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Things Worth Thinking About

Victor Davis Hanson is one of those articulate people that can speak extemporaneously better than most people can write considered prose.  This is evident from the interview below.    Here are some excerpts.

On the Effects of Multiculturalism in Europe

The European left is multicultural, that is they don’t believe in themselves, they can’t argue that Europe is better than the alternative. They have no concept of the history or appreciation of the Renaissance enlightenment.  They don’t see themselves as exceptional, so then why should people that come see them as exceptional. So, they are not integrating people in a way that the United States is doing a much better job, at least until recently. Then the other problem is that Europe has always been for all of its socialism, a class-bound society. It doesn’t intermarry, it doesn’t integrate as well as the United States. We are a plutocratic society. You can get status by making money, no matter what you look like, where your parents were born, where you go to school. In Europe, you’re always located in time and space by where you were born, the sound of your voice, who your parents were and that makes it very hard for immigrants to get social, economic, cultural acceptance.

One has to wonder at the worshipful fascination for the European socialist model held by the elitists in the American Left.

As Hanson alludes, this is a cautionary warning to the United States.  Until recently, it was this aspect of American culture that unified the country philosophically.  Despite being a country of immigrants, people were unified by a common desire to better themselves and improve their position.  This writer’s family is an example of the benefits of the melting pot.  One grandfather emigrated from Russia during the first world war, and the other from Germany after serving in the German army.  One left his village near Minsk only six weeks prior to the other’s march through it with the German army.  Yet, their children, this writer’s parents married 40 years later in United States.  This writer’s mother heard the refrain, “We are in America, we speak English!”  Neither grandfather spoke a word of English when they arrived, penniless and alone.

Just as this writer’s grandparents provide an  example of the benefits of  America’s meritocratic culture, it also illustrates another truth elucidated by Hanson

… it’s a generic truth for any society that the more affluent and leisured they become, the less they are willing to make sacrifices …

If things had been comfortable and safe in Germany or in Russia, neither patriarch would have risked the move.  Furthermore, when a society loses its ideals and understanding of itself, its members don’t value the things that set it apart.  Consequently, they are less inclined to fight (culturally) for them.  It is too easy to allow incremental tyranny.

On Foreign Policy

History doesn’t start at A and then end at Z, it’s cyclical. So, we look at Asia before we got involved and we saw what Japan’s co-prosperity sphere was like and then we saw again in the 50’s what Mao and Stalin had envisioned for places as diverse as Korea or Vietnam – and we said, you know what? That’s not going to happen. We are going to let these countries decide their own futures and it will be consensual and they will be capitalist. And the result – you can’t criticize the result – I mean we created things, everything from South Korean Kias to Japanese Hondas by allowing those people in Asia to be free and have their own destiny in their own hands. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to interfere, we’re just trying to say if countries want to be self-determining and free, the United States is going to promote that and we’re gonna do that because that’s our values and every time we didn’t do that, we get drawn in. Because as our president says, we’re a Pacific country.

Freedom is a precondition for success.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.   But Hanson’s examples speak volumes for the benefits of an enlightened foreign policy led by an America that is proud of it’s systems and culture.  Contrast this with the views held by the current occupants of the White House, exemplified by the president’s inaugural “apology tour” and the words of the First Lady.

Speaking in Milwaukee, Wisconsin today, would-be First Lady Michelle Obama said, “for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

Then in Madison, she said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.” ABC News

(Well this writer is hungry for change, starving, in fact.)

Hanson goes on to layout Mr. Obama’s vision and the disastrous results thus far:

President Obama believes that problems in the world are a result of misunderstandings, communications, mixed signals, and because he’s so eloquent and charismatic, nontraditional, appeals to the way most of the people in the world think and look, he thinks – at least in his own words he says that. And by his singular diplomacy, he can iron out these differences. He doesn’t see that most problems in Asia and in the world in general, both predated and transcended George Bush. In his way of thinking, “Bush did it, he was a twangy Texan Christian – he didn’t have my heritage and landscape that I bring to the problem and therefore, things got worse and now I am here and they are going to get better”. That therapeutic approach didn’t quite work.

They – somehow their brilliant foreign policy cooked up a nuclear Pakistan, a nuclear North Korea, a nuclear Russia – soon to be a nuclear Iran and maybe in the future , a nuclear Taiwan and Japan, all on their borders. So, they’ve got problems that they have rendezvoused with all of them. And I don’t get this fascination because you fly into the Shanghai airport and everything looks great in a way that Kennedy doesn’t and suddenly they are the avatars of the future

…. And then Hanson draws an unnerving comparison with history:

… with Obama, we’ve seen the Rhineland, we’ve seen the Anschluss, we’ve seen the Sudetenland, and now all that’s left is the invasion of Poland.

Given the current situation in Ukraine, one has to wonder about the historic parallels.

Like Hitler and Chamberlain,

… whereas we might have been disliked under George Bush. There was some fear that George Bush was unpredictable and maybe a little scary or dangerous. Now there’s a sense that we’re disliked and that we are very predictable and not at all scary.

Vladimir Putin doesn’t appear to be all that impressed with the fortitude of the United States these days.

The Decline of Britain

Hanson offers a very insightful explanation of how Britain went from being a first class world power, to it’s present decline.

… it [Britain] made a terrible mistake in the 19 – late 40’s and 50’s, it nationalized its steel, its automobile, its power. It’s became [sic] a social redistributive state and that was why we got out of the Depression and they didn’t, really. We got out of the Depression because we spent all this money in World War II. But then when the tab came due in 1946 and, all of a sudden, the world was flattened and we were the only capitalist, free-market society that for the next ten years could supply goods and services and pay off our debt. Britain couldn’t , because it – I mean Germany – if you looked at Liverpool and Frankfurt in 19…I mean Liverpool and Dresden or Hamburg in 1945, it would have been one picture. If you looked at them in 1960, it would have been quite another, it would be like Hiroshima and Detroit – the same contrast.

Hanson continues, explaining that societies can choose their road, but that not all roads lead to the same place.

Decline is a choice, it always is by every society. When Rome fell apart in the 5th century, its enemies were just a fraction of what they were during the Punic Wars, six hundred years earlier. What we need to do is to ensure that we’re a meritocratic state and that people advance or fail according to their skill, their hard work, their ambition, and their knowledge and skill expertise.  And we have to have a transparent lawful society. We have to have a dynamic economy. And if we decide that we are no longer an equality of opportunity society, but we ‘re going to be an equality of result and you look at where that leads to, whether it’s Venezuela, Cuba, the EU, Greece, or the pernicious forms in the former Eastern Europe, it leads nowhere, to serfdom. So that’s the real question. The United States has got everything it needs: it’s got a large population, it’s the only truly multi-racial successful state in the world, it’s got a wonderful constitution. We inherited infrastructure and expertise and traditions from our forefathers. However, if we think that we’re not going to be good unless we’re perfect and we are going to socially engineer predetermined results about human nature and we are going to do this with a technocratic class, like Plato’s overseers or guardians, and we are going to have an all powerful monolithic state that’s going to direct our lives and destroy American initiative, then yeah, we are going to end up like England in 1950 – it’s inevitable.

Sobering indeed.

Victor Davis Hanson – The New Old World Order interview on October 4, 2010


1 Ann Herzer { 03.03.14 at 2:06 pm }

Victor Davis Hanson’s 2010 interview appears to be just as true today as it was in 2010. Interesting article and interview with Hanson was outstanding. Thanks!


Martin Reply:

Thanks, I’m glad you found it interesting.


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