Civilization’s finest veneer


Civilization is fragile. It’s about insuring the things of life.

To be able to eat, to move, to have shelter, to be free from state or tribal coercion, to be safe abroad and safe at home – only this allows cultures to be freed from the daily drudgery of mere survival.

Only civilization allows humans to pursue sophisticated scientific research, the arts, and the finer aspects of culture.

Thus, the great achievement of Western civilization – consensus government, individual freedom, rationalism in partnership with religious belief, a free market economy, and constant self-criticism and auditing – has been to free people from the daily anxiety of violence in state, random crime, starvation, and an often ruthless nature.

But so often the resulting leisure and wealth instead deceived arrogant Western societies into believing that modern man no longer needed to worry about the fruits of the civilization he considered his right. of elementary birth.

As a result, the once prosperous Greek city-state, the Roman Empire, the Renaissance republics and the European democracies of the 1930s imploded, as civilization went into reverse.

We in the modern Western world are currently facing such a crisis.

We speak eloquently of the globalized Great Reset. We blindly accept the trendy New Green Deal. We point out the virtue on defunding the police. We just shrug our shoulders at the opening of the borders. And we brag about banning fertilizers and pesticides, banning the internal combustion engine, and ignoring Armageddon in the nuclear age, as if we had already reached utopia on autopilot.

But meanwhile, Westerners are systematically destroying the very elements of our civilization that enabled such fantasies in the first place.

Take fuel. The Europeans arrogantly told the world that they no longer needed traditional fuels. So they shut down the nuclear power plants. They stopped drilling for oil and gas. And they banned coal.

What followed was a dystopian nightmare. Europeans will be burning dirty wood this winter as their civilization transitions from postmodern abundance to premodern survival.

The Biden administration has ossified the oil fields. He canceled new federal oil and gas leases. He stopped building pipelines and pushed investors to avoid fossil fuels.

When shortages naturally followed, fuel prices skyrocketed.

The middle class has now mortgaged its upward mobility to ensure that it could afford gasoline, heating oil and skyrocketing electricity.

The duty of the Pentagon is to keep America safe by deterring enemies, reassuring allies, and winning over neutrals.

It’s not about harassing soldiers based on their race. This is not about indoctrinating recruits into the awakened agenda. It is not about becoming a partisan political force.

The result of these suicidal detours by the Pentagon is the fiasco in Afghanistan, the aggression of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the new warmongering of China and the vocal threats of rogue regimes like Iran.

At home, the Biden administration has inexplicably destroyed the southern border, as if civilized nations of the past never needed such borders.

Total chaos followed. Three million migrants flocked to the United States. While some cross illegally, others pass through border crossings without proper auditing, and largely without skills, high school diplomas or capital.

The streets of our cities are anarchic – and by design.

The defunding of the police, the emptying of prisons and the destruction of the criminal justice system have triggered a wave of criminals. Now is the open season on the weak and the innocent.

America is stepping back into the Wild West of the 19th century. Predators mutilate, kill and steal with impunity. Criminals rightly conclude that bankrupt postmodern “critical legal theory” will secure them freedom from punishment.

Few Americans know about agriculture except that they expect unlimited supplies of cheap, safe, and nutritious food at their beck and call.

But that right for 330 million hungry mouths requires massive water projects and new dams and reservoirs. Farmers rely on regular supplies of fertilizers, fuels and chemicals. Take that support away – as the green nihilists are trying – and millions will soon starve to death, as they have since the dawn of civilization.

Nearly a million homeless people may be living on the streets of America. Our great cities have become medieval with their open sewers, rubbish-strewn sidewalks and violent vagabonds.

We are therefore in a grand experiment in which regressive progressivism pushes aside all the institutions and methodologies of the past that guaranteed a safe, affluent, well-fed, and sheltered America.

Instead, we arrogantly revert to a new feudalism as the wealthy elite – terrified of what they have wrought – selfishly retreat into their private affairs.

But others who suffer the consequences of the elite’s flirtations with nihilism cannot even afford food, shelter and fuel. And they no longer feel safe, both as individuals and as Americans.

As we suffer from self-inflicted mass looting, random street violence, hyperinflation, a non-existent border, unaffordable fuel, and a crumbling military, Americans will come to appreciate how thin the veneer of their civilization is.

Stripped down, we learn again that what lies just below is utterly terrifying.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.


Victor Davis Hanson is a conservative commentator, classicist, and military historian. He is Professor Emeritus of Classics at California State University, Senior Fellow in Classics and Military History at Stanford University, Fellow of Hillsdale College, and Distinguished Fellow of the Center for American Greatness. Hanson has written 16 books, including “The Western Way of War”, “Fields Without Dreams” and “The Case for Trump”.

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