Victor Davis Hanson: Building the New Dark-Age Mind

History is not static and it does not progress linearly. There was more free speech and unimpeded expression in 5th-century Athens than in Western Europe between 1934-45, or in Eastern Europe during 1946-1989.

An American could speak his mind more freely in 1970 than now. Many in the United States had naively believed that the Enlightenment, the U.S. Constitution, and over two centuries of American customs and traditions had guaranteed that Americans could always take for granted free speech and unfettered inquiry.

That is an ahistorical assumption. The wish to silence, censor, and impede thought is just as strong a human emotion as the desire for free expression — especially when censorship is cloaked in rhetoric about fairness, equality, justice, and all the other euphemisms for not allowing the free promulgation of ideas…

  • bob e

    good post frau

  • Hard Little Machine

    It’s a myth to believe that universities have even seen themselves as thought leaders for the last hundred years. They’ve been followers, grabbing on to social and intellectual trends at will. Thought is fashion to them. They didn’t put Obama in office – in fact they barely voted for him no matter how many signs they drew up. They’re reflective of a wider culture that they latch on to for the same reasons that cereal companies use hip hop to sell cereal or why car companies use fat feminine soft squishy neck beards to sell car buying apps. Mattress Girl didn’t think of that on her own. She saw an art exhibit somewhere not on campus and thought she could exploit it. Universities didn’t invent feminism or gay rights or Marxist liberation twaddle. They were injected INTO them.

    We’ve been talking about the Closing of the American Mind since Bloom since published it in 1987 but the Closing has been going on for a century before that. Romantic Moderate Liberals like Jacques Barzun was writing about this, obliquely for decades before it became au courrant. I believe that as an insider. Dr Hanson points to its acceleration. A massive acceleration where not only is a singular thought a singular point of view promoted but in the style of the Inquisition or Mao’s Cultural Revolution, people are compelled to deny their their minds and condemn themselves if they don’t parrot the groupthink. That’s what’s different. First they laugh at you, THEN they pack you off to the concentration camps.