The Sovietization of American Life

The Sovietization of American Life. By Victor David Hanson.

One day historians will look back at the period beginning with the COVID lockdowns of spring 2020 through the midterm elections of 2022 to understand how America for over two years lost its collective mind and turned into something unrecognizable and antithetical to its founding principles.

“Sovietization” is perhaps the best diagnosis of the pathology. It refers to the subordination of policy, expression, popular culture, and even thought to ideological mandates. Ultimately such regimentation destroys a state since dogma wars with and defeats meritocracy, creativity, and freedom. …

One party rule has a certain odor:

Examine California and ask a series of simple questions.

Why does the state that formerly served as a model to the nation regarding transportation now suffer inferior freeways while its multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project remains an utter boondoggle and failure?

Why was its safe and critically needed last-remaining nuclear power plant scheduled for shutdown (and only recently reversed) as the state faced summer brownouts?

Why did its forests go up in smoke predictably each summer, as its timber industry and the century-old science of forest management all but disappeared from the state?

Why do the state’s criminals so often evade indictment, and if convicted are often not incarcerated — or are quickly paroled?

Why are its schools’ test scores dismal, its gasoline the nation’s highest-priced, and the streets of its major cities fetid and dangerous — in a fashion not true 50 years ago or elsewhere today?

In a word, the one-party state is Sovietized. Public policy is no longer empirical but subservient to green, diversity, equity, and inclusion dogmas — and detached from the reality of daily middle-class existence. Decline is ensured once ideology governs problem-solving rather than time-tested and successful policymaking.

In a similar fashion, the common denominator in Joe Biden’s two years of colossal failures is Soviet-like edicts of equity, climate change, and neo-socialist redistribution that have ensured (for the non-elite, in any event) soaring inflation, unaffordable energy, rampant crime, and catastrophic illegal immigration. Playing the role of Pravda, Biden and his team simply denied things were bad, relabeled failure as success, and attacked his predecessor and critics as various sorts of counterrevolutionaries.

Ideology rules and propaganda abounds. Reality and truth can take a hike (but they’ll be back).

Merit? So old-fashioned.

There can be no expertise under Sovietization; everything and everyone serves ideology. Our military — especially its four-star generals, current and retired — parroted perceived ideologically correct thought. Repeating party lines about diversity, white supremacy, and climate change are far more relevant for career advancement than proof of prior effective military leadership in battle. …

Universities’ abandonment of test scores and diminution of grades — replaced by “community service” and race, gender, and sexuality criteria — has simply clarified the bankruptcy of the entire higher education industry.

Our “diversity statements” required for hiring at many universities are becoming comparable to Soviet certifications of proper Marxist-Leninist fidelity. Like the children of Soviet Party apparatchiks, privileged university students now openly attack faculty whose reading requirements or lectures supposedly exude scents of “colonialism” or “imperialism” or “white supremacy.” ..

We have our own Emmanuel Goldsteins who, we are told, deserve our three minutes of hate for counterrevolutionary thought and practice. Donald Trump earned the enmity of the CIA, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the IRS. Now Elon Musk and his companies are suddenly the targets of the progressive state, including repartees from the president himself. To vent, the popular Soviet directs its collective enmity at a Dave Chappelle or Bill Maher, progressives who exhibit the occasional counterrevolutionary heresy.

Cabinet secretaries ignore their duties—somewhat understandable given their resumes never explained their appointments. What binds a Pete Buttigieg, Alejandro Mayorkas, and Jennifer Granholm is not expertise in transportation, border security, or energy independence but allegiance to an entire menu of woke policies that are often antithetical to their own job descriptions. …

As the Soviets and Maoists discovered — and as was true of the Jacobins, National Socialists, and cultural Marxists — once radical ideology defines success, then life in general becomes anti-meritocratic.

The public privately equates awards and recognition with political fealty, not actual achievement. .. Does a Pulitzer Prize, a Ford Foundation grant, or a MacArthur award denote talent and achievement or more often promote diversity, equity, and inclusion narratives? …

Anti-meritocracy brings its inevitable rewards:

We are starting to see the final denouement with missing baby formula, epidemics of shootings and hate crimes, train-robbings reminiscent of the Wild West in Los Angeles, Tombstonesque shoot-up Saturday nights in Chicago, spiking electricity rates and brownouts, $7 a gallon diesel fuel, unaffordable and scarce meat, and entire industries from air travel to home construction that simply no longer work.

The future of the Soviet USA beckons. The 2022 midterms are shaping up as pretty important, as perhaps the last peaceful chance to draw back from the woke path to Sovietization.