AUDIO OBTAINED FROM SOURCE WHO WAS PRESENT.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION IS IN PROCESS.
June 15, 2014
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON
“Collectivism: Exploring Its Nature and Consequences”
P R O C E E D I N G S
KEVIN GENTRY: Thank you, Charles, (inaudible) for this group, so establishing the North Star for us. And so, we will spend the rest of this afternoon focused on the long term view, the commitment to a free society. So the next logical step is to talk about the nature of the threat we face. And I’d like to ask the noted historian, Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, to come forward, and he’s going to help us understand a little bit more about the true nature of our opposition, the enemy, and the nature of collectivism. Dr. Hanson, take it away.
VICTOR HANSON: (Inaudible) the theme of courage and the (inaudible) the republic. And whether we like it or not, we’re six years going into that debate (inaudible). If something went wrong on our watch, before we pass on, we have an obligation to (inaudible). We have one last chance to pass to our children something they inherited (inaudible). I look at the world now (inaudible) more dire circumstances than 1979.
The last — the last 15 months (inaudible) live abroad (inaudible) behind the (inaudible) deadline (inaudible) in a matter of months. Our friends (Inaudible) want to know if they’re still in the American (inaudible) people in Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, reset with Russia, (inaudible) Latin America that can look for an alternate (inaudible). We’re not advocates of something that’s not (inaudible) we’re not playing that much of a role (inaudible). You look at home, you (inaudible) almost every day — the VA scandal (inaudible), or the (inaudible) scandal, or the IRS scandal, or the (inaudible) scandal.
We have a simple question. I know you ask yourselves, is this by intent or is this incompetence on the part of the Administration? Well, they’re not mutually exclusive.
VICTOR HANSON: (Inaudible) that’s important. But I think it’s more than that. There’s this hatred of what he calls the “one percent,” and that’s not new in (inaudible). Tocqueville, the great essayist, who wrote American Democracy, lamented that the American (inaudible) being what it is, that most people have the choice between being prosperous and free, but being unequal versus being equal, but poor, and the loss of freedom, they would rather lose their freedom so they could all be equal. Think about it. Aristotle says, they call it democracy, but unfortunately it’s usually an effort of people to make everybody the same.
(Inaudible), great Greek philosopher, said you know, there’s two types of enemies in the world. There’s the good enemy, and that’s (inaudible). And there’s the bad enemy (inaudible) that’s not fair that I don’t have it. And he said unfortunately, “Human nature gravitates toward (inaudible).” I don’t know why society is to the point and trajectory (inaudible).
Britain after the war — think about it. The world was flattened, there were no (inaudible), Japanese miracles. Japan was destroyed. Germany was destroyed. (Inaudible) China being adrift. There was only us and Britain. We were part of the world for the next 20 years (inaudible) Britain socialized (inaudible) so much so that in 20 years it looked like Frankfurt had never been wrong and Liverpool had because, after all, statism was much more (inaudible). German (inaudible).
So, this is not a new — a new phenomenon, this desire for equality and control. But what is new, I think, (inaudible) because, after all, we are in the 21st century. (Inaudible) doing things that are different from the Obama efforts to ensure that we’re all equal (inaudible).
The first is we’ve always had limousine liberals, but now we have a technocratic class, and they are in the expansion of the universities. Never before have we had more professors (inaudible). Never before have we had more people in Hollywood in the arts, never more people in government, never more people in foundations, never more people who are very, very wealthy who (inaudible) mechanisms other than (inaudible) endeavors. And the result is a lot of people feel very bad about that wealth that they enjoy. And they feel so bad that they want to be exempt from the ramifications, their own ideology, why they inflict it on everybody else.
So if you look at our branding on the left, the progressive party is what Democrats (inaudible). Al Gore feels terrible about carbon being released into the atmosphere, so bad that he wants to sell his cable TV station to (inaudible) head of government of Qatar, who has made a fortune by fossil fuels (inaudible). John Kerry wants big government and higher taxes, and yet he doesn’t want to pay taxes on his own yacht for (inaudible).
Think about that. The Steyer brothers say that politics is broken and that money poisons politics, but they’re to be exempt because of the need to save the climate from exploitation. However, they themselves made much of their wealth through investments in coal companies. I could go on and on.
Paul Krugman, the great economist believes that inequality is the greatest bane in our society. He was hired by the City University of New York to study inequality, and (inaudible) 225, which means he makes 17 times more than a person who teaches (inaudible) part time (inaudible).
But the thing about inequality (inaudible) to believe it’ll have the same material outcome. They want the same exemptions, but they do not want to follow the rules that they impose on everybody else. It’s just another little wrinkle in the age old quest for equality and control.
(Inaudible) we all have our (inaudible) concerns (inaudible) all, but because of globalization, there is an enormous amount of money made outside of what were the traditional efforts to live one more day. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. So we have people (inaudible) in agriculture, in oil production, coal production, construction, all of the muscular arts.
But somehow this unique, abundant country, if you look at the regulations they impose, they are particularly angry at those people — almost as if you in the audience are a reminder of their (inaudible) and created almost a (inaudible) that they are exempt from having to get their hands dirty and don’t want anybody else (inaudible). So we see today (inaudible) more and more (inaudible). There’s certain bad people who do it (inaudible).
There’s a problem certainly (inaudible) Obama. And then we’ve added a third element (inaudible), and that is to make the argument that the one percent (inaudible) politically democratic — that’s demographically not true. It’s a white male Christian belief that (inaudible) unfairly, and they are at war with people of color, gays, and young women. It doesn’t matter that the Nation is very wealthy or young women (inaudible) very wealthy, or that minorities are very wealthy. He’s made that argument and he’s symbolically taken his own persona, Barack Hussein Obama, and said that I represent you. The fact that he likes to go to Martha’s Vineyard, or his wife likes to go to (inaudible), that doesn’t matter because this group of people believe (inaudible). And that’s very hard to (inaudible) all at once.
And I think John McCain, for example, would have been a good president, better than Obama. I think Mitt Romney would have been an even better president, much better than Obama. But they were easily caricatured for this reason as white, aristocratic (inaudible).
So what’s the antidote for Obama (inaudible)? Well, the antidote is (inaudible) is to try to come up with a paradigm that says these people are elitists, and they’re hypocritical, and they don’t like you. (Inaudible) we haven’t seen that (inaudible) the left (inaudible). But that’s who we need, somebody now who does not play by the (inaudible). And made the argument with George Bush, essentially was (inaudible).
And so, what I think the antidote would be in the democratic process is (inaudible) and saying to the American people they are part of the very wealthy who feel bad about their wealth, and for psychological purposes want to help (inaudible) others, the poor (inaudible), but they don’t want to put their kids in the same school, and they don’t want to live next to you (inaudible). But on these issues we do.
We want to build the Keystone pipeline, and we want to frack because we don’t like (inaudible) paying $5 a gallon for gas, who doesn’t have access to the Google bus, and (inaudible). And we’re very skeptical of the economics of wind and solar because people in Fresno go to Walmart, but they can’t afford to turn their air conditioning on. And they don’t live in Newport Beach, which has a nice cool breeze all summer long.
And I know (inaudible) illegal immigration is (inaudible) issue, but we’re skeptical of it, because we feel that the middle class and the working people are having their wages (inaudible), and that the middle class people cannot afford to hire nannies and landscapers. They don’t have that asset.
So in other words, we’re arguing that on issues, the Republican Party, of all people, conservatives are worried about the middle class, and they want people to advance. And the people who don’t who are now in power, and they’re a strange and mixed alliance, from taking money from the middle and upper middle classes (inaudible) to the poor, and having themselves exempt from all of the regulations and utopian dreams they impose on the rest of us.
Finally, I think all of us in this room — not me, but you — all of you in this room don’t need any more money. You’ve been very successful. So your argument is that you are for a free market economy and for an equality of opportunity not only because (inaudible), but that’s the only paradigm that works. And in every great society that has tried following that paradigm and failed when it chose not to.
But because you feel that (inaudible) when you’re given a chance, your experience, your knowledge is used to create wealth for other people. You can give other people jobs. You want people to climb up, and you don’t want to (inaudible) equality. And so, you’re not in it for the money for yourself. You’ve already been successful. You’re in it so other people can have some semblance of what you enjoy and are not relegated to a (inaudible).
The theme of this conference is on courage, and I will leave you with the great Danton, quoted ad nauseam by George Patton: “Audacity, more audacity, always audacity.” Remember that. Do not let people call you names. Do not let people make fun of you. Do not let people threaten you. Welcome it as a badge of honor that they understand and they fear you. Because (inaudible) to be free. You can create wealth and (inaudible). Thank you very much.
KEVIN GENTRY: Okay. Dr. Hanson has agreed to take a question or two. I think we want — we’d like to have (inaudible). He took a horrible bike spill just a few weeks ago. Seven stitches in his head. Lost his bottom teeth. And (inaudible), so what a trooper. And I thank you for being here.
KEVIN GENTRY: Alright, I see Peter Farrell, and I’ll come back over here.
PETER FARRELL: Thank you very much, Victor. This is a (inaudible) question. How do we get (inaudible) for getting out of this mess?
VICTOR HANSON: Getting out of the mess?
PETER FARRELL: That’s right.
VICTOR HANSON: Well, I think one thing, as I said briefly in my brief remarks, is we have to say that they are the elitists. They are the exclusionary people. They are the people who do not care about the middle class because whether it’s their radical environmental agenda, or their radical debt agenda, or it’s reducing the size of the military, they affect working class people. And I think that’s a very, very important message.
We’ve alluded to the Delta smelt. You see, in California we have an elite that live along the coast that are championing the (inaudible) of people who are still in the center (inaudible) driving (inaudible) again and again and again on (inaudible) issues of finance, on issues of the budget, on issues of the environment, on issues of national defense, and issues of energy.
It is a war of the middle class against the (inaudible) enjoyed by the very wealthy. And the very wealthy are not the very (inaudible) or the old. This is a new group of people. They’re very new people. We know that these are academics, journalists, government people, media people, celebrities, and inherited wealth. These are people who do not want people — other people to enjoy the same material (inaudible) that they do, and they’re masquerading as populists. And (inaudible) is absolutely critical.
KEVIN GENTRY: (Inaudible) Well, stand up, introduce yourself, and fire away.
CHRIS BRYCE: Chris Bryce (inaudible). But as an historian, it’s written often (inaudible) from history, and those are tough questions, but your basic example of a society (inaudible) institutions have success, lost its way, and got it back?
VICTOR HANSON: Well, I’m pessimistic because I don’t know — I know human nature as well as you do, and nobody ever guarantees. But normally that is that entitlement. In other words your appetites always grow for more, and you feel if they don’t get more from the government, there (inaudible).
But there are situations where you have a renaissance — you had the Florentine Renaissance and you had the Venice, where people finally can say to themselves we are (inaudible). We can’t go on any more like it is now. And they, I think, step up and they say, well, we’re going to lose our culture (inaudible). France tried to do it. Margaret Thatcher tried to do it, and she was successful for a while.
But it requires (inaudible) a standard, it requires a diagnosis of the problem. We have to be like doctors. (Inaudible) make a diagnosis and make a prognosis. And the way that we appeal to the people who are receiving government money, as well as the people who are paying for it, we have to say that these people do not have their interests at heart. They want to be exempt from their ideology and feel good about having (inaudible), so that they don’t have to (inaudible). It’s not a matter of how much money. It’s how the government spends (inaudible).
If you’re the president of a big oil company (inaudible) and solidarity with your employees, and you both have a common goal, and that’s (inaudible). You don’t want to take away mass traffic at the job, but if you have some abstract idea that San Joaquin Valley salmon was started in the 19th century, you’re willing to (inaudible) Palo Alto to destroy millions of acres of agriculture, and they’re serious. Because after all, food for that man (inaudible). So we have to get back to basics.
The government that created America and allowed society (inaudible).
KEVIN GENTRY: Victor, thank you very much. Dr. Hanson, thank you.
(End of session.)