by Victor Davis Hanson
Why the current revolution is much different - and far more dangerous.
The 1960s revolution was both anarchic and nihilist. But it was waged
against—not from—the establishment. Hippies and the Left either
attacked institutions or, in Timothy Leary fashion, chose to “turn on, tune in, drop out” from them.
The current revolution is much different—and far more dangerous—for at least three reasons.
The Establishment Is the Revolution
The current Left has no intention of “dropping out.” Why would it?
It now controls the very institutions of America that it once mocked
and attacked—corporate boardrooms, Wall Street, state and local
prosecuting attorneys, most big-city governments, the media, the
Pentagon, network and most of cable news, professional sports,
Hollywood, music, television, K-12 education, and academia.
In other words, the greatest levers of influence and power—money,
education, entertainment, government, the news, and popular culture—are
in the hands of the Left. They have transformed legitimate debate over
gay marriage into a hate crime. Transgenderism went from a modern
manifestation of ancient transvestism or gender dysphoria to a veritable
litmus test of whether one was good or evil.
Students have no need to jam administrators’ offices because the
latter, themselves, are as radical as the protestors and often lead them
on in a top-down fashion. Had they not long ago demonstrated they were
perfectly willing to subvert meritocracy, free expression, and equality
under the law, they would not be occupying their present positions.
Apple, Google, Facebook, and other tech companies are not 1980s and
1990s “alternative” media geeks and hipsters creating neat gadgets for
the people. They are not Steve Jobs and his pugnacious Apple battling
the evil Microsoft or IBM, or the Macintosh commercial of 1984 depicting a maverick throwing a hammer into Big Brother’s screen. They are the Orwellian screen.
The current generation of techies is effectively Stalinist. Big Tech
now colludes with the FBI, the Democratic Party, and the bureaucratic
state to suppress free expression, warp balloting, and serve as
contractors of government surveillance. Currently, the most totalitarian
people in America are likely to wear flip flops, have a nose ring or
pink hair, and disguise their fascism with ’60s-retread costumes.
There are no “armies of the night”
marching on the Pentagon. Would-be demonstrators see no need, since
radical identity politics, and gay, woke, and transgendered agendas are
fast-tracked by the Department of Defense.
There are no protests against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau or the “La Migra” anymore by advocates of illegal immigration, because the Left owns the
border. And it has utterly destroyed it. There is no border, no border
enforcement, and no meaningful immigration law. As many as 6 million
illegal entries during the first two years of the Biden Administration
are proof enough of that.
There are no cutting-edge Lenny Bruces or Mort Sahls fighting state
censorship because entertainers accept that 1) there are no impediments
to vulgarity or pornographic expression, but 2) no comic or commentator
dares to take on the diversity, equity, and inclusion woke industry
because he assumes he would be crushed, and his career ruined.
Question the woke status quo, and one is not canonized in Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone as
a fighter against the “uptight establishment” or “the man” as in the
past, but now demonized as a racist purveyor of “hate speech” and enemy
of the people.
The Left does not despise the FBI. It lauds it. And the bureau is no
longer consumed with tracking down violent criminals and terrorists.
Instead, it has become an enemy of parents worried about school
indoctrination, or a retrieval service for lost first-family classified
papers, laptops and diaries, or a Washington, D.C., cadre knee-deep in
big money politics.
FBI agents are praised on left–wing media—given they have been
activist conspirators who sought to destroy conservative candidates,
deleted subpoenaed data, lied to federal investigators or committees
while under oath, colluded with Russian oligarchs, doctored court evidence, and paid foreign nationals to compile campaign dirt on American citizens.
There are no longer calls for a “three strikes” solution to violent
crime as in the past, or talk of adopting the successful, time-tried
“broken windows” theories of law enforcement, because there is no
enforcement to modulate. The debate is no longer over enforcing the law,
because de facto there is no law.
The new legal establishment has replaced the old by simply nuking
centuries of jurisprudence. Violent repeat criminal offenders injure and
maim innocents in the morning and are released by noon to prey
again—themselves baffled that the state is even crazier than they are.
Note in the 2020-2021 riots, almost no one temporarily arrested was
tried, despite $2 billion in damages, upwards of 40 violent deaths, the
1,500 injured law enforcement officers, and the torching of a
courthouse, police precinct, and historic Washington, D.C., church.
Instead, they were lauded by a mayor as participants in a “summer of
love.” Seattle and Washington simply ceded city property to the violent
protestors as if they occupied it by right of their superior morality.
The summation of the entire sordid summer was the CNN chyron assuring America that the protests on their screens were “mostly peaceful” as
flames shot up to the sky in the background. In the 1960s, rioters
forced social welfare concessions—or else!—on the establishment. Today
the establishment welcomes urban unrest as an excuse to implement
agendas that in normal times would be unpalatable.
In sum, we are living in anarchy, as institutions themselves have
become nihilistic and weapons of the revolution. The Left, in viral
fashion, took over the DNA of America’s institutions, and used them to
help destroy their creators.
If we are bewildered why Harvard law-graduate prosecutors let out
violent criminals just hours after their arrests; or why hyper-rich,
pampered athletes who live in near-apartheid enclaves insult the flag,
ignore the National Anthem, and sloganeer woke platitudes, it is because
they were taught to undermine the status quo by fundamentally becoming
In our present anarchy, $7 a dozen eggs are affordable. Unaffordable
gas prices become merely necessary “transitions” to fossil fuels. A
“secure” border means there is none. Natural gas must be banned because
it supposedly causes asthma. Tens of thousands of homeless defecate,
urinate, inject, and fornicate in the increasingly vacant downtowns of
Los Angeles and San Francisco, as the Golden Bear state, California,
discusses reintroducing Grizzly bears.
Cars and yards are evil, elevators, high-rises, and buses sacred. There are 81 genders (and
counting), with even more names for them. “Racist” is our exclamation
point, fillip, a mere add-on emphatic. Everything from SAT tests to
obesity to working out is racist. When little is racist, then everything
must become racist.
Batter someone to a pulp and you are out of jail in six hours; claim
an election was suspicious and you can be in there for six months or
more. Proven merit is a pejorative. Grades are deemed useless by those
who could never earn As. Boilerplate equity oaths are the best guide to
hiring, retention, and admission. The ACLU or the Anti-Defamation League
exist only to spot the incorrect kind of censorship and the wrong kind
Macintosh Becomes MacBeth
The second contribution to the present anarchy is big tech, which speeds up the revolution and spreads it broadly. Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was
predicated not just on the Sovietization of the state, but the
electronically ubiquitous and near instantaneous means by which the
apparat ensures its dominance. One of the strangest things about the
Left is that it no longer warns of 1984 but emulates it.
How the Left became synonymous with the Internet, social media,
mobile phones, pads, and laptops is a long story. But let it be said the
Left, and not conservatives, have mastered them all. It has manipulated
high tech to change the way we vote, access information, communicate,
consume the news, buy, and sell, and express ourselves. In sum, they run
Oceania and we work for their various bureaus.
Our tech complex has combined the ethos of the 19th-century monopoly
with the Chinese Communist system of mass ideological manipulation. The
result is that the old Twitter or Facebook mob can ruin a career in a
nanosecond. Google can manipulate the order of search results to render
you a clueless Winston Smith bewildered by the alternate “reality” that
pops up on your computer screen.
Wikipedia is pseudo-official falsification. Trotskization relied on
scissors and paste; cancel culture can end you by a split-second use of
the delete button—and erase you to 7 billion on the planet.
Big Money, Big Woke
Globalization hollowed out the red-state interior and enriched the
blue bicoastal elite. Wealth in mining, farming, construction,
manufacturing, and assembly became dwarfed by riches of investment, high
tech, social media, law, insurance, and real estate. The former were
the up-by-the boot straps conservatives, the latter one day rich and the
next moment through hype, investment, and venture capital, richer than
anyone in the history of civilization.
The wealthiest ZIP codes and congressional districts are blue, not
red. Most of the Fortune 400 billionaires are left-wing. So, there is no
’60s-style talk about the evils of corporations and the supposedly idle
rich, none of the old conspiracy theories about Anaconda Copper, ITT,
or the Rockefellers.
The corporations are the Left and in service to it. Disney,
American Airlines, and Nike are revolutionary icons, always ready to
divest, cancel, fire, hire, and propagandize in service to woke
commissars. That they are terrified by tiny bullies who have no
constituencies is true, but then a Robespierre, Lenin, and Mao had
initially no broad support either—at least before each mastered the use
of terror and fright.
In our anarchy, “dark money” like Mark Zuckerberg’s $419 million cash
infusion into the 2020 balloting processes is now suddenly good, given
it is almost all leftwing. Democrats outraise Republicans in campaign
contributions by anywhere from three- to five-to-one. Bundling is noble.
Netflix can buy the brand name of the Obamas for $100 million; George
Soros can spend his pocket change of $40 million to elect district
attorneys to destroy the law and empower criminals. Jimmy Carter used to
be the poor-man idol of the old Democratic Party. Today, there is
hardly a Democratic president, ex-president, or presidential candidate
who is not a multi-multimillionaire—most by leveraging their heightened
What anarchy we live in when the richest among us are the most radical and wish to destroy for all others what they enjoy.
John Kerry lectures us on climate change from his private jet. Your
leaf blower, not his Gulfstream GIV-SP, is the global threat. Al Gore
screams about the evils of carbon emissions—after pocketing $100 million
by selling his failed and worthless cable station to smoky and sooty
Qatar, fronting for the antisemitic Al Jazeera.
The Clintons feel the pain of the poor all the way to their $100
million fortune from shakedown lectures, Wall Street, “consulting,” and
“foundation” contributions. Van Jones, CNN expert, the object of Valerie
Jarrett’s oohing and awing, famous for his “whitelash” exegeses, and
recipient of a $100 million Bezos award, now lectures us that the five
rogue black policemen in Memphis, who beat to death a black suspect, are
still proof of white racism that accounts for blacks belittling the
lives of blacks.
In our present anarchy, we take seriously the lectures on
microaggressions from the Duchess of Montecito. The Obamas weigh in on
the dangers of climate change and rising seas from their seaside,
multimillion-dollar Martha’s Vineyard estate, or Hawaii beachfront
mansion that apparently has an invisible climate-change barrier on its
beach. Kamala Harris is our border czar who assures us it is “secure,”
defined by 5 million illegal entries since she took office.
Nancy Pelosi works for the “children” and, after a life in politics,
that selflessness ends up worth $100 million from her husband’s insider
real estate deals and stock tips. It is almost as if socialist Bernie
Sanders owned three homes, or anti-capitalist Elizabeth Warren was once a
So, the current revolution is anarchy, utter confusion, pure chaos.
Every time one turns on a computer, there will be someone or
something somewhere ideologically warping its use. Your vote means
nothing when California cannot account for 10 million automatically,
computer-guided mailed-out ballots. That state is still in a drought,
defined by releasing most of the water to the ocean that the wettest
winter in memory produced.
Stanford students talk revolution, Antifa, and Black Lives Matter,
and want to forbid the use of “American.” But from the look of their
parking lots, they cannot decide whether Lexus, BMW, or Mercedes should
be the most preferred campus car. Oprah and Whoopi suffer terribly from
white supremacy. Jussie the foot soldier heroically took on one MAGA
thug for each of his foot kicks.
“Don’t take off your mask” at a California McDonald’s means the man who ordered that edict is maskless at the French Laundry. “Don’t get your hair done during the lockdown” means the architect of that fiat sneaks around her salon, which she has all to herself.
The common denominator to the anarchy? The hardcore Left is your FBI, CIA, and Justice Department all in one. It is Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is our era’s J. P. Morgan.
No wonder we are confused by the establishment anarchists and the anarchy they produce.
Victor Davis Hanson
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