Victor Davis Hanson
Sometimes when you are in the midst of a revolution, you do not even know it.
I doubt all the Germans who voted in National Socialism quite foresaw what quickly was to come. Those who overthrew the Bourbons or the Romanoffs had no real idea that they had sown the wind and were soon to reap the Jacobin and Bolshevik whirlwind.
Socialism With a Whimper
So it is with our “woke”—a euphemism for the socialist revolution we are in and do not fully appreciate or even understand.
Socialism is variously defined. The Merriam-Webster dictionary emphasizes the role of the state in near-communist terms: “Any of various egalitarian economic and political theories or movements advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”
The Cambridge Dictionary more accurately notes that socialism is “the set of beliefs that states that all people are equal and should share equally in a country’s money, or the political systems based on these beliefs.”
The latter definition perhaps best sums up much of the operative ideology of the new Democratic Party, the Biden Administration, and its subordinates, both elected and administrative.
But perhaps socialism in America 2023 is even better described as something like “the doctrine of enforced ‘equity’ by government redistribution of money and power from one ‘oppressive’ group to another ‘oppressed,’ with the caveat that the elite redistributors have the right to supersede the law based on their own self-professed superior morality, and the assurance that they will never be subject to the baleful consequences of their own unnatural ideology.”
We have been drifting into such a socialist system for decades, but it was accelerated by the eight years of the Obama Administration and has arrived at near fruition with the Biden Administration. Note first that the more socialist we become, the greater the resistance grows, and the more desperate and cruel the socialists become to force down the throats of the public something they otherwise would vomit up.
Under the woke socialist model there are no longer any absolutes, laws, or customs. We are left instead with mere constructs deemed illegitimate and arbitrary, in need of systematic dismantling in the interest of the proverbial people.
Such redistributionist, compensatory and reparative efforts to make us equal on the backside have in common a war against all meritocracy and indeed any accomplishment deemed singular and beyond the abilities of the masses.
The Surrender of the Campuses
Socialism has become not just economic, but political, cultural, social, and even military. Take universities. Most are dropping the SAT and ACT entrance exams not because they fail to calibrate both past achievement and the likelihood of future aptitude, but because too many do too poorly and thus find themselves unequal to those fewer who do too well.
Grade point averages are losing significance, since the achievers succeed supposedly only by advantage and not by hard work, preparation, and talent. Free speech is nonexistent; racist and hate speech is protected if voiced by the “marginalized.”
University admissions increasingly have little to do with talent. Or rather talent is described not so much as the ability to think analytically and computationally, to have mastery of language, spoken and oral, or some acquaintance with the referents, historical, scientific, and literary, of our civilization. Instead, qualifications are becoming more a matter of “life experiences,” or “community service,” or “activities,” or commitments to hopey-and-changey “diversity, equity, and inclusion” as the traditional one-third of the application packet absorbed the other two-thirds of grades and test scores.
Under academic socialism, entrance, of course, is merely the first step.
Courses are watered down, grades inflated.
The D and F grades have all but disappeared. The A? It’s become inflationary to the point of being utterly meaningless, like a German mark circa 1923.
Everyone knows that current courses on comic books, movies, and social media, interspersed with the proper adjectives, black, queer, and feminist, promulgate not just for ideological reasons of indoctrinating impressionable teen fodder, but to ensure that almost anyone admitted to university can pass such “courses.”
In socialist campuses, graduation is almost assured upon and indeed equivalent to admission. “Flunking out” is an anachronism.
A Stanford, Yale, or Harvard Law degree is not synonymous with mastery of American jurisprudence—a fact as known to all as it is out of politeness unspoken.
In the Biden years, the elite socialist universities have done the near impossible: they 1) made it almost impossible for working class white males to go to top schools based on their proven achievement, 2) have taken us back to the anti-Jewish quota years of the 1920s and ’30s by radically and deliberately curtailing the presence of high-achieving American Jews on Ivy League campuses, and 3) have reinstated an entire neo-Confederate, unconstitutional set of discriminatory rules to accommodate those admitted without competitive test scores and grades, from racially segregated graduations, dorms, safe spaces, and workshops to one-drop, one-sixteenth Old South notions of racial purity.
From Taxes to Voting
The tax code is socialist. About one percent of households pay 50 percent of federal income taxes—and are damned as greedy for it. That asymmetry is true of most state income tax schedules as well. The antithesis of Reagan’s “Starve the Beast”—limiting revenues to force cuts in superfluous spending—is now “Gorge the beast”: spend so much indiscriminately, run up such astronomical multitrillion budget deficits, and inflate debt to GDP to over 130 percent, that redistributionist higher and higher taxes become perpetually necessary.
Voting is now socialist inspired. The old idea that each citizen chooses or not to participate in democracy by showing up to vote and presenting identification is considered discriminatory. The socialist answer in many states is to require no identification, and fast-track same-day voter registration, automatically mailed out ballots, and ballot harvesting and curing. The common theme is that if not enough of those deemed oppressed, victimized, and marginalized choose to vote, then the system must be warped to ensure somehow with minimum or no effort their ballots are cast.
The law is socialist, or worse in the sense of Lavrentiy Beria’s “show me the man, and I’ll find the crime.” It now operates on the “critical legal theory” idea that most American laws are the manifestations of the powerful and wealthy.
What is illegal is only so because the wealthy never need to break such laws. So why not steal—or rather redistribute—a hair dryer or smartphone that a rich man never does, but makes illegal?
Thus smash-and-grab, looting, shoplifting, and even violent assault increasingly either do not lead to arrest, or to indictment or to conviction or to incarceration. The socialist mind insists laws do not represent natural and ancient ideas of morality—such as thievery is always wrong and assault endangers society—but simply a particular value system of the oppressive rich and increasingly in America the so-called rich white population.
The idea of deterrence is taboo. Socialists do not believe law, order, and calm exist because those who would disrupt them fear the consequences more than the advantage of taking what you want or hurting whom you please.
We talk about “George Soros” public prosecutors. But the nihilist Soros’ genius is always to be one step ahead of the game, applying what made him an outlaw in France to our popular culture.
No one anticipated that he would quietly flood rather obscure big-city prosecutorial races with hundreds of millions of dollars to elect hard socialists who were to use their ensuing power to engage in lawfare against conservatives and the prominent and make laws and target enemies that legislatures could not. Without a Soros-funded Letitia James, Alvin Bragg, and Fani Willis, the nation would now be reduced to speculating whether former president Donald Trump’s two-year unauthorized storage of some classified documents at a secure Mar-a-Lago was a worse infraction than former Vice President Joe Biden’s unauthorized storage of classified documents at three locations, including his garage, for six years.
Defunding the police is based on the implicit assumption that greater criminality and violence, mostly directed against the most vulnerable, is a small price to pay, given a) the stigmatized criminal is given exemption, and b) the architects of defunding have mechanisms to ensure they are exposed to inevitable spiraling crime rates.
Ditto gun control. The socialist point of neutering the Second Amendment is not just to disarm the populace, much less to prevent shootings. Rather, the aim is to ensure the government has a complete monopoly on arms, so that it can calibrate both the degree and nature of law enforcement, and thus render the citizen compliant and obsequious in order to ensure his protection from both criminals and the state.
One key element of socialism we often forget is its innate corruption. The Castro family, the Chavezes of Venezuela, or the Ortegas of Nicaragua all became rich by taking large bites out of the transfer of money from the rich to the poor, taking bribes from the rich to win exemptions, or doling out concessions of the “people’s resources.” In other words, they were self-appointed gatekeepers. Socialists are often the very rich or at least become the wealthy when they achieve power; paradoxically, they despise those who make money legally apart from the mechanisms of the state.
Not a moment goes by that Joe Biden does not demagogue about “those who don’t pay their fair share”—even as the Biden syndicate is emerging as one of the most corrupt political families in U.S. history, specifically in gathering millions of dollars that apparently were not reported to the IRS. The family leveraged Biden’s vice presidency and future likely presidency to win lucrative payoffs from foreign governments, the majority of them hostile to the United States. Just as Hillary Clinton sent soon-to-be National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to push the phony “Russian collusion” hoax among the media and deep state, so the Bidens enlisted soon-to-be Secretary of State Antony Blinken to contact former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell to round up 50 former intelligence cronies to lie that the incriminating Hunter Biden laptop was “Russian disinformation.” Neither has nor will face consequences for attempting to warp two elections, given they are designated among the “good people.”
In fact, socialism has now almost permeated every aspect of our lives, disguised as it is by the rhetoric of “marginalized people” or “people of color” or particular interests who justify their war on rules, customs, meritocracy, and achievement by claiming the greater victimhood, past or present.
In California, a bill passed the Assembly mandating that power bills be massaged by income levels. The initial—but by no means the final—rewards and punishments schedule seeks to add a flat fee onto energy users, based on their income. The idea came from the power companies themselves both to ingratiate themselves to left-wing California legislators but also to find cash to cover their massive losses incurred by forced adherence to madcap wind and solar mandates. In sum, the more one is liable not to pay for the energy he uses, the cheaper the power bill, regardless how much power he consumes. Fail in business, get cheaper electricity; succeed and pay more.
Indeed, the unelected are the most effective socialists since they can achieve by administrative fiat what a legislator would have to otherwise enact by open debate, media scrutiny, and voter approval. On May 1, new rules governing home loans will go into effect that were advanced by the bureaucrats at the quasi-public Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae lending agencies. The Federal Housing Finance Agency is punishing would be homebuyers with excellent credit ratings by forcing them to pay higher mortgage rates and fees.
These surcharges supposedly will subsidize those with bad credit ratings who will pay less per month on their home loans.
Note the socialist ahistorical logic. Aside from the fact that no socialist regime has ever worked, we in America have the 2008 subprime meltdown to warn us what happens when massive home loans are taken out by those without the means or the track record to pay them back. That shock almost destroyed the U.S. economy and wrecked millions of American lives as we went into recession for a near decade. No matter, socialists must break eggs to achieve their supposedly perfect omelets.
Popular culture from publishing to Hollywood to awards are now T-ball socialist in nature. Thousands of gifted authors are denied book contracts because they are deemed a part of the oppressive white male class. Ditto movies as well. Few believe that the Tonys, the Oscars, the Emmys, or the Pulitzers reward the most talented achievement, but are rather predicated on spreading the awards around to the underrepresented and do not necessarily represent the merit of a song, play, film, or book.
Note how socialism despises unauthorized excellence. In our sick world, that means any singular individual who is not committed to the principles of the woke revolution. He is giving hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free Starlink satellite internet to the Ukrainians, without which they certainly would lose the war. His Teslas sparked the entire notion of a potentially viable electric car. His space projects, not NASA’s, are America’s best chance to obtain parity with the Chinese in space. He lost $40 billion to reboot Twitter into something the 1980s American Civil Liberties Union would have applauded. And yet he is despised as a leftist apostate, a crime greater than the sum of all his good left-wing deeds.
Any talent who is deemed an enemy of the socialist project by any evidence of apostasy—a Tom Brady, J.K. Rowling, or Matt Taibbi—is transmogrified from hero or genius to Leon Trotsky in a nanosecond.
A final note: the Orwellian police state is central to socialism, since the ideology is contrary to innate human nature and when fully implemented quickly ruins all that it touches and is commensurately despised in its fruition. So to force compliance is a 360 degree, 24/7 project that transcends all our institutions and culture.
That is why the woke FBI goes after counter-revolutionary parents at school board meetings or traditionalist Catholics rather than Pentagon leakers or Islamic terrorists.
That is why the FBI and the CIA respectively tried to warp the 2016 election with the phony Steele dossier and in 2020 probably did so by suppressing the truth about the “bombshell” evidence found on wayward Hunter Biden’s laptop.
That is why news disappears off Facebook and the old Twitter. That is why the order of Google search results seems bizarre. That is why Disney or Budweiser suddenly virtue signal their nihilist politics, or why Nike makes the mediocrity Colin Kaepernick a multimillionaire, or Stanford University attempts to purge vocabulary such as “citizen,” “immigrant,” and “American.”
Once socialism takes hold, every mediocrity, every ossified bureaucracy, every constipated careerist, every hack writer and nobody actor, comes out of the woodwork to find his socialist “fair share” of what he lacked in talent or accomplishment.
In the end, perhaps the best definition of socialism is simply “The endless war against merit.”