Last October, Vladimir Putin aired a speech to the Russian nation chiding the United States for its moral decay. He observed an America “blotting out whole pages” of its history, pursuing “reverse discrimination against the majority in the interests of minorities,” and renouncing time-honored values in an effort at “public renewal.”
“It’s their right, but we are asking them to steer clear of our home,” he warned. “We have a different viewpoint.” This iteration of family values and conservative critique went barely noticed by the American press at the time.
Comparing current social chaos in the US to 1917 Russia, Putin declared that “the fight for equality and against discrimination turns into an aggressive dogmatism on the brink of absurdity,” resulting in thought controls that are sometimes “tighter and stricter than what the Department of Propaganda of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee did.” The perverse desire to “eliminate the whole notion of men and women,” and to insist that children believe this, he concluded, comes close to a “crime against humanity.”
The Chinese government likewise observes rapid deterioration in Western societies, an increase in racial discord, rising crime rates, family breakdown, vandalism, and political extremism that it believes results from an excess of individual freedom.
Putin and Xi know. After decades of coercive, doctrinaire multiculturalism, abundant sexual follies, and anti-white calumny, the US has arrived as an aggregation of races, ethnicities and social classes that have little in common and that don’t like each other much.
Both Russia’s and China’s leadership think the West’s reigning spirit is at best unsteady and frivolous, and at worst depraved; either way it’s a disposition to discourage in their own societies. Even Hollywood’s and Silicon Valley’s power brokers must be privately amazed as to how easy it is to control childlike minds with buzzy ads, electronic games, and emotive news, a manufactured world of celebrity, dreams and magic.
Putin and Xi must laugh like jackals when Yahoo “news” features “comedian” Chelsea Handler, the pride of Martha’s Vineyard and Bel-Air, “skiing topless with a joint in one hand and drink in the other.” She’s celebrating her forty-seventh birthday, plugging her 2022 national tour, “Horny and Vaccinated.” They do not see Chelsea as kicky or fun. From Jeff Koons’s $97 million “Rabbit” to the freakish Sam Brinton, nuclear wastes overseer, the American surrender to morbidity must appear to both heads of state proof-positive of stage-four terminal capitalism.
Putin is a cold-blooded realist, untouched by smiley-face politics, with memories of 18th-century empire, still stewing over Soviet reversals. His authoritarian, highly nationalistic style and assertive foreign policy seek to rebuild the Russian sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, not reestablish Soviet ideology. What he must think when America’s vice president, Kamala Harris, announces, “We won’t be silent about race. We won’t be silent about sexual orientation. We won’t be silent about immigrant’s rights. These are the very issues that define our identity as Americans.”
Americans at the top and the bottom of the social pyramid detest — or feel complete indifference toward — the nation’s classical, Christian, and Anglo-European foundations. Talk of commonwealth and common culture are rhetorical flourishes that inspire only the innocent and naive. We’re all in this together, go the jingles, but we’re not, not right now, least of all the woke plutocrats and their allies who see opportunity in wrecking old authorities.
The fish rots from its head. The New York Times’s 1619 Project calls for “reframing” American history and civics as the story of white supremacy and black subjection. Domestic terrorist-turned-sage Angela Davis comes to Andover to tell the nation’s future leaders they are being schooled on stolen land. Episcopalian bishops, Harvard deans, Ford Foundation executives, and Met curators climb onboard the crazy train, as style dictates. Holland Cotter over at the Times — on the day the US folded in Afghanistan — wondered whether “historic works of art can be considered exempt from modern moral scrutiny,” condemning “gender-based power plays” in Titian and Veronese’s mythical allegories.
First goes the culture. That’s before things get rough. Restitution and reparations, do understand, are code for future expropriations and forced wealth transfers. With barely concealed greed, agents of dispossession stand ready to confiscate ill-gotten gains of historical exploiters, and do so from a position of moral authority.
The functional, well-adjusted, and normative give up, flee, or seek enclaves where they and their children can be secure, where streets are clean and neighbors are civil, and where schools teach basic academics unencumbered by anti-white or anti-American feeling. Despised yeomen acquiesce in their lost status, or turn in vain to Donald J. Trump for salvation. Half of the nation resists deracination. The other half turns it into a mission.
What feels edgy and liberating at the top gets rank and seedy fast in slums and backwaters, the grim places where big trucks and beaten-up RVs are parked on the neighbor’s lawn. At a time in the nation’s history when almost one of two newborns is born out of wedlock, insisting on firm family ideals is politically impossible.
The insensate and criminal are not just a few vagrants and sociopaths, living in shadows, facing universal pity and contempt. The welfare state has been feeding clients and their children for three or four generations, and its subsidies have not produced a better, stronger people grateful for their nation’s largesse and security.
No doubt Russia and China have plenty of their own domestic problems, possibly so crushing that the West will persevere. But to those countries’ ruling classes, life is cheap and rights are thin. An icy realism, tempered by experience, prevails in ways few Americans can or want to understand.
Testing Western resolve is bound to continue. Putin and Xi know their rivals are poorly positioned politically and psychologically to confront austerity or force, the Ukraine invasion being one early probe into geopolitical power. For now, it’s chilling to think that Putin and Xi might perceive America’s internal weaknesses more clearly than most of the nation’s own ruling class.