Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist by training so it is perhaps unsurprising that he finds the analogies between Petronius’s Satyricon and the cultural rot of our own age.
But I still praise him for the accuracy of his point by point comparison. Comparing the present age to post-republican Rome has become a common trope but Hanson points out just how accurate it is. Nothing new here, just the scholarly expertise of the author pointing out the exactness of the analogy.
VDH delves into history to find examples of leaders restoring greatness to a declining civilization. The primary example he picks is Eastern Roman emperor Justinian the Great turning around the military, cultural and religious decay of sixth century Byzantium and thereby providing the foundation for a civilization that saved Eastern and possibly all Europe from Islam. Interesting read.
Does ‘Make X Great Again’ Ever Happen in History?
Are We on the Verge of Civil War?
Hanson is usually a good read and this article is relatively clear on why the US is such a polarized environment. But I have to wonder if it’s even necessary to ask the question any more as to whether the country is going to go through an (at least metaphorical) civil war. We’re already engulfed in it now. For the most part it doesn’t involve pitched battles and mortar rounds but the two sides are inextricably locked in a winner take all struggle. And unfortunately it’s also going to last for the rest of our lives (unless it does come to bullets and bayonets).
I think that is the reality I have finally come to terms with. The progressives will never change course. If we are to successfully resist imposition of the hive existence they are working toward, it will be necessary to formulate strategies that will succeed in the long run, not just for a day or an election cycle or even two. We need to build structures that are self sustaining and self correcting. The family is, of course, the basic unit and much needs to be done to strengthen it and protect it. That will require building local associations to replace the ones that have been infected. In the old day you had your church and the local civic organizations and organizations to promote children’s activities like sports teams and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Those are mostly in ruins. But that is where the most constructive effort can be directed, right at the grassroots. And I think this where the baby boomers might actually become part of the solution instead of the source of the plague. Parents are so busy with work and child rearing, they hardly have the time to start up new organizations. but grandparents do. It would be fitting that grandparents help to re-establish the world that increasingly is only remembered by people who were alive before the 1960s bulldozed traditional family values into oblivion.
This is something I’ve started to think about and I’ll try to formulate something coherent in the future but it’s good to acknowledge that we’re beyond the point of thinking things will go back to normal and that we’ll coalesce back into one nation anytime soon. We’re going to have to move forward.
My post here is an echo of an echo. Hanson is giving a description of Conrad Black’s biography of Trump, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other“. Victor Davis Hanson is very often a good read, no matter the subject, and this article is no different. It has inspired me to get this biography even though I recently read a different (and less friendly one) one. I liked Hanson’s review so I reviewed it! Seriously, there’s nothing groundbreaking in this article but if you are interested in the biography and like Hanson’s style it’s a nice read.
[post script – After further reflection this is actually an echo of an echo of an echo. I’m writing about Hanson writing about Black writing about Trump]
Why Trump Is a President Like No Other
I know I’m a sucker for classical allusion but this is a nice summary of the situations that President Trump’s lack of finesse handled beautifully.
Trump is Cutting Old Gordian Knots
VDH lists the various members of the Deep State who not only lie under oath but then project their own mendacity onto the Trump Administration. It makes me shake my head and wonder why no action has been taken.
The Distortions of Our Unelected Officials
It’s an entertaining read. He chronicles the contradictions and frustrations when the oppressed find themselves the oppressors!
The Labyrinth of Oppressions
If you need a good shot of shadenfreude read this article by Victor Davis Hanson. Seriously, the loons in California are about to hit a very hard wall. With any luck Trump can put a stake through the heart of their dreams by refusing to fund these monstrosities.
Will Unfinished Train Overpasses Become California’s Stonehenge?
Thucydides is one of the most difficult Greek authors. As I’ve noted elsewhere The Histories of Herodotus are much more fun (both in Greek and English translation). Reading Thucydides is like reading a textbook written by a very pedantic professor. I found it very slow going when I only had to translate a few pages back 40 years ago as a student. The Peloponnesian War is recounted battle by battle, march by march and season by season. Only intermittently is there some nugget of historical interest. But the ones you find are sometimes priceless. Hanson is a Classics Professor and actually can read Thucydides in the original Greek so at least he knows what the text is trying to say. Back in high school (or I guess college nowadays) you were given passages from Thucydides such as the Funeral Oration of Pericles or the Melian Dialog. Well the reason we still read Thucydides is because people keep doing the same stupid things war after war. Whether the US and China are fated to battle for supremacy like Sparta and Athens or Rome and Carthage is an important question. If studying the Peloponnesian War teaches us what has failed in the past maybe we can spare the world another bloody catastrophe. That some of the Trump White House is reading it isn’t bad news. Anyway, an interesting read.