Returning to a Primitive Past

Returning to a Primitive Past. By Victor Davis Hanson.

California dumbs down:

What was bequeathed to us from a state of 15 million — magnificent aqueducts, once brilliantly designed freeways and airports, superb universities and schools, perfectly engineered reservoirs, and downtowns of majestic skyscrapers — in a California of 41 million are frozen in amber or in decay. They have few updates and even fewer replacements. The decrepitude recalls the weedy forums and choked fountains of Vandal-era Roman cities, which is what happens when a later parasitic generation mocks but still consumes what it inherits but cannot create.

Our own generation’s pale contributions are multibillion-dollar, quarter-built, graffiti-defaced high-speed rail Stonehenge monoliths. We prefer to shut down rather than build nuclear plants. Our solar battery plants are as prone to combust as they are to store electricity. And our urban streets reek of feces. All seem testaments to our incompetence, arrogance, and ignorance. …

Our great universities, once the most esteemed in the world from Berkeley and Stanford to UCLA and USC, grow burdened with commissars, too many of their outnumbered faculties are weaponized, and their students have never been more confident in their abilities, and with so little reason for that confidence.

A return to syllabi and grading standards of just 30 years ago would result in mass flunkings. Failure on tests apparently means the test, not the test taker, is found wanting. …

What follows is the erosion of meritocracy and competence. And that reality is starting to explain the great unraveling: why our bridges take decades to build rather than a few years, why train tracks are not laid after a decade of “planning,”and why to drive down a once brilliantly engineered, but now crammed and dangerous road is to revisit the “Road Warrior” of film. Sam Bankman-Fried and Elizabeth Holmes are the apt characters of our age.


The American middle class is shrinking, if not insidiously sliding into indebted peasantry. Westerners are regressing and by design, now deciding daily whether to top up the tank, turn up the heat, or buy beef.

Society is also bifurcating. A tiny powerful minority has more leverage than any other elite in the history of civilization. And a large underclass of subsidized poor shares with the wealthy a disdain for the struggling middle class, the old bulwark of democracy. …

Our Rhine and Danube:

America is rapidly resembling something like wide-open fifth-century A.D. Rome, when its traditional inviolable northern borders on the Rhine and Danube rivers vanished. Thousands of unassimilated tribes crisscrossed as they pleased on the premise that no one among their overripe, soft hosts could or would dare stop them. …

The legal immigrant waiting in line to enter the United States is considered a fool, while illegal aliens and residents instead quickly absorb three messages from their hosts. First, illegal residents will often be treated better than American citizens, at least in terms of lax law enforcement, various legal exemptions and amnesties, and unaudited entitlements.

Second, many will soon learn they can assume immediate moral claims against the majority population of their new home, who can be seen as racist oppressors and obligated to offer reparatory concessions in terms of hiring, admissions, and entitlements.

Third, too many will quickly learn, Ilhan Omar-style, to harbor a quiet derision for their benefactors. Their contempt is not due to Americans’ dearth of magnanimity and generosity, much less to “systemic racism.” Instead, their American hosts are silently assumed to be naïve, timid, overly solicitous, malleable, easily manipulated, rolled, and conned — especially when it is understood that if the roles were reversed and the entrants were the hosts, they would have a different notion of borders.

The idea of 330 million American citizens of different incidental races and ethnicities united by a common American identity of shared values, customs, and traditions is all but mocked. In its place is arising something like the former Yugoslavia — an undefined mishmash of competing and increasingly hostile tribal interests, with residents sorting themselves out into red and blue states that eventually will lead to two antithetical Americas.

But you wouldn’t know it from the narrative media.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific