Monday, December 18, 2017

Fasten Your Seat Belts

Neal Gabler writes that November 8, 2016 marked the beginning of the Second American Civil War:

By that perspective, just as the first Civil War was the last gasp of slavery, this second is very likely the last gasp of aging white Americans — their full-throated death rattle against an America that they detest for having changed so dramatically the traditions and power structures by which those whites had lived. Regressions are often like that. They are an angry attempt to prevent a threatening future from arriving. Republicans had long preyed upon these discontents, but did so tepidly — a wink-and-nod approach. Trump voiced them and validated them, making racism, nativism and sexism acceptable. It will be his primary legacy.

And behind it all is the devolution of politics into religion:

One of the most important shifts in our culture has been the transformation of politics into a kind of civic religion. Religion has always provided a sense of identity — hence the tribalism — but it provided something else, too; something even more fundamental. In what historian Karen Armstrong describes as the Axial Age, from which modern religions grew, it pointed the way to a meaningful life with spiritual values. That was for nurturing the soul. And it provided a cosmology, a systematic way of thinking about and explaining the world and our place in it. That was for the mind.

Trump has sold his fellow citizens a debased cosmology. And he now poses as their Saviour:

Modern conservatism, like debased religion, has an explanation for everything, and there is nothing mysterious or spiritual about it. Trump understood the desire for some all-encompassing answer, as demagogues always do. Demagogues assume the proportions of religious leaders, but without the moral instruction. Through a process of simplification, they purport to tell their followers what happened and who is responsible. In short, they provide cosmology, not for the purpose of enlightenment, but for the opposite — benightedness.
As religious observance has declined in America, as faith has declined and the religious cosmologies have weakened, political passions and political cosmologies have risen, and those old religious/conservative affinities have strengthened as religion tries to save itself by piggybacking on politics, rather than as some believe, the other way around. Roy Moore, the Republican senatorial candidate in Alabama, is the perfect example of religion’s surrender to politics. Many evangelicals embrace him despite credible allegations of child molestation, showing how morality has become so politicized that it no longer even makes sense. That is because politics is the new religion of America.

The ugliest wars in human history have been wars of religion. Fasten your seat belts.



Steve said...

Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex.
Religion is the control mechanism of Politics.

What has changed is most people no longer believe in Religion or even God. The dead enders suffering from terminal cognitive dissonance double down on crazy.

Owen Gray said...

When power becomes the Holy Grail, Steve, the world goes crazy.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that religion has only recently become the tool of politics, the real holy grail. Remember the scene in Richard III when Richard, for the benefit of his subjects, appears on a balcony holding a bible? That was for the preservation of his power. When did Shakespeare write that play? In the Sixteenth Century?


Owen Gray said...

Shrewd politicians have always known how to turn religion to their ends, CD. That tableau from Richard III serves as one of those pictures which is worth a thousand words.

Toby said...

"Trump understood . . . ." I doubt that Trump understands anything; he is too engrossed in himself. The Americans have a bloated ego in charge, one highly reminiscent of some inbred emperors of notoriety. He is motivated by impulse, not by reason. He is a product of the entertainment industry, a clown to laugh at.

As you said, Owen, "Fasten Your Seat Belts."

Owen Gray said...

When you've spent your life looking at your image in the mirror, Toby, there's no one else left to see.

Trailblazer said...

By that perspective, just as the first Civil War was the last gasp of slavery, this second is very likely the last gasp of aging white Americans —

If America is in the throes of another revolution which is quite possible ; it will be the third time they have fought amongst themselves.
The American revolution was a war , mainly, between Americans.
America/USA have always been warlike even before they separated from Great Britain.


Owen Gray said...

And, judging from the speech Trump gave yesterday, TB, he's itching to go to war again.