Parallax Views w/ J.G. Michael
Society & Culture
The Midnight Kingdom: A History of Power, Paranoia, and the Coming Crisis w/ Jared Yates Sexton
On this edition of Parallax Views, Jared Yates Sexton, host of The Muckrake Podcast and author of American Rule: How A Nation Conquered The World But Failed Its People, joins us to discuss his latest book The Midnight Kingdom: A History of Power, Paranoia, and the Coming Crisis. In The Midnight Kingdom Jared delves into the lies, paranoia, mythologies, and pursuit of power the undergirds the far-right movements that have become a worldwide concern in recent years due incident to the Jan 6th insurrection in Washington, D.C. and the similar uprisings/riots that happened in Brazil after Lula de Silva defeated Jair Bolsonaro to once again become that country's President.
Among the topics discussed in this conversation:
- Conspiracies, real and imagined; the far-right wing, conspiracy theories, and the conspiratorial view of history
- What does the title The Midnight Kingdom refer to and how does it relate to the apocalyptic vision of the world presented by controversial Russian thinker Aleksander Dugin?
- The crisis of institutional power in America today that elements of both the right and left are recognizing; neoliberalism, the neoliberal consensus, hyper-capitalism, and inequality
- Jared's examination of cycles of history in The Midnight Kingdom and how it differs from, for example, right-wing operative Steve Bannon's preferred cycles of history theory known as "The Fourth Turning"
- How power protects itself in a society
- Paranoia as the basis for modern American society and conspiracy theories in modern American history
- Real conspiracies, journalist Sarah Kendzior's They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent, and the World Economic Forum in Davos
- The destabilization of the middle class, the need for explanations for that destabilization, and how the right-wing offers that explanation through Grand Conspiracy Narratives
- The targeting of vulnerable communities by the right-wing's brand of conspiratorial thinking
- How ancient Rome ties into Jared's analysis in The Midnight Kingdom; imperial cults, social mythologies, and the fall of civilizations
- How the history of Christianity, apocalypticism, and narratives of power figures into Jared's analysis; how bastardized religion is utilized to promote war, imperialism, patriarchy, racism, wealth inequality and more; Christian nationalism and white nationalism; Jared's evangelical Christian upbringing
- People's desperation for meaning; the rise of evangelical Christianity as a political force in American life; atomization in neoliberal society and the rise of the far-right
- The Republican Party is not a homogenous movement; the emergence of an anti-neoliberal, reactionary right-wing; the left and the right have different criticisms of the neoliberal society and prescriptions for dealing with the problems of neoliberal society
- Operation Gladio and Operation Condor and the lack of a strong left in the U.S.
- The idea of homo economicus, the hollow existence neoliberalism provides, the dog-eat-dog world mentality of neoliberal society, and the reality TV series Survivor
- Christian nationalism, feudalistic ideas, hierarchical power, and theocratic control
- The individual, the atomized society, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher as the PR front for neoliberalism in the 1980s, the book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, and the destruction of labor unions and class solidarity
- Academia, specialized knowledge, and the working class's lack of access to that knowledge
- Marjorie Taylor Greene's rhetoric about "woke" corporations; the lack of understanding about what communism is, what Karl Marx wrote, and what neoliberalism is; the right's ideas about the natural right and natural order; feudalism and the concept of the "Great Chain of Being"; eugenics and social Darwinism
- Argument about "wokeism" and the problem of woke-washing by major corporations
- Tucker Carlson and illiberalism, neoliberalism and authoritarianism, Friedrich Hayek and neoliberalism; and how the right-wing protects the powerful
- The New Cold War between U.S. and China, American protectionism, the unraveling of globalization, and the end of "The End of History"
- Tackling the criticism that Jared's book is anti-religion; why he disagrees with that assessment; the weaponization and bastardization of religion by systems of power for purposes of control ;Catholic converts and the TradCath phenomena; the value of spirituality; Traditionalism and right-wing mythologies; Ancient Aliens, Erich Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods, and racialism
- Explaining the rise of QAnon
- A discussion of the Brazilian uprisings and the Jan 6th riots after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden; the funding of these uprisings/riots by right-wing billionaires; the Proud Boys, the Oathkeepers, and right-wing paramilitary groups; the QAnon shaman, MAGA, and the belief of the rioters that they were saving the government from a "deep state" coup; how people are primed into QAnon, MAGA, and similar movements; how people are animated by mythologies that make them the heroes of their own story
- Discussing the concept and idea of the deep state; technocracy and the administrative state; why Trump resonated with a portion of the American populace; authoritarianism and the desire to be part of something bigger than oneself
- The problem with blaming "hillbillies" for the rise of the far-right
- Pro wrestling, kayfabe, how WWE's "Montreal Screwjob" helps us understand the modern political moment, Hulk Hogan and the power of mythological storytelling, the pro wrestling-ification of television news and political media like Tucker Carlson, and political grifting
- The culture war over M&M's and the illusion of ideology and rebellion in consumerism
- Briefly discussing the movie Judas and the Black Messiah about Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers and its relevance
- The concept of freedom on the left and the right; the left's pro-freedom, liberatory narrative
- And more!
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