The Self-Made Man Is A Myth

by Caitlin Johnstone | Jul 6, 2023

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

Anyone who is capable of honest self-reflection and critical thinking understands that the “self-made man” is a myth of our culture; that anyone who amasses a fortune does so on the backs of many other people whose work made it possible, and found the opportunity to do so because of the circumstances they happened upon by chance of birth, conditioning and sheer dumb luck.

And it’s worth highlighting that this is also true of all other personal circumstances, including those that people in this slice of the online community might take pride in. One doesn’t for example become aware of the manipulations of the powerful and the deceptions of the media because they are particularly smart and virtuous, they do so because they were lucky enough to find information from others which helped them form this understanding, and because their personal conditioning allowed them to take that information in and let it inform their worldview.

Similarly, one doesn’t wind up opposing capitalism because of any personal specialness or righteousness; one finds themselves opposing capitalism because they happened upon socialist ideas after having meandered through a life which gave them the conditioning necessary for them to seriously consider those perspectives and take them on board. If their life had unfolded differently, through no fault or virtue of their own, they never would have happened upon those ideas, or if they had they would not have been receptive to them.

I said “Anyone who is capable of honest self-reflection and critical thinking” above, but even those gifts come upon us largely by sheer dumb luck, brought to us by other people in the form of information and conditioning throughout our lives.

My point is we’re all just kind of muddling our way through this thing, and our successes and failures (by whatever metric we measure success and failure) are due more to the unfolding of humanity’s collective consciousness than any brilliance or defectiveness on our own part.

Obviously we must all try to do our very best with the hand that we were dealt in life, but it’s probably a good idea to harbor some compassion for those who don’t get it as right as we do in our eyes. We were all born into a world saturated with propaganda and dominated by abusive systems, and ultimately the degree to which we are able to see our way around in that world says as much about how good or bad we are as a seed landing on rich or sandy earth says about the quality of the seed.

Compare the way US empire managers shriek about the faintest whispers of the possibility of a Chinese military training facility in Cuba with their self-righteous indignation at the suggestion that Russia and China have any business opposing US activities in Ukraine and Taiwan.


This is why you can just dismiss empire simps who decry the notion of spheres of influence regarding Russia and China and insist Ukraine and Taiwan have every right to become US proxies if they want. That simply ignores reality, as evidenced by US attitude toward the same thing.

Demanding that Russia and China tolerate behavior from the US that the US would never tolerate from Russia or China is just demanding that the world subjugate itself to the US empire, yet you’ll see people who call themselves “anti-imperialists” doing exactly that all the time.

The west loves Ukraine so much that for years to come its children will be getting their limbs blown off by undetonated cluster munitions and being born severely deformed due to depleted uranium rounds.


I’m sorry I sincerely cannot for the life of me take seriously the position that the problem with the world’s most evil and murderous military is that it has gotten too “woke”.

The position is absurd on multiple levels. Like oh no, a “woke” US military won’t be able to win wars, like all those wars the non-woke US military was winning in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rightists bitch about America’s “woke military” claiming that a rainbow flag war machine will be too soft to win wars, when really they’re just mad they lost the culture war. They lost it so badly that even their last hyper-masculine institution can’t afford not to be inclusive.

In reality, US military recruitment is hurting too bad for them to be able to reject anyone, and the reason for those recruitment struggles has nothing to do with “wokeness”. It’s because being in the US military sucks balls and everyone knows it.

Nobody honestly believes a trans drone pilot can’t kill disobedient foreigners like anyone else. When rightists whine about America’s “woke military”, they’re really whining about LGBTQ people being accepted even in the last places they’d have ever expected them to be accepted.

Conservatives are everything they used to make fun of liberals for being: whiny, easily offended crybabies who run around looking for nonsense excuses to feel offended and act like victims. They’re a bunch of ridiculous, permanently triggered culture warriors and drama queens.


The deepest and most worthy rabbit hole you can possibly dive into is the question of identity. Not gender identity or racial identity or what ideological -ist or -ism you identify with, but the nature of identity itself.

Deeply investigating the nature of self in your own actual experience will lead to a radical transformation in the way life is experienced and lived, because it turns out it’s not happening in the way our minds, our culture and our language tell us it’s happening. At the end of the rabbit hole it is discovered that there is no “I” anywhere to be found in your actual experience, and that it was just an unquestioned assumption that we built unhelpful psychological constructs around due to a fundamentally erroneous premise.

Once this is seen life gets a lot less stressful and a lot more enjoyable, because it’s experienced as happening freely on its own without happening to anyone who could be diminished or damaged by its outcomes. In the end we discover that the ego can be transcended not by heroic feats of saintly austerity or by living in an ashram in India for decades, but by simply examining the nature of the ego and finding out if it actually exists in the first place.

This is something you can verify in your own personal experience, and you should never take my word for it or the word of anyone else. The rabbit hole’s right there, right now. If you’re open to the possibility of losing yourself and your whole world in your quest for truth, hop in.

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