What we are now witnessing is the typical cannibalism of a leftwing revolution, which fed off the chaos of 2020 but was all the hungrier for more flesh of its own. All the would-be revolutionaries who paused to think that they could barter with the hard left, could seek a bought exemption here and there, could appeal to classical liberal ideas of tolerance and free speech, or, like Kerensky Russian socialist aristocrats, could use their money to bend the trajectory of the Revolution, will only more quickly be devoured for their betrayal of Jacobin principles. 

More Thoughts on 

the 2020 Revolution

By: Victor Davis Hanson

Historian’s Corner

November 2, 2021

Here we are in the closing months of 2021, experiencing the most disastrous presidency since that of James Buchanan. Do we even remember life before COVID-19, when the Jacobinism of the Left was so looney, so venomous that its very contradictions and toxicity once upon a long time ago helped to keep it bay?

Then came the annus horribilis of 2020 that retaught us of dangers of the unchecked power and incompetence of the administrative state and unaccountable influential institutions, whose DNA was absorbed by wokism.

As demonstrators and violence raged throughout America in the spring, summer, and autumn of 2020, those unelected leaders in our state agencies, media, and corporations offered no solutions. Instead, the Disney corporation (always to be counted on to refute the legacy of its founder and to pile on—in hopes of monetizing—any cultural fad of the moment) announced its new partnership with Colin Kaepernick. It did not seem problematic that the ex-quarterback had just announced the Fourth of July to be a “celebration of white supremacy.”

Give Kaepernick credit, the more his once so-so athleticism wanes, the more distant his fading football career, all the more so he embraces new brands of hucksterism to get richer by damning the U.S. and profiting from his Nike endorsements, so compromised by the sneaker company’s use of Chinese forced labor. One wonders whether he would demand of his new Disney employers to review their library of past Walt Disney movies, cartoons, and television shows to remove or destroy those archives deemed racist since May 25, 2020.

University presidents loudly virtue signaled to students and alumni all sorts of campus names that would be changed, statues and commemoratives that would be removed, new diversity coordinators to be hired, racial theme houses to be built, safe spaces to be added, novel diversity programs and rebooted curricula to be created. They offered several concessions to appease the protestors and cultural revolutionaries—except tuition discounts to their indebted students who now took their courses remotely online and stayed home the spring, summer, and fall of 2020, with no access to the university dorms, meal plans, health centers, counseling services or sports, entertainment, and social events. Yet heretofore universities had boasted that such on-site enrichment was the much heralded unique “college experience,” supposedly completely to be replicated by Zoom or Skype or lesser trade schools and internet colleges.

There were few plans for tuition refunds, or future discounts for such radically reduced services. Instead, indebted students were told essentially that many sports and activities in 2021 would be cut. College tuition and room and board costs would increase. Classes would be conducted electronically. Students should avoid campus and stay home. Large funds could rarely be taken from the endowment fund to tide the university over until good times returned—and yet there would be vast new expenses incurred to accommodate the demands of Black Lives Matter and its various affiliates. The question was no longer how the universities were doing but would any even survive as they had been in the immediate years to come.

More strangely in 2020, university presidents during the nation’s rioting following the death of George Floyd deplored the “systemic racism” that they had apparently just discovered on their campuses. These were odd public confessions given colleges had been certifying for years to the federal government that there was no racism in their midst, and thus they had met all government civil rights mandates contingent for continued state aid. Were they lying before George Floyd or after his death or both?

The unelected functionaries in government soon joined the revolutionary movement. The deep state did its part to conform to the new revolutionary orthodoxy. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture put on display the toxic elements of “whiteness”:

“Whiteness (and its accepted normality) also exist as everyday microaggressions toward people of color. Acts of microaggressions include verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs or insults toward nonwhites. Whether intentional or not, these attitudes communicate hostile, derogatory, or harmful messages.”

The government agency then listed toxic white traits that contribute to systemic racism. They included “rugged individualism,” “the scientific method,” “the Protestant work ethic,” “the nuclear family,” following “rigid time schedules,” and speaking “the King’s English.”

Oddly, most Americans could point to such traits as being essential to millions of non-white Americans, who would resent any inference that they are the domain of any particular ethnic or racial group. Indeed, there is an entire corpus of research that identifies common shared cultural traits among quite disparate groups—having nothing to do with race—that seem to foster upward mobility in diverse societies both at home and in globalized economies. So, was the Museum of African American History and Culture secretly carrying out the directives of white supremacists circa the 1950s, who dreamed up the strategy of targeting African Americans to persuade them that all the traits that had led every one of every race to upward mobility would solely and exclusively hamper black progress?

Predictably, the Revolution even began devouring its logical sympathizers. Once progressive icon Mark Zuckerberg was under assault because his multi-billion-dollar social media empire would not censor ads and messaging from Donald Trump, and thus faced even corporate boycotts of a suddenly politically incorrect Facebook. Zuckerberg learned that there is no appeasing the Jacobin guillotine, even if later he would donate over $400 million to help warp the 2020 presidential voting. Such penance was seen by the Left as proof of his obsequious nature to be further exploited rather than applaudable rectification.

When about 150 liberal celebrities, authors, and intellectuals signed a letter in Harper’s pleading with their progressive brethren to allow the unfettered expression of ideas and to desist from the cancel culture, the left attacked them—claiming they were exercising white privilege by stifling the voices of the oppressed under their bourgeois pretense of “free speech.”

What we are now witnessing is the typical cannibalism of a leftwing revolution, which fed off the chaos of 2020 but was all the hungrier for more flesh of its own. All the would-be revolutionaries who paused to think that they could barter with the hard left, could seek a bought exemption here and there, could appeal to classical liberal ideas of tolerance and free speech, or, like Kerensky Russian socialist aristocrats, could use their money to bend the trajectory of the Revolution, will only more quickly be devoured for their betrayal of Jacobin principles. 

2020–21 reminded us that no one is more hated by Bolsheviks than a 90-percent Bolshevik.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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