What fun, what entertainment. And rare: One seldom sees the collapse of a landmark society in a rush of wondrous idiocy. Would I could sell tickets. Don’t look at it as a loss, but as a show, an unwanted but grand amusement.
The coup de grace in our ripening decadence is the current uprising purportedly, though implausibly, over racism. But never mind. The causes don’t matter. The deal is done.
Still, it is interesting to recognize that the protesters are, perhaps deliberately, confusing the incapacity of blacks with systemic racism. In truth, America has made the greatest effort ever essayed by one race to uplift another. Reflect: In 1954 an entirely white Supreme Court unanimously ended segregation. Later it found the use of IQ tests by employers illegal because blacks scored poorly, then found “affirmative action,” racial discrimination against whites, legal (hardly oppression of blacks, this). An overwhelmingly white Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Voting Rights Act the next year. A white President sent troops to Little Rock to enforce desegregation. There has been an enormous flow of charity to blacks: Section Eight Housing, AFDC, Head Start, hiring quotas, set-asides, sharply lowered standards in police and fire departments. We now have free breakfasts for black children, then free lunches, in addition to outright welfare. In aggregate they resemble a distributed guaranteed basic income. Which is interesting.
These measures sprang from the best of intentions. Most I think should continue. I for one do not want to evict blacks from public housing or have their children go hungry. Yet none of these programs has had its desired effect. The crucial academic gap has not closed, crime remains horribly high, illegitimacy verges on universal. This is a great shame. Blacks are decent enough people, likable if they don’t hate you, and phenomenally talented. But it hasn’t worked.
Nothing has worked. There is no indication that anything will. The great black cities are in something approaching custodial care.
You cannot solve a problem without knowing what it is. This we dare not know. Democracies, however approximate, cannot deal with chronically underperforming minorities.
They cannot even try. Anything that might help is politically impossible, and anything politically possible won’t help.
So, after the riots:
Social division will worsen after the riots. Racial hostility from blacks will not decrease because their conditions will not change. The rioters are getting their way now, and rule, but at the price of sowing hatred. At best we will have many decades of ugly rancor. At worst, we are winding the spring for another outburst.
Multiculturalism has not worked, quite apart from race, and will not. White Americans are not one people. The poor communications and bad roads that once allowed them to live almost separately no longer exist. In its writ-large form, trying to force West Virginia to accept the culture of Massachusetts will produce only anger.
The likelihood of amity between races is proportional to their agreement on values important to them. For example, the Chinese share (what once were) the white values of study, work, courtesy, and obedience to the law. That they eat with chopsticks and celebrate New Year on the wrong day doesn’t matter.
However, again for example, a culture that believes in female genital mutilation and utter subjection of women cannot live amicably with a culture that abhors these things. Black ghetto culture and white are immiscible in so many fundamental values that they will not live well together.
Some cultures can assimilate, for example East Asian and American white, Latino and American white. But, in addition to sharply different cultures, too many blacks live in sprawling, racially isolated urban centers with almost no contact with the outside world other than television.
Censorship will intensify, not just of communications and office chitchat but of books. Tom Sawyer will be pulled from bookshelves or—Amazon being the continental shelf—or bowderlized to remove the Nigger Jim and Injun Joe The Nigger of the Narcissus may survive because none of the blacks and few of the whites will ever have heard of Conrad. At least for the foreseeable future, firings for anything imaginably redolent of racism–saying “All lives matter,” for example–will be snatched at in a mixture of passive aggression and schadenfreude to result in firings. This is unlikely to have a happy ending.
Schooling: Watching great universities become sandboxes for unpleasantly righteous dimwitted brats galls, or does if one lets it. I don’t. Most of the protesters seem recently to have erupted from the drains of an educational system that has been in sharp decline for decades They, including the intelligent among them, appear historically not just ignorant but carefully misinformed, culturally pathetic, and intellectually laughable. (For example, a protestress interviewed by a British reporter as to what she thought of Churchill said she couldn’t really say because she hadn’t met him. How many in BLM can spell “Confederacy”? A statue of Ulysses Grant was pulled down in the belief that he was a Confederate general. May God preserve us.)
The, uh, redaction of culture will not stop with books. Classical music is too white, the sciences too white, mathematics a tool of oppression (meaning that blacks cannot understand it) and so on. We have created a nation of pampered and imbecile peasants.
Schooling will continue its plummet. Science departments probably will not be abolished. However, because they are too white, schools will recruit hopelessly unqualified black students and professors, standards will fall yet more, and mathematics will be played down even in astrophysics (this is being done). Extirpating racism will replace scholarship, already degraded by the retirement or death of those professors who knew what education meant. This will inevitably result in lowered American technological competitiveness and prosperity. There is no hope of preventing this.
The replacement of learned professors by aging detritus from the Sixties antagonistic to scholarship is not surprising. America has had strong anti-intellectual undercurrent since its inception. The degradation will not be noticed by the young as they have never lived in a world different from their own, with Harry Potter and Toni Morrison thought to be literature. A liberal education was once the mark of the cultivated, being deep in languages, literature, philosophy, the sciences, history, mathematics,. Universities once had, at least among the better students, a love of open minded curiosity, thought, and debate. No more. Future historians will notice the shift, but those within it will not. We are left with a nation of morons who will not know they are morons.
This too cannot be prevented. Jejune herdthink is now warmly espoused throughout the academy with children in grade school being primed for it.
The most—I dare not say “entertaining” for fear of lynching, but, well, perhaps “interesting” reforms will be those of the police, whether abolition, defunding to shift money to youth outreach and rehab (which don’t work) or replacement of police by warm and caring adults, will result in increased crime. We need not concern ourselves with whether and to what extent the police have been culpable in which cases. The changes will come anyway.
An intriguing question is what the nonviolent, non-racist, warm and fuzzy pseudopolice will do when they encounter violent criminals. Counsel them on social justice? I would love to watch.
Our system of governments has proved itself weak, feckless, and unable to govern. The chaotic response to the coronavirus is a prime example, there being no national policy and the states being told to do as they see fit. The other major example was the inability or unwillingness to prevent looting and arson.The widespread destruction was unopposed, protected by the media, and celebrated by the many corporations that have fallen over themselves to truckle to the unwashed and to give them money. If our rampaging anthropoids can loot once, there is no reason to think they cannot do it again.
Many cities are routinely out of control, with seven hundred homicides in Chicago and three hundred in Baltimore every year. Increasingly criminals are released without bail and small crimes, such as evading subway fares, are ignored when committed by minorities. The hordes of derelicts grow, the New York subways become a homeless shelter. These are not problems seen in civilized countries. Which America no longer is, to the astonishment and amusement of the world.
Perhaps this was to be expected. The American practice of choosing its leaders every two, four, or six years by popularity contest worked, after a fashion anyway, in a sprawling continental country in which government had very little local influence. In a world far more complex, with little ability to plan when those in charge change with paralyzing rapidity, and everything intensely regulated by people unfamiliar with problems, results are poor. America’s competition with large countries having intelligently authoritarian and stable governance will prove a losing proposition proposition. The inevitable decline in standard of living, already well underwater, will promote unrest. Here we go again.
We have done what Marx couldn’t: Achieved communism, a true dictatorship of the proletariat, of a rabble jacquerie of much noise and no wit, the rule of the unfit. It is a rule only of the culture. The moneyed would not grant it power over anything else. Yet rule it is. We shall hear much of the authenticity of the illiterate, the purity of ghetto urges, the wisdom of the people, the need to lay low the pretensions of the mansion.
Yet the catastrophe has its consolations. It is amusing for those amused by the end of empires. The Soviet Union spoke of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but lived under the dictatorship of a gray aristocracy. America speaks of the rule of the people, a horrible idea, and seems to be getting there.
Think of it as the Cultural Revolution by suburban hobbyists. There are the same raging untermenschen, the same desire to destroy anything they do not know, or cannot understand, or be bothered to learn.
As a philosophic emollient one may reflect that all empires and civilizations must end, and ours is. America will remain as a place, a military bastion, a large if declining economic force. It will never again be, even by the low standards of humanity in such things, a relatively free and vigorous society. The world will not again credit its charades of moral leadership. The rot, the tens of thousands of derelict people living on the sidewalks, the looting and fire setting, the censorship, are now visible to the entire earth. Oh well. It was a good thing while it lasted.
Write Fred at [email protected] Put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion. All read, not always answered due to volume.
Amazon review: “Essays on America, life, politics, and just about everything. The author chronicles among other adventures an aging stripper in Austin, dressed in a paper-mache horse, who had with her a cobra and a tarantula like a yak-hair pillow with legs and alternately charmed and terrified a room full of cowboys sucking down Bud and…. Fred was an apostle of the long-haul thumb during the Sixties and saw…many things. He tells of standing by the big roads across the desert, rockin in the wind blast of the heavy rigs roaring by and the whine of tires and dropping into an arroyo at night with a bottle of cheap red and watching the stars and perhaps smoking things not approved by the government. He tells of..well, that’s what the book is for. Join him.”