Though it may be true that “politics is downstream from culture,” politics can also pollute the river of culture.
Power tends to corrupt not only the heart of man, but it can also corrupt the blessings of society — perverting man’s religion, art, music, sport, science, news, and education away from their proper aims. What St Augustine called man’s “libido dominandi” can even corrode friendships or familial ties when the object of this insatiable drive for power is simply more power.
No doubt, the truth of Andrew Breitbart's “downstream” phrase deserves its due. Mr. Breitbart was simply pointing out a harsh reality of the then coming age of political information warfare. But that war has been ongoing for some time now, and like a favorite pair of shoes, there are now holes in the soles of this ‘culture for politics' approach with blisters starting to form.
How this information war will continue is anyone’s guess. But, as the natural blessings of this nation continue to be hollowed out for the sake of political games and power grabs, a hole in the soul of American society grows wider by the day only to be filled with contempt, resentment, and bitterness.
So, instead of engaging in cultural pursuits for political power’s sake, why not pursue culture for culture’s sake, following wherever our curiosity and love for one another may lead?
For example, take Joe Rogan.
I obviously don’t know Joe Rogan personally, but I have come to love the man through his public conversations. Over the past six years, the Joe Rogan Experience has provided me with hours of laughs and introduced me to fascinating voices on topics too numerous and diverse to list here.
But of most value to me, Rogan’s show has been a sort of sanctuary from my daily job on political talk radio.
Though the show occasionally touches on politics, the beauty of the Joe Rogan Experience is the freedom of the format with its lack of any overt agenda, political pretense, artificial time restraints, unspeakable taboos, or untouchable topics. The heartbeat of the show is Rogan’s honest curiosity and love of conversation presented in a casual and often comedic way. I don’t always agree with him, but I trust how he doesn’t just push a particular party line and allows his dialogues to float freely.
As such, Joe’s show is a refreshing alternative to that cesspool of falsity, conformity, and bad faith propaganda seen every day in the corporate press. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way: 11 million people listen to a given JRE episode. And that’s just the average.
As Jordan Peterson noted about Rogan’s popular success, "That's because he doesn't lie. Or talk down to his audience. Or manipulate for his own narrow advantage.”
When I first saw the latest series of attacks on Joe Rogan branding him as a racist and purveyor of misinformation it made my blood boil to see people I’ve come to loathe attacking someone I’ve come to love. Then I took a breath. This isn’t really about Rogan himself at this point.
The plain fact is the establishment cannot abide the popular rise of any person that will not bend the knee, else too many people will begin to see how much the blessings of American society have been used and abused as tools for entrenched power at the expense of everyday people.
Accordingly, the attacks on Joe’s character and credibility are a means to an end with the ultimate goal being to undermine the idea of what Rogan’s show represents: a nonpolitical refuge from the domination of the carefully curated narratives of the corporate media and political class. Historically, power disdains few things more than the intrepid individual willing to speak honestly regardless of power’s demands. Such courageous persons, even in the extreme case of their death at the hand of the power, tend to inspire people to find new paths to follow.
Here’s the good news: the more desperate the calls to censor Joe Rogan become — the more absurd the coordinated attacks by political hacks — the more the corporate press and political elite are forced to reveal their naked depravity. To anyone still persuadable, it’s hard to miss their ugly libido dominandi laid bare. No cruel irony is too much for them. They are more than willing to spread disinformation as they claim to fight disinformation.
As Glenn Greenwald recently tweeted about the corporate press and their latest attacks on Rogan:
“The real disinformation agents have been recognized as such by the American public. They're the ones few people trust, many people despise, and whose audience is disappearing and who therefore demand censorship of those who people trust by accusing ‘them’ of disinformation.”
I must say I remain shocked that so many Americans still believe the establishment’s propaganda and misinformation, but the numbers are shifting. And, more important than any numbers game, the cultural currents are flowing away from that same political establishment.
However, the open wounds of this political culture war need not fester too long.
If we are to repair the hole in the soul of this nation, it won’t be through more domination with power for power’s sake as our aim. The tyrant in you is the tyrant in me, and if we are not careful, even our so-called reactions against tyranny can mutate into movements to destroy something beautiful for destruction’s sake.
In that spirit, it is good to remember the words of another intrepid individual the powerful establishment of his time tried to silence over 2000 years ago, “The noblest way of life is not to be crushing others but to be improving yourselves.”
No, I’m not saying Joe Rogan is Socrates, but Joe has indeed shown us a way of improving ourselves and our nation by pursuing the truth of his passions in a genuine and transparent way for all the world to see.
When’s the last time you could say the same about any politician or cable news pundit?
Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and currently the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 9 am-12noon. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.