Twenty-first century nationalism is just atavistic tribalism with cell phones. After two world wars spewed from nationalistic sewers in the 20th century, yet another scourge of jingoism infects the world. What will it take to finally purge the scourge of tribalism from human consciousness?
On the left, American sentimental nationalists like Roger Cohen make one last stab at progressive spiritual and metaphysical denial:
"The essence of America is openness. History, geography, immigration and fate have established that. The shrinking of the American mind under Trump therefore amounts, for Americans, to a dangerous denial of themselves."
American nationalists on the right, like Ross Douthat, have schizoid dialogues between their dark side and their darkest side. The lesser of two evils wins in Ross by surrendering the man-made chaos that Trump epitomizes and maximizes to Christianity's Father God:
"It wouldn't entirely surprise me if, by some miracle, Trump won one more time - if his presidency is part of a bipartisan chastisement, and God isn't finished with us yet."
The "us" that "God isn't finished with" is, abnormally, America. To white nationalists on the right, and 'right' nationalists on the left, the United States remains the center of the world.
All nationalists feel their nations are the center the world of course. The difference is no empire since the Roman Empire, which encompassed the known world surrounding the Mediterranean, has spread its rapacious culture like America has.
And no other nation in history has its tentacles in three-quarters of the nations of the world through its obscenely bloated military, which sucks up a trillion dollars a year just to keep it unquestioningly afloat.
Therefore if Trump wins again, miracles will have no more to do with it than they did the last time. Democrats will just have a harder time blaming a screwy electoral system, even with Republican voter suppression, and President Trump's 'fluke' will become as immaterial as Senator Flake.
So if we define God as immanent intelligence, what is She up to? It is an awfully small-minded God that's concerned with the fate of one nation, especially a nation of such military strength and spiritual weakness as America.
To say the least, I doubt that another "Trump presidency is part of a bipartisan chastisement." It seems Douthat's God is a nationalist, albeit one that stands above the fray in divine comity (and comedy) even during the nastiest of times.
People old enough to remember the dizzying events of 1989 (the Tiananmen massacre, the fall of the Berlin Wall) know what a 'hinge of history' feels like.
Though it seems the hinges of history have rusted shut (or rather rusted open, seeing how wide the gates of hell have opened), do we stand at another hinge of history, the second in even a 50-year lifespan?
Given there is some kind of Intelligence beyond the unintelligence of man, clearly the Donald is playing a bit part in a much larger drama involving, though certainly not revolving around the shrunken stature of the United States of America.
That said, Douthat's self-comforting notion that "Trump is too incompetent to pull off anything so ambitious as stealing an election" is dangerous as hell. Both Democrats and Never (Again) Trump Republicans have continually been taken in by the incompetence of the man, while underestimating the evil the man channels.
Going from the slime to the sublime, it's a risky business exploring the mind of God. If God is immanent however, rather than above and apart, then potentially at least, God is, to some degree, within us.
And if that's true, "Nosce te ipsum" is not just the dubiously cumulative journey of self-knowledge, or even the pathless path of self-knowing, but via negativa (the negational way) to the sacred.
Just as there is no fixed entity as a "Supreme Being," there is no fixed providential plan external to us. The plan, if we can even call it a plan, can only unfold with our participation, unwitting or witting (preferably witting).
Clearly any cosmic intelligence worth its stars would want potentially intelligent life, wherever it evolved in the universe, to live in harmony with its planet, itself and the cosmos. But let's face it; Homo sap is still heading headlong in the opposite direction.
This 'context' throws an entirely different light on the darkness that is pan-Trumpism, and on the more-annoying-than-destroying global plague that is Covid-19.
So what is the future of humanity, even the near future of humanity?
Looking into the vacant, dead eyes of the narcissistically mask-less one can see one future; looking into the searching, empathic eyes of the masked one can see another.
Choose and you lose. See and be free.
Ross Douthat: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/24/opinion/sunday/pro-trump-2020-argument.html
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. email@example.com
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