Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Has America Gone Mad?

Has America gone crazy? Has our great country gone stark raving mad? 

Victor Davis Hanson thinks so, and he believes that madness has descended on the American mind, suddenly, of a piece. We recall that Allan Bloom wrote a well known and well read book about the closing of the American mind. But, now, the American mind has fallen apart. It has gone crazy.

Hanson collects some considerable evidence about our current political moment. And yet, he should have mentioned that this form of insanity is not really all that new. You might say that during the Trump administration the craziness was largely limited to the political left, but still, the media and leftist politicians were stoking the flames of madness throughout the Trump presidency. Ask any of them and they will tell you that the sky was falling, the sky was falling during the Trump years.

And Donald Trump decided to give back as much as he was getting. Many people cheered him on, but still, you have to ask how that all worked out.

One is within one’s rights to ask how the Biden agenda would look today if Trump had not declared war against Republican officials in Georgia in the runup to two senatorial elections? 

I would normally, at this point, make a glib remark about madness and therapy-- about how America is sorely in need of some serious therapy-- but the truth is, America has been undergoing therapy for decades now. Therapy has redefined American culture as a journey to self-actualization, an adventure in storytelling and an embrace of the drama-laden life.

In truth, therapy and its culture are the problem, not the solution.

After all, what does therapy tell us to do if not to get in touch with our feelings, to feel our feelings, to share our feelings, to emote on cue and, consequently, to dispense with rational thought. We are so bedeviled with our emotions that we have ceased to think rationally about much of anything.

Yes, I know that everyone thinks that madness lies in doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In a larger sense, madness-- in the slightly less clinical sense of the term-- involves allowing your emotions and especially your passions to overpower your rational faculties. When you lose your ability to judge, your ability to assess the success or failure of your policies against real outcomes you are on the road to madness. 

Sad to say, in a nation suffering from psychic numbness, the madness that is swirling around us counts as entertainment. It stimulates people that have become numb to stimulus. It doesn’t matter whether it works or does not work. What matters is that it makes us feel excited, invigorated, empowered and amused. 

As for Hanson’s argument, he sets out a number of symptoms of American madness. 

We are currently suffering an invasion of hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants from south of the border. For those who imagined that we were being more humanitarian, more motherly, for accepting these refugees, the Biden administration has announced that it will vigorously stop any new migration from Cuba.

You do not have to be of a cynical bent to understand that Central American migrants will become Democratic voters while Cubans are more likely to become Republicans.

And then there’s the crime wave that is engulfing America’s great blue cities:

There exists a mini-industry of internet videos depicting young people, disproportionately African American males, stealing luxury goods from Nieman-Marcus in San Francisco, clearing a shelf from a Walgreens with impunity, or assaulting Asian Americans. These iconic moments may be unrepresentative of reality, but given the mass transfers and retirements of police, and the frightening statistics of large increases in violent crime in certain cities, the popular conception is now entrenched that it is dangerous to walk in our major metropolises, either by day or at night. Chicago has turned into Tombstone or Dodge City in the popular imagination.

Evidently, in the context of yesterday’s post on boredom, when you go out for a walk in the park in these cities you will not risk getting bored.

Colleges and universities have proclaimed their own special form of madness, dispensing with meritocratic qualifications and accepting students, not just to meet a racial quota, but as a reparative gesture.

Grades, test scores, and “activities” of the white and Asian male college applicants are growing less relevant. Only “privileged” white males with sports skills, connections, or families who give lots of money are exempt from the new racial reparation quotas. The new woke admission policy ironically is targeting the liberal suburban professional family, the Left’s constituency, whose lives are so fixated on whether children graduate from Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, or like campuses.

Given the radical change in incoming student profiles, the faculty increasingly will have to choose between accusations of racism, or grading regardless of actual performance, given thousands of new enrollees do not meet the entrance standards of just two or three years ago. Remember that since wokeism was always a top-down elite industry, minority progressives still will fight it out with white leftists in intramural scraps over titles, salaries, and managerial posts.

The public has had enough. For the first time, people will ask why are we subsidizing student loans, why are multibillion-dollar endowments not taxed, and why do we think a B.A. in sociology or psychology or gender studies is an “investment” that prepares anyone for anything?

And then there is the Neo-Maoist obsession with punishing people for thought crimes:

No complex and sophisticated society is sustainable with a Maoist creed of cannibalizing citizens for thought crimes. Commissars do not produce anything or serve anybody, but only monitor thoughts and speech to ascertain the purity of diversity, equity, and inclusion. They are not just a drain on the productive sector but will insidiously destroy it, since their currency is to ensure a timid, obsequiousness and banal orthodoxy.

And then there’s the threat of inflation. The Biden administration told us not to worry it, but if an eminent Democratic economist like Lawrence Summers says that we should, that can only mean that the Biden administration is blowing smoke in our collective eyes:

The danger of worthless currency is a staple of classical literature from Aristophanes to Procopius. The scary fact is not just that we are destroying the value of our money—the exploding price of gas, food, appliances, lumber, power, and housing are overwhelming even Joe Biden’s entitlement machine—but that we are constructing pseudoeconomics to justify the nihilism.

Right now, we witness a multitrillion-dollar fight over borrowing beyond our $30 trillion debt to build “infrastructure,” a word that has been expanded to include mostly anything but roads and bridges. What exactly is so liberal about the farmworker paying $5 a gallon for gas to commute to the fields, the small contractor doing a remodeling job with plywood at $80 a sheet, or the young couple whose loan qualification is always a month behind the soaring price of a new home?

Hanson notes that the CIA and the FBI were already woke-ified during the Obama administration. Now, it’s the military’s turn:

We are in the process of a massive reeducation and indoctrination campaign. The revamping not only draws scarce resources away from military readiness, but targets, without evidence, the white working class, and defames it as insurrectionary—the very same cohort that disproportionately died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If only General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, had been as animated, as combative, and as fired up in congressional testimony about winning in Afghanistan or deterring the Chinese in the waters off Taiwan as they were in defense of their recommended lists of Marxist-inspired critical race theory texts!

And, of course, in a final blow against national pride, our Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken-- formerly of the law firm of Winken, Blinken and Nod-- has invited the United Nations, a veritable cesspool of tyrants and despots, to judge America-- to assess whether or not it is still suffering from systemic racism.

Finally, almost all Americans used to agree that the U.S. Constitution was unique and guaranteed personal freedom in a way the United Nations charter could not. Dozens of fascist, Communist, totalitarian, and authoritarian regimes, usually the majority of governments on earth, ensured that any General Assembly or U.N. committee ruling would parrot the views of its illiberal and corrupt members.

Not anymore. Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has invited in the U.N. to assess whether the United States meets global standards of justice or, in fact, is racist and in need of global censure: “I urge all U.N. member states to join the United States in this effort, and confront the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia,” he said last week.

Are we going to get out of this? Perhaps we will, but things will likely get a lot worse before they get better.



whitney said...

What's the rule? If you ask a question in the title of the article the answer is always yes

Sam L. said...

Some of us are mad; some of us are crazy; some of us are angry; and some of us are sharpening our knives and stocking up on ammo. And then there are pitchforks...

markedup2 said...

I think the rule is that the answer is always "no", but most rules have exceptions.

Don't forget tar and feathers. Interestingly, I expect Antifa to go there first - it's not that different from concrete milkshakes or Molotov cocktails (if you haven't seen the schedenfreudelicious video of the Antifa guy starting himself on fire, I recommend it; much to my surprise, it's still on YouTube).

The "nice" thing about madness is that it tends to be self-limiting because reality always wins, although that can certainly take a while and engulf innocents.

A late filter Fermi Paradox solution: High-tech cultures destroy themselves because evolution does not provide protection from destructive memes and _something_ always comes up that causes the societies to self destruct. Let's hope that is (not "I am" - I don't actually believe that) wrong.

delta variant said...

None of this would have happened without the significant ascendancy of women into positions of
power in government, business, academia, and even the clergy.

Sam L. said...

Well, parts of America have gone mad. Mainly, it appears, where Democrats rule.

Unknown said...
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