Is America Heading for a Systems Collapse?

By Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is a conservative commentator, classicist, and military historian. He is a professor emeritus of classics at California State University, a senior fellow in classics and military history at Stanford University, a fellow of Hillsdale College, and a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness. Hanson has written 17 books, including “The Western Way of War,” “Fields Without Dreams,” “The Case for Trump,” and “The Dying Citizen.”
January 19, 2022Updated: January 25, 2022


In modern times, as in ancient Rome, several nations have suffered a “systems collapse.” The term describes the sudden inability of once-prosperous populations to continue with whatever it was that had ensured they could enjoy the good life as they knew it.

Abruptly, the population can’t buy—or even find—once plentiful necessities. They feel their streets are unsafe. Laws go unenforced or are enforced inequitably. Things stop working every day. The government turns from reliable to capricious, if not hostile.

Consider contemporary Venezuela. By 2010, the once well-off oil-exporting country was mired in a self-created mess. Food became scarce, and crime became ubiquitous. Radical socialism, nationalization, corruption, jailing opponents, and the destruction of constitutional norms were the culprits.

Between 2009 and 2016, a once relatively stable Greece nearly became a third-world country. So did the UK in its socialist days during the 1970s.

President Joe Biden’s young presidency may already be leading the United States into a similar meltdown.

Hard left “woke” ideology has all but obliterated the idea of a border. Millions of impoverished foreigners are entering the United States illegally—and during a pandemic without requiring them to undergo either COVID-19 tests or vaccinations. The health bureaucracies have lost credibility as official communiques on masks, herd and acquired immunity, vaccinations, and comorbidities apparently change and adjust to perceived political realities.

After decades of improving race relations, the United States is regressing into a pre-modern tribal society. Crime soars. Inflation roars. Meritocracy is libeled, so we’re governed more by ideology and tribe. The soaring prices of the stuff of life—fuel, food, housing, health care, transportation—are strangling the middle class.

Millions stay home, content to be paid by the state to not work. Supply shortages and empty shelves are the new norm. Nineteenth-century-style train robberies are back, as is 1970s urban violence, replete with looting, carjackings, and random murdering of the innocent. After the Afghanistan debacle, we’ve returned to the dark days following defeat in Vietnam, when U.S. deterrence abroad was likewise shattered and global terrorism and instability were the norms abroad.

Who could have believed a year ago that America would now beg Saudi Arabia and Russia to pump more oil—as we pulled our own oil leases and canceled pipelines and oil fields?

Our journey toward systems collapse isn’t due to an earthquake, climate change, a nuclear war, or even the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, most of our maladies are self-inflicted. They’re the direct result of woke ideologies that are both cruel and antithetical to traditional U.S. pragmatism.

Hard-left district attorneys in our major cities refuse to charge thousands of arrested criminals—relying instead on bankrupt social justice theories. Law enforcement has been arbitrarily defunded and libeled. Police deterrence is lost, so looters, vandals, thieves, and murderers more freely prey on the public.

“Modern monetary theory” deludes ideologues into believing that printing trillions of dollars can enrich the public, even as the ensuing inflation is making people poorer.

“Critical race theory” absurdly dictates that current “good” racism can correct the effects of past bad racism. A once tolerant, multiracial nation is resembling the factionalism of the former country of Yugoslavia. The culprit again is a callous woke ideology that posits little value for individuals, prioritizing only the so-called collective agenda.

The trademark of woke ideology is “equity”—a forced equality of result. We’re practically becoming a comic-book version of victims and victimizers, with woke opportunists playacting as our superheroes.

The strangest thing from 2021 was the systematic attack on our ancient institutions, as we scapegoated our ancestors for our own incompetencies. The woke have waged a veritable war against the 233-year-old Electoral College, the rights of states to set their own balloting laws in national elections, the 180-year-old filibuster, the 150-year-old nine-person Supreme Court, and the 60-year-old 50-state union.

The U.S. military, Department of Justice, FBI, CIA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health were revered until recently. Their top echelons were staffed by career professionals who were mostly immune to the politics of the day. Not now. These bureaus and agencies are losing public confidence and support. Citizens fear rather than respect Washington grandees who have weaponized politics ahead of public service.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, Attorney General Merrick Garland, former FBI heads such as James Comey and Andrew McCabe, retired CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci have all politicalized and vastly exceeded their professional purviews.

They’ve sounded off in public fora as if they were elected legislators up for reelection. Some have lied under oath. Others have demonized critics. Most have sought to become media darlings.

This governmental freefall has been overseen by a tragically bewildered, petulant, and incompetent president. In his confusion, an increasingly unpopular Biden seems to believe that his divisive chaos is working, belittling his political opponents as racist Confederate rebels.

As we head into the 2022 midterm elections, who will stop our descent into collective poverty, division, and self-inflicted madness?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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