In a massively viral article, The Atlantic ponders why Joe Rogan is so popular.
A common misconception is that Rogan’s listenership is right-wing and pro-Trump, but it’s not necessarily left-wing or right-wing, but rather appeals to what can be described as a sort of secular, fatalistic nihilistic morality among a lot of young people today that is characterized by:
-realism, objectivity, and materialism, as opposed to idealism, whether it’s the immutably of gender, IQ, biology, social and economic systems, etc.
-knowledge is power; power is though understanding of the underlying system, whether it’s society or economics and how the system unfolds in a deterministic sense.
-the necessity and inevitability of hierarchies. Some will have more than others, whether it’s wealth or status, and efforts to enforce equality through policy is not only counterproductive but also futile.
-politics and the media are distractions and incapable of affecting change; bread and circuses for masses; but also forces of division by splitting the country into ideological factions that are constantly at war with each other on social media and occasionally in real life, too.
-opposed to identity politics on either the left or the right.
It overlaps with Jordan Perteron, and the general intellectual milieu of the IDW.
Similar to the rise of the reactionary and rationalist-left, it is critical of the media, activism, and ideologically-motivated reasoning. Thus, the social-justice and activist-left are not going to like it, but neither will conservative Christians or religious people in general given the secular nature of the show.
When interviewing a guest, especially for topics of a political or controversial nature, Joe has an effective technique of anticipating the most obvious objection that is on the mind of his listeners, yet easy for the guest to answer because it’s the sort of rhetorical question or objection that he or she is probably very accustomed to receiving, and so the answer is rehearsed. By asking a sort of softball question, Joe connects with his audience and builds a rapport with the guest.
It also probably appeals to individuals who want to signal they are opposed to the woke-left, but without having to subscribe to specific ideology or wear one’s ideology on their sleeve. There are a lot of centrists and moderates who are tired of political correctness and the tendency of either the left or the right to moralize and sentimentalize issues. Both sides have tendency to moralize and impose their values, whether it’s the religious-right or the social-justice-left. I think what has happened over the past thee years is political tribalism is increasingly being perceived as low status, and you see this on either side of the spectrum. People want to project being open-minded and provisional rather than wed to an ideology, even if they are otherwise biased. Ben Shapiro comes to mind as someone who does this.
Joe does not take himself too seriously. His studio is like a flea market stand, adorned with trinkets, toys, and memorabilia accumulated over the years. Politically controversial guests such as Alex Jones are the exception, not the norm, of a lineup that is otherwise anodyne, if not somewhat boring, such as nutritionists, fitness experts, or mixed marital artists. Unlike Jordan Peterson, he never positions himself to be taken seriously as a moral authority.