Category Archives: Civlization

One California for me, another for thee

by Victor Davis Hanson // Tribune Content Agency 

No place on the planet is as beautiful and as naturally rich as California. And few places have become as absurd.

Currently, three California state senators are either under felony indictment or already have been

Yosemite Valley; Tobias Müller

Yosemite Valley; Tobias Müller

convicted.

State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) made a political career out of demanding harsher state gun-control laws. Now he is facing several felony charges for attempting to facilitate gun-running. One count alleges that Lee sought to provide banned heavy automatic weapons to Philippines-based Islamic terrorist groups.

State Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), who had succeeded one brother, Thomas, in the state Assembly and was succeeded by another brother, Charles, now faces felony charges of wire fraud, bribery, money laundering and falsification of tax returns.

State Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood), originally entered politics as a champion of social justice. Not long ago, the Democratic leaders of theCalifornia Senate in secretive fashion paid $120,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual-harassment suit against Wright. But this time around, not even his fellow senators could save Wright, who was convicted earlier this year on eight felony counts of perjury and voter fraud.

What is the common denominator with all three California senators — aside from the fact that they are still receiving their salaries?

One, they are abject hypocrites who campaigned against old-boy insider influence-peddling so they could get elected to indulge in it.

Two, they assumed that their progressive politics shielded them from the sort of public scrutiny and consequences that usually deter such deplorable behavior. Read more →

Technology and Wisdom

Tech advancements make it too easy to forget age-old realities.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

Americans now have more computer power in their smart phones than did the

AVIDAC was Argonne's first digital computer. Designed and built by Argonne's Physics Division for $250,000, it began operations Jan. 28, 1953.

AVIDAC was Argonne’s first digital computer. Designed and built by Argonne’s Physics Division for $250,000, it began operations Jan. 28, 1953.

Pentagon in all its computer banks just 30 years ago. We board a sophisticated jet and assume that the flight is no more dangerous than crossing the street.

The downside of this complete reliance on computer gadgetry is a fundamental ignorance of what technology is. Smart machines are simply the pumps that deliver the water of knowledge — not knowledge itself.

What does it matter that millions of American students can communicate across thousands of miles instantly with their iPads and iPhones if a poorly educated generation increasingly has little to say?

The latest fad of near-insolvent universities is to offer free iPads to students so that they can access information more easily. But what if most undergraduates still have not been taught to read well or think inductively, or to have some notion of history? Speeding up their ignorance is not the same as imparting wisdom. Requiring a freshman Latin course would be a far cheaper and wiser investment in mastering language, composition, and inductive reasoning than handing out free electronics. Read more →

Western Arrogance and Decline

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine 

For three centuries the West built up enormous economic, cultural, and military capital that dwarfs and dominates that of the rest of the world. Other countries may hate and resent Europe and the United States, but they still have to imitate, adapt, or steal the technology, financial systems, and even popular culture of the Titus_LiviusWest. Yet this dominance has come at a price for Westerners, one that contains the seeds of our decline.

One baleful effect of this achievement has been the erosion of the virtues and ideals that created Western dominance in the first place, a phenomenon long recognized as the cost of national success. Two thousand years ago the Roman historian Livy, surveying the wreckage of the Roman Republic, invited his reader to contemplate the “life and manners” of his ancestors that led to their dominance, and “then, as discipline gradually declined, let him follow in his thoughts their morals, at first as slightly giving way, next how they sunk more and more, then began to fall headlong, until he reaches the present times, when we can neither endure our vices, nor their remedies.” Livy specifically linked this decline to the vast increase of wealth that followed the success of Rome, and that “introduced avarice, and a longing for excessive pleasures, amidst luxury and a passion for ruining ourselves and destroying every thing else.”

Clichés, one might say, but no less true for that. The astonishing wealth of the West, more widely distributed than in any other civilization, the abandonment of religion as the foundation of morals and virtues, the transformation of political freedom into self-centered license, and the commodification of hedonism that makes available to everyman luxuries and behaviors once reserved for a tiny elite, have made self-indulgence and the present more important than self-sacrifice and the future. Declining birthrates, a preference for Read more →

The World of the Coliseum

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

I woke up one morning not long ago, and noticed that the world that I was born into no longer exists. It was as if I had once lived in Republican Italy, took a nap, and awoke to the Roman 472px-Carl_Gustav_Carus_-_Das_Kolosseum_in_einer_MondnachtEmpire, AD 200.

Latifundia

Let me explain. All the farms in these environs that I grew up with — 40-80 acres with a farmhouse and family — have simply vanished.

Where did they go?

I suppose when I meet someone with 5,000 acres that I am supposed to think that spread represents the old, and now recombined, 100 50-acre farms under new management. Yet where did the 100 farm households go — and what replaced them?

When I ride around the rural landscape, I see the old skeletons of farmhouses; but they are mostly rented to farm workers.  Are the social circumstances of renting a house and working on a 5,000-acre farm different from 100 agrarian households doing it — in terms of local PTA, Little League, the regional hospital board, or city council?

I leave it to you to decide. I can attest only that in terms of agricultural productivity, today’s 8,000-acre almond operations look far more efficient, up to date, and savvy than what 100 80-acre almond orchards used to seem like: old barn, clunky tractors in the yard, kids out in the orchard not up on the latest scientific approaches to fertilization, mom doing the books in a way the computerized corporate whiz kid would laugh at, tight-fisted gramps hobbling about looking for loose tire-popping nails in the alleyway while giving sermons about avoiding a mortgage. Read more →

The Launch of the Freedom Academy

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

Today launches the Freedom Academy®, a project some 18 months in the making. In the FA-homepage-9_23_13_01present age, we need a meeting place where people can rediscover what freedom entails and appreciate the origins and role of liberty. The majority of Americans yearn for a rebirth of these values that have sustained Western civilization, and birthed the American experiment. Such reverence for our heritage and origins is why we at PJ Media will offer a variety of ways to understand our present dilemmas through an appreciation of past ideas and events.

Despite all the contemporary upheavals in Washington—whether over the government shutdown, debt-ceiling increase, or Obamacare—we can be certain that history remains both our gateway to the future and our window to the past. The political strife we are witnessing is not new, but a continuance of the age-old struggle between the tragic and therapeutic views of the human condition, over the collision of history and humanities with the social sciences, and the liberty of the individual pitted against the coercive power of the collective. Read more →

Don’t Know Much About Geography

by Victor Davis Hanson // Tribune Media Services

In Sam Cooke’s classic 1959 hit “Wonderful World,” the lyrics downplayed formal learning with lines like, “Don’t know much about history … Don’t know much about geography.” Read more →

Our Postmodern Angst

In our unheroic age, victimhood has replaced valiant struggle.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

In the globally connected and affluent world of the 21st century, we thankfully have evolved a long way from the elemental poverty, hunger, and ethnic, religious, and racial hatred that were mostly the norm of the world until the last century.800px-Beer_summit_cheers

Yet who would know of such progress — and the great sacrifices made to achieve it — from the howls of our postmodern oppressed? In fact, the better life has become, the more victimized modern affluent Westerners seem to act. Read more →

Back to our 20th-century future

by Victor Davis Hanson // Tribune Media Services

We may be in the era of Facebook and fracking. But 2013 is still beginning to look a lot like the cataclysmic century we just left behind.

More people probably died from the wars of the 20th century than from the battles of the prior 2,500 years combined. The bloodiest century saw the rise of fascism, Nazism, communism and jihadism. Read more →

Flying as Torture

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

As the Fourth of July nears, be careful of flying. Read more →

The Glue Holding America Together

As it fragments into various camps, the country is being held together by a common popular culture.

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

By a.d. 200, the Roman Republic was a distant memory. Few citizens of the global Roman Empire even knew of their illustrious ancestors like Scipio or Cicero. Millions no longer spoke Latin. Italian emperors were a rarity. There were no national elections. Read more →