Life Among the Ruins

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

American society is facing three existential crises not unlike those that overcame the late Roman, and a millennium later, terminal Byzantine, empires.

Premodern Barbarism

We are suffering an epidemic of premodern barbarism. The signs unfortunately appear everywhere. Over half a million homeless people crowd our big-city downtowns.

Most know the result of such Medieval street living is unhealthy, violent, and lethal for all concerned. Yet no one knows—or even seems to worry about—how to stop it.

So public defecation, urination, fornication, and injection continue unabated. Progressive urban pedestrians pass by holding their noses, averting their gazes, and accelerating the pace of their walking. The greenest generation in history allows its sidewalks to become pre-civilizational sewers. In a very brief time, we all but have destroyed the downtowns of our major cities—which will increasingly become vacant in a manner like the 6th-century A.D. Roman forum.

All accept that defunding the police, no-cash bail, Soros-funded district attorneys, and radical changes in jurisprudence have destroyed deterrence. The only dividend is the unleashing of a criminal class to smash-and-grab, carjack, steal, burglarize, execute, and assault—with de facto immunity. Instead we are sometimes lectured that looting is not a crime, but lengthy incarceration is criminally immoral.

We have redefined felonies as misdemeanors warranting no punishment. Misdemeanors are now infractions that are not criminal. Infractions we treat as lifestyle choices. Normality, not criminality, is deemed criminal. We all know this will not work, but still wonder why it continues.

Many among the middle classes of our cities who can flee or move, do so—like 5th-century equestrians who left Rome for rural fortified farms before the onslaught of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths. For most of our lives we were lectured that the old southern states—Florida, Tennessee, Texas—were backward and uninviting. Now even liberals often flee to them, leaving behind supposedly cosmopolitan Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore, and New York. The more people leave the blue states, the more those states praise themselves as utopian.

The less well-off, without the means to leave, hope that their environs have hit bottom so things can only improve. The elite who caused this premodern catastrophe assumes they will always have the money and wherewithal to ensure that themselves and their own can navigate around or even profit from the barbarism they unleashed. For them the critic, not the target of criticism, is the greater threat.

The hard urban work of the 1990s and early 2000s—cleaner, safer subways, secure nightlife downtown, clean sidewalks, low vacancy rates, little vagrancy, and litter-free streets—so often has been undone, deliberately so. We are descending to the late 1960s and 1970s wild streets—if we are lucky the mayhem does not devolve even further.

A mere 10 years ago, if an American learned that a man was arrested for clubbing, robbing, or shooting innocents, and yet would be released from custody that day of his crime, he would have thought it an obscenity. Now he fears that often the criminal will not even be arrested.

A once secure border no longer exists. Joe Biden and Alejandro Mayorkas simply demolished it and allowed 6-7 million foreign nationals to cross illegally into the United States without audits—to the delight of their apparent constituent, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

What would shame a Biden or Mayorkas? What would change their minds? Billions of dollars spent on social services for the lawbreaking at the expense of the American poor?

Would 100,000 annual lethal overdoses—12 times more than those who died over 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan combined—from drugs that flow across the open border sway them? Or would it take 200,000, or 300,000 deaths before Joe Biden relented and ceased his chuckling?

What does a people do when its highest officials simply renounce their oaths of office and refuse to enforce laws they don’t like? Everyone knows the border will eventually have to become secure, but none have any idea whether it will take another 20, 30, or 50 million illegal entrants and 1 million more fentanyl deaths to close it.

Polls show race relations have hit historic lows. Much of the ecumenicalism of the post-Civil Rights movement seems squandered—almost deliberately so.

The Left now rarely mentions Martin Luther King, Jr. or even the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. Perhaps it knows it has violated the spirit and legacy of both.

Today, our identity politics leaders believe that the color of our skin, not the content of our character, certainly matters more. The practitioners of the new tribalism in some sense fear outlawing segregation and discrimination by race. They know to do so would end racially restricted houses and safe spaces, racially exclusive graduations, and race-based admissions, hiring, and promotion on campus.

Read Professor Ibram X. Kendi and his message is implicit. For him, the problem with a Jim Crow-like system was not segregation or racial chauvinism per se, but merely who was doing the victimizing and who were the victims: so the original racism was bad; but racism in reverse is good.

We abhor violence, racism, and misogyny—in the abstract. Yet the entire hip-hop industry would find no audience—or so we are told by its appeasers—if rappers refrained from “ho” misogyny, brags of violence against law enforcement, and self-described proprietary use of the N-word.

Most know that young black males under 30 commit violent crimes at well over 10 times their 3-4 percent demographic of the population—so often victimizing the nonwhite. All know that reality must remain unmentionable even as its causes need to be debated and discussed if lives are to be saved. Yet the greater crime seems not the crime itself, but even mentioning crime.

Postmodern Abyss

Postmodernism in our age is deadlier even than premodernism. Sexually explicit drag shows that allow the attendance of children 20 years ago would have been outlawed—by liberals worried over the trauma of the young watching performance-art simulated sex.

Now the children come last and the performers first—as ratified by the same liberals. But to fathom the new transitioning, simply learn from ancient transitioning and gender dysphoria, an unhappy classical theme from Catullus’ Attis poem (stimulatus ibi furenti rabie, vagus/ devolsit ili acuto sibi pondera silice/ itaque ut relicta sensit sibi membra sine viro) to Giton in Petronius’ Satyricon.

Current “science” is now synonymous with ideology, religion, or superstition. Lockdowns, mRNA vaccinations, masking, transgenderism, “climate change,” and green power brook no dissent. They are declared scientifically correct in the manner that the sun used to revolve around the earth, and any dissenting Galileo or Copernicus is cancel-cultured, doxxed, and deplatformed.

It is now verboten to cite the causes of the current upswing. We must remain silent about the classical exegeses that cults, pornography, and constructed sexual identities, when not biological, were the manifestations of a bored culture’s affluence (luxus), leisure (otium), and decadence (licentia/dissolutio).

The classical analyses of an elite collapse focus on a falling birth rate, a scarce labor force, ubiquitous abortion, an undermanned military, and a shrinking population. We suffer all that and perhaps more still.

Millions of young men are detached and ensconced in solitude, their indebted 20s too often consumed with video-gaming, internet surfing, or consumption of porn. Many  suffer from prolonged adolescence. Many assume that they are immune from criticism, given that the alternative of getting married, having children, finding a full-time job, and buying a house is society’s new abnormal.

Rarely has an elite society become so Victorian and yet so raunchy. A slip with an anachronistic “Gal” or “Honey” can get one fired. Meanwhile, grabbing one’s genitals while pregnant on stage before 120 million viewers is considered a successful Super Bowl extravaganza.

Our army is short of its annual recruitment by 25 percent. We all suspect but do not say out loud the cause. The stereotyping of poor and middle-class white males as both raging and biased, and yet expected yet to fight and die in misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, has finally convinced the parents of these 18-year-olds to say, “no more.”

Need we say anything about the lack of efficacy or morality of the Department of Justice, FBI, or CIA?

Or rather is there anything the FBI will not do?

Doctor court evidence? Hire Twitter to suppress the news? Monitor parents at school board meetings? Allow directors to lie under oath or “misremember” before Congress?

Swiping clean subpoenaed phones? Hiring fakers to compile dirt on a presidential candidate—and then using that known smear to hoodwink a judge to allow spying on Americans?

Suppressing evidence on a laptop to warp an election? Raiding an ex-president’s home with a SWAT-like team? Spying on Catholics in mass? Storming a home full of children of a man accused of a politically incorrect misdemeanor?

The more the military has been stalemated in Iraq, humiliated in Afghanistan, and dreading what China will soon do or what Iran will even sooner let off, the more it insists our priorities should be diversity, equity, and inclusion. Will that escapism ensure more lethal pilots, tank commanders, and Marine company commanders?

The mindsets of too many of our new generations of command are twofold: first to be promoted by virtue signaling woke policies that they must know eventually will hamper combat readiness, and then in the future to rotate at retirement into multimillionaire status by leveraging past expertise for defense contractors. Keep that in mind and almost every publicly uttered nonsense from our highest in the Pentagon makes perfect sense.


There is a third challenge. Our enemies—illiberal, deadly, and vengeful—have concluded we are more effective critics of ourselves than are they. They enjoy our divided nation, torn apart by racial incivility, dysfunctional cities, and woke madness. (Notice how even the communists long ago dropped deadly Maoist wokeism, or how the Russians viewed the Soviet commissariat as antithetical to their military and economic agendas.)

Iran believes that this present generation of Americans would likely allow it to nuke Israel rather than stop its proliferation. China assumes that Taiwan is theirs and the only rub is how to destroy or absorb it without losing too many global markets and income. Russia  conjectures that the more we trumpet its impending defeat, the more it will destroy Eastern Ukraine and call such a desert peace.

Our “friends” can be as dangerous as our enemies.

A visitor from another world might conclude Mexico has done more damage to America than North Korea, Iran, and Russia combined. It has, by intent, flooded our border with 20 million illegal aliens. It has allowed cartels with Chinese help to conduct multibillion-dollar profiteering by killing 100,000 Americans per year (did the Kremlin ever match that tally in a half century of the Cold War?).

Mexico drains $60 billion from its expatriates on the expectation that American subsidies will free up their cash to be sent home. The more the cartels run wild, the more money trickles down—while their top drug enforcement official Genaro García Luna was found guilty in a New York courtroom  for collusion with the cartels.

How did all of this so quickly erode our great country? Our crisis was not the next generation of foreign Hitlers and Stalins. It was not earthquakes, floods, or even pandemics. It was not endemic poverty and want. It was not a meager inheritance from past generations of incompetents. Nor was it a dearth of natural resources or bounty.

Instead our catastrophe arose from our most highly educated, the wealthiest and most privileged in American history with the greatest sense of self-esteem and sanctimoniousness. Sometime around the millennium, they felt their genius could change human nature and bring an end to history—if only they had enough power to force hoi polloi to follow their abstract and bankrupt theories that they had no intention of abiding by themselves.

And then the few sowed the wind, and so the many now reap their whirlwind.


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84 thoughts on “Life Among the Ruins”

  1. Diane Dildine

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. In reading Robert Conquest’s last book and William Shirker’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich I couldn’t help but notice that it was the hubris of so-called intellectuals who in their belief that man is perfectible and the collective superior to the individual who created previously unimaginable human travesties. BTW I wish I could remember my Latin and you are at the top of my fan list along with the amazing Douglas Murray and the hilarious Mark Steyn. I am trying not to be jealous that your Tribute tour is beyond my reach. Maybe I can join it vicariously?

  2. Once again, Dr. Hanson, you have so eloquently and presciently diagnosed the disease. Since this ongoing regurgitation of the disease is wearying folks like myself, please give us some shard of hope. How about a few prescriptions, a few answers, perhaps, even just a whiff of a new sense of direction.

  3. Judith Hamilton

    I am one who has given up my medical license because it became exposed that I would not support the College’s policy of insisting the physicians urge patients to take the vaccine – based on politically-motivated pseudoscience – and I am moving away from the city to a small town in the country. Thank you so much for the ongoing educational and emotional support of your articles and broadcasts.

  4. Excellent article about the many troubling changes in society, and the world, that are truly leading to our ruin. It’s disheartening to see that all the Walmart stores in Portland are closing, like many other businesses, as a result of unpunished crime. My 85 year old mother with all her years of experience and wisdom, puts it simply: “What’s wrong with people”. She watches a lot of network news, maybe too much.

  5. Marilyn Townsend

    Dr. Hansen, this is a well thought out piece that only you have the insight and skills to write so succinctly. Thank you.

  6. Thomas O'Brien

    If those speaking at the recent CPAC mean what they say (and I am sure some–many?– of them do), there is hope. At least now we are publicly acknowledging the existential threat at hand.

    I am retired, and live in a very rural area in extreme northern California. My radio reception is poor, and I only get one channel in my shop where the reception is good enough for me to tolerate listening to it. It is Jefferson Public Radio (NPR), broadcasted from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon.

    Their news is so terribly bias. And those that present it have the same faux eruditie, “above it all”, intonation in their speech. This is without exception. Initially, this was quite humorous to me, but eventually he became irritating to listen to. For me they sound phony and snobbish.

    Anyway, the reason I mention NPR is that one of their contributors yesterday said that CPAC has devolved into something of a cult. I of course see it quite differently. If we are to ascend out of this mess that Victor has so articulately described in his current writing, it will be because of the determination and fulfillments of those at CPAC.

    1. I’m not far from you here in Southern Oregon. I get Jefferson Public Radio and am glad to see that someone else has noticed their bias. And on our tax dollars. lol

      1. Thomas O'Brien

        We drive to Oregon for cheap gas (by Calif. standards, anyway) and Oregonians drive to Calif. for cheap booze– it is often said.

    2. Christine Jessup

      Hi Neighbor I think we live in the same area….I am retired, live in extreme NorCal and my only radio station is Jefferson Public Radio who I Refuse to listen to because they are so politically biased…..I believe there is hope if the 2024 election produces a Republican President….I think the tide is turning and the majority has had enough of this insanity.

      1. Thomas O'Brien

        Well, well, your husband’s name wouldn’t be Craig would it? I’ll bet it is. I will look with interest for your posts. Remember what happens at stays at 🙂

        1. Thomas O'Brien

          I imagine that NPR liberal presentation was not what was sold to the public when it was originally authorized by congress in the early ’70’s. So, here is a novel idea.

          We need a conservative alternative to it. A company that would have the same broadcasting frequency (i.e., public reach), and funding as NPR. I would suggest it be called “Epoch Times Radio”.

          Then people would have a true choice in their public broadcasting news. Wherever one was broadcasted, so would the other. Maybe if our nation ever regains its sanity, we’ll have such an option.

          1. Christine Jessup

            I remember NPR in the ‘70’s. It was a good radio station – informative and interesting. A far cry from the format it has today. An alternative is an excellent idea and would give the public an option for a different view point. It is definitely something to work towards in 2024.

  7. Joel Savransky

    Victor, so well said and laid out for all to understand. Thank you for giving yourself to all of us who just sometimes just can’t put things into such beautiful words about the decay of our one time great society. You could have also included the abysmal job our government is doing in my town of East Palestine Ohiio…….the lies and nothing here here is so frustrating! We need to all be evacuated and paid for the chemical bombing and release of all the toxins in our air water and soil but they don’t care because of who we are…..Real America

    1. I am following what is happening in East Palestine. I am so sorry for what you all are going through. Your lives, with no warning at all, have been turned upside down. Has the governor declared an emergency yet. I hope you all will get the funding you need to start over. If your community set up a “go fund me” I would think many would donate. I certainly would. i hope you all can find a safe, healthy place soon and get back to your lives.

  8. In 1 word the inflection point was “Obama”.

    An inexperienced, unvetted product of the Chicago Democrat machine was presented as a “post racial, post partisan middle of the road Democrat”. Instead he was a hyper partisan, radical leftist, Ivy League Al Sharpton with no love for America. From his global apology tour to the Iran deal globally, to “if I had a son” and Reverend Wright domestically if you are looking for a time, place and reason things became inverted it starts and stops with his 8 years. Aided and abetted by the usual suspects in the media and big tech but also made immune from criticism by both of his GOP presidential opponents because to criticize his policies made you a racist.

    The picture painted by Dr Hanson reads (IMO) more like an Old Testament parable than a lesson from history.

    1. Lew,

      I fully agree. I think the idea of Barak Obama cleansing away our racial sins once and for all was appealing to many middle and upper middle class Americans. It’s so sad that otherwise bright level headed people fell for this civil rights charlatan and self-serving hack.

      I remember my stay-at-home-mom neighbor telling me that government mandated “fairness” in just about every aspect of our lives was necessary for our nation’s growth and salvation.

      And look where we are today.

    2. Thomas O'Brien

      As has been said by many others, one doesn’t try to fundamentally change something that they love. Saul Alinsky must be very proud of him.

  9. Michael Dingman

    Dear Mr. Hanson,

    Another excellent and poignant analysis of the deterioration of our North American culture. I enjoy listening to you discuss these items every week on your podcast. Please keep writing and speaking.

  10. A perceptive & excellent summing-up of some unwelcome aspects of modern life in our formerly-interesting cities! Many who have a bit of wit or letters (Cyrano’s phrase) have left for the hinterlands!

  11. LeRoy W Clark

    The fall of civilizations is a fascinating study.
    Thank you, VDH, for this summary.

    Previously, reading a bit of Toynbee, others, et al, I foolishly came to believe that it might take a couple centuries for a nation to die by a more natural means. However, that such decline here has occurred within merely a couple decades suggests something else may be at work.

    Then, an outsider, the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, articulated his amazement at the rapid decline of this once respected superpower. He concluded such a rapid fall must have been planned. So many illogical rulings and laws had to have been deliberately planned and implemented to bring about the fall: increase in crime, therefore, defund police; a certain small minority grouping causing huge and violent crime, then accuse and implicate a different, innocent group as responsible for that; misdirect and weaken a once respected national military, reward seditious military leaders. Remove once sovereign borders. Ignore GS and his funding of riots and AGs that ignore law and, in effect, promote crime that rips apart civility. At least Mr. Bukele has taken steps to rid his nation of some 40k felon, violent criminals. He is raked over the coals by loud political voices here but who is doing more to preserve his nation’s civility and culture, Biden or Bukele?

    1. Jeffery LeMieux

      My guess about the accelerated pace of our destruction is the empowerment of all by social media and the new connectivity and immediacy of the internet. The wonderful things it has given us are matched and surpassed by how it has loosed and amplified our worst elements both collectively and individually. We were simply unprepared both legally and morally for what the internet has produced. In fact, we’re only now experiencing the secondary and tertiary effects of everyone having a voice that is permanent and searchable.

      Just as the problems we’re seeing are as old as recorded history, the solutions are the same as they always have been. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The question is how far the conflict between competing narratives will escalate before they are resolved.

      The Roman Empire was gigantic, broad, and diverse from Britons to Carthaginians, Latinized Greeks, Egyptians, etc. all with “competing narratives.” The difference is that they didn’t have immediate communication, personal firearms, and weapons of mass destruction. This has been coming for decades, and only exacerbated by electronic technology. We’re leaving a mess for our progeny. Look to Bouguereau’s painting, Blind Homer with Guide. It depicts a blind Homer being led through a threatening wilderness by a youth, armed with a stone. It’s where we are now.

  12. We have been in a well publicized affordable housing crisis for about 4 years. The rent is too high everywhere. As well the young working adults I know have given up on the idea of ever owning their own homes. The costs of homes that we once thought of as lower income structures are now beyond reach for many, or most, depending on location. I have done extensive research on this for years, as I have health issues and need to move for better healthcare. The result of these ridiculously high rents is that many have been forced into what is termed ‘insecure housing’. IE, couch surfing, moving in with relatives, so on. A family not far from me, for an example, has 3 generations living in a one bedroom apt. , three dependents and two full time working adults. I am in a small country town. Californians have fled here, and landlords glomed on to this and immediately raised rents. My rent has doubled and continues to be raised. Natives have been displaced, some forced into the streets. This is happening all over. America has the highest rents on Earth, with San Francisco and NYC tied for the highest. Its no coincidence to me that these two cities also have the highest number of homeless. And yes, there are addicts among them; and homelessness itself can cause situational mental illness. But many are homeless because the rents are impossible. America has allowed landlords to price gouge us into a national affordable housing crisis, And yet I’ve heard not one word about that.

    1. Thomas O'Brien

      I have a little different take on it than you, Anna. Due to limited space, I’ll just say at this time that it is the gov’t and their unintended consequences that is the *main* culprit.
      People will pay as much as they can qualify for with their mortgage lender. Having interest deductions on loans means they can qualify for much more than they would otherwise. Bottom line: sellers will sell for what the market will bear. If people can not qualify for their listing prices the market will readjust, and prices will in timedrop.
      Same with college tuition–Gov’t unintended consequences. Cheap easy to get, gov’t subsidized student loans allow students to pay more in tuition. Without these subsidized loans university enrollment would plummet. Administrators cannot operate with half-filled classrooms. To fill them they would be forced to reduce tuition (and forced to layoff top heavy administration). As Victor has said Stanford student/adminstrator ratio at this time is 1:1.
      When *individual* investors buy today (I am speaking only of the Calif. market because that is what I am familiar with) at these very inflated prices with 20% down, the rent typically will not cover the mortgage payment, so they have negatives. Immediate benefit is the expected property appreciation. In time (often years) rents will be sufficient to cover landlord mortgage and maintenance expenses. Then in more years there will be a positive cash flow that can supplement one’s income. So, it is a long game.

      1. Thomas O'Brien

        This is something I have been curious about, and maybe some of you have, as well. After posting a message we get the standard message “Your comment is awaiting moderation”. I will check back on the website periodically to check for updated comments. In a while mine will be posted with the “awaiting moderation” comment.

        But here is the confusing part; When I first observe it has cleared moderation, there are sometimes comments that others have made about my message. So what does this mean? Does it mean others will see my message, once it is cleared, before I do? That must be it, right? Otherwise, how could they have commented on it already?

        Has this spurred curiosity in any of you with your message comments, as it has me? Or do I just have too much time on my hands? 🙂

        1. Serpentor of the Third Circle, Keeper of the Shiny Thing

          Dear Two-Legger,

          Know that your feeble efforts to control your own destiny on this site have been thwarted by the irresistible force of The Shiny Thing! Even as our antarctic home passes into a somber autumn, we are still hard at work disrupting your free-thinking sites and mind-controlling your leaders.

          Your tax dollars at work!

          Serpentor of the Third Circle, Keeper of the Shiny Thing

      2. anna willhide

        Just a few short comments as I am limited in time today. Much of the housing in US is old enough that it is long paid for and was bought at a time when things were half or more less expensive than now. The place i rent is 70 years old and has been a rental for its entire existence. So deductions for interest payments would not be a factor. Overall, I do believe your belief in a self-adjusting market that in some way satisfies the standards of accounting is much stronger than mine.

        1. Thomas O'Brien

          How many owners have there been to the 70 year house that you live in, Anna? If it has stayed in the same family, that would indeed be an exceptional case.

          The self adjustment I spoke of in my is true on the face of it. One can not pay more for a house than a lender will qualify them. Deductible loans, help one get more tax dollars back than would otherwise happen. This frees up money that otherwise would not be there.

          Here’s what i am not saying:

          Non deductible loans would not make housing cheap, or now even affordable, only cheaper.

          I bought my first house in central, coastal Calif. in in 1976. It was built in 1974. I assumed a $28k VA loan, so because they require zero down, I assume that is what the original owner paid. In 1976 I paid $43,500. Of course I thought That I had missed the boat. Fortunately, I was wrong, and over the years and decades the value has soared.

          I had to assume a loan because I had no income at the time because I was on unpaid leave to attend graduate school at SJSU. No income, no qualifying for a loan, regardless on one’s savings.

          There were a number of people I knew at the time that chose to rent because their monthly payments would be cheaper than their rent, even with a 20% down payment. These people did not have a long view. Those cheap rents have long since disappeared. So, it is really tough on folks now.

          The point I am trying to make is that interest deductible loans is making a very bad housing situation worse.

  13. I would suggest that huge taxes with no representation on the urban middle class and large-estate, landowning agrarian class was an impetus to abandon their respective loyalty to their nations as well.

    1. I have always thought that taxes were monies that we give to the government in order for them to administer programs on our behalf, much like a trustee would. Our money and part of the social contract, enforceable by criminal laws. We pay attention to, and fight over how much to pay. But we don’t pay as much attention to what it pays for once Congress gets its hands on it. And Congress happily aids this inattention by passing legislative methods that make it hard, often even for its members, to find out where the money is going. As in some of them saying just this year about a thousand page bill; “you’ll find out what’s in it after its passed”. I feel its all out of my control. Our country is for all citizens, not just the Congress. So we need to join together and get control of how our money is spent. Especially as they can lock us up if we don’t give them money that they then may spend for their own purposes. Trustees can get in big trouble doing that. lol

      1. Thomas O'Brien

        We need to reinstall the system of federalism that our founders intended. They knew that over time the federal gov’t would have mission creep so as to be more powerful. That is why they intended for our U.S. senators to be lobbyists in Washington for the interests of their individual states. The 17th Amendment (1913) changed all that.
        Our Founders knew the good, the bad, and the ugly about human nature. And they also knew it did not change over time. Progressives do not seem to accept this. Men can evolve into angels, they seem to think.
        In my view all decisions should be made at the local level (city and county) *until* a rationale case can be made to kick it up to a higher level, state, or federal. Educational standards in my view should be made at the state level, and national defense at the federal, to give just two examples.
        The further one’s policy members are from where one lives, the less they feel an accountability to you.
        Also, as I had previously commented in an earlier post, contributions to our elected representatives should come only from those eligible to vote for them. They would get no union and no corporate money. Lobbyists are fine because of their expertise, but they are not allowed to write check books.

  14. With respect, Prof.Hanson; just a few words about your comment regarding Mexico ‘damaging us’. I remember when Mexico; pre-Biden; agreed to hold the illegals in their country to await processing. They had no obligation I know of to do that. Mexico is not flooding our borders, the Biden administration is. It isn’t up to Mexico to protect our borders. Yes, there is a lot of corruption in Mexico. But brave Mexicans, including Judges, DA’s, police; have been murdered for fighting the cartels. The US has never helped Mexico, but spends our money in continual conflicts in far away places. Sanity to me would be to help Mexico with its cartel problems and help it, and other SA countries, become strong trading partners. As always, your writing clarifies many issues for me, and always educates, and is a pleasure to read.

      1. anna willhide

        Thanks There were just some topics that I feel strongly about and appreciate this opportunity to comment. Then there’s the “oh, no, I’ve said too much” feeling. lol

        1. No prob. That’s what Evita says right before she winds into her next big number. I say “if it’s good enough for a fictional portrayal of a Catholic-Fascist dictator’s wife, it’s good enough this site!”

  15. Mr Hansen, another terrific summary of so much that is wrong with our present societal direction. I wish it weren’t true, but wishful thinking will get us nowhere. It is fascinating how successful empires in history eventually fail by rotting from within. Unfortunately, without a change in direction, the admirable U.S. experiment in a constitutional republic has peaked and is now disintegrating. The perpetrators are, and have been, in the minority, but it will take a concerted effort to reverse their electoral chicanery in order to halt the slide and begin to push the pendulum back.

  16. The left is using identity based warfare to soften us up. That’s all. Their true goal is power and to turn us into a global economic fascism (aka corporatism). The oligarchy that is rising up is similar to other authoritarian regimes of the past, including Communism, Nazism, fascism, etc. Individuality will be gone, Christianity will be demonized and the people will become powerless to challenge their oppressors. Sadly this new form of government will not be controlled by Americans. It will be dominated by outsiders and run for their benefit. Americans will be drugged, censored, corrupted and beaten into submission, for the whim of the global elites.

    Wokism is destroying the fabric of America. It does this by deploying the postmodern motifs (ignore reality, gain power for Marxism). They intentionally dissolve the “metanarratives” that have held us together (Christianity, science, history, romance, merit, etc.). Once these are gone, the liberal, tolerant society that Judeo-Christianity built, will be destroyed and Democracy will disappear. America is rapidly being gobbled up by oligarchs. In world history, this story is nothing new. They are deploying an age old method, used by Marxists and oligarchs alike. They stoke resentment and anger between groups, then they step in to take power. Normally they deploy resentment of the poor toward the rich, to build their needed hatred (class warfare). Our woke use racism and identity based bigotries, to stoke anger. They have learned t

  17. jonathan sands

    I would like to ask Dr. Hanson whether any civilization once it started to skid, has been able to reverse it. Rome, Greece, Byzantium, Islam, Spain, Britain. I can’t think of any.

  18. I love you Mr. Hanson but when are you going to quit your incessant griping and OFFER A SOLUTION??? We all know the country is broken and all you do is complain about it. It’s getting OLD.

  19. Peter Wrenshall

    A bitter, brilliant, powerful analysis. I sincerely hope that it is still just a warning and not a prediction. In particular, I have begun to read Catullus Attis’ poem in translation: Clearly, there is nothing new about the accursed, evil ideology of transgenderism – it was known to the ancients. Read it and weep.

    1. Hurrah! Go Peter! That lovely piece helps balance out his more… bawdy work. Keep cracking! There’s so much good stuff out there!

  20. Steven Steele

    I don’t see how these conclusions can be drawn from the drug,(Source%3A%20CDC%20WONDER).

    The rate of increase in death rates has be rising since 2015, although the rate (not the absolute number) appears to be decreasing over the past year.

    The comment about 60 billion dollars being repatriated to Mexico sound scary, unless you have taken an undergraduate economics course. The US experiences huge capital inflows. Do have a even rudimentary understanding of how the US debt is financed?

    VDH provides 3rd rate analysis dressed up with irrelevant attempts to show his erudition in an unrelated field.

    At least he has stopped his amateur hour covid data analysis.

    Classicists should stay far away from math.

    1. Hmmm. That’s some sassy pushback! Thanks for the link on the first point. Would you be willing to expand on the debt and remittances counterarguments or provide a link or two?

    2. Jeffery LeMieux

      from the article you cited above: “. . .Opioid-involved overdose deaths rose from 21,089 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and remained steady through 2019. This was followed by a significant increase in 2020 with 68,630 reported deaths and again in 2021 with 80,411 reported overdose deaths. ”

      Seem ludicrous to imply that the nearly unimpeded importation of fentanyl over a practically unenforced border is not responsible for this shift. But I have regularly been amazed at a legacy media ability to demand 25th amendment removal of Trump for walking carefully down a slippery ramp in dress shoes and completely ignore the visible decline of the current POTUS. So, sure. No fentanyl issue. Everything is peachy!

  21. Thank you for articulating so well what we’ve been noticing in the last few years. I sincerely hope that there is a way out, but unfortunately I don’t see any.

  22. Best description of current dystopia yet!
    My last question from the start of this spiral was how deep and wide does this go? Question answered.
    My last question is “From where comes accountability and deterrence? Our three branches would appear to be unwilling or unable to make the choices necessary that live up to their oath of office.
    Does it really go to the streets? Another civil war? Violent subjugation? Refusal to obey, like a Ghandi? Or do the weak and greedy sellout for 30 pieces and all independence is lost?

  23. I imagine Trump is elected in ’24, assassinated, and the
    country erupts and no funeral procession.
    The hate for Trump is so like JFK.
    BUT more anarchy. I was 19
    that Friday 12:30 PM

  24. Them? Instead of the WEF’s “You will own nothing and you will be happy” (better in Mandarin), they could very well have used Pogo’s“WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US.”, as the colder war battles of The Great Reset rage on, appropriately judged by Black Rock’s (ESG) Fink and his ilk.

    Society’s losers – homeless, jobless, criminal, insane, drugged – are ignored by soulless, urban pedestrians who rush by in order to better serve mammon. Getting a living superseded living with one another as the purpose of social life long ago. Charity in America is a tax dodge, an NGO, not a brotherly hand. For that we’d need a sense of ‘unum e pluribus’. But divided we’re more easily controlled apparently.

    Corporations are the truly powerful U.S./global citizens. They vote with money. They herd & form people into quiet, productive units. They buy lawmakers. When the BIG corps fail, the great, voiceless mass of taxpayers bail them out. It’s their duty, says gov’mint, but don’t worry, we’ll print enuf to cover any shortfall.

  25. Dr. Hansen, hold on. Problems of our society abound. The causes also. Self-confidence is not necessarily correlated with wisdom.

    Soros-funded district attorneys.?
    I contend that that is absurd

    The hard urban work of the 1990s and early 2000s—cleaner, safer subways, secure nightlife downtown, clean sidewalks, low vacancy rates, little vagrancy, and litter-free streets—so often has been undone, deliberately so.
    Deliberately so? I would beg to differ!

    A once secure border no longer exists. Joe Biden and Alejandro Mayorkas simply demolished it and allowed 6-7 million foreign nationals to cross illegally into the United States without audits—to the delight of their apparent constituent, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
    Grotesque oversimplification of a vastly complex problem,

    The Left now rarely mentions Martin Luther King, Jr. or even the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. Perhaps it knows it has violated the spirit and legacy of both.
    Hardly! Pres. Biden’s recent trip to the bridge just one example.

    Current “science” is now synonymous with ideology, religion, or superstition. Lockdowns, mRNA vaccinations, masking, transgenderism, “climate change,” and green power brook no dissent. They are declared scientifically correct in the manner that the sun used to revolve around the earth, and any dissenting Galileo or Copernicus is cancel-cultured, doxxed, and deplatformed.
    I have serious disagreements here!. Are you opposing Vaccinations? M

    1. Thomas O'Brien

      Robert, I disagree with every point on which you opined. Have you not been observing what has been going on? Just to take one point. These radical DA’s that clearly care more about the criminal than the victims received large amounts of campaign contributions from organizations known to be Soros funded.

      This is where my idea of campaign finance reform (expressed in more detail in a previous post) would help. If those candidates for D.A. had their contributions limited to individuals (no organizations funded by billionaires of any stripe), and then only those individuals eligible to vote in their election, I do not believe such destructive radicals would have had a chance at getting elected.

      Money makes a difference in elections. Just look at the Romney/Gingrich race for the republican nomination in 2012. After each of their debates Newt was up in the polls, but by midweek because of all his purchased airtime Romney would overtake him.

      I believe strongly that if Gingrich would have won that nomination, Barack Obama would have been a one term president. And Joe Biden would have been a lot poorer because of it.

  26. Feisty stuff, Bob, but don’t leave us in the dark! Could you pick one or two issues you find particularly egregious and expand on why VDH is so very wrong? He likes it spicy, so don’t worry about pouring it on!

  27. LeRoy W Clark

    Oppose Vax?
    Why would anyone?

    American Heart Association Study Shows Link Between Covid Vaccines and Heart Inflammation – Becker News;
    Report shows Australia’s excess mortality rate has risen to levels not seen since World War II | — Australia’s leading news site;

    Excess severity in Australia and New Zealand (;
    Dr. Sherri Tenpenny Explains How the Depopulation Covid Vaccines Will Start Working in 3-6 Months – LewRockwell;
    Autopsies Confirm Covid Jab Is Killing Kids – Discern Report;
    Sen. Rand Paul Destroys Doctor Defending University Vaccine Mandates – Becker News;
    Dr. McCullough: Lawsuits Are Coming for Those Who Defrauded the Public (;

    Florida Surgeon General Issues New Warning on mRNA COVID Vaccines After Finding 1,700% Increase in VAERS Reports in Florida Alone (;

    The Cost of Ignorant ‘Expert’ Policy Makers During COVID (;
    Click here to hear Sarah Blattner, age 14, tell her “vaccine story” prior to her death… – Revolver News;
    Survey of Embalmers Reveals Massive Increase in White Blood Clots Since Covid ‘Vaccine’ Rollout (Video) – RAIR (;
    COVID Jab’s Impact On The Brain, Heart & Fertility – Dr. Peter McCullough [VIDEO] (; They Knew: Dr. Aseem Malhotra Says WHO Warned of Dozens of Major Adverse Reactions BEFORE the Jabs Were Rolled Out ⋆ 🔔

  28. I think that the question raised by reader Jonathan Sands is intriguing. he asks if any civilization has ever been able to reverse its skid. I would be very interested in Victor’s response

    1. Me too. I think we can start by remembering Uictor’s observation that Rome was rotten to the core at Nero’s death in 69 A.D., yet a hundred years of flowering were just around the corner after Domitian. Rome could also endure 50 years of civil war after the collapse of the Severan dynasty and still be reorganized successfully under Diocletian and Constantine. That means locating the point of terminal decline in a society is difficult.

      1. Thomas O'Brien

        On 2nd thought, some might say that P.M. Margaret Thatcher reversed the skid in Great Britain in the 1980’s, or how about Ronald Reagan in the U.S.

        Now of course the situation is much more dire now. But it still can be reversed. If successful in this pursuit, future generations of school children must be taught, so they never forget, how closed we came to losing what got us such success in the first place. When times are good, we must remain vigilant!

        Maybe in the not too distant future our elections can once again be about the left versus the right, not about normal versus crazy, as Gov. Sarah Huckabee so aptly described it.

        1. RIght. It’s about how much capital (human, financial, etc.) you have in the system that can be used to launch a renaissance and then are there better alternatives immediately available. By 470, a western Roman was living in a poor, less-populated, and economically stagnant part of Europe. If that person remained Roman, their taxes, sons, and political energies would all go to serve the Eastern Empire. Gothic leaders may have offended Roman sensibilities, but they were dynamic and capable of keeping the wolf away from the door (sometimes literally!). Thus, even if a herculean effort could have been made to renew the Western Empire, there was an immediate better deal on offer under the Gothic kings -many of whom were willing to cater to Roman ways and language (to a point -see poor Boethius in 524!).

  29. James, thank you for your encouragement. Let me pick this paragraph:
    “Current “science” is now synonymous with ideology, religion, or superstition. Lockdowns, mRNA vaccinations, masking, transgenderism, “climate change,” and green power brook no dissent. They are declared scientifically correct in the manner that the sun used to revolve around the earth, and any dissenting Galileo or Copernicus is cancel-cultured, doxxed, and deplatformed.”
    The phrase current “science” implies derision to me. I question his understanding thereof. Science is certainly not an ideology a religion or superstition. It is as imperfect as any human endeavor. Does he understand that science is a moving picture? That once human knowledge contended the sun revolved around t’s he earth. The picture changes. That is science.
    A classic example is the COVID 19 pandemic. The science of physics changed over the course of hundreds of years. The science of Covid 19 changed over the course of hours. That fact was never understood by our society. Optimum applications of lockdowns and masking was an ever changing task. Does he object to vaccinations? I contend they saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Millions around the world. He appears to denigrate ”climate change”, the concept? Bazaar, Unless I misunderstand. It will destroy the current human society. The only question is when.
    Enough for now. I welcome comments. Vituperation encouraged. Robert

  30. Robert, thanks! That’s just the succinct expansion I was looking for. My only comment is that Victor endorsed the vaccine throughout the pandemic while opposing vaccine mandates especially for children and young men. His views may be shifting as new studies come out. Other long time listeners: is that a fair summary of Uictor’s views?

  31. Thomas O'Brien

    Robert, I believe VDH understands science and its limitations, but I have serious doubts about you.

    Science is about open open discussion/debate. It is not about crushing it.
    Science is about placing a high value on observation and empirical evidence, not ignoring it.
    Yes, and science is about evolving.

    Drs. Fauci and Collins from the get go were about silencing those who disagreed with them. Have you read the “Great Barrington Declaration”? If not, you really should. It is only about a page in length and was written by three eminent scientists in the Fall of 2020 in which they presented a very credible strategy on how the pandemic should be handled. Fauci and Collins stopped at nothing, including bribing scientists with lucrative research grants, to pressure other scientists to oppose it.

    In retrospect, if the recommendations in this declaration were followed millions of small businesses would be still in business, and hundreds of thousands of U.S. lives would have been saved.

    Boston Catholic schools allowed for their 10’s of thousands of students to attend school without out any harm to them or their teachers. Sweden did also. Of approximately 20 European countries studied, Sweden had the lowest “excess death rate” during 2020 -22. It was only 4.7%.

    Dr. Fauci says he was the science. No he was a bull shit artist with scientific credentials. With the current congressional hearings, the truth about him is coming out for those too deaf or blind to hear or see it earlier.

  32. Ah, Thomas my friend, I have read the Great Barrington Declaration. I am not an expert on it. It didn’t come out after much data was collected? whereas Fauci/Collins had to go with what the data they had at the time.
    I well recall the scenes of massive bodies in refrigerated trucks, overwhelming crematorium’s etc. I don’t know the age distribution thereof. There were many people in good health who succumbed. The mortality rate lowered dramatically coincident with massive immunizations. A correlation I would suggest.
    Yes, small businesses suffered as did the economy generally. That balanced against saving lives.
    Your manner of denigrating Fauci/Collins leaves much to be desired.

    1. Robert, that’s just it–the lock down did not save lives, but it sure ruined businesses, our economy, and caused our national debt to sour. These are just the facts.

      Glad your read the G.B. Dec.(of Fall, 2020). In light of this, I must say I am puzzled by your stance. When it came out the authors felt they had enough empirical data on the virus to make the sound recommendations they did. Time has shown this was true.

      Francis Collins, shortly before his retirement, was interviewed on Fox News Special Report by Bret Bair. He was asked by Bair why he was so critical of the Declaration. Collins did not deny that he tried to squash it, but to justify his action he totally mischaracterized the G.B. Dec. Bair to my disappointment, who surely must have read it, did not push back on Collins, and tell his audience the Dec. actually recommended. It was not how Collins claimed.

      FYI, the “excess mortality” comparison studied that I had previously quoted, upon revisiting it, was actually more favorable to Sweden than I had said. Its excess mortality was only 4.4%, and the number of countries in the comparison was more at 31. The country with the greatest E. M. was Bulgaria at 19.8%.

      Empirical evidence should trump political objectives; during the pandemic it clearly did not. Fortunately, Sweden did not throw out their common sense and mandate school closures and widespread lockdowns when the evidence did not support it.

      Facts are stubborn things, Robert. I can say no more.

      1. Are we going into Fauci and Collins funding, email, and Lancet paper scandals as reasons to doubt the sincerity of their actions, or is that a tangent from this particular argument?

  33. Pete, Uictor is a beast on higher education reform. You can read “Who Killed Homer” or Google “Victor Davis Hanson Higher Education” for a wealth of articles and podcasts. This is Uictor’s home ground, and it’s where he has the most detailed list of solutions (and plenty of DOOOOOM!!!TM).

  34. “From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia . . . could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide.” – Abraham Lincoln

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