The “locust years” was how Winston Churchill described the Thirties, the decade that started with the Great Depression and ended with Germany’s invasion of Poland that sparked the most destructive war in history.
Could we be reprising the follies, delusions, and hubris of those years?
Between the two world wars, the allies who had won the first sank into civilizational exhaustion and moral ennui. The horrors of the Great War turned “never again”––the pledge to never, ever repeat such carnage––into pacifism, socialism, naïve internationalism, communist terror, reckless disarmament, totalitarian police states, and finally appeasement of a feral aggressor. All these ills guaranteed that the slaughter would indeed return––worsened by the holocaust, gulags, millions of refugees and displaced persons, atomic bombs, and the massive destruction of cities in Japan and Germany, an apocalypse wrought by the most civilized and advanced countries in the world.
The West today may seem to be light-years from the Thirties and its lethal dysfunctions, and the monstrous violence that decade bred. Even so, in many respects, our cultural decay, political corruption, and zany stupidities are willfully undermining not just our foundational political institutions, but science itself, not to mention common sense and traditional wisdom. These unprecedented, suicidal attacks on our civilization are breeding the swarms of locusts that may devour us.
First, the threat of large-scale wars is growing, ignored or dismissed by too many of those responsible for defending our lives and interests. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a case study in how to make sure such aggression will happen and perhaps succeed. Like Hitler, Putin had signaled for years his intentions and motives––to rebuild the Russian Empire lost in 1991, along with half the Soviet-era population. Nor was his ruthless willingness to use devastating force against civilians unknown, not after his brutal pacification of Chechnya in 1999-2009. Yet each move in his aggression was met with diplomatic braggadocio, school-marmish scolding, and useless sanctions.
And just as Hitler’s serial aggression and violations of the Versailles Treaty in the Thirties were met with bluster by the Allies and the League of Nations, so too Putin’s territorial grabs in South Ossetia and eastern Ukraine, culminating in the 2014 seizure of Crimea, were met with empty rhetoric and Swiss-cheese sanctions. And once Biden skedaddled from Afghanistan, leaving behind hundreds of our citizens, thousands of our Afghan allies, and billions in weapons–– at the cost of 13 murdered American soldiers––why wouldn’t Putin try conclusions and restart his ambition to swallow Ukraine whole?
Now we are entangled in an expensive war––at least $115 billion and counting––that currently is stalemated, with no feasible way out through negotiation or even withdrawal, considering the enormous moral hazard that a Russian victory would confront us and our Nato allies. And given Russia’s overwhelming advantage in population, and Putin’s traditional Russian penchant for sacrificing wholesale his own citizens, time is on his side.
Meanwhile, China has been busy too, buying access and loyalty throughout the world, including Latin America, our geopolitical backyard, while at home it is building a powerful military that may not be the equal of ours, but is still big enough for Xi to gamble that an attack on Taiwan will be met with bluster and sanctions. More despicable, our “money doesn’t stink” corporate hegemons are happy to help finance China’s ambitions, even as it steals our intellectual property, sells us solar panels made by slave labor, burns megatons of dirty coal for energy, and brutalizes its Uighur minority.
Yes, China––its economy reeling and its people in a demographic death-spiral––in the long run is likely to become a failed state But as Adam Smith said, there’s a lot of ruin in a nation, and we might add, a lot of ruin that such a failing nation can inflict on its way down. We can’t afford to keep ignoring China’s threat in the hopes that it will collapse on its own.
Then there’s Iran, a state still in existence only because of its third largest oil reserves, and Western weakness––most notably Barack Obama’s and some Nato allies’ disastrous “nuclear deal” that has in effect given Iran a clear path to possessing nuclear weapons, and billions in funds for financing not just that effort, but the regime’s aggression throughout the region–– including training and arming jihadist terrorists with American blood on their hands.
Yet the current administration continues to beg Iran to rejoin the deal, even as the mullahs have allied Iran with Russia and China, selling oil at a discount to China, and sending missiles and drones to help conquer the same Ukraine we are spending billions to defend.
So our two nuclear-armed international rivals, and a third likely to join both soon, are creating dangerous facts on the ground while the leftist Dems distract themselves with pronoun etiquette and other “woke” hobby-horses. Worse for our prestige and deterrent power, they are hounding an ex-president with four specious indictments obviously meant to weaken and distract the most potent political rival of the current failing president, as well as protect Biden from the consequences of his crime-family’s influence-peddling and bribe-fishing.
Our feckless foreign policies, then, are on a trajectory that could lead to a global conflict for which we are not preparing, or even taking seriously. But equally dangerous are culture-war fads that reject science, common sense, and reality itself. The fringe pseudo-scientific belief that biological sex is not as determinative of a child or young person’s identity as are his subjective, transient feelings and neuroses, has generated policies destructive not just to the person subjected to puberty-blockers, hormone treatments, and grotesque, disfiguring surgeries, but to the integrity of the family as an institution critical to our success as a people.
We’ve seen this assault on the family played out in schools subjecting children as young as kindergarten to unsuitable sexual and identity content without parents’ knowledge, let alone permission. And horribile dictu, recently a Maryland district court denied parents’ right to question curricula and “opt out” their children from exposure to it. In an astonishing act of judicial hubris, the court proclaimed that “the plaintiffs’ asserted due process right to direct their children’s upbringing by opting out of a public-school curriculum that conflicts with their religious views is not a fundamental right.”
The fact is, limiting the authority of the family and the parents’ right to be the premier authority for raising their own children, has long been a tactic of totalitarian states that concentrate and monopolize power. It’s no coincidence that Barack Obama, who promised the “fundamental transformation” of the United States, tripled “transgender surgeries” between 2016 and 2019, in part a result of state and federal laws requiring that “transgender care” be covered by health-care providers.
Following that totalitarian playbook, the “woke” Dems are weaponizing children in order to undermine the traditional mores and rights of parenthood. The family is the most important building-block of the larger society, a source of beliefs, principles, and moral authority that challenges the centralized, intrusive power and authority of the state.
Indeed, as the commentator “Tail Gunner Joe” wrote recently, communism mobilized children to help destroy the regime’s enemies. Mao Zedong during the 1966 Cultural Revolution “infamously used university students, and other younger children, as foot soldiers to carry out mass beatings and destroy important cultural and historical institutions.” Similarly, “In Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, children were also enlisted as foot soldiers, prison guards, and executors of public shaming of non-compliant adults. The weaponization of children and adolescents is a marked feature of left-wing movements across the globe.”
So it’s no surprise that the “woke” target school curricula, and with the help of the FBI and DOJ, harass and interfere with parents’ rights to raise their children according to their own religious and ethical principles: “The American Left has ensured that children occupy an increasingly active role in our country’s political and culture wars. Childhood no longer exists outside the realm of conflicts between adults. If anything, children are now being told that they must take center stage as the voice of moral righteousness on the most controversial issues of the day.”
Weaponizing children makes sense. Particularly in the modern West, children freed from the hard realities of existence more typical of history and the non-Western world, develop outlandish expectations, making them vulnerable to proselytizing activists. Most children and adolescents are by nature narcissists and drama queens who think histrionic emotion is more important than facts, coherent arguments, and reality’s limits to gratifying their utopian obsessions. That’s why they need good parents help them mature and put away childish things.
The “woke” war on the family in pursuit of radical changes in sex identities and biological fact is a harbinger of disasters to come. Like locusts, such bizarre and preposterous ideas, and the looming global war we are neglecting, eventually will devour our constitutional order and the unalienable rights and freedoms it has bestowed upon us.