The End of Days
Victor Davis Hanson tries to make sense of why California's left, after having ruined the state, is still waiting around for a handout. Why can't they learn and mend their ways? He likens the former Golden State to the entitlement addicted pressure groups of Greece who cannot believe the party is over because it has always been going full blast for as long as it can remember. But it can't be over. The party must continue, but it's really a Rage Party, Hanson argues; as in Rage Against Reality.
the Greeks are furious at “them.” Furious in the sense that everyone must be blamed except themselves. So they protest and demonstrate that they do not wish to stop borrowing money to sustain a lifestyle that they have not earned—but do not wish to cut ties either with their EU beneficiaries and go it alone as in the 1970s. So they rage against reality.
The same is true of California. Our elites liked the idea of stopping new gas and oil extraction, shutting down the nuclear power industry, freezing state east-west freeways, strangling the mining and timber industries, cutting off water to agriculture in the Central Valley, diverting revenues from fixing roads and bridges to redistributive entitlements, and praising the new multicultural state that would welcome in half the nation’s 11-15 million illegal aliens. Better yet, the red-state-minded “they” (the nasty upper one-percent who stole from the rest of us due to their grasping but superfluous businesses) began to leave at the rate of 3,000 a week, ensuring the state a Senator Barbara Boxer into her nineties.
Yes, we are proud that we have changed the attitude, lifestyle, and demography of the state, made it “green,”and have the highest paid public employees and the most generous welfare system—and do not have to soil our hands with nasty things like farming, oil production, or nuclear power. And now we are broke. Our infrastructure is crumbling and an embarrassment. My environs is known as “Zimbabwe” or “Appalachia” for its new third-world look that followed from about the highest unemployment and lowest per capita income in the nation. Again, thanks to the deep South, our schools are not quite last in reading and math. So of course, like the Greeks, we are mad at somebody other than ourselves. Californians are desperate for a “them” fix. But who is them? “Them” either left, is leaving, or has been shut down.
Dr. Hanson's observations about the Left's unreasonable expectations are probably true. But what does he hope to achieve by stating them? Does he hope that against all odds the Left will come to their senses? Perhaps, because that's the logical thing to do. But history suggests that logic doesn't always prevail. Historically doomed societies never come to their senses. That's why they were doomed. Their feedback loop was permanently disconnected; not simply unplugged but bricked over.
There is a sense in which arguing with the Left is a futile proposition. All that remained to those caught up in historically collapsing societies was to get out of dodge or head for the lifeboats. Bertolt Brecht observed that failing systems only knew how to double down. "Even in Atlantis of the legend, the night the seas rushed in, the drowning men still bellowed for their slaves." Nobody got out of Atlantis by arguing with the Atlanteans. When the ATM stops dispensing money and people press the keys harder, conversation is really at an end. In California's case, the Left's response to crisis is more of the same: more open borders, more Green industry, more regulation. That'll fix it.
So Hanson says, why not let them have it but make it clear that the state will have to pay for it? Let them see for themselves where the path leads if they won't listen to reason. VDH writes:
Yet why not carry on with the progressive agenda? Would not the Greeks be happier if the Germans said, “Sorry, we won’t loan you anything at any interest rate, so please by all means riot all you wish”?
Would Californians be happier if we let in, say, 10 million more illegal aliens, and shut down east-side San Joaquin Valley water deliveries as well to save far more fishlets than just the smelt? Are not we still discriminating against transsexual and transgendered in the military? Why is there not diversity/affirmative action redress for underrepresented gay officers? Why are not these legitimate questions?
Cannot liberals press on with their dream and insist on amnesty, go for single-payer health care, lobby for a 50% income tax rate on higher incomes? If spring is delayed by frost and snow this year into June or July, would that even more so prove the case for global warming? Will Al Gore make another film, A Really Really Inconvenient Truth?
Maybe they won't listen to experience either, just as certain types of people keep trying the same thing while hoping for different results. They will press on despite failure, despite debacles and just press the keys harder. But under no circumstances will “sorry, we won’t loan you anything at any interest rate, so please by all means riot all you wish” get anyone else off the hook. Because other people are permanently on the hook. The whole point of socialism is precisely that it's built on somebody else's money. If it were built with their money it would be capitalism.
WH Auden observed that "all sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is damnation." If the Left the world over has reached the point where they have got to have their fix, then neither reason nor experience will be persuasive. If damnation really exists, even in Auden's sense, simply not believing it can happen won't keep it from happening. The only thing that will keep other people's wallets from making the journey to Hades is to keep it out of reach. Hell in the end isn't where God puts you, but where you want to go.
Link to Wretchard's novel "No Way In" print edition