Our accelerating reign of madness. By Victor Davis Hanson.
First, a recap of the French Revolution, because the West is undergoing a drawn-out version of it right now:
The sometimes moderate Girondins, who favored constitutional government, were mostly executed by their former friends among the Montagnards. In turn, the latter were soon deemed too conservative for the emerging crazy Jacobins. So they, too, had to be decapitated. The ensuing year-long reign of terror guillotined thousands of innocents, deemed guilty of being guilty of something.
By 1793, the revolution had turned nihilist and suicidal. The foundational date of France was recalibrated as 1789 — or “year one.”
Jacobins sought to wipe out religion, both materially and spiritually. They replaced God, first, with the atheistic “Cult of Reason” and then a stranger still “Cult of the Supreme Being” — a dreamed-up, living, humanistic god that only the murderous Robespierre could fully envision, but eerily similar to our own Green New Deal deity.
The months of the year themselves were renamed, the days of the week renumbered and relabeled. Statues were toppled, first at night, later in shameless daylight. Place names were erased and renamed. The original revolutionary heroes were not to be mentioned; their uncouth successors deified. Money was printed to “spread the wealth” — until it was worthless.
Murderous cancel culture ran unchecked. Yesterday’s French revolutionary became today’s counterrevolutionary — and tomorrow’s decapitated.
Almost everyone who originally had opposed the absolute monarchy, and, like the Americans, wished for a constitutional replacement, was eventually executed by revolutionaries who were then executed by more radical revolutionaries. The longer and more radical the revolution ran, the meaner, dumber, and more deadly the revolutionaries who emerged from the woodwork.
Finally, what could not go on, did not go on, as French society unraveled. Then the so-called Thermidors put an end to the madness of the Robespierre brothers and their sidekick, the 26-year-old Saint-Just, and did to them what they had done to thousands.
The final revolutionary correction saw a Directory, then a Consulate, and finally the dictator Napoleon — the self-described emperor who claimed he was the final absolutist manifestation of the “Revolution.”
A revolution of the disingenuous:
We are swept up in similarly scary revolutionary times, after the perfect storm of the 2020 rioting, the COVID destructive lockdowns, and a radical socialist takeover of the old Democratic Party.
Decades of successful and legitimate efforts to ensure equality of opportunity, a safety net for the poor, and increased civil liberties have transmogrified into an “equity” agenda, or state-mandated equality of result — or else!
“Diversity” is now an Orwellian word for racial essentialism to the one-drop degree. Jim Crow racism was not eliminated permanently. It now has resurfaced as woke or “good” segregation. Racially separate facilities and events are apparent “reparatory justice.” Black activists are calling for $800 billion in reparations from San Francisco, a city that is melting down as we speak. …
Like the rich and elite Montagnards and Jacobins, well-off, degreed suburban grifters suddenly became “woke” arbiters of the “correct.” Thousands of diversity, equity, and inclusion czars bloated administrations, broke university budgets, and terrified faculty and employees with their panopticon surveillance. And yet did any of them result in a single better student reader, or at least one more accomplished university math major? Have K-12 scores soared with DEI monitors on hand?
We have not descended to the guillotine yet, but we are getting there with online cancel culture, doxxing, deplatforming, boycotts, mandatory diversity statements, indoctrination training, ostracism for an incorrect word, and violence redefined as activism. …
In our revolutionary times, mediocre biological male athletes “transition” into female sports and suddenly become rich and famous. Women who transition to males, for some reason, find no such profits from male competitions.
A black transient with 42 arrests and three assault convictions is accidentally killed by a would-be Samaritan bystander who takes action to stop his threats on the subway. The tragedy becomes a rallying cry for “activist” leaders, eager for continuous notoriety and profits, while 10,000 black people murdered per year, mostly by other black people, do not earn a snore from these same “civil rights” leaders. …
Like Revolutionary France, our woke revolution was contrary to human nature and therefore had to be imposed by force or coercion.
Merit is the great enemy of wokeness. One day SAT tests were blind mechanisms to allow the less privileged to compete on the basis of talent rather than parentage. The next day such tests were deemed counterrevolutionary, racist enemies of the people. Universities boast of rejecting 60-70 percent of those who scored perfect on SATs, as if their excellence was proof of their “privilege.”
Jurisprudence was tarred as racist, as if laws against shoplifting, looting, smash-and-grab, car-jacking, and arson were created only by elite white men who never had the need to steal or loot and who therefore made silly, arbitrary laws against them.
Like the Jacobins, our woke elite deem prisons arbitrary detention centers. So thousands of those arrested for committing violent crimes have either never been charged, never convicted, never sentenced, or never incarcerated. …
Advocating a secure border and strictly legal immigration was proof of nativism. Equal opportunity for all races was racism. Advocacy for the use of natural gas as a needed transitional fuel indicted one as a climate “denialist.”
What did you think would happen?
As our woke version of the Jacobin revolution accelerated, society itself began to unwind — as expected given America relied on meritocracy, free expression dissent, the rule of law, forbearance, and tolerance.
In less than three years, our major cities became filthy to the point of unhealthiness. Violent crime and thievery drove businesses and commuters away. Subways at night became the domain of the homeless and criminal. Vacancy rates in San Francisco or downtown Portland shot up to 25 percent or more. Millions began leaving Jacobin blue cities and states, and headed for sanctuaries in more suburban and rural red states.
Once-trusted and familiar government agencies became weaponized — and inevitably incompetent. The FBI was not interested in the organizers of 120 days of violent looting, arson, murder, and rioting in summer 2020, or the threatening mobs who showed up at the homes of Supreme Court Justices. Instead, it fixated on parents at school board meetings, Latin Mass Catholics, former Trump Administration officials, and anyone daring to question the Russian collusion or Russian disinformation laptop hoaxes. …
So, the world became topsy-turvy. Throwing a firebomb into a police-occupied patrol car earned a light sentence, while protesting illegally at the Capitol won a decade in prison.
An American who did not get vaccinated was to be thrown out of the U.S. military; an illegal alien crossing the border unlawfully without a vaccination might earn a free phone and free lodging in a big-city hotel. …
Leftist purity spirals always burn out eventually. This accelerating reign of craziness will end. Even the Soviet Union died, though it took 70 years.