Friday, December 30, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson on the End of Civilization

A very depressing column by Victor Davis Hanson on living in a place where civilization has collapsed:
Last week an ancestral rural school near the Kings River had its large bronze bell stolen. I think it dated from 1911. I have driven by it about 100 times in the 42 years since I got my first license. The bell had endured all those years. Where it is now I don’t know. Does someone just cut up a beautifully crafted bell in some chop yard in rural Fresno County, without a worry about who forged it or why — or why others for a century until now enjoyed its presence?

The city of Fresno is now under siege. Hundreds of street lights are out, their copper wire stripped away. In desperation, workers are now cementing the bases of all the poles — as if the original steel access doors were not necessary to service the wiring. How sad the synergy! Since darkness begets crime, the thieves achieve a twofer: The more copper they steal, the easier under cover of spreading night it is to steal more. Yet do thieves themselves at home with their wives and children not sometimes appreciate light in the darkness? Do they vandalize the street lights in front of their own homes?

In a small town two miles away, the thefts now sound like something out of Edward Gibbon’s bleaker chapters — or maybe George Miller’s Road Warrior, or the Hughes brothers’ more recent The Book of Eli. Hundreds of bronze commemorative plaques were ripped off my town’s public buildings (and with them all record of our ancestors’ public-spiritedness).
 It is worth reading in full--one of those reminders of how rapidly parts of the United States are collapsing into something that is not truly anarchy--because the criminal justice system will take action against you if you attempt to respond to this widespread criminality--but is not authoritarian in any sense, either: the petty criminals are not even slightly afraid of the police, who, as Hanson points out, are more interested in writing traffic tickets than in stopping felonies.  Processing felonies is a money-loser for California; writing tickets to middle class people for using a cell phone while driving makes money for the state.

The only good news is that it will be a number of years before this madness takes over the rest of the country, and I can hope that it won't be too many years that I will have to live in what Hanson compares to "living in a Vandal state, perhaps on the frontier near Carthage around a.d. 530, or in a beleaguered Rome in 455."  It is unfortunate that the Republican Party has pretty well abandoned any effort to stand for anything except being Democrats Lite, out of fear of being called intolerant, racist, and homophobic.  If only Christianity still had any significant influence on Americans, there might be a starting point for a moral revival.  But alas, we're way past that point.

3 comments:

Darrell said...

Some dirtbags stole about half of the split rail fence in front of my house last week. What did they need, firewood??? This is in Colo Spgs, btw.

hga said...

one of those reminders of how rapidly parts of the United States are collapsing into something that is not truly anarchy--because the criminal justice system will take action against you if you attempt to respond to this widespread criminality

Paleocons named this anarchotyranny (although it's a variation of the old pattern of the top and bottom classes conspiring against the middle); at worst, the state and the criminals work in concert to damage and destroy areas that don't support the state or the party currently in power, e.g. New Labour removing most of the police from the rural sections of the U.K.; Blair was quite explicit about how he was going to wipe out rural culture.

(I've also heard at the rumor level that this has been done in D.C.; obviously it works best against a disarmed populace (and in the U.K. the judicial nullification of self-defense in the '50s helps all the more).)

but is not authoritarian in any sense

Disagree, if you go by Jeane Kirkpatrick formulation, which as I recall states that an authoritarian regime will leave you alone unless you threaten it. The fate of the people who went after Roberti and Roos after the AR ban is instructive.

Would you say that California is as totalitarian as a US state can be? Defined again by Kirkpatrick as a regime that tries to control what you think and do in areas that have nothing to do with threatening the power of the regime.

Joseph said...

This sounds like New York in the 1970s. New York has since moved to a more authoritarian system.