America The Weird

America The Weird, by Victor Davis Hanson.

In general, outside the West, few of the seven billion people alive today enjoy human rights and the protection of property. The rule of law and freedom of expression are taken for granted in Europe and the United States, and residents there enjoy both economic prosperity and physical security. These exceptions to the global norms of repression, autocracy, tribalism, sectarian violence, and fundamentalism are found only either in the West proper, or in a few Westernized nations in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

It may now be politically incorrect to suggest that, compared to countries like Afghanistan and Rwanda, different premises animate the social and political order of Europe, the United States, the English-speaking nations of the former British Commonwealth, and the West’s close allies such as Israel, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. But it is nonetheless true. The yearly migrations to these countries of millions of non-Westerners demonstrate that reality. Immigration is now nearly always a one-way pathway to the West or Westernized countries from the non-West. People vote with their feet in a more honest and concrete fashion than at the ballot box. …

The present West is once again bifurcating. Its two poles — Europe and the United States — are roughly equal in population and economic size. … Europe is increasingly becoming statist, utopian, pacifist, and remains traumatized from two World Wars and its role as the trip wire of the Cold War. …

In general, Europe is still captive to the ideals of the French Revolution: an equality of result, mandated and often enforced by hereditary elites not fully subject to the ramifications of their own professed egalitarian ideologies. …

Americans generally lack such idealistic pretensions … The original vision of the Founders — to protect freedom and liberty by limiting the power of government with a system of checks and balances — was quite different than the European ideals of mandated fraternity and egalitarianism. …

America remains the exceptional Western nation … Its cocktail of property rights, unfettered oil and gas development, muscular national defense, gun rights, religiosity, free-market economics, limited government, philanthropy, and great private universities is, again, unlike anything in the West.

Likewise, its excesses that arise from the marriage of free-market affluence and constitutionally protected unfettered expression, in the eyes of the world, appear often as license and indulgence. Certainly, the First and Second Amendments, the National Football League, rap music, the U.S. Marine Corps, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the Ivy League, or 24/7 cable news could not originate elsewhere.

The result is that America exists both as the world’s refuge and its beacon, the sole place where individuals can find a safe harbor. Only in America can the individual remain free and able to live his life under the assumption that the major decisions of his life are his own and not predicated on state approval. Only in the United States does the rags to riches story still exist, given that neither regulation, the deep state, nor an entrenched aristocracy can fully suppress entrepreneurs or aspiring capitalists.

In particular, America serves a variety of crucial roles within the West. It offers a psychological and ideological check on European socialism, in that America’s greater economic robustness and continued military superiority remind Europe that its drift toward statism will only make it less competitive and result in an unhealthy dependency on U.S. arms.