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Who Are Those Darned “Elites”?

Defining Ideas

The United States and Europe are seeing a surge in populist anger toward the so-called elites. The German public, for example, is furious at Chancellor Angela Merkel for her position on immigration from the Middle East. British voters have forsaken the postmodern European Union. And working class Americans have rallied around political outsider Donald Trump as their presidential favorite, something that neither the Clinton machine nor the establishment of the Republican Party anticipated.

But who exactly are these unpopular elites—and what exactly have they done that has enraged middle-class voters in Western democracies?

Since ancient times, elites have been defined various ways, sometimes by birth (the Greeks’ hoi aristoi), by capital (hoi plousioi), by perceived class (hoi oligoi), by acknowledged influence (hoi gnorimoi), by high culture (hoi beltistoi)—and sometimes by a combination of all of the above.

Today, people are especially mad at political elites, a loose term for those who govern at the state and federal level. They include not just our elected legislators, governors, and President, but also the unelected (and unaccountable) members of the vast government archipelago—cabinet officers, bureaucratic grandees, top military officers, and regulators. Beyond these politicos, the Western elite is comprised, too, of the transnational mega-wealthy, who have been enriched by globalization, especially international finance, investments, and technologies that lubricate worldwide dissemination of capital and communications.

An elite is also defined by education (preferably Ivy League and its coastal counterparts), residence (primarily between Boston and Washington on the East Coast, and from San Diego to Berkeley on the Pacific), profession (executive positions in government, media, law, foundations, the arts, and academia), celebrity (name recognition from television, Hollywood, network news, finance, etc.), and ideology, such as those prominent in the progressive movement. To receive a glimpse of our next generation of elites, read the betrothal notices in The New York Times, look at the interns at Goldman Sachs, and consider the junior faculty at Harvard. Read more →

The More Things Change, the More They Actually Don’t

Technology hasn’t changed the core of who we are, and history proves it.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Why Hillary Is Never Held Accountable for Her Lies

The media excuse her mendacity because it serves the progressive cause.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Imagine There’s No Border

A world without boundaries is a fantasy.
By Victor Davis Hanson // City Journal

Borders are in the news as never before. After millions of young, Muslim, and mostly male refugees flooded into the European Union last year from the war-torn Middle East, a popular revolt arose against the so-called Schengen Area agreements, which give free rights of movement within Europe. The concurrent suspension of most E.U. external controls on immigration and asylum rendered the open-borders pact suddenly unworkable. The European masses are not racists, but they now apparently wish to accept Middle Eastern immigrants only to the degree that these newcomers arrive legally and promise to become European in values and outlook—protocols that the E.U. essentially discarded decades ago as intolerant. Europeans are relearning that the continent’s external borders mark off very different approaches to culture and society from what prevails in North Africa or the Middle East.

A similar crisis plays out in the United States, where President Barack Obama has renounced his former opposition to open borders and executive-order amnesties. Since 2012, the U.S. has basically ceased policing its southern border. The populist pushback against the opening of the border with Mexico gave rise to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump—predicated on the candidate’s promise to build an impenetrable border wall—much as the flood of migrants into Germany fueled opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel. Read more →

Diversity: History’s Pathway to Chaos

America’s successful melting pot should not be replaced with discredited salad-bowl separatism.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

The Great Regression

Today, it seems that Orwell’s 1984 would better have been titled 2016.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Why borders matter — and a borderless world is a fantasy

By Victor Davis Hanson // Los Angeles Times

Borders are in the news as never before. With Muslim refugees flooding into the European Union from the Middle East, and with terrorism on the rise, a popular revolt is taking shape against the so-called Schengen Area agreements, which give free rights of movement within Europe. The European masses are not racists, but they now apparently wish to accept Middle Eastern immigrants only to the degree that these newcomers arrive legally and promise to become European in values and outlook—protocols that the EU essentially discarded decades ago as intolerant. Europeans are relearning that the continent’s external borders mark off very different approaches to culture and society from what prevails in North Africa or the Middle East. Read more →

America In Free Fall

By Victor Davis Hanson // Defining Ideas

 

Before the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), where Philip II of Macedon prevailed over a common Greek alliance, the city-states had been weakened by years of social and economic turmoil. To read the classical speeches in the Athenian assembly is to learn of the democracy’s constant struggles with declining revenues, insolvency, and expanding entitlements. Rome between the First Triumvirate (59 BC) and the ascension of Caesar Augustus’s autocracy (27 BC) was mostly defined by gang violence, chaos, and civil war, the common theme being a loss of trust in republican values. Russia was in a revolutionary spiral for nearly twenty years between 1905 and the final victory of the Bolsheviks in 1922, ending up with a cure worse than the disease. And Europe between 1930 and 1939 saw most of its democracies erode as fascists and communists gained power—eventually leading to the greater disaster of the outbreak of World War II.

The United States has seen periods of near fatal internal chaos—in the late 1850s leading up to the carnage of the Civil War, during the decade of the Great Depression between 1929 and 1939, and in the chaotic 1960s. Something similar is starting to plague America today on a variety of political, economic, social, and cultural fronts.

The contenders for president reflect the loss of confidence of the times. Bernie Sanders is an avowed socialist. Yet scan the record of big government redistributionism here and abroad—from Chicago and Detroit to the insolvent Mediterranean nations of the European Union and failed states like Venezuela—and there is no encouraging model of socialist success. Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination—if she is not the first nominee in American history to be indicted, on possible charges of violating federal intelligence laws, and perhaps perjury and obstruction of justice. Donald Trump has neither political experience nor a detailed agenda, but has charged ahead on the basis of his vague promise to “make America great again”—a Jacksonian version of Obama’s equally vacuous 2008 promise of “hope and change.”
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America: History’s Exception

We should seek to preserve the ideals that made America successful.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

The history of nations is mostly characterized by ethnic and racial uniformity, not diversity.

Most national boundaries reflected linguistic, religious, and ethnic homogeneity. Until the late 20th century, diversity was considered a liability, not a strength.

Countries and societies that were ethnically homogeneous, such as ancient Germanic tribes or modern Japan, felt that they were inherently more stable and secure than the alternative, whether late imperial Rome or contemporary America.

Many societies created words to highlight their own racial purity. At times, “Volk” in German and “Raza” in Spanish (and “Razza” in Italian) meant more than just shared language, residence, or culture; those words also included a racial essence. Even today, it would be hard for someone Japanese to be fully accepted as a Mexican citizen, or for a native-born Mexican to migrate and become a Japanese citizen.
Read more →

Remembering D-Day

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

 

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