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What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump's election, and the "yellow vests" protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and the stunning recent Australian re-election of conservatives?

Put simply, the middle classes are revolting against Western managerial elites. The latter group includes professional politicians, entrenched bureaucrats, condescending academics, corporate phonies and propagandistic journalists.

What are the popular gripes against them?

  1. Illegal immigration and open borders have led to chaos. Lax immigration policies have taxed social services and fueled multicultural identity politics, often to the benefit of boutique leftist political agendas.
  2. Globalization enriched the cosmopolitan elites who found worldwide markets for their various services. New global markets and commerce meant Western nations outsourced, offshored and ignored their own industries and manufacturing (or anything dependent on muscular labor that could be replaced by cheaper workers abroad).
  3. Unelected bureaucrats multiplied and vastly increased their power over private citizens. The targeted middle classes lacked the resources to fight back against the royal armies of tenured regulators, planners, auditors, inspectors and adjustors who could not be fired and were never accountable.
  4. The new global media reached billions and indoctrinated rather than reported.
  5. Academia became politicized as a shrill agent of cultural transformation rather than focusing on education--while charging more for less learning.
  6. Utopian social planning increased housing, energy and transportation costs.

One common gripe framed all these diverse issues: The wealthy had the means and influence not to be bothered by higher taxes and fees or to avoid them altogether. Not so much the middle classes, who lacked the clout of the virtue-signaling rich and the romance of the distant poor.

Elites never suffered the firsthand consequences of their own ideological fiats.

Green policies were aimed at raising fees on and restricting the use of carbon-based fuels. But proposed green belt-tightening among hoi polloi was not matched by a cutback in second and third homes, overseas vacations, luxury cars, private jets and high-tech appurtenances.

In education, government directives and academic hectoring about admissions quotas and ideological indoctrination likewise targeted the middle classes but not the elite. The micromanagers of Western public schools and universities often preferred private academies and rigorous traditional training for their own children. Elites relied on old-boy networks to get their kids into colleges. Diversity administrators multiplied at universities while indebted students borrowed more money to pay for them.

In matters of immigration, the story was much the same. Western elites encouraged the migration of indigent, unskilled and often poorly educated foreign nationals who would ensure that government social programs--and the power of the elites themselves--grew. The champions of open borders made sure that such influxes did not materially affect their own neighborhoods, schools and privileged way of life.

Elites masked their hypocrisy by virtue-signaling their disdain for the supposedly xenophobic, racist or nativist middle classes. Yet the non-elite have experienced firsthand the impact on social programs, schools and safety from sudden, massive and often illegal immigration from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

As for trade, few still believe in "free" trade when it remains so unfair. Why didn't elites extend to China their same tough-love lectures about global warming, or about breaking the rules of trade, copyrights and patents?

The middle classes became nauseated by the constant elite trashing of their culture, history and traditions, including the tearing down of statues, the Trotskyizing of past heroes, the renaming of public buildings and streets, and, for some, the tired and empty whining about "white privilege."

If Western nations were really so bad and so flawed at their founding, why were millions of non-Westerners risking their lives to reach Western soil?

In the next few years, expect more grassroots demands for the restoration of the value of citizenship. There will be fewer middle-class apologies for patriotism and nationalism. The non-elite will become angrier about illegal immigration, demanding a return to the idea of measured, meritocratic, diverse and legal immigration.

Because elites have no answers to popular furor, the anger directed at them will only increase until they give up--or finally succeed in their grand agenda of a non-democratic, all-powerful Orwellian state.


Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Editorial on 06/13/2019

Print Headline: The natives are restless


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  • dph815
    June 13, 2019 at 6:40 a.m.

    Absolutely everything Victor Davis Hansen said in this article---I completely agree with.

    Our system has worked out wonderfully for the elites---in business, government, entertainment, communications, education, you name it while packing the burden on the backs of the middle class. This is happening not only in the U.S. but all across the western world and the folks caught in the middle are sick of it.

  • bolt72116
    June 13, 2019 at 7:51 a.m.

    No desirable resolution to these issues can be found by following Trump along the path to Fascism, which clothes itself in paternalistic nationalism but sells its citizens into the slavery of authoritarianism.

  • BuffaloGirl
    June 13, 2019 at 7:54 a.m.

    All true.

  • Morebeer
    June 13, 2019 at 8:50 a.m.

    Interesting that Hanson’s assessment of elites, especially corporate outsourcing and tax breaks, dovetails neatly with the policy speech given by Bernie Sanders on Wednesday.

  • JakeTidmore
    June 13, 2019 at 9:13 a.m.

    Before you start joining the Chicken Little Brigade, just remember that this is just Hanson speculating and doing it with his own agenda and twists. He offers no evidence that what he opines has any basis in facts. He just theorizes sans proof to an audience eager to accept his ponderances as proven wisdom when they are not proven and probably suspect in their wisdom as well.
    This piece is nothing but straw. Its foundation is based on beliefs and faith, not facts and reason. Did you even once stop to verify Hanson's assertions? No. Did you invite healthy skepticism in the door to check for proof? No.
    Did he snag you with the button word "elite"? Yes.
    Are there simple answers in today's world? Beware of those who say yes and offer you an answer that fails to even question itself.

  • mozarky2
    June 13, 2019 at 9:24 a.m.

    RBolt, you have a decent command of the English language, but a paucity of actual intelligence.
    You may recall that the fascist Third Reich slaughtered 6 million Jews, and that the anti-Semitism of today is the sole property of the democrat party; an identity that they wear with pride.

  • mozarky2
    June 13, 2019 at 9:28 a.m.

    jake, would you, or any other of you "progs", care to disprove anything Hanson writes about in this column? Didn't think so.
    Neither of you "progs" would make a pimple on Hanson's posterior.

  • bolt72116
    June 13, 2019 at 9:29 a.m.

    I believe, morebeer, that many intelligent people from the left and right recognize some of the same bad actors. Unfortunately, we are so polarized by other disagreements that many deride as betrayals any bipartisan cooperation against common foes. The common foes know they must keep us busy, so they distract, lie, pander, antagonize, preach, parade, masquerade, invade, and everything else they can think of in order to keep us paralyzed by our drummed-up disgust with one another. This is working out quite well for that disgusting [insert common foe here], whom we all know deserves to be [insert appropriate remedy here] but we won't because [insert stupid diversion here]. Hooray. At least we will go down knowing the other side is, too.

  • bolt72116
    June 13, 2019 at 9:43 a.m.

    I have all the weak attempts at insult, right-wing fantasies, and cub reporter's cut-and-pastes I need, mozarky2, but Trump says he is in the market, especially if you speak English with a Russian accent.

  • Packman
    June 13, 2019 at 9:47 a.m.

    Hanson nailed it. Us Normals will take a lot of sh*t from the ruling class so long as their virtue-signaling doesn’t get too out of hand. We enjoy freedom and liberty and generally just want to be left alone. But when elite do-gooders flying around in private jets and owning five homes scattered around the world start talking down to us for driving a full-size SUV, we will play the bullsh*t card. Same goes for the highly “educated” elites telling us how dumb we are for not wanting to pay off someone else’s college loans or how mean we are for caring about babies in the womb. Us Normals are kind of like a sleeping bear. Poke us lightly a time or two and we might not even bat an eye. But poke us long and hard with a sharp stick, and someone’s going to get their feelings hurt.