Victor Davis Hanson points out how Progressive governance has created our own Third World, right here, and right next to most fantastically wealthiest neighborhoods in the country.
Blue State America has room for the technocrat Nomenklura and for their miserable helot servant class. Just no room for conventional families and a Middle Class.
In a recent online exchange, the YouTuber Casey Neistat posted his fury after his car was broken into and the contents stolen. Los Angeles, he railed, was turning into a “3rd-world s—hole of a city.”
The multimillionaire actor Seth Rogen chastised Neistat for his anger.
Rogen claimed that a car’s contents were minor things to lose. He added that while living in West Hollywood he had his own car broken into 15 times—but thought little of it.
Online bloggers ridiculed Rogen. No wonder—the actor lives in multimillion-dollar homes in the Los Angeles area, guarded by sophisticated security systems and fencing.
Vineyard roadsides used as dumps—a normal scene along rural avenues near my home
Yet both Neistat and Rogen accurately defined Third Worldization: the utter breakdown of the law and the ability of the rich within such a feudal society to find ways to avoid the violent chaos.
After traveling the last 45 years in the Middle East, southern Europe, Mexico, and Asia Minor, I observed some common characteristics of a so-called Third-World society. And all of them might feel increasingly familiar to contemporary Americans.
Whether in Cairo or Naples, theft was commonplace. Yet property crimes were almost never seriously prosecuted.
In a medieval-type society of two rather than three classes, the rich in walled estates rarely worry that much about thievery. Crime is written off as an intramural problem of the poor, especially when the middle class is in decline or nonexistent.
Violent crime is now soaring in America. But two things are different about America’s new criminality.
One is the virtual impunity of it. Thieves now brazenly swarm a store, ransack, steal, and flee with the content without worry of arrest.
Second, the Left often justifies crime as a sort of righteous payback against a supposedly exploitative system.
So, the architect of the so-called 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, preened of the summer 2020 riotous destruction of property: “Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence.” …
In the Third World, basic services—power, fuel, transportation, water—are characteristically unreliable: In other words, much like a frequent California brownout.
I’ve been on five flights in my life where it was announced there was not enough fuel to continue to the scheduled destination—requiring either turning around or landing somewhere on the way. One such aborted flight took off from Cairo, another from southern Mexico. The other three were this spring and summer inside the United States.
One of the most memorable scenes that I remember of Ankara, Old Cairo, or Algiers of the early 1970s were legions of beggars and the impoverished sleeping on sidewalks.
But such impoverishment pales in comparison to the encampments of present-day Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, or San Francisco. Tens of thousands live on sidewalks and in open view use them to defecate, urinate, inject drugs, and dispose of refuse.
In the old Third World, extreme wealth and poverty existed in close proximity. It was common to see peasants on horse-drawn wagons a few miles from coastal villas.
But there is now far more contiguous wealth and poverty in Silicon Valley. In Redwood City and East Palo Alto, multiple families cram into tiny bungalows and garages—often a few blocks from tony Atherton.
On the main streets outside of Stanford University and the Google campus, the helot classes sleep in decrepit trailers and buses parked on the streets.
Neistat was right in identifying a pandemic of crime in Los Angeles as Third Worldization.
But so was Rogen, though unknowingly so. The actor played the predictable role of the smug, indifferent Third World rich who master ignoring—and navigating around—the misery of others in their midst.
When you live to get old, you see a lot of changes, not all of them good. I doubt anybody could ever have predicted an America in which Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Robert E. Lee would be vilified, when the extremist politics of 150 years ago would return with new vigor, when the status of Reconstruction would be reconsidered and essentially resumed, and when liberals would reject Free Speech and the ABA ban books.
Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has invited in the U.N. to assess whether the United States meets global standards of justice or, in fact, is racist and in need of global censure: “I urge all U.N. member states to join the United States in this effort, and confront the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia,” he said last week.
That is like asking Libya in 2001 to assess whether our airline pilot training met proper standards or having China adjudicate the conditions in U.S. prisons.
America went from the freest country in the world in December 2019 to a repressive, and frightening place by July 2021. It went not so much hard-Left, as stark-raving mad.
That abrupt descent, too, is not workable and millions will collectively decide they have no choice but to push back and conclude, “In the 233rd year of our republic, we tens of millions are not going to cede freedom of thought and expression to thousands of Maoists. Sorry, no can do.”
Victor Davis Hanson finds that Joe Biden’s scolding negativity reminds him of the key moment of another democrat presidency.
Biden frowns. He grimaces. He occasionally barks and yells as he delivers a gloomy view of America and its people, past and present.
Admit it: We are all racists, then and now, captives of Jim Crow still. Biden needs as many fabricated enemies as he can find; otherwise, his speeches, his demeanor, his agenda are little more than absurdities. They cannot stand or fall on their own merits because they have none. So grumpy Biden, in his latest and final incarnation, is always anti-something, usually anti-Trump, anti-racism, and anti-everything traditional America is for.
Lots of bad white people still need to be rooted out—outside of the beltway. These are the ones never woken by Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the media, academia, the corporate boardroom, professional sports, and the foundations. These retrograde deplorables apparently won’t give up their “privilege” without a fight.
Bidenism demands these environmental desecrators must stop boiling the planet. We are a xenophobic nation that won’t let pioneering migrants enter the United States. We are a Neanderthal America full of people who won’t wear their masks when vaccinated and outdoors. We are a battered America still reeling from the Trump disasters on the border, the Trump failed coup on January 6, the Trump racism that led to peaceful equity marches all last summer.
So America needs a booster shot, a new way of electing presidents, a rebooted Supreme Court, new Senate rules, more states, and so much more—with so little time. The downer message makes Jimmy’s Carter’s old cardigan sweater sermons look inspiring, as the grey and sullen Joe himself makes Carter in retrospect seem sunny.
It’s long. I always wish people simply published their thoughts in written form rather than asking to sit and listen to them talk. But this one is definitely worth the trouble. I don’t think you’ll find a better explanation of what happened, why this election is questionable, and where we are.
No city gets a pass from history, not Athens, not Rome, not Alexandriaâ€”not Detroit, Baltimore, or Chicago.
After all, there is no rule that just because Bill Gates and Amazon headquartered in Seattle that its mayor, city council, and state governor will not abandon its signature downtown. What once made Portland great can be undone in a few weeks.
Wall Street may run the world, but it certainly does not run the New York City government. Electronic capital really does still have human legs and when the proverbial suited investor thinks he will be infected, short of toilet paper, or assaulted on the street, he leaves, taking his laptop with him. Bill de Blasio is left to govern, like a horned and bearded Visigoth, over an increasing shell of former grandeur.
To venture into San Francisco is to return in a time machine to 1855, a boomtown based on silicon chips, not gold dust, but one likewise lawless, fetid, and safe only for those with private security guards. To the casual visitor, it appears a lunatic place now recalibrated for the homeless, the looter, the assaulterâ€”and the very rich. Crimes like public defecation and drug use, or shattering the windows of a parked car window to steal its contents are not crimes unless the targets are the well-connected.
The story of all Dark Ages is that when civilizations finally prefer suicide, they do it easily, and the remnants flock to the countryside to preserve what they canâ€”allowing the cities to go on with their ritual self-destruction.
As a general rule, when the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Service, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CNN begin to parrot a narrative, the truth often is found in simply believing just the opposite.
Put another way, the mediaâ€™s â€œtruthâ€ is a good guide to what is abjectly false. Perhaps we can call the lesson of this valuable service, the mediaâ€™s inadvertent ability to convey truth by disguising it with transparent bias and falsehood, the â€œDoctrine of Media Untruth.â€
Victor Davis Hanson notes that times of crisis tend to make one wonder about where exactly the merit in the American Meritocracy resides.
In a sophisticated society under lockdown, is it more existentially valuable to know how to fix a toilet, replace a circuit breaker, or change a tire, or to be a New York fashion designer, a Hollywood actor, or a corporate merger lawyer? At 9 p.m., when you go downtown in need of a critical prescription, are you really all that furious that a law-abiding citizen who has a gun and concealed permit is also in lineâ€”or would you be more relieved that gun control laws might ensure that his ilk never enters an all-night pharmacy?
So who is important and who not?
We were often told globalized elites on the coast were the deserved 21st-century winners, while the suckers and rubes in-between had better learn coding or head to the fracking fields.
But who now is more important than the trucker who drives 12-hours straight to deliver toilet paper to Costco? Or the mid-level manager of Target who calibrates supply and demand and is on the phone all day juggling deliveries before his store opens? Or the checker at the local supermarket who knows that the hundreds of customers inches away from her pose risks of infection, and yet she ensures that people walk out with food in their carts? The farmworker who is on the tractor all night to ensure that millions of carrots and lettuce donâ€™t rot? The muddy frackers in West Texas who make it possible that natural gas reaches the home of the quarantined broker in Houston? The ER nurse on her fifth coronavirus of the day who matter-of-factly saves lives?
Do we really need to ask such questions of whether the presence of the czar for diversity and inclusion at Yale is missed as much as the often-caricatured cop on patrol at 2 a.m. in New Haven?
Do social justice student protestors who surround and heckle the politically suspicious now in ones and twos also scream in the faces of the incorrect plumber who unclogs their locked-down apartment drain?
The virus has reminded us again, but in an unorthodox fashion, that the world is bifurcated by the degreed versus the non-college educated, rural versus urban, sophisticates in opposition to supposed rubesâ€”and the dichotomy has been telling. I donâ€™t suppose Rick Wilson will go on CNN again to do his fake-Okie accent to ridicule the supposed unwashed, who deliver his food and energy, as viewers might wonder what exactly was his expertise.
Will multibillionaire Mike Bloomberg really convince anyone that a farmer operates by simplistic rote, and someone like himself is critical to Americaâ€”one who censored the politically incorrect reporting of his own journalists while he schemed to find ways to capitalize Chinese Communist-owned companies with western currenciesâ€”at huge multi-billion-dollar profits to himself?
When your refrigerator goes out under quarantine and your supplies begin to rot, do you really need another rant from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)â€”or do you rather need a St. Michael Smith and St. Uriel Mendoza to appear out of nowhere as the archangels from Home Depot to wheel up and connect a new one?
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1833-1836, New York Historical Society.
Victor Davis Hanson observes Contemporary Progressive “progress” and finds it rather lacking in comparison the past which it always sneers at and condemns.
In terms of learning, does anyone believe that a college graduate in 2020 will know half the information of a 1950 graduate?
In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable? Could todayâ€™s high-school graduate even finish â€œThe Good Earthâ€ or â€œThe Grapes of Wrathâ€?
True, social media is impressive. The internet gives us instant access to global knowledge. We are a more tolerant society, at least in theory. * But Facebook is not the Hoover Dam, and Twitter is not the Panama Canal.
Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.
As we walk amid the refuse, needles and excrement of the sidewalks of our fetid cities; as we sit motionless on our jammed ancient freeways; and as we pout on Twitter and electronically whine in the porticos of our Ivy League campuses, will we ask: â€œWho were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?â€
That clever old curmudgeon Victor Davis Hanson argues that colleges have been burying young people in student loan debt in return, too often, for worthless degrees in left-wing nonsense.
[T]he modern university has wrought has now outweighed its once positive role.
Let us count the ways higher education had done its part to nearly harm the United States. A new generation owes $1.5 trillion in student debtâ€”a sum that an increasing majority of debtors either cannot pay back or simply will not.
Oneâ€™s 20s are now redefined as the lost decade, as marriage, child-rearing, and home buying are put off, to the extent they still occur, into oneâ€™s 30s.
Bitterness abounds when graduates gradually learn that their liberal anti-capitalist professors and administrators were part of a profit-rigged system by which peasant students became financial cannon fodder. For all the hipster left-wing campus atmospherics, the university operated more or less as a Madoff/Ponzi scheme: for each new admitted class of students, the fed backed another round of usurious loans that could never be paid back by those of little means, and the university upped its prices.
The result was reduced teaching, a bonanza of release time, administrative bloat, Club Med dorms, gyms, and student unions, and epidemics of highly paid but non-teaching careerist advisors, and counselors.
The university was now in loco parentis, a sort of granny that babysat men and women of arrested development and encouraged the idea that they were helpless. The more students were considered â€œadultsâ€ in matters of loud and boisterous protests, obscene speech, binge drinking, common drug use, and hook-up sex, the more they wished to be treated as Victorian children. Suddenly kids were shocked that the inebriated acted dangerously and boorishly, upset that the targets of their attack did not like them, and furious that sexual congress without commitment and love was often manipulative and embedded within male callousness and deceit.
Adolescent-adults were oblivious to changing public attitudes that no longer put up with â€œcollege anticsâ€ but saw the university and its students and employees as pampered, hypocritical, intolerant, and often obnoxious. Shrill campus protests seemed like Antifa boot camps without the masks and clubs. …
Indebted students, many with largely worthless degrees, and few employment opportunities sufficient to repay their loans, have become a loyal progressive constituency. How odd that an entire generation, in psychologically and financially suspended animation, is seen as useful by the very politicos who created this labyrinth of exploitation in the first place.
Victor Davis Hanson marvels at how things have changed. Once upon a time, Americans of immigrant or minority background Americanized their names and whitened their skins and tried hard to pass as members of the American White Anglo-Saxon Protestant majority. Today, Barack Obama’s African identity won him the presidency, the Irish “Beto” O’Rourke pretended to be Hispanic in order to win a seat in the Senate, and Elizabeth Warren leveraged imaginary Cherokee blood into a Harvard professorship.
[I]n a multiracial society like ours no one is usually quite sure of any ancestry that he claims (ancestry companies run TV ads precisely on the notion that we will all be surprised by our DNA results). And when superficial appearance is no guarantee either of minority status (given that we have not yet established DNA badges or quite reestablished Old Confederate racial purity standards), almost anyone can say he is anyone he pleases. Nor is class much help, since thankfully it has become more or less divorced from race and ethnicity. (Most white deplorables and irredeemables did not grow up in upscale neighborhoods nor did they have educated parents like those of Harris and Ocasio-Cortez.)
Is race then becoming a mere construct that we put on and take off as though it were a suit of clothes? In our collective effort to create difference where it does not always exists, we would have to invent an Elizabeth Warren or Ward Churchill if they did not existâ€”given the perceived advantages of white suburbanites in gaining a part time minority cachet deemed advantageous in terms of career and psychological well-being.
How odd that our establishment insists that being â€œwhiteâ€ is synonymous with unearned â€œwhite privilege,â€ while millions of whites in job and college applications for decades have been trying to con fake minority-identities and while upscale minorities have no desireâ€”even when intermarried, assimilated, and integrated into the majority cultureâ€”of emphasizing the partial white ancestry that is so frequently part of their heritage. The old idea of â€œpassingâ€ now means hoping to be tagged as non-white, not white. The effort is certainly similar to the lunatic racial obsessions of the past, but the conditions under which advantage is measured have flipped completely. ….
Minority identity has become a brand for the upper middle class in the manner of a luxury car. One strives to drive a Mercedes or Jaguar not because it is more reliable or even all that much more drivable than a Toyota or Honda, but because it signals a particular cachet. And so too wealthy suburbanites often find emphasizing non-white identities useful even if it means occasionally constructing them.
Most of the constructed identity movement is deeply embedded within progressive and identity politics of the Left. In our strange society, a Shaun King, who appears to be as white as his birth certificate seems to suggest, is considered a more authentic African-American than a conservative and quite darker Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas, who grew up in poverty and discrimination in the Jim Crow South and yet is often despised by progressives as inauthentic. ….
In the past, immigrants of all classes and backgrounds sought to identify as Americans and did so authentically, on the premise that one left oneâ€™s old country for a reason and had no wish to replicate its failures in a new and preferred homeland.
Now many immigrants and natives often wish to distance themselves from the perception of belonging to American majority cultureâ€”but many do so as inauthentically as their less well off forefathers once authentically sought to join it.
Victor Davis Hanson sees the old American norms transformed in the Kavanaugh process, and he sees all this as a major milestone on the road of American decline.
The Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and their endless sequelae have ended up as an epitaph for a spent culture for which its remedies are felt to be worse than its diseases. Think 338 B.C., A.D. 476, 1453, or 1939.
The coordinated effort to destroy Brett Kavanaughâ€™s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court required the systematic refutation of the entire notion of Western jurisprudence by senators and much of the American legal establishment. And there was no hesitation in doing just that on the part of Senate Democrats, the #MeToo movement, and the press. And I write this at a moment in which conservatives and Republicans still control the majority of governorships, state legislatures, the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court and the presidencyâ€”a reminder that culture so often is far more powerful than politics.
So, here we were to be left with a new legal and cultural standard in adjudicating future disagreements and disputes, an utterly anti-Western standard quite befitting for our new relativist age:
The veracity of accusations will hinge on the particular identity, emotions, and ideology of the accuser;
Evidence, or lack of it, will be tangential, given the supposed unimpeachable motives of the ideologically correct accuser;
The burden of proof and evidence will rest with the accused to disprove the preordained assumption of guilt;
Hearsay will be a valuable narrative and constitute legitimate evidence;
Truth is not universal, but individualized. Fordâ€™s â€œtruthâ€ is as valid as the â€œTruth,â€ given that competing narratives are adjudicated only by access to power. Ford is a victim, therefore her truth trumps â€œtheirâ€ truth based on evidence and testimony.
Questionable and inconsistent testimony are proof of trauma and therefore exactitude; recalling an accusation to someone is proof that the action in the accusation took place.
Statutes of limitations do not exist; any allegation of decades prior is as valid as any in the present. All of us are subject at any moment to unsubstantiated accusations from decades past that will destroy lives.
Assertion of an alleged crime is unimpeachable proof. Recall of where, when, why, and how it took place is irrelevant.
Individual accusations will always be subservient to cosmic causes; individuals are irrelevant if they do not serve ideological aims. All accusations fit universal stereotypes whose rules of finding guilt or innocence trump those of individual cases.
The accuser establishes the conditions under which charges are investigated; the accused nods assent.
Our cultural traditions are being insidiously rewritten in this new Dark Age. We know now that Euripidesâ€™s Phaedra should have been believed, as a female accuser of rape. Perhaps university presses can either reissue properly corrected editions or ban the Hippolytus entirely. No doubt we will ban Racineâ€™s PhÃ¨dre as well. Harper Leeâ€™s Tom Robinson deserved his fate because his female accuser should have been believedâ€”and perhaps To Kill a Mockingbird should be rewritten as well. In our time, we have finally and only now belatedly realized that Tawana Brawleyâ€™s voice was stifled.
If all this is not a scandal â€” then the following protocols are now considered permissible in American electoral practice and constitutional jurisprudence: An incumbent administration can freely use the FBI and the DOJ to favor one side in a presidential election, by buying its opposition research against the other candidate, using its own prestige to authenticate such a third-party oppositional dossier, and then using it to obtain court-ordered wiretaps on American citizens employed by a candidateâ€™s campaign â€” and do so by deliberately misleading the court about the origins and authors of the dossier that was used to obtain the warrants.