From: Virginia Paleoconservative [Email him]
In one of his most bizarre NRO articles The Glue Holding America Together (27 June) Victor Davis Hanson examines the similarities between the Roman Empire circa 200 A.D. and the current society of the United States. (Pat Buchanan has written on this topic for years.) VDH then documents the socio-political schisms that are damaging this nation; touching on the increasingly disconnected elites, vast amounts of public assistance, and racial and ethnic division.
“As in Rome, there is a vast disconnect between the elites and the people. Almost half of Americans receive some sort of public assistance, and almost half pay no federal income tax. About one-seventh of Americans are on food stamps.”
“Officially, America celebrates diversity; privately, America is fragmenting into racial, political, and ideological camps.”
So far, so good. Then staring into the abyss, VDH realizes he cannot just end his tale of doom like this leaving the NRO readers to come to the screamingly obvious conclusion that the massive demographic change America has undergone for the past few decades is the primary causal factor. He proposes an unsettling theorem that America is not currently held together by the Western tradition but by the “glue” (?) of a shallow, untethered consumer culture that I suppose is exemplified by Super Bowl commercials:
”If Rome quieted the people with public spectacles and cheap grain from the provinces, so too Americans of all classes keep glued to favorite video games and reality-TV shows. Fast food is both cheap and tasty. All that for now is preferable to rioting and revolt.”
VDH’s conclusion is a rather surprising endorsement of this tawdry state of affairs that omits the political and demographic causes for the same:
“Like Rome, America apparently can coast for a long time on the fumes of its wonderful political heritage (n.b.) and economic dynamism — even if both are little understood or appreciated by most (n.b.) who still benefit from them.”
Implicit in his conclusion is that nothing could have been done, or can be done to save the nation from this depressing fate! And most significantly, the usual anodyne of the mainstream conservative moment, the “propositional nation”, is not even mentioned. Perhaps Dr. Hanson has abandoned this socio-political equivalent to alchemy but cannot say so explicitly.
VDH has in effect re-told the story of the sinking of the Titanic (America) without even mentioning the iceberg (demographics). But after all, this was published in National Review where such truthfulness can be a career limiting move.
See previous letters from Virginia Paleoconservative.