Historian’s Corner: Assessing America in the Age of Woke

Victor Davis Hanson // Private Papers

Part One

Wokism took off in June 2020. It became institutionalized after Joe Biden became president. We have now had nearly five months of the radical Biden political agenda to seep through the larger popular culture. So where are we now in this suddenly strange and nearly unrecognizable land?

Economically

For all Biden’s socialist talk, so far the Trump deregulation and tax cuts are still in effect. Their fumes should fuel a short recovery boom, given pent-up demand and post-Covid mania to eat out, to travel, to splurge, and to buy. Eventually, most Americans will leave their home lotus-eating pads and re-climatize back to work.

But the continuance of recessionary stimulus packages has created near permanent trillion-plus-dollar deficits. We will see very soon a $30 trillion national debt. Incentives for the unemployed still discourage work—at the very time producers are wary and for good reasons. We learned in seventh grade that too many dollars chasing too few goods results in inflation and eventually economic recession, stagflation or collapse.

Indeed, inflation may be growing at an annualized rate of six to nine percent, depending on whether one counts housing prices, fuels, appliances, cars, other big-ticket commodities, and services as part of the general rise in the cost of living. Biden has frightened producers with Draconian anti-fossil fuel executive orders, ranging from cancelling pipelines to putting Anwar off limits again and discouraging frackers to take risks to meet spiraling gasoline demand. 

Talk of huge increases in income, corporate, capital gains, payroll, and estate taxes further will dampen producers’ confidence—even if they are not immediately implemented. The idea of 30-year mortgages at the current 2.5 to 3.0 percent interest, as money annually erodes in value by eight percent, is untenable. And the Fed may intervene in the fall—cautiously at first, in panic thereafter. Add it all up: we are entering a new sort of socialist economy, restrained only by the tenuous check of a 50/50 Senate. It is no exaggeration that, economically at least, the US is now headed to the left of the EU. 

In 1980, I began farming and by year’s end thought a 14-percent interest ag loan was a godsend, and farm supplies that went up only one-percent a month were a steal. That surrealism can return, although generations that have enjoyed mostly a subsequent 40-years of low inflation and reasonable interest rates are clueless what is on the horizon.

Politically

The country is divided 50/50, or so we are told. No one knows, however, the volatile views of 10-15 percent of the electorate. On this teeter-totter are the mystical swing suburban voters, the Independents, the Never Trumpers, and the vestigial Blue Dogs. So far, they are clinging to the myth of Old Joe Biden From Scranton who is neither Donald Trump tweeting nor a puppet of the hard left. 

But violent crime is rising and spreading into the suburbs—without much evidence that criminals are being arrested, indicted, convicted and locked up. Race in a myriad of ways is defining how crime is massaged and adjudicated, by the media and the police. The godhead of Critical Race Theory is not Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” but a flip progressive version of Bull Connor, in which race alone defines us and expressing hatred of one race is the pastime of the woke elite. 

Woke mandatory brainwashing and reeducation are spreading throughout the work force. Our major institutions such as the campus, the military, the corporate boardroom, Wall Street, and K-12 are in chaos. Would-be opportunistic and careerist Maoists come out of the woodwork to insist on using these platforms to reinvent us along the lines of the 1619 vision. 

So will Biden get a strong rebuke in 2022, as do most presidents in their first midterms? 

I think he will. But the question is will the backlash be large enough to defeat the progressive/deep-state/media fusion? Can the pushback overcome the huge influxes of leftwing corporate money of the Zuckerberg sort that were bragged upon by the Left as so effective in 2020 in targeting precincts to “incentivize” (some) voters? And can the reaction overcome changes in voting laws that are making Election Day balloting mostly an anachronism? If Biden were to keep the House and Senate, many of the unwoke are not confident about the future viability of the US, at least as envisioned over the last 232 years as a constitutional republic by our founders.

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8 thoughts on “Historian’s Corner: Assessing America in the Age of Woke”

  1. The best summary of the new American reality I have read to date. And in my humble opinions one of your best.

  2. Dear VDH: You are a stubborn old Swede who expects more from the state than experience vouchsafes to warrant. Bush41 led us into this fantasy that trade with PRC will create Chinese capitalists who will be pengyou with America. Free trade robbed US of jobs, made PRC rich, and many US capitalists traitors to their own countrymen. The US has become a mere province of a global Hegelian dialectic. Covid proves it. Covid is merely the first round in the malignant retro-genome metastasized around the world. Who is telling us how to recapture American greatness in a microbiologically and permanently terrorized world of germ warfare and genetically manipulated chimeras? Soon the PRC and the US will have germ weapons that target specific clans and bloodkin, even down to individuals. May I have a swab of your spittle, Mandrake? Sterling Hayden asks in Dr. Strangelove.

  3. Robert J Stewart

    I’ve posted several comment on the victorhanson.com site, and have received no reply or acknowledgement. This isn’t entirely unexpected, but still a bit disappointing. I just noticed in the URL that the site is apparently somehow connected to wordpress. Could this explain the lack of feedback?

    I enjoy the process of composing these notes. My main purpose is to provide encouragement and support while clarifying some of my own thoughts on whatever subject is currently in play. However, I do not have a gmail Email account, and I do not plan to get one. I’ve attempted to comment on wordpress sites in the past, and usually the comment is immediately rejected when I cannot provide a gmail address. I am concerned that these notes disappear at your server, which defeats most of the reasons I attempt to engage in a discussion. If my comments are not acceptable due to my email address, I would appreciate some guidance on the issue.

  4. Thanks Prof Hanson for this brief but insightful article. I imagine you and most all I watch at the Hoover Insti, i.e. Uncommon Knowledge with Peter (and the great Thomas Sowell), and the Good Fellows who I call Honorary Pisans with affection, H R’s Battlegrounds and some others, are not able to talk openly about election fraud and the “Citizen Investigations” now is progress in Maricopa County. A genuine ‘hot potato’ I understand completely.
    If the investigations reveal large scale, genuine fraud, enough to overturn the election, and it is looking possible, then much of what you shine the light on here will be rapidly taken care of and hopefully reveal to the American people the utter corruption of the current Dem Party. I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying in some other venues to explain.

    I count them a ray of hope and am cautiously optimistic concerning their outcome. I also see them as a tribute to our beloved Founders, separating the control of elections to the state legislators which in this case in particular keeps a corrupt Federal admin from squashing audits done by citizens with credentials and integrity.
    Nothing short of marvelous to see. As Dr Kelli Ward, Chairman of the Rep Party of AZ calls it, “The Peoples’ Audit.”
    15 other states have come to view it or have plans to, with thoughts of replicating the same auditing system in their own states. All this because techy people watching the election, seeing the anomalies in data movement, started calling each other, formed an organization, and searched public data for the computer time stamps and router activities sending and receiving info and altering it election night.
    Hundreds of signed affidavits of Dem abuses of Republican observers and counters etc. risking harassment personally to speak out publicly.
    The whole group are and show us some of the Best of America, its people and Constitution, taking it upon themselves, not led by Trump or anyone else, to investigate fraud and seek integrity in the voting process, solely for love of country, truth and transparency.

    Personally, I am awed by this. Having a few courses under my belt, free online at Hillsdale, (under my real name not this blogging handle) and many lectures and panel discussions on YouTube from conservative venues, whether these audits succeed or fail, they have made me all the more thankful and appreciative of the Founders and the beautiful documents they gave us.
    Watching you in 2014, 15(?), maybe sooner. I became inspired to try and get some semblance of a Classical Liberal Education on my own through Hillsdale, and other great conservative sources free to us online. Perused the Second World Wars, just finished the Gulag, read R Ibrahim’s “Sword and Scimitar” and much about the history and current problems with our mid-east friends since then. Too much more to mention so I’ll close saying thanks again for the present insights and for the inspiration to get an education.
    I am grateful and humbled by those who have gone before us.

  5. The least capable among us, the so called people-of-color, and the ignorant-left Whites are demanding unconstitutional control over the most capable among us, the White/Caucasian decendents from our founding population and the legal immigrants from Europe that arrived during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The latter White/Caucasian group discovered and developed all the sciences that we enjoy and prosper from today. The former ignoramuses will destroy America if we allow them to. I believe that there will come a perfect storm where we White people will revolt as we did in 1776 and 1861. The 2nd Amendment has a purpose. I for one am fed up with this lawless behavior of the White Woke, this mayhem and murder committed by the so called people-of-color; the solutions are on the battlefield and the gallows. 1776 Redux with 1861 Redux.

  6. Dawn Griffith

    Thank you for this concise description of America’s future if the Woke left continue to implement their agenda. I’m heartened to see governor’s of Florida and Texas taking matters into their state’s hands, pushing forward corrective policies.

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