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‘A Therapeutic Society’
American Ajax: Victor Davis Hansen on Patton and Savior Generals
© 2020 James LaFond
Two Hoover Institute talks, one at Hillsboro College and the other at a Barnes & Nobles book store, viewed on youtube 8/18/20
I watched five additional lectures by Victor Davis Hansen and was so impressed with his command of historical material that I even sat for his WWII material, which is excellent, standard narrative, laced with emotion, as he lost relatives in that war. An advocate of radical democracy after the Athenian and American model, the eminent professor stands at the pinnacle of cuckold historicism and does so with a strident tone befitting the generation of humans who he declares benefitted from the inferno of WWII so totally that they have become the morally weakest people on earth, something he reflects in shamdemic and Post-Floydian podcast interviews.
No one explains modern industrial war better than Hansen.
No one understands generalship better than Hansen.
His theory of savior generals is an exploration of what I call the Taboo Man, men hated and feared by the political leaders they serve and alienated either through eccentricity, class or a sense of the heroic, from the demos that Hansen worships alongside these hero generals he also lauds. The irony of Hansen’s work is that while believing in democracy to a fatalistic and not fanatic degree, he continues to point out how it can only be saved by that which it hates, a man who would have been king in another setting.
He points out that most great generals are this very alienated character, so many that he could have done an encyclopedia on them, but chose five, the last being an unfortunately recent entry from the Iraq construction project. His best picks for alienated taboo man who saves the society that hates him and then generally turns on him are:
-Themosticles of Athens 400s B.C.
-Belesarius of Byzantium 500s A.D.
[He might well have chosen Aetius of the previous century]
-William Tecumseh Sherman of the American Civil War, who goes down in history as a fiend for killing a few hundred poor southerners and burning elite mansions while his boss, Grant, who got a hundred thousand poor eastern men killed while killing 30,000 non-slave-owning poor southern men in Virginia, is somehow a hero. Hansen points out that Sherman won that war while Grant alone would have lost it, and that Sherman did so by maneuver with farmer volunteers while Grant used slave soldiers conscripted into the meat-grinder. But Sherman had no political ambition, so this confirmed his taboo status.
-George S. Patton is the subject of his very own book and lectures and is the best example of a genius of ancient heroic type literally shunned by his entire military class, until reluctantly promoted to command to save massive amounts of military loss, and then is eagerly demoted as soon as hostilities end.
While Hansen is crippled in perspective by his “boomer in the sun” worldview, to the point where he could never conceptualize these men as morally superior to the human cattle they save from their various deeply deserved dooms, he is an expert at the mechanics of war, from the economic, psychological to biomechanical aspects of martial conflict. His most telling insight is got from Patton who named the American Society “therapeutic” and he knew exactly what he was talking about. Hansen seems to regard this psychologically maimed demos, which is utterly incapable of survival without barbaric and heroic war leaders occasionally showing up to save the day, as anything other than the natural condition of the holy demos, the slobbering herd of mediocrity in heavenly ascent. And it may be so, though I harbor other ideas.
Victor Davis Hansen would be an excellent choice for upload into a generation ship’s mainframe to serve as an oracle for the orphans launched at a distant star.
Thanks, Bob, for showing me these videos.
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roo_ster     Jan 16, 2021

I agree with your take on VDH. He will never come to my view on the nature of the US gov't and the society which it has deformed. He seems oddly blind relative to the insightful nature of his observations of generals and wars gone by. He prose is almost as pleasing to read as the late John Keegan's, who was as blind to his and our country's foibles.
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