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When the USSR collapsed 30 years ago, it never occurred to anybody that the next major assault on constitutional democracy and western culture would be led by the world’s richest people. Communism was ever the plaything of unhappy middle-class intellectuals. The concern for the workers was usually eyewash and the appearance of compassion was an artifact of the hatred for the status quo, itself the presumed root of all injustice.
But who would have guessed that after the stunning political triumph accompanied by decades of unimagined wealth creation, many if not most of the most favored beneficiaries of that victory would turn against their own cultural and legal heritage that has bestowed so much good on so many? Not just a few spoiled heiresses and party boys seeking action and meaning by joining The Revolution but the movers and shakers are themselves lining up against the existing order. Not just to make more money in the time-honored tradition of corruption, money, and power but a concerted effort to undo the entire culture and political order.
At present, I am re-reading Witness by Whittaker Chambers. He described in detail his life in the American Communist Party and his fellow Communists. He said that becoming a Communist in those days was invariably a reaction to the horror of modern warfare and/or economic crisis. Communism combined the appearance of scientific rigor with a kind of moral purity and certainty that seemed like the only salvation for a broken world.
The horrors of WWI and the Great Depression that induced Chambers to embrace communism really have no contemporary corollaries. America’s recent wars may seem somewhat ill-conceived but casualties were nowhere near the same scale as with past wars. The looming shadow of nuclear war with the Soviets that had shaped a generation has passed. The “population bomb” was a dud, even “peak oil” was a bust. And our political and economic system has continuously yielded undeniable progress (and “inclusion”) at every level.
There is neither a decent current global crisis with which to indict Our Creator for permitting it or for causing a broken world, nor is there a new coherent secular theology comparable to the tomes of Marx and Engels.
Yet the same perverse appetite for crisis and a substitute near-religion to solve that crisis is still with us. Climate change has filled that void for many but the contrast between apocalyptic rhetoric and actual data is increasingly stark. Greta is no longer novel and still quite boring. I think some freezing Germans and Britons this winter will begin to put an end to the appeal of this new religion.
And Americans cannot have become such a silly people that the “plight” of the trans will become our main concern. The alleged claims of injustice suffered by the alphabet people are quickly losing juice.
Of more concern perhaps, is the bizarrely framed national reaction to George Floyd’s death. It was remarkable not just for the distorting power of media and skill of race hustlers but the size of the appetite for crisis and for dramatic visions of injustice, a need to invent a dragon of racism that only some personally cleansing political contrivance can slay. (What is that mindset? Does it have a name?) What is the shelf-life of the moral buzz from wokeness, a lame substitute for Communist zeal? How much damage can it do before it too flames out?
Whatever the source of that shape-shifting appetite for mutating and killing our cultural heritage, it appears to be increasingly endemic among the rich. The annual gathering of the Davoisie (a wonderful term somebody coined for the global jet-setting policymaking elite) would be harmless or even beneficial if it were merely the rich male equivalent of bored wealthy housewives looking for a committee or community cause to join.
But that persistent enemy is still issuing the whispered invitation to indict and then purport save the world with procrustean, anti-human schemes masquerading as shining visions. That enemy now finds itself in possession of wealth, power, technologies, and political influence that not even Hitler or Stalin could provide. The power to buy elections and governments, to rework and pervert education at all levels, to control all communications, and restructure the world now in the hands of a few like-minded men increasingly hostile to the premises of democracy and western moral order is something quite new. Who saw that coming? Does anybody ever see it coming?Published in