Victor Davis Hanson: The American 21st Century





[Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.]

The current debt, recession, wars, and political infighting have depressed Americans into thinking their country soon will be overtaken by more vigorous rivals abroad. Yet this is an American fear as old as it is improbable.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression supposedly marked the end of freewheeling American capitalism. The 1950s were caricatured as a period of mindless American conformity, McCarthyism, and obsequious company men.

By the late 1960s, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., along with the Vietnam War, had fueled a hippie counterculture that purportedly was going to replace a toxic American establishment. In the 1970s, oil shocks, gas lines, Watergate, and new rustbelts were said to be symptomatic of a post-industrial, has-been America.

At the same time, other nations, we were typically told, were doing far better...



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