Ed Driscoll

Recreate '48!

While the feral left seems determined to perennially relive 1968 in New York and other major American cities where they’ve set up camp, as Mark Steyn writes in his latest column, the assumptions behind their demands are more akin to those of a decade or two earlier:

In Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands, the average citizen lives better than he ever did at the height of Empire. Today’s Europeans enjoy more comfortable lives, have better health and take more vacations than their grandparents did. The state went into decline, but its subjects enjoyed immense upward mobility. Americans could be forgiven for concluding that, if this is “decline,” bring it on.

But it’s not going to be like that for the United States: unlike Europe, geopolitical decline and mass downward mobility will go hand in hand.

Indeed, they’re already under way. Whenever the economy goes south, experts talk of the housing “bubble,” the tech “bubble,” the credit “bubble.” But the real bubble is the 1950 “American moment,” and our failure to understand that moments are not permanent. The United States emerged from the Second World War as the only industrial power with its factories intact and its cities not reduced to rubble, and assumed that that unprecedented pre-eminence would last forever: We would always be so far ahead and so flush with cash that we could do anything and spend anything, and we would still be No. 1. That was the thinking of Detroit’s automakers when they figured they could afford to buy off the unions. The industrial powerhouse of 1950 is now a crime-ridden wasteland with a functioning literacy rate equivalent to West African basket-cases. And yes, Detroit is an outlier, but look at the assumptions its rulers made, and then wonder whether it will seem quite such an outlier in the future.

As Steyn writes, “a society can live on the accumulated capital of a glorious inheritance only for so long. And, in that sense, this bloodless, insipid revolution is just a somewhat smellier front for the sclerotic status quo.”