Victor Davis Hanson
There used to be an agreed-on body of wisdom, which both Left and Right, Republicans and Democrats, generally accepted. Heated arguments and invective centered on implementations and methods of solving problems, which at least both sides agreed were problems. Both ideologies accepted a common core of wisdom, despite their radical differences in interpreting it.
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and especially Biden’s strange cabinet of loud Jacobin amateurs, reject the very hallowed knowledge upon which civilization is based. In that sense the public has begun to recognize them as nihilist and anarchist. Nearly two out of three Americans in some polls hold unfavorable views of the Biden Administration. They fear that it is decoupled from both the past and reality, and quite capable of destroying their lives as they have known them.
Since late August 1949, a consensus emerged that nuclear powers, for good or evil, were treated differently in matters of global tensions than non-nuclear powers, given the chance of a nuclear conflagration. Arcane rules, but rules, nonetheless, grew up in the Cold War between the Soviet Union, China, the United States, Britain, France and a few other nuclear states about the trip wires surrounding conventional conflicts.
The agreed upon wisdom from the Hungarian Revolution and Korean War to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Middle East wars was to ensure such confrontations did not escalate to nuclear exchanges.
No longer. In the last five months, there has been more idle talk and threats about nuclear warfare than in the 73 years since the Soviet Union got the bomb. In a rational world, there would be two Western agendas amid the Ukraine war: first, how to aid the Ukrainians to resist Russian aggression without destroying their entire country; second, how to do so without either provoking or allowing Russia to use a nuclear weapon, or to encourage other powers like China to consider such alternatives.
Not now. In the zeal to protect the Ukrainians from Russian aggression, Joe Biden has talked about removing Russian President Vladimir Putin from office, without details about how or when such an intervention would work. Former National Security Advisor John Bolton has boasted on television of his own experiences in planning successful coup d’états, once a taboo subject. Pentagon officials have leaked in braggadocious ways the use of American intelligence that has aided Ukrainian assassination teams to kill high-ranking Russian generals.
Bureaucrats, media strategists, and congressional leaders have openly boasted about selling Ukraine the necessary weaponry to bring the war home to nuclear Russia, whether that would entail raids inside Russia to destroy energy and logistical depots or sinking the Russian Black Sea Fleet through American-made, long-range shore-to-ship missiles. In response, Russian leaders, including Putin himself, have talked in Strangelovian terms about using nuclear weapons, in efforts to portray their aggression as victimhood worthy of a stronger, and apparently nuclear retaliation.
The ancient idea that in the nuclear age you cannot always do what is desirable to bad nuclear powers is considered passé and apparently deemed in need of a 2022 update.
Blowing Up the Border
Civilization used to accept that all nations in the modern era had borders, within which unique customs, traditions, language, history and culture were nourished to promote a common civic identity.
No more. Sometime in 2021, the Biden Administration blew up the entire hallowed concept of a border. It allowed what will soon be 3 million illegal aliens during a pandemic to enter unaudited, untested, unvaccinated, without English, without any background checks and without consequences for violating federal immigration law. Biden ignores that millions of doses of toxic drugs are pouring across his nonexistent border, along with sex traffickers and cartel drug lords enriched by scalping transit fees.
The president never states how the nation will pay for a massive influx of dependents, much less how small communities near the border will have adequate social services for their own taxpayers under such massive pressures. As a rule, those destroying the border live far from the border. And they brand as racist any who object to the policies from whose deleterious consequences, they are exempt.
Why did Biden erase the southern U.S. border? Did a waning Democratic Party want new dependent constituents? Were corporate and business interests demanding new cheaper workers? Did the identity politics movement seek to replenish their assimilating ranks? Were unhinged globalists eager to reify their nihilist ideas of destroying all borders to establish a Davos-like ecumenical world overseen by transnational guardians such as themselves?
Who knows and who cares? The damage is the same, regardless of the motivations of the nihilists.
Modern Monetary Madness
Ancient wisdom also held that too much circulating money chasing too few goods resulted in an inflated currency. Hyperinflation ensured radical damage to a nation’s very lifestyle, as it descended into a Hobbesian war of all hiking prices and wages against all forced to pay them.
So what? Biden took a recovering economy, one fueled by massive deficit spending by three prior presidents, pent-up consumer demand coming after a nearly two-year lockdown, a labor force crippled by government-subsidized nonparticipation, COVID fears, and long-COVID disabilities—and printed new trillions of funny-money dollars.
Biden would have printed even more trillions had not Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) saved for a spell his own party from its nihilist madness. The creepy modern monetary theory behind such lunacy held that either money was a construct and the more of it printed the more people could spend it with retained value, or that any ensuing inflation would aid those without money and hurt those who had (ill-gotten) money.
So it went, and now American currency is being devalued at an annual rate of 9.1 percent. Retirement accounts have seen 20-40 percent losses, and years of annual contributions have gone up in smoke. The huge national debt cannot be serviced at the interest rates necessary to curb inflation without huge sums cut from entitlements or key elements of the budget.
The current self-created mess was foreseen and warned about by both Democrats and Republicans and ignored as racist, or elitist, or irrelevant by the Left. In other words, Biden’s lunatic economic advisors believed they were either exempt from ancient realities or that their careers hinged on insisting they were so exempt.
The Green New Debacle
Over the last 20 years, a consensus began to arise surrounding fossil fuel energy. While it was no longer so toxic, given radical improvements in emission reductions, the heat itself of nearly clean-burning fossil fuels might be contributing to “global warming.”
Therefore, gradually new technologies would for decades augment fossil fuels, then slowly they would supplant them. Finally new energies would replace coal, oil, and natural gas with renewable or other non-heat-producing energies—all at an affordable cost for the middle class and with plenty of warning and time to make the necessary adjustments.
Joe Biden simply blew up that paradigm. For a year during the campaign, in his half-educated shouts, he foolishly lectured the country that he would end all fossil fuel use, cancel pipelines, and put vast swaths of rich energy fields off limits.
Biden did just that the moment he entered office, as well as lecturing lending agencies and financial groups not to loan to the pipeline builders, frackers, and the horizontal drillers. In truth, they were a heroic bunch who had made America energy independent, free from any need of an optional war in the energy-rich Middle East, much stronger vis-à-vis its two rivals Russia and China, and empowered by affordable transportation and industrial power.
Critical Legal Lunacy
Since ancient times, laws were seen as a response to human nature, often modulated by religion and government, sometimes imperfectly in the case of autocrats, theocrats, and dreamy utopians. Nonetheless, civilization accepted that stealing anything, assaulting anyone without cause, or destroying the property of others were crimes by nature. Punishment prevented their recurrence, since their repetition would lead to mass disobedience and ultimately the unwinding of civilization.
Critical legal theory subverts those ancestral wisdoms. It is embraced by many in the Biden Administration, who ignored massive riots, arson, and looting in summer 2020. States such as California defined theft as a mere unpunishable mistake.
Prisons were emptied. Most lawbreakers were not arrested. Most arrested were not indicted. Few among the indicted were convicted. Most of the convicted were not punished. The result is an epidemic of murder, assault, rape, theft, and chaos in our major cities, a return to the chaos of the 1970s as the streets after dusk are ceded to criminals who mock those who appease and empower their criminality.
Critical race theory, another campus parlor pastime of the academically incompetent and unproductive, posits that racism defines America. It can be cured only by endless and enduring reverse racism.
Ancient truths in the process were entirely ignored, namely that humans are tribal and like fish or birds can naturally flock together by tribal, religious, ethnic, or racial affinities.
Only a nation state can supersede such innate characteristics by infusing a common civic identity that makes superficial appearance or creed incidental rather than essential to a citizen. Biden too has blown up that concept entirely by promoting identity politics and tribalism.
The result is a growing fear that once the government encourages tribalism, then all must revert to the protection of their own tribe—or perish.
Diversity—a euphemism for disunity—is our creed. We have taken all the abuses of the pre-Civil Rights era in the South—racial obsessions, one-drop fixations, segregated spaces and ceremonies, hiring and admissions by race, ignoring merit in favor of race, and racial demonization—and rebranded them as critical race theory. Apparently, the Bidenites believe in the folly that 2022 reverse-racist man is inherently smarter and knows better than his racist predecessors—and thus can be a good racist rather than just a racist, which always means a bad racist.
For centuries civilization agreed that there were two sexes. Scientists and doctors since antiquity, of course, accepted that in very rare cases, some men and women seemed dysphoric. To differing degrees, a tiny minority cross-dressed to mimic the nature of the opposite sex or more seriously felt trapped in their own bodies. Vocabulary from transsexualism to transvestism roughly identified a range of these rare disconnects.
But no one believed that these maladies were common, or that one born with the primary and secondary sexual characteristics of one gender was in fact by his or her volition able to fully become the opposite gender, or to construct a third, entirely separate gender identity.
Not now. The country is torn apart by the insistence that there can no longer be just male or female restrooms, that biological males can rebrand themselves to their true nature as females and dominate women’s sports, and teens and even pre-teens can be given extremely dangerous and often carcinogenic drugs, as well as radical life-threatening surgeries, without their parents’ consent, and without firm medical knowledge of the eventual psychological and physical harmful aftermaths of such still experimental regimens.
The Biden Administration has insisted that gender dysphoria is a national epidemic, that there are three sexes, and that males and females must concede that sexuality is a construct—and to the degree everyone in society must radically change their lives from learning new pronouns to expecting young athletes with male genitalia to undress in female locker rooms with their daughters.
Each time Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Merrick Garland, Antony Blinken, Deb Haaland, Janet Yellen, Lloyd Austin, Pete Buttigieg, Alejandro Mayorkas, or Jennifer Granholm speaks to the public, the people concludes two things: these people are either crazy, incompetent, or ignorant of ancient human nature, and they were appointed to their positions for reasons that have nothing to do with either experience or competence.
And the result is the rapid destruction of most wisdom as we once knew it.