Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

How Cultural Revolutions Die — or Not

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Unlike coups or political revolutions, cultural revolutions don’t just change governments or leaders. Instead, they try to redefine entire societies. Their leaders call them “holistic” and “systematic.”

Cultural revolutionaries attack the very referents of our daily lives. The Jacobins’ so-called Reign of Terror during the French Revolution slaughtered Christian clergy, renamed months, and created a new supreme being: Reason.

Mao cracked down on supposed Western decadence such as the wearing of eyeglasses, and he made peasants forge pot iron and intellectuals wear dunce caps.

Moammar Qaddafi’s Green Book cult wiped out violins and forced Libyans to raise chickens in their apartments.

The current Black Lives Matter revolution has “canceled” certain movies, television shows, and cartoons, toppled statues, tried to create new autonomous urban zones, and renamed streets and plazas. Some fanatics shave their heads. Others have shamed authorities into washing the feet of their fellow revolutionaries.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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