Victor Davis Hanson
What ultimately destroyed the evil empires of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were bankrupt dogmas. Crackpot ideology destroyed free expression. It ruined meritocracy and ensured unequal application of the laws—and so paved the way for far worse.
The Nazi idea of a superior Aryan race adjudicated everything from physics to tank design. Soviet commissars did the same, subordinating rational thought to communist agendas.
Zealots in both systems infiltrated the universities and schools to institutionalize indoctrination.
Wokeism, while not yet as lethal, is similar. Racial wokeism posits that the race and gender of the vice president and the next Supreme Court justice subordinate all other considerations.
But will the current vice president and next Supreme Court justice commensurately select their own future surgeons, or their upcoming airline pilots, on the same predetermined race and sex criteria?
What—other than ideology—explains why rejecting nominations of African American judge Janice Rogers Brown in 2003 and 2005 was not racist and sexist, but blocking Joe Biden’s upcoming nomination of a preselected African American female would be?
Why were most Antifa and Black Lives Matter criminals who looted, destroyed, and assaulted during the 120 days of summer 2020 not charged, much less tried? Why, in contrast, were the January 6 rioters or the current Canadian truckers treated disproportionately harshly by the media?
Had the same rioters on January 6 been waving pride flags and BLM banners, would some of them have been sitting for a year in solitary confinement and still uncharged?
Had the criminal protestors and looters of summer 2020 been wearing red MAGA hats, would they also have mostly gotten off without charges?
What would have happened had conservative demonstrators cut out a police-free “MAGA Zone” in Seattle rather than the exempted Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone? Would police have similarly left it alone, and the media similarly romanticized such illegality?
One of the reasons the COVID-19 lockdown and mask policies lost public confidence was their utter corruption by ideology.
When thousands in June 2020 brazenly defied quarantines—and yet were excused by over 1,000 healthcare professionals claiming that woke agendas justified violating quarantine laws—then millions of Americans concluded government policy was as much about identity politics as saving lives.
Which politicians in 2020 trashed the vaccine programs and declared they would likely not get inoculations—if they were endorsed by then-President Trump?
If Trump is demonized as a destroyer of election legitimacy, what then are we to say of the beatified Stacey Abrams? She lost the Georgia gubernatorial race by more than 50,000 votes. Yet for years, she has maintained the voting was rigged and the elected governor is illegitimate.
In 2000, who challenged for weeks the vote count, despite numerous public and private audits confirming George W. Bush’s popular vote victory in Florida?
Who in 2004-2005—for only the second time in history—challenged in Congress the Electoral College vote? In whose party were the 31 House members and one senator who forced a congressional vote in a failed effort to overturn the election?
Who in 2016 ran ads for weeks after the election, beseeching the chosen electors to violate their constitutional duties, ignore their state vote tallies, and instead vote for Hillary Clinton?
And who in 2016 claimed her victorious opponent was elected president illegitimately? Who bragged she was joining the “resistance” to undermine his presidency? Who advised Joe Biden in 2020 not to accept the election result if he lost?
If conservative zealots were ransacking American stores, carjacking innocents in the major cities, and spiking murder rates to historical highs, would the Biden Administration be mobilizing law enforcement to ensure arrests, prosecutions, and incarceration? Would current city and county prosecutors continue to turn a blind eye?
If anti-communist Cubans by the millions were illegally crashing the southern border, would they be welcomed in as are those from Mexico and Central Americans?
If, by 2024, a Republican president enjoys a Republican Congress, what would be the reaction to conservatives who advocated ending the filibuster? Ensuring a national voting law requiring IDs at all the polls? Voting to increase the Supreme Court to 15 justices to guarantee at least six new nominations for the Republican-controlled presidency and Congress?
When ideology in places like Castroite Cuba, the old Soviet Union, and Venezuela warped the application of the law, destroyed the role of merit in assessing qualifications, silenced speech, and unequally applied the law, then society unwound.
In such ideological dystopias, eventually even the shelves empty, the currency becomes worthless, and the nation regresses into poverty and chaos. Is that the future we await?
Scarier still, ideology ensures that such chaos is heralded as success. Critics are demonized and hounded. And the obsequious state media assures the public that things are going just great.
13 thoughts on “Why Ideology Is the Ancient Enemy of Civilization”
Prof. Hanson, I am one of those rare birds who has gone from being far Left (former Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyite in my youth) to now being as Conservative as they come. Somewhere around March 2020 I purged myself of the vestiges of any Liberalism that remained as I watched my increasingly insane neighbors in Mpls, MN, fade behind locked walls of fear & acquiescence – while my first concern was for the children & the most vulnerable of our society who would no longer have watchful eyes on them. I knew that ‘whatever’ that was fomenting this fear was the enemy of ‘good’ & so I systematically sat down & rationed myself out years of lies I had accepted. Now to you. In my search for new thought leaders I very quickly gravitated toward your appearances on Fox, and particularly Tucker (future historians will reward Tucker well for being the best investment Fox has ever made). You made sense to me. Recently I thought it was cute to hear Jason Whitlock mention you on Tucker Carlson today as someone whom he would like to meet – & I hope you two do some day soon (that would be a conversation I would love to hear). I’m looking for a reading list of current authors like yourself, but maybe unexpected. I actually read quite a lot in my work so I don’t mind anything with heft, but as someone whose fully embracing this new thought with gusto I would appreciate both foundational and new work in the area of populist/Conservative thought. Thanks! Sara
For one you can read “Americans no more” by Georgie Anne Geyer. You will appreciate it.
I consider it a prequel to VDH’s book “end of citizenship”
Your letter reverberated with me because I began a similar transformation about 30 years ago. Congratulations on your victory over the Woke. I can recommend a book, The Conservative Heart, by Arthur Brooks. I love listening to podcasts. I follow VDH on Facebook which links to all the new ones. Some of my favorite podcasts are Uncommon Knowledge from the Hoover Institute, Mad Dogs and Englishmen from National Review, WSJ Opinion, Potomac Watch, The Glenn Show, especially the ones with John McWhorter, and Bill O’Reilly. Mark Simone’s daily radio program can be found on podcast which has a lighter touch. Hillsdale College has great speakers on YouTube including VDH. Some favorite people for you to learn about are Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Glenn Laurie, John McWhorter, Charles C.W. Cooke, Richard Epstein, and Larry Kudlow. Your exploration may have already led you to much of this.
Anyone who believes a word Tucker Carlson says is deluded.
And your statement: “rationed myself out years of lies”. I think you mean “rationalized” not ‘ration’.
rationing (present participle)
allow each person to have only a fixed amount of (a particular commodity):
“shoes were rationed from 1943”
control · limit (to a fixed amount) · restrict (the consumption of) · conserve · budget · distribute · share out · measure out · divide out/up · apportion · [more]
(ration someone to)
allow someone to have only (a fixed amount of a certain commodity):
“they were requested to ration themselves to one glass of wine each”
Lysenkoism IN the Soviet era was form of woke Science based On ideology that Dr. Hanson should include in his List of examples going forward,
Thank you Victor.
I recently retired, but I keep in touch with several friends at my former place of work. One told me the company recently started an Equity and Diversity working group and are now hiring service “engineers” that require phone support to operate their hand-held voltage meters. (The business is medical image equipment repair).
Could you be a bit more specific on the role of the “engineers” and what you mean by “phone support”. Obviously don’t mention details that would identify the company.
Wokeism, while not yet as lethal…
Ahh famous last words.
Thank you for all the work you do! Also thank you to Sami and Jack, you are wonderful and it is always nice to hear your voices.
I just wanted to draw your attention to this book I am currently finishing:
The book wonderfully explains the history of woke ideas in American business and how it all works through shareholder activism – and of course it is more corrupt than first thought.
Well, I am on to read “Woke, Inc.” also.
Have a wonderful day!
Kind regards from the Dane
Twenty-one! Yes, 21 rhetorical questions packed into another Victor Davis Hanson grab-bag of complaints and whatabouts. .
That is, I believe, an all-time record. Well done, Professor!
Of course, instead of these recitations of golden oldie news items, some of us would prefer new information, or just your take on current affairs.
For instance, your position on REPATRIATION of all of Biden’s illegals would be a start.
And a condemnation of the horrendous anti-white sentencing of the 2 McMichaels in the Arbery case would be far preferable to another journey down the memory lane of Democratic “contradictions.”
We don’t need to read about “the Podesta trove” and “General Milley and the UCMJ” again.
Starboard, when you state “We” it implies you are speaking for a great number of people. You are not! Certainly not me. Your snide, snarky tone reveals more about you than Dr. Hansen. Why would you recommend truth not be repeated for the benefit of newcomers to this forum? I’m sorry to have read your comments. They were not worth the time, as no one likes people who nitpick in a condescending way.
The left understands the effectiveness of creating a negative atmosphere around their political and cultural enemies (Republicans, generally, and Trump, with his help, specifically). The 2022 midterms proved that facts are a lot less important than atmospherics (see Saul Alinsky).