There’s a mystery buried inside an analysis. We might start this exploration by saying the Left doesn’t have a Rush Limbaugh or a Sean Hannity on its propaganda squad. (And propaganda may be less about taking over one’s thought process—slogans endlessly repeated can achieve that end—than it is the fine tuning of emotional tensions.)
Or, to perhaps make the analysis a bit more lucid, we have a mass political circumstance where the Right has charismatic personalities who constantly agitate its electoral base, while the Left has relatively obscure intellectuals—Noam Chomsky, Herbert Marcuse, Dorothy Dinnerstein, Ralph Nader, Naomi Klein, Howard Zinn, Paul Goodman, William Barber, Norman O. Brown—who only a scant intellectual Left knows of or cares about. The vast bulk of the “Left” treads water in a mental milieu of congressional leaders and other politicians. Plus the media. Some talking heads who rarely are given adequate time to deeply explore topics or circumstances. NPR. MSNBC. Maybe a little Democracy Now for the really daring.
The Left doesn’t have charismatic personalities with mass appeal who explain the state of the world and arouse a consistent political stance. If the Right is Daddy Party—and Donald J. Trump has put the good housekeeping seal of approval on that designation—then the NPRs of this world, with their discernible increase of female voices, constitute Mommy. Assertive female voices. Confident female voices. Here to stay female voices. But “Mommy” doesn’t cut it. This is not your 1950s Mommy. This is the Party of the Daughter.
To call the Right’s political personalities charismatic is not to bestow a blessing. There may be something primal about charisma, something upwelling from a powerful and essentially wholesome source; but that primal upwelling (there are philosophers of human nature who call it will) can also be channeled by reactionary fear with an amazing capacity to radiate alarm in the broadcast of its charisma. Rush Limbaugh may agitate fear—and, to some extent, he creates fear with constant contagious agitation—but Donald Trump radiates fear. It’s the source of his political magnetism. Male will encased in fear. Under siege. Under threat. Endless intrigue. Constant vigilance. Relentless pushback.
The mystery is simple to articulate as a question: What is it about our gender-threatened, race-divisive, capitalist, civilized, post-industrial commercial/electronic End Times “culture” that brings out this Red/Blue circumstance?
Editing the previous sentence, I tucked “End Times” in front of “culture.” Or, to put it differently, what’s the connection between our End Times evolutionary moment and the global rise of femaleness? Why are men—white men in particular—so threatened and frightened? Maybe that’s as quick a way as any—“End Times” and “culture”—to explore the mystery of our current political situation. (If current conditions aren’t serious enough to lift the prophetic flag of End Times, I’m not sure I want to be around when conditions reach political consensus.)
Prophets for centuries have predicted End Times with consistently flawed results. Of course End Times was understood as global catastrophe originating from without. God was going to do it to us.
Well, the next step in discernment requires rational analysis with appropriate word usage. In my estimation, nuclear weaponry on hair-trigger alert and climate-change-related antropocene extinctions (including, quite possibly, our own extinction) pass the meaning test as to the applicability of End Times terminology.
But conventional prophets are strangely silent in regard to our actual End Times circumstance. Biblical End Times was programmed to hit us from without. It would be God’s doing. The current prophets run up against a wall of cognition when End Times is something humans—something some humans—have built, step by step, rationally and methodically. But homemade End Times does not compute. And, in a box of extraterrestrial God belief, with its gender-threatened, race-divisive, capitalist, civilized, post-industrial commercial/electronic “culture,” End Times understood as self-inflicted world disaster is taboo. Prohibited. To recognize self-inflicted End Times is to upend one’s understanding of civilization’s progressive goodness. Such recognition provokes a heavy-duty spiritual crisis. Waiting for God and we’re doing it to ourselves—?!
But since something is obviously skewed and distress provoking, it’s politically expedient for the Right to explain to the rest of us why the Left is a gigantic conspiracy intending to undo the greatness of America under siege. Hence the charismatic reactionary personalities on the Right who supply a daily download of explanatory agitation on the wickedness of Left conspiracy. This leaves the entire country—or at least a huge, macho, conventionally religious, reddish, white-skinned bloc of it—in a charismatic trance. Getting beyond this trance entails—short of absolutely disastrous breakdown—intellectual and spiritual transformation. We might even call it charismatic conversion. At least that’s one way to describe our actual condition and peculiar human predicament.