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Hanson laments summer of ‘cultural suicide’

Victor Davis Hanson of National Review Online ponders the impact of this summer’s political developments.

Cultural suicide used to be a popular diagnosis of why things suddenly just quit.

Historians such as Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee cited social cannibalism to explain why once-successful states, institutions, and cultures simply died off.

Their common explanation was that the arrogance of success ensures lethal consequences. Once elites became pampered and arrogant, they feel exempt from their ancestors’ respect for moral and spiritual laws — such as the need for thrift, moderation, and transcendence.

Take professional sports. Over the past century, professional football, basketball, and baseball were racially integrated, and they adopted a uniform code of patriotic observance. The three leagues offered fans a pleasant respite from daily barroom politics. As a result, by the 21st century, the NFL, NBA, and MLB had become global multi-billion-dollar enterprises.

Then hubris ensued.

The owners, coaches, and players weren’t always racially diverse. But that inconvenient truth did not stop the leagues from hectoring their fans about social activism — even as they no longer honored common patriotic rituals.

All three leagues have suffered terribly during the viral lockdown, as American life mysteriously went on without them. And they have almost ensured that they won’t fully recover when the quarantine ends. …

… Lots of American universities became virtual global brands in the 21st century. Sky-high tuition, rich foreign students, guaranteed student loans, and Club Med–like facilities convinced administrators and faculty that higher education was sacrosanct. The universities preached that every successful American had to have a bachelor’s degree, as if the higher-education monopoly deserved guaranteed customers.

But soon, $1.6 trillion in aggregate student-loan debt, lightweight and trendy curricula, ideological hectoring, administrative bloat, reduced teaching loads, poor placement of graduates, and the suspension of the Bill of Rights on campus began turning off students as well as the public.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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