The apocalypse is upon us. What ever will you wear? Some already have a good stock of hemp clothing, colorful fair market wraps from Central America and the latest revolutionary black poetry verse emblazoned on a t-shirt. Others are too busy worrying about people who believe in the conspiracies of Q-Anon. We have an idea that the enemy forces of evil will be parading in scorched earth fashion soon enough in red MAGA hats and confederate flag draped Dodge trucks.
Win or lose, elections and democracy are no longer obstacles nor vehicles for achieving political outcomes. The courts cannot be trusted to prevent people from achieving equal status under the law if undereducated media-savvy white men who think sexual proclivity should only be practiced in the secret realm of domination occurring within the context of marriage can turn to terror. Democracy has never once meant that Black lives matter.
Alternatively, we cannot believe that progress has been made when the only evidence is an open and free market designed for people to create nostalgia of the future, purchasing rainbow flags and Last Poets Box sets (sooooo 90’s) so that we can feel revolutionary. Any real change is moving further and further away from healthy socio-economic community building and closer to a return to white terror; only to be avoided by online virtual community that allows for shrill people to display an emotivism of hand-wringing tears over the fact of white terror that is just too easy to walk away from to get a snack to treat one’s self to an edible.
Arguments that the United States are a republic rather than a democracy or that we need to get back to democratic ideals are hardly nuanced enough to take seriously. Such arguments simply mean to underwrite privileged protections enjoyed by white Americans since colonial reforms that forced tobacco growing merchant interests to plant enough grain to feed indentured servants so that they wouldn’t starve to death or run away to the Dismal Swamp - beyond the reach of English back-to-work programs. Slavery took hold as an economic model that displayed first and foremost that Europe did not believe all people were equal by any stretch of the imagination. They did, however, believe this project of colonization offered, not only new economic opportunities, but a rich and fertile field of economic opportunity to distract political opponents.
Religious groups of every stripe could consider themselves free from the restraints of established churches tied to various monarchies and practice religious dissent without the threat of further persecution. England, by golly, understood what the Romans did. Let people worship and give them power instead of persecution, and they will force their beliefs on others while thanking the state for the change of luck. And they’ll leave home and quit bothering us.
Ask Constantine. Kings and queens learn that by allowing both free religious practice and a legal right to moral domination within firmly delineated boundaries drawn on someone else’s land between would satisfy the calling of Baptists, Puritans, English Catholics, and even pious groups (RE: Moranvians and John Wesley) without any apparent political agenda to focus on missions and moral coercion; all the while serving the economic interests of the crown.
No matter that every part of the new world stumbled upon by the colonizers, the economics and profits were in strict control of monarchs and nation states. Each church, however, believed itself to be free and in charge as sort of an absentee landlord of the public square while managing business affairs of the crown. Under this method of colonization, church groups and denominations that were once persecuted could now believe that God had vindicated their faithfulness during times of persecution, and now had the green light to portray themselves as the new chosen people in a new promised land. A free moral people committed to doing God’s work.
God apparently made some people free moral agents. Others were simply knitted in the womb as slave stock. It is obvious in the history of the Americas that the fallacy of human and/or civil rights as being God-given is simply a rather unique though false narrative that keeps people invested in worshipping a deity that was losing steam as a relevant actor in the socio-political machinations of most European elites and a few women. Even if that deity turned out to be connected to purchasing power and easy credit. The fact of, or myth of (unlimited) economic growth has overcome the failure of Marxism to seriously challenge the human desire to please gods and pursue moral justice. While some folks engage in entrepreneurship with other people’s money, the desire of most folks is to make life easier by working for somebody else. Horkheimer and Adorno found that the masses are pretty comfortable when they can attend concerts, watch games, and have a television bigger than Winston’s apartment in their own home.
After leaving World War II Europe and coming to the States (ending up in California), Horkheimer and Adorno decided that we revolutionary types need to motivate, if I can get away with current vernacular as a anachronistic turn-of-phrase, a pretty comfortable working class to be more “woke” by communicating the ideals of Marxist revolution through the creative use of cultural cues that can be easily shoehorned into capitalist cultural tropes. If folks enjoy ski trips and college football more than the alternative of creating a new day on their weekends off, the revolution needs some marketing help. Stalin and Mao were terrible bad for business, so to speak. But so was the failure of the teaching class in France to join the barricades. Marxism and love both died in 1969, and the stench of the corpses smells strangely similar to a dying church
Such is the nature of anti-Christ. Such is the nature of Trump and Q-Anon, expensive t-shirts with Emma Goldman quotes, and the ability to go to countercultural events to ensure ourselves we are not alone in our so-called radical beliefs by vacationing among Grateful Dead leftovers who lament the lack of a good jam-band tour. Can we be trusted to social distance at a popular culture revolutio-vacat-athon? Our culture is the very reason that we fail to see what the anti-Christ is – what is meant by the term, and why it is so necessary for us to less concernsed with the demise of democracy, nationalism, and borders in favor of the cross. We must lose to save our lives, we must risk our lives to save the future of others. The church has died, and not by a thousand crucifixions but rather clogged arteries.
Anti-Christ is not an example of outcomes. Peace, wealth, and liberty can all be produced by the success of anti-Christ regimes and charlatans. Anti-Christ is using the means of power and control over others through the application of violence and domination intended to produce any outcomes, progressive, white supremacist, or otherwise. The message of Christ and the cross is not winning but sacrificing privilege on behalf of others who are caught in the gears of the domination system. Anti-Christ tells them the gears are necessary to produce the liberty and purchasing power that makes their lives worthwhile. Christ asks us to take up our cross to show that sacrifice is necessary to show others that their lives are worthwhile without television and super heroes.
Thus, the reality of Q-anon, and the 1984 qualities of Truth and facts as being pertinent to reasoning in 2020. Truthfully, reasoning cannot resolve conflict where terror reigns and lies fuel the unquenchable fire of a baptism of fine spirits to bring our worried and angry minds to ease. Q-anon is no more an example of what is wrong with today than the concept that Jesus could be the king of the Jews, the savior of the world, and the prince of peace when the Roman Empire reigned over the world relevant to Jesus and Palestinian Jews.
The absurd is myth-making of remarkable proportions in the United States, when reasoning produces little more than two facts and an unwelcome truth. Fact one, capitalism and democracy has not worked on behalf of poor whites and an increasingly frustrated middle class that is losing their mental and emotional grip on the false narrative of American exceptionalism. This is how Trump can be seen as savior, as deity, as the “best thing to happen to Christianity in a long time.” Trump provides a sense of power, and underwrites the racial-religious white supremacist thirst for power that does not exist outside of wealth classes, and freedom that does not exist outside of purchasing power. This is the nature of anti-Christ: Liberty and freedom from spiritual and socio-economic bondage, not through the sacrifice of privilege and service of others, but by winning so as to feel we are still a people that matter. Black lives cannot matter under such a system, and democracy allows for policy-making and social narratives that reinforce this truth. Anti-Christ is ruling the world without Satan’s interference; made possible because one bowed to Satan to receive the luxury instead of carrying out an ethic of caring toward others that displayed an eschewing of power and coercion as a means of being fully human.
This is the lie of democracy, or the republic, or the Civil War or World War II or the ongoing reference by conservatives to the non-violent civil rights movement of the past. Our election cycles have followed the patterns suggested initially by Horkheimer and Adorno, carried through by Habermas, and lamented by Lyotard. The culture has turned choice into market options, selections of what the social designers offer as the fashion of the year. Tyranny or Socialism this year, and who knows what next. All legitimized by voting. If you participate, you are to a large extent feeding the appetite of the anti-Christ. You can control the outcomes and provide for a better world, as long as it occurs within the realm of perpetual empire. A more benign racism is hardly progress over overt racist policy makers having the same power they have always had. If the church must die, so must democracy, because both are anti-Christ.
Not because they want to deny peace or wealth or progress, but because they want the power to distribute it. Such power is the power to crucify but is not relatable to the cross. If you must vote, do so with fear and trembling, for tomorrow your candidate may be forced to defend the empire over the rest of the world. How important is that job you have, that a crumbling empire must be propped up to save your vacation time rather than allowing it to fail on its own terms, and learn to love and serve both neighbor and enemy so that God’s intention regarding the domination system is reflected to all. The cross knows no power, only liberation when one’s faith is that God will vindicate us, even as history stumbles in the attempt.