Victor Davis Hanson recently gave an interview to the Swiss newspaper Junge Freiheit. The reporter asked what makes Europe and the U.S. so different from each other. Not a word is wasted in Hanson’s lapidary exposition on the cultural and political split within the West.
We have a common legacy, as the elections in France and Germany remind us. And we coalesce when faced by a common illiberal enemy — whether against the Soviet empire or radical Islam.
But after the fall of the Soviet Union, you diverged onto a secularized, affluent, leisured, socialist, and pacifist path, where in the pride and arrogance of the Enlightenment you were convinced you could make heaven on earth — and would demonize as retrograde anyone who begged to differ.
Now you are living with the results of your arrogance: while you brand the U.S. illiberal, it grows its population, diversifies and assimilates, and offers economic opportunity and jobs; although, for a time you’ve become wealthy — given your lack of defense spending, commercial unity, and protectionism — but only up to a point: soon the bill comes due as you age, face a demographic crisis, become imprisoned by secular appetites and ever growing entitlements. Once one insists on an equality of result, not one of mere opportunity, then, as Plato warned, there is no logical end to what the government will think up and the people will demand.
“Pacifist,” “heaven on earth,” “lack of defense spending,” “ever growing entitlements,” and the demonization as “retrograde” of those who disagree. Sound like anyone you know?