it needs to go beyond the alt-right and reign in the garbage published on Syria by people like @caitoz.”
Following widespread public criticism from the left, Bauer then deleted his tweet without retraction and, you guessed it, without apology.
I certainly don’t fault Dore for responding to Bauer the way a normal human being responds to other normal human beings. But Shane Bauer, like other war propagandists, is not a normal human being. Deliberately manipulating people in the service of warfare and imperialism is not a normal thing to do, and it’s not something a healthy empathic person would ever think to do.
In a healthy world, which I firmly believe we are capable of creating, the psychological manipulation of others will be regarded as a perverse intrusion into personal sovereignty and rejected with the same ferocity you’d reject a stranger attempting to insert things into your body. Psychologically manipulating people is unhealthy and immoral, and manipulating them to advance the interests of war profiteers and secretive intelligence/defense agencies is pure evil.
Jimmy Dore did us all a favor by attempting to relate to Shane Bauer like a normal human being, because one of the best ways to get a manipulator to show you what he’s made of is to apologize to him and watch what happens. Learn to spot the manipulators.