VDH on the Fate of the West

When Victor Davis Hanson talks, wise people listen. And here, from The Federalist, we have an interview he did with Ben Weingarten.

Watch their interview here or read the full transcript of their discussion below, slightly modified for clarity.


Ben Weingarten: As a classicist, you’ve lamented both the corruption of the academy within your own discipline and on the modern campus more broadly — in particular on its repudiation of the Western canon, its lack of adherence to principles of free inquiry and the overall triumph of progressivism. Is there any way to take back this institution, in the sense of restoring classical liberal arts education and the conditions it needs to flourish?

Victor Davis Hanson: Well, my criticism in the last 30 years of the institution, obviously a lot of us who voiced those concerns, it fell on deaf ears. So progressive thinkers and institutional administrators within the university got their way. And now we’re sort of at the end of that experiment, and the question we have to ask is what did they give us? Well, they gave us $1 trillion in student debt. They created a very bizarre system in which the federal government — subsidized through student loans, constantly increasing tuition beyond the rate of inflation — the result of which is that we’ve had about a 200 percent growth in administrative costs, and administrators and non-teaching staff within the university. We’ve politicized the education.

So when I started there were … I think I looked in the catalog in 1984. There were things, maybe like the Recreation Department’s “Leisure Studies” course. Maybe one environmental class, “Environmental Studies.” But you take the word “studies” with a hyphen, and now that can represent about 25 percent of the curriculum. And that’s usually a rough, not always a reliable guide, to show that that class is not — it’s not disinterested. Its aim is to be deductive. We start with this premise that men are sexist, or capitalism destroys the environment, or America’s racist. Then you find the examples to fit that preconceived idea.

And the result of it is that we’ve turned out students that are highly partisan and highly mobilized, and even sort of arrogant, but they’re also ignorant … that came at a cost. They did not learn to write well. If you ask them who’s General Sherman, or what’s a Corinthian column, or who was Dante, all of the building blocks that they could refer to later in life to enrich their experience, they have no reference. And then they don’t know how to think inductively. So if you point out the contradictions in free speech the way they shout down some speakers and not others, or the way that they hate capitalism, but they love Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, they’re not able … they haven’t been trained philosophically to account for that, because they’re indoctrinated. And it’s quite sad to see the combination of ignorance and arrogance in young people, but that’s what we’ve turned out. A lot of people who are indebted and they’re arrogant, and they’re ignorant and they’re not up to the task of moving the United States forward as a leading country in the world.

And you can see the reaction to it. We have tech schools now that grow up around these campuses, where they just say to people, “If they’re gonna cut out Western civ and they’re gonna cut out the core and politicize it, then let’s be honest. Just pay us a cheaper tuition and we’ll train you to be a nurse, or we’ll train you to be a computer encoder,” or whatever. And so, we have alternates, for-profit online alternatives, podcasts.

And so, the university failed in its mission. And it will be replaced by open free society. People are trying to find alternatives to it. And they kind of committed suicide. And they’re in decline. And the alumni … the final shoe to fall is whether the alumni of these prestigious universities will still engage in unrestricted gifting. “I want my name on this particular department or this particular plaza, here’s $10 million, I trust you to further my shared view,” and they don’t do it. And so then they read in the paper that a professor said Barbara Bush should die, or was glad that she’s dead, or another professor said Trump should be hanged. Or another professor jumped out and hit a reporter. And they think, what is all this about? It’s not liberal. It’s not tolerant. And so, I think there’s a reckoning going on as we speak.

Ben Weingarten: Lincoln talked about the greatest threat to America coming from within, not without. And perhaps we could point to the academy and the erosion of the academy as being one of the challenges from within. In your view, what is the greatest threat to Western civilization today?

Victor Davis Hanson: It’s not original. It’s what, I guess you’d call them the pessimists, starting with people like Thucydides or Tacitus, and then the extreme pessimists, people like Suetonius or Petronius, have said about the West. And I guess I’d sum it up as: In a free society that’s consensual and capitalist, the combination of enormous material bounty and personal freedom can take away a sense of strife, a sense of challenge, a sense of sacrifice. And that we all, sort of, end up like lotus-eaters, because the economy is so [strong] … especially in the post-industrial society.

There is more, quite a lot more, at the link. It’s classic VDH, learned, dispassionate, and dead on target. Do read it and/or watch it. Little point to me attempting to add to this, He’s simply correct.

Advertisements

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

17 Responses to VDH on the Fate of the West

  1. Scoop says:

    Of course this is only the final process in the manufacturing of ‘educated’ people. I am pretty sure that the defective early education of these ‘products’ has made them into defective automatons who can withstand the contradictions of ‘higher’ education and beat-down anyone who actually hasn’t turned in their reality glasses.

    I think they wouldn’t have stood a chance with my school chums as we entered college. We would have seen them as they are; charlatans. My father’s era, even more so.

    This process started when we sexualized kids in grade school and taught them that everything their parents taught them is wrong. Without the early work, the graduate work would not work; and it strikes me that this pun is not just funny but true. For it is not uncommon these days for graduates to live at home and not work. How can they? They are broken and good for not much of anything except to hold signs in rallies, loot stores with a mob, beat up people who disagree with them and cry and scream that they are being violated or offended. A bunch of spoiled brats who live a life of immaturity and will probably never arrive at their destination of Adulthood.

    Liked by 3 people

    • NEO says:

      I’d like to agree, but, it was our contemporaries who so maleducated the generations behind us. It must have worked on a sizable number. Those I went to school with, even college? No, but Purdue then and now, is a pretty sensible place.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Scoop says:

        They did and they were the product of a very corrupt political era of LBJ and the failed war in Vietnam which nobody (not even the military) supported. It created an atmosphere of distrust and rebellion but I’m not sure that we turned the value system on its head. I think that came a bit later as the works of Carl Rogers and Wm. Coulson became mainstream. Though many of the more radical kids did ignite the storm of socialism and Marxism in the nation. But most everybody I knew, even the most depraved hippies, saw the irony in all those people who acted like they believed in any of the things that they ‘fought’ for. They really only believed in 1 thing. Having a good time. But, I suppose it doesn’t take many true believers to change society and gain notoriety. Most of their contemporaries, at least the ones I knew, got married, got jobs and became Republicans.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Nicholas says:

      The corruption of education I suspect has spiritual as well as human causes. I lay a lot of the blame on Nietzsche, though. He took Kantian thinking and then twisted it to create the gaping abyss. His supporters try to redeem him and talk as if he were Descartes, clearing away rubbish to rebuild something better in its place, but Nietzsche cannot be rehabilitated in that way – it’s a contradiction. All those people who speak of making our own value, whether they call themselves nihilists, existentialists, or whatever, they have left the path of wisdom. Value is not subjective, despite what anyone claims. Value in itself presupposes goodness, because value is a preference. But goodness cannot be subjective – any Kantian can tell you that, as can a Cartesian. This modern philosophy that has swept our nations – it is a perversion of reason, and is not fit to be counted even among the braying of donkeys. At least a donkey carried our Saviour in Zion.

      Liked by 2 people

      • NEO says:

        Yep, and very well said.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nicholas says:

          The problem with these infections is that they rely on our principles of tolerance and free speech, and then turn the fascist tools on us when they get enough influence and power. We can’t do anything about it because if we become hypocrites we lose our own moral support. The universities should have expelled all those intellectual polluters and let them set up their own establishments, but each university is relatively autonomous, so if you expel someone they just flee to a different “city of refuge” and start the infection all over again.

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          That too, is true.

          Liked by 1 person

    • the unit says:

      Their destination? They came to a fork in the road and took it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • the unit says:

        When I meet’me down the fork…
        “Oh Brer Democrat, oh Brer Democrat…
        I was bred and born in the dis-information, fake news, and proproganda patch, Brer Democrat”

        Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          er…meet’em! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          🙂

          Like

        • NEO says:

          🙂

          Like

  2. the unit says:

    Appeasement in education, values, culture, and etc anyone?. ‘This Day in History’ the Berlin Airlift began. Some of Truman’s staff wanted to do it over land, militarily. Truman wouldn’t go for it, might start another war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      And likely Truman was right, and I doubt we would have won. But he won by using the brand new USAF and the RAF to support Berlin for 11 months.

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Yes, that mission accomplished. I guess Russia couldn’ve shot down a few planes had they wanted. Guess they didn’t want to risk war either. Sort of a stalemate that went on ’til Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union collapsed. Nobody wanting to be totally annilated.
        Don’t think Ayatollah that smart. 🙂
        Even at age 6 or 7 I knew it was going on. Back then communities so safe our parents would drop off several of us kids and the movie theater. The airlift was on MovieTone news at the theater.

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          That is a salient point. Russia had its goals, and they weren’t pretty but even Stalin was rational enough not to take on the US, then or later, as we were him. So the Airlift was sort of an unspoken compromise, if we had sent an armored column down the autobahn, who knows what some fool Soviet lieutenant might have done, and here we go.

          And yes, that is the problem with Iran and perhaps the NorK as well, are they that rational. I think Kim may well be.

          But Iran? I rather doubt it. They seem to have a belief in producing the Apocalypse. I think it might be wise to let God attend to that in His own time and not rush it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Boudica2015.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.