The War on Reality

Is it the war on reality or a pair of shoes only. Joshua Coleman,
By C. J. Hopkins

So, the War on Reality is going splendidly. Societies all across the world have been split into opposing, irreconcilable realities. Neighbors, friends, and even family members are bitterly divided into two hostile camps, each regarding the other as paranoid psychotics, delusional fanatics, dangerous idiots, and, in any event, as mortal enemies.

In the UK, Germany, and many other countries, and in numerous states throughout the US, a “state of emergency” remains in effect. An apocalyptic virus is on the loose. Mutant variants are spreading like wildfire. Most of society is still shut down or subject to emergency health restrictions. People are still walking around in public with plastic face shields and medical-looking masks. The police are showing up at people’s homes to arrest them for “illegally gathering outdoors.” Any deviation from official reality is being censored by the Internet corporations. Constitutional rights are still suspended. Entire populations are being coerced into being injected with experimental “vaccines.” Pseudo-medical segregation systems are being brought online. And so on … you’re familiar with the details.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, and a few other countries, and in various other states throughout the US, there is no apocalyptic pandemic. People are just going about their lives as normal. OK, sure, there is a nasty virus going around, so people are taking common sense precautions, as people typically do for any nasty virus, but there is no “state of emergency” in effect, and no reason to radically transform society into a paranoid, pathologized-totalitarian dystopia.

This state of affairs, in which two contradictory, mutually-exclusive realities exist, is … well, it’s impossible, and so it cannot continue. Either there exists a devastating global pandemic that justifies a global “state of emergency,” the suspension of constitutional rights, and the other totalitarian “emergency measures” we have been subjected to since March of 2020 or there doesn’t. It really is as simple as that.

Except that it isn’t as simple as that. It is easy to forget, given the last 16 months, that people have been bitterly divided, and inhabiting mutually-exclusive realities, and regarding people who don’t conform to their realities as enemies for the last five years. I’m not talking about political disagreements, or even socio-cultural differences. I’m talking about contradictory realities. Things that actually happened, or didn’t happen. Things that exist, or do not exist.

I’m not going rehash the whole War on Populism — I covered it extensively at the time — but that’s when the current global-capitalist War on Reality was officially launched. It wasn’t just the usual lies and propaganda. It was a full-scale ideological assault. By the end of it, people actually believed that (a) Donald Trump was a Russian agent, (b) that he was literally Hitler, and so was going to stage some sort of “coup,” declare himself American Führer, and launch the “Trumpian-White-Supremacist Fourth Reich,” and (c) that he had actually attempted this by sending a few hundred unarmed protesters — violent domestic extremist grandmothersfather-and-son kill squads, and bison hat loonies — to “storm the Capitol” and overthrow the government during the so-called “January 6 Insurrection.”

So, when GloboCap rolled out the “New Normal” reality, they weren’t exactly starting from scratch. Millions of people — not just Americans, because the War on Populism was a global campaign — were already living in a new reality in which facts no longer mattered at all, where things that never happened officially happened, and other things that obviously happened never happened, not officially, or were “far-right extremist conspiracy theories,” “fake news,” or “disinformation,” or whatever, despite the fact that people knew that they weren’t.

But the goal of GloboCap’s War on Reality isn’t simply to deceive the masses and divide them into opposing camps. Rulers have been deceiving the masses and dividing them into opposing camps since the dawn of human civilization. This time, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

OK, bear with me now, because this gets kind of heady.

The War on Reality is not an attempt to replace reality with a fake reality. Or it is that, but that is only one part of it. Its real goal is to render reality arbitrary, to strip it of its epistemological authority, to turn it into a “floating signifier,” a word that has no objective referent, which, of course, technically, it already is. You cannot take a picture of reality. It is a concept. It is not a physical object that exists somewhere in time and space.

But let’s leave that last point for a later discussion. This is not the time to get lost in semiotics. 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 … which is a bunch of postmodern Marxist nonsense.

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. Imagine that reality was just a concept that we used to mark the current limits of our knowledge and ideological beliefs. Our doctors — oncologists and virologists, for example, but they could be any kind of doctors or scientists — would be not all that different from medieval alchemists, who totally believed in their reality at the time, as did the patients they were treating, but which we know now was not reality at all, because our reality is the real reality. I mean, it’s not as if people, five hundred years from now, are going to look back at our medical practices and scientific knowledge, and laugh, like we do at those medieval alchemists, right?

Sorry, I got a little off track there. I was trying to explain the ultimate purpose of this global-capitalist War on Reality, and I wandered off into an ontological swamp, which isn’t going to get us anywhere. So, let’s get back to imagining reality, not as what we all know it is (i.e., an actual, material thing that exists), but as a construct people use to validate certain officially-sanctioned beliefs and perceptions and invalidate other beliefs and perceptions, more or less like a system of morals, except instead of dividing things into to “good” and “evil,” it divides things into “real” and “fake.”

Now imagine that you were an immensely powerful, globally hegemonic ideological system, and you wanted to impose your ideology on as much of the entire world as possible, but you didn’t have an ideology per se, or any actual values at all, because exchange value was your only real value, and so your mission was to erase all ideologies, and values, and truths, and belief systems, and so on, and transform everything and everyone in existence into de facto commodities that you could manipulate any way you wanted, because they had no inherent value whatsoever, because their only real value was assigned by the market.

How would you go about doing that, erasing all existing values, religious, cultural, and social values, and rendering everything a valueless commodity?

Well, you wouldn’t want to destroy reality completely, because people wouldn’t stand for that. They would freak right out. Things would get ugly. So, instead, you might want to go the other way, and generate a lot of contradictory realities, not just contradictory ideologies, but actual mutually-exclusive realities, which could not possibly simultaneously exist … which would still freak people out pretty badly.

Naturally, there would be one official reality that you would force everyone to rigidly conform to at any given moment in time, but you would change the official reality frequently, and force everyone to conform to the new one (and pretend that they’d never conformed to the old one), and then, once they had settled into that one, you would change the official reality again, until people’s brains just shut down completely, and they gave up trying to make sense of anything, and just tried to figure out what you wanted them to believe on any given day.

If you repeated that process long enough, eventually, nothing would mean anything anymore, because everything could potentially mean anything … at which point, you could basically tell people anything you wanted and they would go along with it, because what the hell difference would it make? A narcissistic billionaire ass-clown could be a Russian agent and literally Hitler. A half-assed riot could be an “insurrection.” Children could be born “systemically racist.” Men could menstruate.

But wait … it’s gets better.

You could stage an apocalyptic global pandemic that only happened in certain countries, or in certain parts of certain countries, and that more or less mirrored natural mortality, and that didn’t drastically increase historical death rates, but was nonetheless totally apocalyptic.

Perfectly healthy people could become “medical cases.” You could count anyone who died of anything as having died of your apocalyptic virus. You could tell people in no uncertain terms that medical-looking masks will not protect them from viruses, and then turn around and tell them that they will, and then, later, publicly admit you were lying in order to manipulate them, and then deny you ever said that, and tell them to wear masks.

You could experimentally “vaccinate” millions of people whose risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from your apocalyptic virus was minuscule or non-existent, and kill tens or hundreds of thousands in the process, and the people whose brains you had methodically broken would thank you for murdering their friends and neighbors, and then rush out to their local discount drugstore to experimentally “vaccinate” their own kids and post pictures of it on the Internet.

At that point, you wouldn’t really have to worry about “populist uprisings,” or “terrorism,” or any other type of insurgent activity, because the vast majority of the global population would be scramble-headed automatons who were totally incapable of independent thought, and who had no idea what was real and what wasn’t, so just repeated whatever new script you fed them like customer-service representatives on Haldol.

It doesn’t get much better than that for globally hegemonic ideological systems!

OK, sorry, I think I got lost there again. I’m not sure what I was trying to say. I’ve been a little foggy lately. I’m not sleeping so well. It’s probably Long Covid. Or maybe it’s just that time of month. Whatever. It’s not like it matters anyway. Still, I think I’ll go down to my former local bookshop and get myself tested.

Have a nice day in … you know, reality!

Image: Joshua Coleman (

By C. J. Hopkins

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and political satirist. His plays have been produced and have toured at theatres and festivals including Riverside Studios (London), 59E59 Theaters (New York), Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh), Belvoir St. Theatre (Sydney), the Du Maurier World Stage Festival (Toronto), Needtheater (Los Angeles), 7 Stages (Atlanta), the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, Brighton Festival, and the Noorderzon Festival (the Netherlands), among others. His writing awards include the 2002 First of the Scotsman Fringe Firsts, Scotsman Fringe Firsts in 2002 and 2005, and the 2004 Best Play of the Adelaide Fringe. His political satire and commentary has been published by Consent Factory, OffGuardian, ZeroHedge, ColdType, Rubikon,, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, and many other publications, and has been widely translated. His dystopian science fiction novel, Zone 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant.