Is America Heading for a Systems Collapse?

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

In modern times, as in ancient Rome, several nations have suffered a “systems collapse.” The term describes the sudden inability of once prosperous populations to continue with what had ensured the good life as they knew it. 

Abruptly, the population cannot buy, or even find, once plentiful necessities. They feel their streets are unsafe. Laws go unenforced or are enforced inequitably. Everyday things stop working. The government turns from reliable to capricious if not hostile. 

Consider contemporary Venezuela. By 2010, the once well-off oil-exporting country was mired in a self-created mess. Food became scarce, crime ubiquitous.

Radical socialism, nationalization, corruption, jailing opponents, and the destruction of constitutional norms were the culprits. 

Between 2009 and 2016, a once relatively stable Greece nearly became a Third World country. So did Great Britain in its socialist days of the 1970s. 

Joe Biden’s young presidency may already be leading the United States into a similar meltdown. 

Hard Left “woke” ideology has all but obliterated the idea of a border. Millions of impoverished foreigners are entering the United States illegally—and during a pandemic without either COVID-19 tests or vaccinations. 

The health bureaucracies have lost credibility as official communiques on masks, herd and acquired immunity, vaccinations, and comorbidities apparently change and adjust to perceived political realities. 


After decades of improving race relations, America is regressing into a premodern tribal society. 

Crime soars. Inflation roars. Meritocracy is libeled and so we are governed more by ideology and tribe.

The soaring prices of the stuff of life—fuel, food, housing, health care, transportation—are strangling the middle class. 

Millions stay home, content to be paid by the state not to work. Supply shortages and empty shelves are the new norm. 

Nineteenth century-style train robberies are back. So is 1970s urban violence, replete with looting, carjackings, and random murdering of the innocent. 


After the Afghanistan debacle, we have returned to the dark days following defeat in Vietnam, when U.S. deterrence abroad was likewise shattered, and global terrorism and instability were the norms abroad. 

Who could have believed a year ago that America would now beg Saudi Arabia and Russia to pump more oil—as we pulled our own oil leases, and canceled pipelines and oil fields? 

Our path to systems collapse is not due to an earthquake, climate change, a nuclear war, or even the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Instead, most of our maladies are self-inflicted. They are the direct result of woke ideologies that are both cruel and antithetical to traditional American pragmatism. 

Hard-Left district attorneys in our major cities refuse to charge thousands of arrested criminals—relying instead on bankrupt social justice theories. 

Law enforcement has been arbitrarily defunded and libeled. Police deterrence is lost, so looters, vandals, thieves, and murderers more freely prey on the public. 

“Modern monetary theory” deludes ideologues that printing trillions of dollars can enrich the public, even as the ensuing inflation is making people poorer. 


“Critical race theory” absurdly dictates that current “good” racism can correct the effects of past bad racism. A once tolerant, multiracial nation is resembling the factionalism of the former Yugoslavia. 

The culprit again is a callous woke ideology that posits little value for individuals, prioritizing only the so-called collective agenda. 

Woke’s trademark is “equity,” or a forced equality of result. Practically, we are becoming a comic-book version of victims and victimizers, with woke opportunists playacting as our superheroes. 

Strangest in 2021 was the systematic attack on our ancient institutions, as we scapegoated our ancestors for our own incompetencies. 

The woke have waged a veritable war against the 233-year-old Electoral College and the right of states to set their own balloting laws in national elections, the 180-year-old filibuster, the 150-year-old nine-person Supreme Court, and the 60-year-old, 50-state union. 


The U.S. military, Department of Justice, FBI, CIA, Center for Disease Control, and National Institutes of Health until recently were revered. Their top echelons were staffed by career professionals mostly immune to the politics of the day. 

Not now. These bureaus and agencies are losing public confidence and support. Citizens fear rather than respect Washington grandees who have weaponized politics ahead of public service. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, Attorney General Merrick Garland, former FBI heads like James Comey and Andrew McCabe, retired CIA director John Brennan, and Anthony Fauci head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—politicalized and vastly exceeded their professional purviews. 

They sounded off in public fora as if they were elected legislators up for reelection. Some lied under oath. Others demonized critics. Most sought to become media darlings. 

This governmental freefall is overseen by a tragically bewildered, petulant, and incompetent president. In his confusion, an increasingly unpopular Joe Biden seems to believe his divisive chaos is working, belittling his political opponents as racist Confederate rebels. 

As we head into the 2022 midterm elections, who will stop our descent into collective poverty, division—and self-inflicted madness?

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33 thoughts on “Is America Heading for a Systems Collapse?”

  1. The question mark was absent from the headline, though it appeared in the closing sentence.
    But the answer is YES.
    What’s not as easy as the answer is explaining how many millions of citizens don’t get it yet, or worse, resent that the question is posed.

    1. Lee ann Slattery

      I love how simplistic you put it all together for the average person to grasp. No hysteria, no propaganda, no buzz words, no shiny objects, just the simple facts! If we continue on this path our country will cease to exist as we know it and I believe this to be the plan of the left. How we got here is a direct result of greed, corruption and a lack of religion and integrity. We’ve allowed feelings to become fact, history to be wiped clean and divisiveness to rule the day!

  2. This is a masterful indictment of what our elite takes for granted as the status quo. I particularly like:
    “Strangest in 2021 was the systematic attack on our ancient institutions, as we scapegoated our ancestors for our own incompetencies.”

    The conclusion that most of “our maladies are self-inflicted” is exactly on target. The CV-19 response is a particularly painful example. The ideologs who control the bureaucracy in the District of Columbia celebrate their autocratic and ham-fisted response to the virus. They scapegoat those who decline to be vaccinated at the very moment when the vaccine has been shown to be almost completely ineffective against the latest mutation of the virus. Worse, they have inflicted deadly guidelines that are followed to the letter by too many hospitals. Anne and Scott Quiner had the misfortune to live in a Democrat controlled state, and Scott’s treatment for Covid-19 was controlled by hospital administrators who followed CDC guidelines with no consideration of medical advice and knowledge. Scott was nearly killed by the care given to him before, just hours before his death, he was transported to a facility in Texas where “the doctors have reported Scott to be malnourished, having lost 30 pounds underweight, and dehydrated.” Following alternative standards of care developed by doctors with extensive experience in treating CV-19 patients, Scott now has some chance of recovering, which will deny his previous caregiver the CV-19 death bounty.

  3. VDH articulates details for events we all see coming. We never read beyond bummer headlines much since we can surmise those details that won’t help anyone and the well-off, well-connected class that can live outside of cities are already ahead of the curve.

    1. Professor Hanson is a very articulate pokesperson for many probem, but they may already be insurmountable and moot.
      See Peter Schweizers most recent book, Red Handed. They own democrats and Republicans alike. Sedition has become subtle and diabolical.

  4. You have described what is happening so well. It is sad to see America falling apart before our very eyes. I dont see how we can survive 3 more years with Biden in charge. Or at least the front man forever is really in charge. They really hate America. I believe satan is behind it all but we dont have to follow him to the pit.

  5. Philip pelletier

    Only the good people can stand in the
    face of this tyranny. They are still in the majority in America, but they all need to wake up and rise up. The make believe super heroes have all fallen to evil wokeism, so they will not be coming to the rescue.

  6. This article breaks down the problems with our country. Ideology has triumphed facts. We have lost the ability ,as a society , to be pragmatic in dealing with our problems. Politics and feelings dominate our institutions.

  7. Who indeed? It won’t be Biden. It won’t be Trump (unless you want to foment a deeper political divide). It needs to be a well spoken, proven, experienced leader with executive experience. Republican or Democrat Governors are a good place to start.

  8. Spot on! Thank you, Victor Davis Hanson! You’re a rational, reasoned voice in a crowd of idiots, especially regarding domestic issue as and with the untimely death of Anthony Codevilla, foreign policy as well. One of the very few in either arena.

  9. Thank you sir for your erudite and accurate assessment of the current disaster. I can only hope many people will read and realize.

    Kind regards,

    Brown Beezer

  10. The polls today show the democratic party in pretty bad posture for the mid-term election. But this is January not November . President Trump was on his way to re-election in December 2019. My fear is the Republicans will become complacent and lose the edge they have now by election day .

  11. Prescient analysis by a brilliant observer. This is remarkable. After careful rereading, there are no areas where the analysis has not pointed correctly to our current national leadership crisis. Within this writing there seems to be two large orders to fill in order to stop this decent into darkness. One is to change national leadership and the other is to end the “Administrative State”.

  12. The brilliant VDH has nailed it replete with existing examples which are crippling our country!

    I can’t fathom the lefts deep hatred for Trump that they believe their ideas are better! They ARE better off for themselves as they are enriching themselves at the expense of their country!

  13. The damage is not self inflicted, no more then the injuries of a mugging victim are.
    They are inflicted by those who want something for nothing, and they do not care
    who gets hurt to get it. Be it lead pipe, or government, they will use any tool for their ends. These parasites over the decades have coalesced around the Democratic Party, and Socialists/Marxist ideologies which try to give legitimacy to their behavior.

    It is the Democratic Party who inflicted the KKK on the rest of us. They broke the ballot box to have power over their victims and avoid accountability. The Democratic Party wants their slaves back, and they will not be picky about skin color this time.

  14. I can add nothing, you’ve said it all with your usual insight and clarity. In my 84 years, I never worried about this country before, now I worry about it all the time.

  15. What I still struggle to comprehend is that the Democrat Socialist party is a mere two votes in the Senate away from opening a wave of radical changes that I believe is acceptable to maybe 30% of Americans. How did it get this close? What would they want to happen so they stay in power?

  16. JB always got away with ‘stuff’ all of his years in Senate, and so, uses the same technique now.
    Coasting the eastern conflict, any kind of attack will justify stronger retaliation and thereby win
    November ….. so he thinks! It’s his usual modus operandi but the neurons are not up to scratch.
    Somebody needs to cramp his style(publicly): tell him to stop screaming Mussolini style, whispering into the mike and telling out-and-out lies all the time …… that he is a well-known quantity and people have a better memory than he does . Sounds disrespectful but that’s the medicine …. shock treatment! Three more years will shred what’s left of the country, or less than.
    Where KH is concerned, why was she not held up for the day that she said the burning and looting shouldn’t stop, not even after the election? This was during the campaign and well documented.
    People don’t want to be rude and ill-mannered but style will not win the day and save the country.

  17. too bad every newspaper in our country doesn’t have the nerve and patriotism to print this thought provoking article.

  18. No doubt about it. America is collapsing, fast. Antifa, BLM, communist’s. , George Soros his son, corrupt to the core, Bilderberg Group, total fascists. All answer to te Rothchild family. Bill Gates, he is in it, Twitter, Amazon, Face book, and Goggle, all in it. The only answer, accept Christ as your savior.

  19. That last question is an easy one. The voters. Apparently voting for Biden purely because he was not Trump turned out to be a costly strategy to middle spectrum America. I’m sure they are now regretting their choice. But, although the current administration wishes so, they are not stupid and will self correct in November spelling the beginning to the end of this lunacy. But of course, not without considerable collateral damage. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

    Thank you Victor for always clearly elucidating like no one else can the complex currents we find ourselves mired within and where those currents will lead if we take no corrective action. You don’t need to convince many to tip the scale.

  20. You are right VDH. Empires and republics have and can go smash. And the collapse can be gradual or sudden. I would not bet on the readiness of our military. From what I read and have heard from active duty military and veterans of the Navy and Air Force and Marines our readiness is very marginal and the worst since the early 70s. It is amazing that my 78 year old cousin living in Carson City, Nevada has to live off emergency supplies from her second freezer because yet again there is no meat at the local store. She does not drive so her trips to Costco are limited but she keeps powdered milk and eggs in reserve for the WEEKS she cannot and I say I repeat CANNOT find fresh eggs, meat or milk. In her entire life she has never seen anything like it. She is worried about getting her medicines and getting the special dog food she needs. Her washer and dryer were out for months as the repairman waited for parts. She was washing her clothes on a wash rack in the bathtub and hanging them in her house. She said it was like camping out or like a trip to the 19th century. She adapts she survives but she is worried especially when there is bad weather.

  21. Americans can stop the descent into collective poverty, division-and self-inflicted madness by taking an active role in educating those around them. Every single day, people talk to people whether they are on a bus, at the supermarket, the gym, anywhere. Conversation is the key (we have forgotten how to communicate with one another). The planting of seeds (ideas), not forced by making someone understand, but rather putting those ideas out there (given freely for those to think about). The seeds always remain, and when the individual needs them, they recall the seed that was planted. We don’t need a microphone, or to be on tv to get our message out (anyone of us can make a difference tomorrow), every day we are given that opportunity with the people we interact with (we all have a voice – more we have the responsibility as citizens to educate).

  22. I’m not sure why people complaining about empty shelves at supermarkets. My local Whole Food is fully stacked and visited by many cool hipsters.

  23. Good day Mr. Hanson,

    Any thoughts or commentary on The Great Reset? Both Glen Beck and Tucker Carlson have come out strongly against the agenda, which is also known as the New World Order.

    The systems collapse that you describe is a part of the Great Reset. Destroy the standard of living, drive hysteria and exploit fear in the populace so that global elites (Klaus Schaub and the Davos Group) can pose as the savior to society, which will more easily give up its freedom and liberties because the chaos is overwhelming.

    Such an agenda, The Great Reset, requires so much coordination and gaslighting that the probability of success – even with the enormous wealth of the hubristic elite – is difficult to execute but mass media’s constant lies, censorship and narrative shifting make it possible.

    In my opinion, the globalists are trying to push through with the agenda but the US Constitutional / Federalism is posing challenges. To weaken the US, the currency is being massively inflated to break the economy. The Federal Reserve is allowing wealthy investors to get out of the markets by supporting prices as there is no other rational/logical reason why quantitative easing / monetary policy have not been adjusted even though the country has inflation at the highest rate 40+ years.

    The systems collapse is not by chance – this is an intentional effort to consolidate power.

  24. I love and agree with everything VDH writes.

    This is no exception.

    I’m looking forward to your next article: “Here’s something you don’t know.”

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