The Woke Minority Exercises Huge Power, but Can It Survive Biden?
Interview With Victor Davis Hanson

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President Joe Biden’s approval rating continues to slide.
How does a historian who has been leading U.S. conservatives evaluate the current administration?


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow in military history at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a Professor Emeritus of classics at California State University, Fresno. He is the author of more than two dozen books, ranging in topics from ancient Greece to modern America, recently “The Dying Citizen”. He lives on a farm in Selma, California.

――In “The Dying Citizen” you described the current American situation where anonymous powers, which are symbolized by bureaucrats, Big Tech, Hollywood, etc., control the American people. In Japan, also, the political situation is more like a bureaucracy led by the government rather than its citizens. Could you share your thoughts with us regarding the threat of growing anonymous power?

Dr. Hanson: First of all, the U.S. arrogantly has underestimated Chinese capability and intentions, and assumes because Beijing appropriates technology it is always behind rather than buying time to surpass the U.S. in creative enterprises and greater productivity. Its schools are more meritocratic than ours and its leadership is more directed. Americans have simply either colluded with its rise to global hegemony or stupidly underestimated its resources, drive, and efforts to remake Asia, the Pacific and eventually the world. Without a return of the U.S. meritocracy, policies that ensure energy development and incentives to invest and develop, and a racially blind culture rather than the current tribalist woke movement, China will easily end the sort of free world that the U.S. and its allies created the last 75 years.

We are experiencing with Silicon Valley, and its associated industries (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Amazon, etc.), 19th-century-like cartel-monopolies that control most of the electronic communications and use of the Internet in the U.S. as well as retail commerce. And such corporations have de facto fused with the progressive political movement to stifle free expression deemed either unwelcome or antithetical to their shared ideological agendas. Unfortunately, citizens for the moment at least, have few alternative methods of online information retrieval, email communications, and social media usage. The left usually claimed to want to break up trusts, but finds the multi-trillion-dollar market capitalization of Silicon Valley companies and its hard-left orthodoxy central to its consolidation of power and therefore exempts the industry from its usual anti-corporate boilerplate. The American people remain reliably free and Western, but the woke minority owns academia, entertainment, the corporate boardroom, Wall Street, the media, professional sports, the Pentagon and Silicon Valley and thus exercises huge power despite its minority support in the population. Its goal is some sort of neo-socialist oligarchy run by properly credentialed elites who have no intention of living by the dictates of their own ideology.

――President Trump, who fought this anonymous power, tried to bring back the “citizens” you mentioned, not only through deregulation but also through putting a scalpel into numerous kinds of areas. Even now, he keeps fighting and sets out on a new endeavor with his social media platform. How do you see the significance of the Trump presidency and future prospects?

Dr. Hanson: He will be seen eventually by most historians as an especially effective president with an agenda that bettered the lives of millions of Americans. Abroad he ended the idea of optional military interventions into the Middle East, jawboned NATO into upping it defenses, and tried to consolidate Asian and Pacific allies into a consortium to resist Chinese communist aggression. Assessments will differ on his person: supporters will concede that his roughness was necessary to survive the 360-degree attacks he endured daily, as he served as a sort of distasteful chemotherapy necessary to attack a toxic cancer of the establishment state. Trump haters never could explain their extraordinary venom, given it had a lot to do with his bearing, accent, background, and comportment, all antithetical to the New York-DC media/government/university nexus and their own hatred of the red-state middle classes of the US interior. In retrospect, the 2-year Russian “collusion” hoax, the two impeachments, the hysteria over the buffoonish and deplorable January 6 riot that was as silly as it was neither an insurrection nor a treasonous conspiracy, as the FBI itself concurred, were always overshadowing his substantial achievements. Destroying his policies on the border, the economy, energy, and foreign policy have destroyed Biden’s approval ratings, and oddly reminded people how well Trump’s agenda worked out.

――In your book, you stated that the elite and the poor are working together to mandate equity and erode American tradition and law at the expense of the power and influence of the middle class. We believe that the middle class should be at the core of democracy. What do you think is required for the middle class to regain its power?

Dr. Hanson: It must curb the growth and power of the federal government, which gives tax concessions and exemptions to the very wealthy, who in turn and in part, as Medieval penance, ensure redistributive entitlements to the poor. The middle class lacks the elitism of the rich, and the dependence and instability of the poor, as it has since antiquity. Everyone now exempted should pay income taxes, but mostly the poor are exempted from any income tax and the rich find ways to pay lower capital gains rates on their income rather than normal far higher income tax rates. Universities must be decoupled from student loans guaranteed by the government, given campuses jack up costs without moral hazard to the point that there is now 1.7 trillion dollars in aggregate student debt that discourages an entire generation’s marriage, home ownership, and childrearing and creates perpetual adolescents.

――You also mentioned the “globalist” issue too. There are a number of Japanese companies that still remain in China and have no intention to decouple from China, as well as American companies. What do you think we should do to alert those companies which continue to seek profits through totalitarian dictatorship?

Dr. Hanson: They, like their American counterparts, may be too far gone, in that their huge enrichment from the Chinese has altered their perspective and convinced them that their own countries should by hyper-criticized as the necessary cost of deliberately ignoring the atrocious Chinese record of human rights and its expansionist and mercantile foreign policies. Tax policies can provide incentives and punishments to companies depending on their decisions to offshore and outsource at the expense of their own citizens. I believe in free-market economics, smaller government and equality of opportunity, rather than of result, but at some point the multinational corporations must have greater loyalties to their fellow kinsmen and citizens and not a foreign octopus that seeks to compromise all who do business with it.

――In addition to Mr. Biden’s unpopularity, it is reported that support for Vice President Kamala Harris is plummeting even within the Democratic Party. Would you share your views with us regarding why Ms. Harris appears to be unfit to serve as Vice President?

Dr. Hanson: She has zero record of accomplishment. She received zero delegates in her aborted presidential run, given her embarrassing lack of knowledge, inability to speak coherently, and opportunistic and unsteady positions on the issues. Her senate career saw no achievement at all. Her race and gender, as Biden announced in advance, were her chief attractions in 2020 as a running mate. Her entrance into politics was leveraged by her former paramour, the savvy San Francisco Mayor and political grandee, Willie Brown. Biden may have appointed her on the “Agnew Principle” that saved Richard Nixon from impeachment for months: i.e., the Vice President is considered so incompetent and so unfit that it would be unwise for even the president’s direst enemies to impeach him, and thus sabotage the country with an utterly unfit replacement. Her presence ironically serves to quash talk that Biden is mentally and physically not up to the rigors of a four-year term.

――The Biden administration announced an end to the combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year. We are concerned that this withdrawal could lead to the end of American supremacy. If this withdrawal failed to succeed, just like in Afghanistan, what do you think the American credibility as a guardian of free nations would look like?

Dr. Hanson: You and most Americans are concerned. We are all very worried what the Left envisions for the U.S. and fear it is some sort of EU squishy, loud moral censor that is utterly impotent and predictably dismissed. Biden et al envisions the military as a sort of people’s liberation army that is an extension of the woke movement—by fast-tracking climate, race, and gender agendas without the messiness of legislative give and take. The Left, like the old Corporate Right of the 1990s, still believes that the more China is economically appeased, the more in gratitude it will pay back such deterrence with democratic reforms that will make it eventually one with Westernized democracies. This has proven a ludicrous supposition, as China envisions all magnanimity as weakness to be exploited rather than as kindness to reciprocated. So, losing deterrence abroad, cutting the military, changing the mission of the armed forces, wasting energy ferreting out supposed “white supremacists” and utopian pacifism all combine to question U.S. security guarantees. In contrast, Trump did away with Baghdadi, and Soleimani, destroyed ISIS, stabilized Afghanistan with fewer troops, was quite tough on Russia and China, took seriously worries about North Korea, and was clear that allies had no greater friend and enemies no greater enemy—and was hated by the elite here and abroad for doing all that.

Yet for now China hedges, confused whether it is necessary to risk a catastrophic invasion of Taiwan, when the U.S. seems increasingly internally and externally weak and compliant with China’s steady insidious squeeze of Taiwan. Furthermore, China knows the U.S. still possesses enormous economic and military strength, so it can’t quite figure out whether our current apparent impotence is an opportune time to strike or is unnecessary given our own suicidal tendencies—or it is waiting to see in 2022 and 2024 whether there is a return of U.S. muscularity and deterrence. The latter of course is the hope of more than half the country. It is quite stunning how China closed down all discussion of the origins and early spread of the pandemic and yet 2 years later has suffered no apparent global censure for its policies that contributed to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. Such is the power of Chinese mercantilism and propaganda.

I believe 2022 and 2024 will mark a return of American sanity at home and abroad, but the question remains how much damage of the sort we saw in 2021 can even a behemoth nation endure before it loses confidence in itself.

The Woke Minority Exercises Huge Power, but Can It Survive Biden?
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