Victor Davis Hanson: Paralytic Western Society
Victor Davis Hanson is a contributing editor of City Journal. He is the author of the forthcoming novel "The End of Sparta." Adapted from the summer issue of City Journal.
It is fascinating to see how postmodern Western societies react to wide-scale rioting, looting, and thuggery aimed at innocents. In Britain, politicians contemplate the use of water cannons as if they were nuclear weapons; and here the mayor of Philadelphia calls on rappers to appeal to youth to help ease the flash-mobbing that has a clear racial component to it (is the attorney general’s Civil Rights Division investigating?). His appeal is perhaps understandable, but many of the themes of rap music — violence against the police, racial chauvinism, and nihilism—may well be some of the cultural catalysts behind the flash violence, though to suggest as much would be seen as more racist than the racist profiling used by the flash beaters. All these incidents are symptomatic of a general breakdown and loss of confidence in Western society. Such urban violence was of course a constant in 19th- and 20th-century Europe and America, but now it is deeply embedded within modern sociology and no longer seen quite as criminality....
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