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Works and Days

Beautifully Medieval California

March 6th, 2013 - 10:00 pm

Those in Old Pasadena, Pacific Palisades, Montecito, Pacific Grove, Menlo Park, Hillsborough, Piedmont, and Pacific Heights mostly avoid the peasantry in Merced and Tulare. That many of their tax dollars end up there and that billions of their state’s earnings go out of state as remittances to Latin America mean little. There is so much good weather, high life, and money in coastal California that the expense to keep the peasantry content is simply a small cost of being an aristocrat in paradise. Indeed they romanticize the peasantry in a way that they most surely do not the embattled middle class.

The Medieval Mind

But feudal California is more than a sense of bifurcated classes and locations. It adopts a closed medieval state of mind too. The Renaissance marked a lessening of the intolerance and censorship of the medieval clergy. Art, literature, science, and philosophy were freed from shibboleths of Aristotle, Church doctrine, and formalistic conventions. But California has of yet had no such renaissance. In our closed, anti-scientific, and deductive way of thinking, Solyndra was a success. Drilling for cheap natural gas in the Monterey Shale formation would be seen as failure. When our governor told Rick Perry that Californians did not need to cool off in 110 degree heat through “fossil fuel”-fed air conditioning, he did not mean that solar panels were energizing green air conditioners in Barstow, but rather that our elites on the coast have natural air conditioning; it’s called the Pacific Ocean. And although wind and solar provide miniscule amounts of California energy, it matters little, given that coastal elites enjoy 70 degree weather year-round and keep their power bills low. PG&E’s and Southern California Edison’s astronomical energy costs are for “little people,” the middle classes in the hot and cold interior and mountains. The aristocracy sets the regulations that make power soar, and the interior pays far more of the costs.

In medieval California, certain thinking is off-limits, just as during the tenth century in France or in the eighth century in Constantinople. I once wrote, on these pages, that one could not any more determine exactly the racial and ethnic heritage of millions of intermarried and integrated Californians, much less could universities easily determine why particular California ancestries qualified for affirmative action and others did not (e.g., was it due to ongoing racism, skin color, historical claims against the majority culture, purposes of “diversity”? etc.). The next thing I knew the Stanford Daily was calling for me to be disciplined by the Hoover Institution. Indeed, these monthly reflections on California earn on occasion an angry op-ed in a California paper, dozens of hate emails — and even now and then a phone call from an irate state official.

You see, in medieval California the orthodoxy of the clergy and aristocracy must remain unquestioned. Wind and solar are superior energy sources to natural gas or other fossil fuels. The blue-state model of high taxes and big government has been redeemed by the public-approved tax hikes of 2012.

Acres of huge windmills or vast solar-panel farms do not cause as many environmental or aesthetic problems as does a confined natural gas-fed power plant. The degree to which we are not entirely green is due not to science, but to the greed of private enterprise. The problem with illegal immigration is not that it is illegal, much less that the state is overwhelmed in its idealistic mission to provide near instant parity to millions who arrived without legality, capital, education, or English from the abject poverty of central Mexico, but that a largely white, aging, and disappearing nativist class is obstructing multicultural solutions. Our public employees are the most successful and competent in the nation and that is why they make more than others elsewhere, but still not enough to provide a lifestyle commensurate with their talents and industry.

The present baby-boom generation and its offspring are brilliant and are Renaissance figures; they gave us, after all, everything from Facebook to Apple and Google. They are superior moral beings too, and so do not outsource, avoid taxes, bundle campaign donations, seek insider subsidized federal loans, or in general say un-nice things. In contrast, our ancestors were pedestrian and reactionary. After all, they did silly, almost inexplicable things like build Hetch Hetchy, the Big Creek hydroelectric project, the L.A. freeway system, and the California Water Project. We will use these quirky inheritances a bit longer, but would never replicate them.

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All Comments   (48)
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By the way Dr. Hansen, I very much like the title of your blog. I enjoy Hesiod very much and for someone who is something of a farmer it is an apt title.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think California is more like Late Antiquity Gaul, say late 400s, than Medieval Europe. As in Gaul, the migrating hordes are firmly ensconced, taking over the political life of the state but the old aristocracy is still living in their villas, clinging to a dying way of life. I think that in many ways, we are living in a time very like late antiquity through out this nation and in the west in general.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For anyone as knowledgeable of history and its ways; For Dr. Hanson to stay implanted in that God forsaken place, and face the incessant nibbling away of his cherished ancestral masterpiece is non compos mentis.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is the latest and superior iteration of VDH's California dystopianization seen first hand by a man who knows what farm labor is
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Agriculture is booming; but farming is long dead."

Well crafted words speak volumes, they have ... great pith.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Small aside: Petroleum may not be fossil fuel. Mendeleyev disagreed with Western scientists, speculating it may form from olivine and other minerals under deep pressure, such as 25 km beneath the surface. Pressure breaks molecular bonds to make new molecules taking up less space, apparently like diamonds form. It appears at the surface when it leaks up. Saudi sits over the collision of four tectonic plates. The Caribbean basin is full of cracks caused by the giant meteorite hit millions of years ago. The California coast has a subduction zone where the Pacific Plate bends and cracks, hence asphalt pills on the beach (in the old days). The Soviets worked on this and it became the Russian-Ukrainian Theory. Russians drilled where Mendeleyev's idea said there might be oil and Western theories disagreed and they struck oil. One of the first Caribbean wells became exhausted and was capped decades ago. It was a a place called "Green Island" or something, a below-surface mound. If the R-U Theory was valid, then the leak-up process would put some oil back into the well. The oil company uncapped the exhausted well and checked it out. There was a lot more than "some" oil in the well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yeah, but they don't find much oil below certain thermally exposed zones (do you know what conodonts are?). There may well be some autochthonous oil, but the aggregate of the evidence says, "not much".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks, some wonderfully useful ideas in there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dr. Hanson, great but terribly sad and true column. I remember the California I experienced when I was a child and what we have today in no way resembles it. I notice a few people state that if it's so bad, why not move out. My wife and I live in the house my folks built when I was 3 years old. It's a mere 200 feet from the house I was brought home to from the hospital when I was born. It's very difficult to make the decision to pull up stakes and move elsewhere but at the current rate of decay of our once great state, we may have no other choice. Our kids are here, all our friends are here. At our age, the decision to move is not an easy one.

We are faced with a government in this state that in a way, resembles the tale of the emperor's new clothes. Here we have a multi-billion dollar project, high speed rail, that is guaranteed to continue this states financial meltdown. And they continue to promote it as the great savior of California. The governments view has become so narrow and they are so unwilling to entertain any idea that might swerve them from their imagined goal.

The state's government wants to dis-arm us, as well as our federal government, knowing that the criminal element will not disarm. We will be easy prey if they win in their mindless efforts.

I remember the days when we could go outside and play and our parents did not have to worry about our safety. When our grand children visit, they do not go outside without my wife or I being out there with them. Armed home invasions are becoming a regular thing out here in the country because the criminal element knows it takes a long time for law enforcement to answer a 911 call, if the victims even have the chance to make the call.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Here we have a multi-billion dollar project, high speed rail, that is guaranteed to continue this states financial meltdown."

Actually, taxpayers from Pratt, KS and all across the nation help fund those california projects for many decades and continue to do. We lived in Santa Barbara County for a number of years. Our little circle (all transplants) were amazed to see how much federal funding and federal enterprise (military, DOD contractors, government agencies, national forests and parks, etc.) was building the economies of California - especial southern cali. The more central agri portion of cali was heavily federally subsidized. As more and more people followed the dream pie in the sky easy big money, the state became more and more a magnet to every kind of social and economic cancer known to mankind. Now, we all feel fortunate to be from states far away that never experienced californias rise and fall at a tremendous cost to all taxpayers of the nation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
High speed rail. It was originally passed with an estimated cost of 38 billion dollars.. It has been revised to over 80 billion dollars. And I'll bet it goes MUCH higher than that before it's done. It is based on an estimated ridership that has no relationship to reality. It is going to destroy thousands of acres of farmland. This state is in deep financial trouble. Businesses and individuals are leaving the state because it is so hostile to business and to individual rights. We have one of the highest state income tax rates, one of the highest sales tax rates and yet we are in constant danger of going bankrupt. We also have one of the highest, if not the highest welfare rates in the country. We now have a super majority of liberals in both state legislative houses and not one state level administrative position is held by a republican/conservative. If liberals are so damned smart, why are we in such trouble? Basically, this state has been run by democrats for 30+ years and do not tell me Schwarzenegger was a republican.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, I know! When we first come to CA during Pappa Browns era we fell in love with Santa Barbara County in the beatiful Los Olivas area above Santa Barbara and wanted to retire there setting up a quarter horse ranch with cutting training and competition arenas. We made a real estate purchase and then went back to finish up my Marine Corps career. Thirteen years having lived there we seen the writing on the wall, seen a good sellers market and we made an exit.

Wherever great economic success comes, so does eventually, social and economic cancer. What goes up eventually comes down and it appears CA is a victim of its own successes and coming down. SAD!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Steve Sailer noted the irony that heavily Democratic states are most comfortable for the very wealthy (that is, they provide enclaves that keep out the oiks), while Republican states are best for the low and middle income earners.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We aren't actually regressing to the middle ages. We are, in fact, collapsing into a new Dark Age.
I'm glad I won't be here to see it. I've made my plans and am leaving california before memorial day.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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