Feb 13 • 29M

Joe Rogan, the Truckers and the Collapse of the Left

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The podcast version of Sasha Stone's Substack essays.
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“Neil and Joni,  if your side wins—and Spotify bends the knee to your demands—it will mark peak woke and the beginning of your end.  In defeat, Joe will just go elsewhere and everyone with a genuinely liberal bone in their body will follow.  Most importantly, our present “Eat Me Last” public posture—from which you benefit mightily—will crumble.  Enough people will see clearly the threat you pose to open-inquiry and they will gird their loins, say “enough!” and start pushing back at scale.

It’s ironic that two aging hippies are waging a Tet-offensive of sorts against Joe Rogan. Walter Cronkite’s change of mind on the war was the tipping point that changed the American mind and turned it against the Vietnam War.  The attack on Rogan just might mark the beginning of the end of the progressive war on free inquiry.” A Planned Man

None of this is about the coronavirus. It’s not about protecting people. It’s about an entire ecosystem that has developed in our society, devoted to bringing down people who step out of line. You don’t even need government censorship anymore, because Democrat super PACs and social media and the 24/7 news cycle are so much more efficient. Today’s smear merchants work a lot faster than ol’ Joey McCarthy ever did.

Rogan will withstand it regardless. He’s got more money than he could spend in 10 lifetimes, and millions of fans who will follow him anywhere. He’ll be fine. No, this message is for the rest of us:

You see what we’re doing to this guy? You want it to happen to you next? No? Then shut your mouth.- Jim Treacher

The Tipping Point

In every mass hysteria event throughout human history, there comes a tipping point. It’s the moment you can no longer take accusations seriously and the whole thing comes crashing down.

In Salem, it was when the Governor’s wife was accused of being a witch.

During the McCarthy hearings, when members of the military were being accused, it led to this moment:

And now, it’s likely Joe Rogan as a target, along with the working-class uprisings of the Canadian truckers, public opinion is starting to change.

This is the moment when everyone notices. When they took the initial accusation against Joe Rogan of spreading “disinformation” and pivoted to accusations of racism that gave them away and everyone saw. That the Blue Checks and the media fell for it was yet more proof of what an insular feedback loop it has become, and just how disconnected they have become from average Americans.

Joe Rogan and the Body Snatchers

They look like us. They kind of act like us. But they are not here to live among us. They are here to turn us into them. They want us to think like they think. Like what they like. Believe what they believe. They have taken over Hollywood. They have swallowed up science. They have infiltrated education. They are not here to negotiate. You have only one option: comply or else.

It is the Evergreen College generation that now sees its mission to remove undesirables the way they tried to remove Bret Weinstein from Evergreen for having the audacity to suggest it is against the fundamental American right of free speech to absent a group from a shared space. You are not allowed to say such things if you are a white male. It is verboten. We’ve now seen so many examples of this it has almost become the new normal. It is for people who are plugged into the news cycle and social media but a good majority of Americans didn’t quite realize the force we put into power when we elected Joe Biden. But now they do. The Rogan episode has woken up a sleeping tiger.

Some will watch this Evergreen documentary series on Youtube made by Benjamin Boyce who was a student at Evergreen at the time and documented all of it, and feel that rising sense of purpose, as so many of my friends on the Left do. This is their newfound religion as a “good ally.” They know they are either racist or antiracist.

The dirty little secret is that studies have shown white liberals change their language when they talk to Black people and Conservatives don’t.

Do white liberals see themselves as caretakers of Black people and/or people of color? Do they see themselves as superior and therefore feel the need to always make amends? Has that sense of guilt has been carried over from the Boomer generation of the 1960s counterculture when the Civil Rights movement exploded much the same way the Woke revolution exploded in 2020? Must it now be visited upon the minds and hearts of children - they must be taught how to be racist so that they can then be antiracist to make sure the cycle continues. Is that really the plan?

It didn’t end well for Evergreen in terms of ongoing success, which should give you a good idea of where all of this is going. Enrollment dropped significantly. Maybe it helped move the needle in terms of marginalized students finding their voice and power, but when it spiraled into witch hunts that is when the bottom fell out. From the WSJ:

It turns out that students aren’t clamoring for the privilege of paying for an education in such a hostile environment. Evergreen accepts 97% of applications, but enrollment dropped to 2,854 full-time students last fall, compared to 3,810 the semester of the protests. Enrollment increased over the same period at other Washington universities.

The accusations against Rogan started out as “disinformation.” But considering how many times the government and media have had to backtrack on all of their strident conclusions about COVID, disinformation, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder. As Jon Stewart illuminates here, it’s a matter of changing opinion and shifting sands:

Bill Maher took it even further to point out how our government is guilty of spreading “disinformation”:

Because the "disinformation” campaign fell flat, they pivoted to … wait for it … racism. because, of course they did.

A Twitter user named Wokal Distance was also curious about how it pivoted from “disinformation” to “racism” and landed on a well-funded superpac.

But Rogan was the wrong guy. They picked someone who is popular but mostly, popular with the blue-collar, center left. Democrats have alienated Hispanic voters, Asian voters and now, Black voters. They’ve alienated parents and suburban moms. They only seem able to alienate people, not attract them. Their plan appears to be: accusations of racism and fear of Trump because Trump is a racist and that will get us votes. They don’t want voters. They want the right kind of voters for their utopia.

It goes without saying that this isn’t about excusing language that is that offensive. It is, however, about context and intent. This is not a sustainable way forward for the country. We have to practice tolerance, kindness, and forgiveness. That no longer defines the Left.

The best piece on Joe Rogan is by Kat Rosenfeld writing for the New Statesman:

Here is the heart of the campaign to push Rogan off Spotify. It’s not about stopping misinformation, and it’s not about reducing his influence; indeed, Spotify could renege and cancel Rogan tomorrow, costing themselves $100 million without costing him a single listener. What people really want is the symbolic satisfaction of kicking him out of the clubhouse. They had a nice place here, with good music and classy people, and here’s Joe Rogan, wearing the wrong clothes, rubbing shoulders with the wrong folks, flouting the etiquette of this rarefied space and generally stinking up the joint.

It’s less about politics than about class, less about disagreement than disgust, and less about what Rogan actually says than how popular he is for saying it. It’s realising that people love him, no matter how much we beg them not to. In the giant fertile chasm between liberal and conservative media, in a vacuum of trust in authority, Joe Rogan has taken root: irreverent, curious, immune to in-group pressure and utterly uncontrollable. 

Will the real cult please stand up?

Democrats are comfortable calling Trump’s MAGA movement a cult. They have certainty about this but they do not have any proof beyond their own narratives around January 6th. While it’s true his supporters turned up in DC to fight for his refusal to accept the results of the election, they also didn’t blindly follow his lead when it came to taking the vaccine he takes credit for.

True that the MAGA Republicans demand that (what they call the) RINOS adopt the America First platform or face punishment, that isn’t that different from the Bernie Left demanding the same of the Centrists.

Cults are different, though. They silence dissent, demand ideological compliance and most importantly, cultivate utopias away from the rest of the population. It’s much easier to make the case that the Left has become a cult-like.

It isn’t hard to find evidence of this anywhere on the internet because it’s everywhere. They remind me of the “born again” Christians in the 1970s high on their newfound salvation.

This bombshell piece over at the Wall Street Journal by Paul Rossi and Andrew Guttman, “Inside the Woke Indoctrination Machine” illustrates just how baked into the school system the religious ferver is on the Left and how many schools now are training teachers to basically be like Evergreen. They write:

In “Feeding Yourself When You Are Fed Up: Connecting Resilience and DEI Work,” we learned techniques, such as “calling out,” that faculty and students can use to shut down conversations immediately by interrupting speakers and letting them know that their words and actions are unacceptable and won’t be tolerated. Several workshops focused on the practice of “restorative justice,” used to re-educate students who fall afoul of speech codes. The final step to ensure belonging is to push out families or faculty who question DEI work. “Sometimes you gotta say, maybe this is not the right school for you. . . . I’ve said that a lot this year,” said Victor Shin, an assistant head of school and co-chairman of the People of Color Conference, in “From Pawns to Controlling the Board: Seeing BIPOC Students as Power Players in Student Programming.”

They didn’t ask parents if they agreed with any of it. They are forcing this belief system onto all institutions of power in this country, including science and education. If I fought against religion in classrooms for most of my life, I am still going to fight against religion in classrooms, even if people on the Left believe it is the better way forward. They don’t get to decide that on their own. And they don’t get to throw fits if people disagree. This should be something we all debate out in the open.

The first thing all cults do is separate the children from the parents. Charles Manson did this. Scientology does this. Jim Jones’ utopian cult did this. They do it to free up the women for reproduction and to indoctrinate the children. It would not be such a big deal if it wasn’t so extreme all of a sudden, and if it hadn’t spread to our government. They are essentially giving parents and reasonable Democrats no choice but to abandon the party because it has so clearly become cult-like in its demands for compliance.

Asra Q. Nomani’s chilling piece “Why Antiracism Should Be Resisted” lays it out pretty well. Here is just part of it:

Bigotry, meanwhile, is back on the curriculum, thanks partly to a “Black Lives Matter at School” campaign, which last week recommended the book Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness to children as young as six in Evanston/Skokie School District 65, outside Chicago. “Whiteness is a bad deal”, the book argues; it amounts to signing a “contract” with the devil, who is illustrated with an indelicate pointy tail. Meanwhile, in an English lesson in Fairfax County, Virginia, students played a game of “Privilege Bingo”; even “Military Kid” has been shamed as having “privilege”.

And:

The beauty of Martin Luther King Jr’s America was that everyone’s humanity, worth and potential was appreciated, not undermined. Fighting racism used to mean rejecting the notion of a hierarchy of human value. But today the morally twisted teachings of “anti-racism” preach that a new hierarchy of human value, with whiteness at the bottom, is acceptable — and even evolved and “progressive”. Education activists seem intent on pushing the race-shaming, bigotry and segregation of “anti-racism”.

The bigger problem, other than destroying the minds and hearts of children is, as with all cults, they raise people who can’t survive outside the cult. Once they remake their utopia to suit their ideology, suddenly everything will look like oppression to them. If they travel to Europe, for instance, or any country that doesn’t follow the strident doctrine of the Left how will they survive that? They’ll be like the Amish family in Peter Weir’s Witness, with no clue how the modern world works.

People on the Left now believe this country should accommodate them. But as they become increasingly sensitive and fragile that becomes impossible.

So what can we do if so many people are afraid to speak out? Well, people will start gravitating to those voices that aren’t afraid.

The first thing Tucker Carlson did upon hearing Rogan was being targeted as a thought criminal was to air the very clips by the very people that got Rogan almost fired. For him, it was a show of power, and an example of someone who isn’t afraid even a little bit of what they thinks.

There is a reason his ratings are skyrocketing right now. Carlson, like Ben Shapiro, is also drawing more eyeballs from the younger generation on the left, probably the men mostly, who have been told they are useless. Why wouldn’t they watch Carlson? Why wouldn’t they be drawn to people who bravely stand up to the rising hysteria? Biden certainly won’t. The Never Trumpers won’t. Blue Check Twitter won’t.

Dreaming the Biosphere

A healthy society has a balance of liberalism (magical thinking) and conservatism (pragmatic thinking). When one side has too much power it can lead to collapse, whereby the other side takes control.

Because humans by nature want to be free to express themselves, to dissent and to make their own choices, any utopia has two options -to loosen their grip or to tighten it. The next step when threatened, as the Left is now, is authoritarianism.

From the book Dreaming of the Biosphere, a letter by a disgruntled ex-hippie from the 1970s written to Modern Utopia magazine:

It is a benefit of magical thinking to strike forth and build utopias. This is very much an American thing, an American Revolution thing, a Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin thing. It has led to wonderful achievements, just at look at everything the Boomers inspired in the 1970s in movies, art, music and investigative journalism.

But unfortunately, right now, we are watching the collapse of all of it. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The time has come for the Boomers to step aside and allow for new leadership to redefine where the magical thinking Left will take this country next. That can’t happen unless it does collapse, and collapse it will. We are at the tipping point now, the Fourth Turning. It’s all coming apart.

A great example of this playing out was Biosphere 2 in the early 90s. It was a collaboration of a billionaire Boomer and a cadre of magical thinkers who ran The Theater of Infinite Possibilities before they inhabited a carefully constructed second atmosphere for two years. They had high hopes of a scientific breakthrough that would allow humans to build these biospheres on other planets. Their problem was that they prioritized purity and ideology over science.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted, they almost suffocated to death without oxygen, they almost starved, they formed tribal alliances and turned on each other. Eventually, none other than Stephen K. Bannon was brought in to clean out the ideology and introduce practical business management. Yes, the same Steve Bannon who would lead the Tea Party populist uprising that would put Donald Trump in power was once the reasonable fixer that kept Biosphere 2 from failure.

It was conservative pragmatism brought in when the magical thinking liberalism could not sustain itself.

Biosphere 2 is now a research facility that tourists visit every year. Some of them know about the crazy people that helped found it. But most don’t. In fact, that book, Dreaming of the Biosphere, is really the only documented research of everything that went down. It’s easy to tell it was written before 2016, when everything changed, because it offers such an objective, critical view of the Left. If it was written today you bet they would have cast Bannon as the villain.

And that is why I know we have not built our leadership on the Left for the long haul. We have sacrificed truth for idealized propaganda. We have sacrificed objectivity for the preferred narrative. Now, as more and more Americans plot their escape, no one in the Democratic Party seems even half-aware of what is actually going on.

Had they loosened their grip a little bit in Biosphere 2, looked at the bigger picture of what they might achieve, they might not have been ejected from the project, which was completely overtaken by new management and turned into a research center. It is an interesting thing to visit but it is not what it was built to be. Even still, some good did come out of it because there was a healthy mix of liberalism and conservatism at play.

Now with Joe Rogan still facing daily attacks from Democrats online, which has to be among the most stupidest things a political party has ever done, the trucker convey is yet another example of just how out of touch the ruling class elites that run our government and Canada’s are. Matt Taibbi writes:

What’s happening in Canada and other countries seems less about specific demands than about the general principle of being listened to. Leaders like Trudeau could likely make this thing go away if they’d make even a slight gesture toward the idea that legitimate differences of opinion exist on questions like mandates, vaccine passports, surveillance tracking, lockdowns, the vaccination of children, and other matters. You don’t have to agree with people, just find a way to look at them without betraying your profound regret they were ever born. The longer this convoy phenomenon goes on, the clearer it becomes that none of the leaders involved knows how to do this. They’re not choosing to govern without listening. They just don’t know any other way.

We’re watching the collapse of the Left in real-time. This country will need fixers by the end of it, just like Biosphere 2 did. But when all is said and done, some good will come out of it.