Are We in A Revolution and Don’t Even Know It?
We are in the midst of a revolutionary epoch and probably most don’t even know it.
By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON – August 16, 2021
Institutions are being absorbed not just by the woke apparat, but by an array of ideologies that seeks to destroy them.
The collective madness that ensued from the pandemic, the quarantine, the self-induced recession, the George Floyd killing and subsequent months of exempted riots, the election year, and the resurgence of variants of the Chinese-engineered coronavirus, all ignited the fuse of formerly inert socialist dynamite. And the ensuing explosion of revolutionary fervor in just a few months has made America almost unrecognizable.
“Workers of the world unite!” was the old Marxist internationalist war cry. The perceived enemies of coerced socialism were nationalism—and the idea of singular countries defined by borders containing unique citizens legally distinct from mere migratory residents, and sharing ties and traditions that transcended race and class. All that is now problematic.
If it is true that two million illegal aliens will cross the southern border with impunity in the current fiscal year, then the Biden agenda is apparently to help erode the idea of citizenship and anybody defined as an American. Under the socialist ethos, the indigent in Yucatan and the impoverished migrant from Nigeria have as much right to enter and live in the United States as U.S. citizens. And their respective rights under the living Constitution are now nearly identical.
In just seven months, our southern border has vanished. Apparently, it was an artificial construct that obstructed the migrations of the global community. We are back to a natural, pre-civilizational and Rousseauian idea of freeing migrating tribes from the chains of civilization. And what better way to start than dispensing with unique borders, citizenship, and the idea of a nation state?
Socialism aligns foreign policy with the interests of the global oppressed rather than the citizens of a particular nation. In reductionist terms, what do lifting sanctions on Iran and appeasing its theocracy, reaching out to Hamas and snubbing Israel, and allowing the Taliban to overrun Afghanistan have in common? Just as the United States is trying to rebrand itself as a sort of new, non-Western nation, so it clumsily seeks to recalibrate its foreign policy to cease support for the overdog, the American client, and the more Westernized. We are to believe that an empowered Persian Shiite crescent offers equity to the silenced of the Middle East. The Taliban, perhaps regrettably, better represents indigenous Afghan culture than does the Westernized bourgeois elite in Kabul. Hezbollah and Hamas are the more authentic Middle Easterners than the Western Zionist interlopers of Israel. In other words, our foreign policy is in a revolutionary flux.
Liberals try to yank capitalism to the left; but true revolutionaries seek to dismantle the very tenets upon which it is based. No wonder that a recent poll showed most Democrats had a more favorable view (59 percent) of socialism than of capitalism (49 percent).
So, the Right shouts “They are socialists!” And the Left fires back “smears and lies!” while quietly the Biden Administration has already begun systematically to warp the rules of free-market capitalism. In other words, we are apparently all to be socialists now.
By continuing to suspend rental payments to landlords who have no redress to the courts for violations of their contractual leases, the government essentially has redefined private property as we know it. Who really owns an apartment or a room in a house if the occupant has not paid rent since last spring? Is the de facto owner the renter in physical control of the unit, or the increasingly impotent title holder who must still pay the insurance, taxes, and upkeep?
Do we still recognize the principle that those who owe money must pay it back? Biden is talking about vastly expanding any prior idea of student loan debt cancellations by massive new amnesties. As capitalism transitions into socialism, what about the parents who saved to pay their children’s tuition, the students who worked part-time and took only the units they could pay for, or the working-class youths who decided loans were too risky and preferred instead at 18 to go straight to work?
Are they hapless Kulaks? And what do we name the indebted students and the loan-sharking universities who finagled a collective $1.7 trillion in student debt? Revolutionaries? Who pays for what others have incurred?
Supply and demand under capitalism adjudicate wages and thus the rate of unemployment. But have we ever seen an expanding economy seeking to meet pent-up consumer demands for goods and services without the labor to meet that need? The workers are everywhere and nowhere, but the government has deliberately persuaded millions not to return officially to work, given rising unemployment compensation is more remunerative than the wages of working. Have we now finally embraced the old Marxist canard, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”?
Inflation and the devaluation of the currency are now seemingly a good thing; printing dollars erodes the savings of the thrifty and money spreads to those who allegedly need and deserve it.
Note we owe nearly $30 trillion in national debt. Yet as the Biden Administration runs a $2 trillion annual deficit, it pushes an “infrastructure” bill that will mean additionally somewhere between $2 to $4 trillion of more printed cash. Ronald Reagan talked of “starving the beast”—cutting taxes to deprive the voracious bureaucratic state of its fiscal food.
Now instead we are “gorging the beast”: exponentially expanding government with so much debt that higher taxes are inevitable. And with the red ink comes redistribution in the socialist sense of borrowing more to give to the deserving, and taking more from the undeserving—to borrow even more for the more deserving still.
Socialism does not believe in the construct of “merit,” given it is predicated on free will that trends supposedly towards selfishness, and results in an absence of “equity”: that is why colleges have dropped standardized tests for applicants, and are jettisoning traditional ideas of “exclusionary” honors programs.
Remember, under socialism, in T-ball style, we all win—or lose. Our shared purposes are not to help meet and surpass purportedly artificially constructed standards of excellence to ensure greater prosperity, security, and comfort, but to demolish such ossified constructs, and rebrand the formerly failed as the now successful.
The revolution has already redefined crime as a construct in the eye of the bourgeois beholder. Our woke elite told us to cool it for 120 days of last summer’s riots, looting and arson, since in the words of the “1619 Project” architect and former New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, “Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence.” Torch a federal courthouse, a church, or police precinct and why worry over mere “brick and mortar”? Take over a few city blocks and, presto, we have a “summer of love.”
“Defund the police” became a socialist slogan supposedly to remind us that “crime” is what the rich call going into Walgreens to grab something they never fret about needing. COVID-19 is not the real reason why prisoners are freed from jails and prison to commit new crimes at an alarming rate. Indeed, those people didn’t really commit crimes so much as reflect society’s bad karma of arbitrarily labeling what they did as “crimes” in the first place, which in truth were often simply cries from the heart.
Two years ago, it would have been considered absurd that youth would ride bikes into drug stores and steal with impunity as security guards watched, or thieves could enter into Neiman-Marcus department stores and skip out with thousands of dollars of rich people’s favorites. Over $2 billion in “stuff” was destroyed in 2020. And almost none of the violence was ever properly investigated, the perpetrators arrested, charged, tried, convicted, sentenced, or incarcerated.
In such revolutionary times, no one knows any more what is and is not a crime. Illegally storming the border when positive for COVID-19? Destroying a public statue of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson? Looting a corporate chain store? Knocking out an Asian-American septuagenarian? Or turning over the tables of Jewish-Americans as they eat? Taking over municipal blocks and declaring the confiscation an autonomous zone? Not crimes. “Illegal parading” inside the U.S. Capitol building? Crime.
Twenty years ago, on the eve of 9/11, there were earlier heated debates over cash reparations. The acrimony has now again resurfaced after the rioting that followed the death of George Floyd.
Yet the Left this time around did not envision reparations as just monetary gifting for the distant descendants of the enslaved and the generations who grew up under Jim Crow. Rather, it is already recalibrating the Great Society doctrine of “proportional representation” quotas, achieved through “disparate impact,” into new reparatory and disproportionate quotas and allotments.
We are jettisoning the old idea under our Lebanese-like system of racial spoils that each group deserved representation in hiring and admission commensurate to its percentages of the population—trumping many traditional meritocratic criteria of examination scores, grades, or prior work experience.
No more. If one examines current fall 2021 entering classes at many of our elite universities, many minority groups will enroll with numbers disproportionate to their current demographic percentages but proportionate to the idea of reparatory “overrepresentation.”
The same holds true of the racial make-up of new television shows and commercials, pilot training programs, and corporate board room representation. Again, the idea is that blacks, for example, should be represented in percentages exceeding 12 percent in any coveted honors or awards—to make up for past underrepresentation, given prior mere proportionality offers no reparatory justice.
In a strange way, for all the furor over reparation payments, the issue already is beginning to be settled quietly by our major institutions. Note class consideration will have no role in such disproportionate and compensatory action.
Another revolutionary crackpot idea was ending nuclear power and fossil fuels and replacing them with wind and solar generation that would power our homes and our new envisioned national fleet of electric cars. No one quite believed the revolutionary Left would be so suicidal as to spike the energy costs of the middle class, make the United States dependent again on imported oil from the autocratic Middle East and Russia, and strangle the oil and gas industry that had enriched America.
But without much debate, Joe Biden has cancelled the huge ANWR oil and gas project in Alaska. He shut down the Keystone Pipeline and destroyed Alberta’s export of oil to the United States. He nixed all new fossil fuel leases on federal lands. He discouraged frackers from using their full inventory of rigs. As gasoline heads to $5 a gallon, Joe Biden, in the months before the next midterm elections, asks OPEC to send us its hated carbon fuel to help our addicted, but suddenly furious, commuter-voters.
Here is a final reminder of why the revolution has already turned society upside down. The canniest elements of the aristocracy always cut deals with the revolution and indeed often remain the nomenklatura. What unites Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and the Silicon Valley billionaire crowd are the exemptions they purchased from revolutionary justice.
In the old days they would have gotten dachas on the Black Sea coast and three dial phones on their desks. These days they keep their billions if they give a hundred million dollars in “civility” bounties here to Van Jones (ex-truther and expert on why white people are supposedly responsible for mass shootings) or there seed $500 million to key voting precincts to help ensure the good people defeat the bad.
In 1961, Cubans were not quite aware that they were experiencing a Marxist takeover. Nor were Russians fully cognizant in 1917 of the plans that the Bolsheviks had for them over the next few decades. It is hard to see during anarchy, chaos, and collapsing institutions that leftists still have an agenda for what will emerge on the other side.
In other words, we are in the midst of a revolutionary epoch and probably most don’t even know it.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a Member of the Board of Advisors for both the Independent Institute as well as its quarterly journal, The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy.