A smoking skull

HOUDINI Magazine

Erik Houdini

The Wizard Behind the Curtain: Bodies, Profit, and the Will of the People

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation or abuse in which a person or group causes someone to doubt their own sanity, memory, or reality.

Every single day we get gaslit by our government. Our dutiful "leadership" paints a picture of economic prosperity, of recovery. These are illusions, no more real than the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain. The system behind the man, capitalism, cannot provide a decent life for the common folk. This contradiction has become increasingly more obvious in recent years. We are collectively being gaslit by our government, our illegitimate, undemocratic government that does not bend to the will of the people. Instead, it keeps the will of the people under its glossy, well-funded boot, all while pumping the airwaves full of nonsense lies, propaganda, half-truths, and disinformation to keep the population willfully ignorant of the prison-like reality they live in.

The False Promise of Economic Prosperity

Let's lay bare some facts:

The typical American household spent $709 dollars more on goods than they did two years ago, for those same goods. - Moody's Analytics[1]

The share of voters feeling dissatisfied with how things are going in the country is up 17 points since Biden took office.[2]

Eight in 10 say the economy is in bad shape.[2]

Compared to two years ago, the number who describe their personal financial situation negatively has grown 19 points.[2]

A majority disapproves of Biden’s handling of inflation, including more than one-third of Democrats and three-quarters of independents.[2]

Twice as many think the Biden administration has made the economy worse rather than better.[2]

When liberals, when the capitalist defenders, talk about this "new age of economic prosperity," they mean for the corporations and investor class, not for working people. I don't know about you folks, but I make less than I did pre-COVID, and things cost a whole lot more. Every time I go to the grocery store, I die a little bit more inside. Even the generic stuff is insanely expensive.

The Haunting Echoes of Slavery and the Commodification of Life

What is the actual plan when everyone is homeless or living in a car despite having a job? Just mass incarceration and forced labor for .35 cents an hour to keep things functional? Can the propaganda continue to convince the average worker that the homeless, the downtrodden, the browbeaten deserve their positions in the system? For now, sure, but what about when there's 2 million homeless people, 3 million? 10 Million? The echoes of America's chattel slavery past are hauntingly present in this reality of wage slavery. The system that once captured and auctioned off human bodies for the slave trade is now replaced by a forced-birth system that forces the working class into desperate conditions, all to fuel the capitalist machine.

The line from the breeding camps of chattel slavery to the forced birth politics of today is clear and horrifying. Especially so in America, a country with abysmally high maternal mortality rates, especially for Black women. The overall maternal mortality rate for 2021 was 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, up from 23.8 in 2020 and 20.1 in 2019. However, Black women had a much higher mortality rate than white women, dying at 2.6 times the rate of white women in 2021 and 2.9 times the rate of white women in 2020.[3] The forced birth policies and the striking down of Roe v. Wade by our illegitimate Supreme Court has only further accelerated this. It is not an accident; it's a continuation of a system that commodifies human life, that sees women's bodies as vessels for production, that values profit over humanity.

Things aren't going to get any better anytime soon, not under this system of capitalist exploitation. Sure, those older might come out somewhat unscathed, but what of my generation, of the generation that comes next? Will the bootstraps and rugged individualist propaganda work on parents who see the only future for their children is living on the street or in a flophouse, barely getting by? On a dying planet? The parallels between the past and the present are stark and terrifying. The same system that once commodified human beings as property now commodifies them as disposable labor, all in the name of profit. The forced birth politics of today are a chilling reminder that capitalism needs bodies, and the working class, we aren't giving the elites the bodies they need to keep this pyramid scheme afloat. These cruel politics reflect the brutal history of American Capitalism that continues to shape our present. This is a history that we must confront and challenge if we are to build a world that values humanity over profit, that recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of every single person.

The Illusion of Representation and the Failure of Electoralism

There is not a politician in the game that actually represents the people, the true will of the people. It doesn't make a difference if you're a DSA darling like AOC (who voted against the rail strike, but hey, I'm sure those rail workers pushing 6 days a week, 12-hour days would love to go to a Met Gala and hang out with uber-rich celebs) or a right-wing populist, Nazi wanna be, and Guantanamo Bay piss collector like Ron DeSantis, who only cares about using minorities as a cudgel to gain power. Neither of these options, neither of these fruits of electoralism, represents the will of the people; they represent the will of the system.

The political landscape is littered with politicians who claim to speak for the people but are beholden to corporate interests, lobbyists, and the capitalist superstructure. They wear the mask of populism, promising change and reform, but their actions reveal a different story. They vote for policies that favor the wealthy, they support wars that profit the military-industrial complex, and they turn a blind eye to the exploitation of workers, the environment, and the marginalized.

Take a closer look at the so-called "progressives" in Congress. How many of them have truly challenged the capitalist system? How many have taken a stand against the imperialist wars, the prison-industrial complex, the exploitation of labor? They may speak the language of the people, but their actions are constrained by the system they operate within. They are part of a machine that prioritizes profit over human dignity, power over compassion, and greed over justice.

And what about the right-wing populists? They claim to be the voice of the "forgotten man," railing against the elites and the establishment. But their policies only serve to deepen the divide, to stoke the flames of hatred and fear, to scapegoat minorities and the vulnerable. They are not champions of the people; they are demagogues who exploit the frustrations and anxieties of the masses for their own gain.

The system is rigged, and the politicians are part of the game. They are not our saviors; they are not our champions. They are actors on a stage, playing their roles, serving the interests of the capitalist class. The real change, the real revolution, will not come from the ballot box, and we have seen that the jury box only serves to oppress us further, thus there is only one box left. The real change will come from the streets, from the collective action of the people, from the grassroots movements that challenge the status quo and demand a new world.

We must recognize the illusion for what it is and see beyond the smoke and mirrors of electoral politics. We must build a movement that transcends party lines, that unites workers, students, activists, and all those who seek a just and humane society. We must reject the false prophets and the empty promises and take control of our destiny. Only then will we truly represent the will of the people, only then will we break free from the chains of capitalism and build a world that values people over profit.

The Climate Crisis and the Urgency of Action

The clock continues to tick down, and the signs are all around us. The wildfires in Lahaina and Canada, the first-ever Tropical Storm warning issued to California, the hottest July in 125,000 years. These are not mere anomalies; they are the harbingers of a world on the brink of ecological collapse. And yet, a sizable chunk of the population either does not believe in climate change or, if they do believe it, they believe it to be natural, just as many believe capitalism to be a natural and unchangeable system.

A Systemic Failure and the Path Forward

This is not a failure of individual politicians but a systemic failure of the capitalist political structure. It's a system that rewards those who play the game, who bow to corporate interests, who prioritize profit over people. It's a system that silences dissenting voices, that marginalizes those who dare to challenge the status quo.

Think about it: How many politicians have come and gone, promising change, promising to fight for the working class, only to fall in line with the capitalist agenda once they take office? How many have been co-opted, corrupted, or simply silenced by a system that values power and profit over the needs and desires of we the people?

The political theater of left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican, is just that – theater. It's a distraction, a way to keep us divided and fighting amongst ourselves while the capitalist machine continues to grind us down. The real battle is not between left and right but between the working class and the capitalist class. It's a battle for the soul of our society, for the future of our children, for the very survival of our planet.

And yet, the political system continues to fail us. It continues to offer up false choices, false heroes, false hope. It continues to gaslight us into believing that our salvation lies in the ballot box, that if we just vote for the right person, everything will be okay. Slavery persisted for over 400 years; imagine hearing "Master said, if we all vote to be free, he'll let us go!" It's a ridiculous sentiment.

But the truth is, no politician, no party, no electoral system can save us from the inherent contradictions and exploitations of capitalism. The only way forward is through collective action, through solidarity, through a radical reimagining of our society that puts people and planet before profit.

We must recognize that the political system is not broken; it's working exactly as it was designed to work. It's designed to maintain the power of the capitalist class, to keep us divided, to keep us complacent, to keep us gaslit.

We must reject the false choices, the false heroes, the false hope. We must recognize that the power to change our world lies not in the hands of politicians but in our own hands, in the hands of the people. We must rise up, organize, and fight for a world that truly represents the will of the people, a world that values humanity over profit, a world that recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every single person.

Only then will we be able to slay the monsters of capitalism, to tear down the curtain and reveal the true nature of the Wizard, to build a world that is just, equitable, and sustainable. Only then will we be able to say that we have a government, a system, a world that truly represents the will of the people.

As things continue to collapse, as this dying empire continues to lash out at both her people and those people abroad, we must remember that it is the strength and the will of the people that determine our future. The world is ablaze, the old system is failing, now is the time of monsters. Will we have the strength to slay 'em? Or will we, in an H.G. Wellsian nightmare, continue to be the fuel for the systems of war, profit, and oppression?

We must not become apathetic. We must not succumb to despair. We cannot be impotent in the face of apocalypse. We must stand with resolve, with determination, with a clear vision of the world we want to build. We must reject the false solutions, the false hope, the false leaders. We must build a movement that is rooted in the principles of justice, equity, and sustainability, a movement that is capable of transforming our world, a movement that is driven by the will of the people, not the whims of the capitalist class.


  • [1] CNN
  • [2] Washington Examiner Conducted August 11-14, 2023, under the joint direction of Beacon Research D and Shaw & Company Research R this Poll includes interviews with 1,002 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all registered voters and plus or minus 5 points for Democratic and 4.5 for Republican primary voter.
  • [3] Forbes