The Corner

Orson Scott Card and the Decline of the West

Orson Scott Card is one of the greatest living sci-fi writers, who is also a very tough-minded political commentator. He’s a real Southerner, as you can see from this strongly written essay praising Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard speech decrying the cowardice of Western intellectuals.

The Card essay is one of many predicting the downfall of the West, above all America. His critique of the intellectual elites is certainly sound, as far as it goes. His fears about the consequences of an Obama victory are widely shared and certainly legitimate. But I’ve heard this lament for a long time, and back when I was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, several of the greatest scholars of that long-ago era pointed out that there has always been an important group of American intellectuals who hated America, and who wanted it to be more like Europe. For them, American exceptionalism has always been bad news. And yet…

And yet here we are, the strongest country on earth. And I am constantly reminded that before the exploits of The Greatest Generation there was another, at least equally clear, collapse of will and vision in the West. America did not want to get involved in a European War in the late thirties and early forties. The draft passed the House by a single vote. Our Navy was destroyed, and we really had no army or air force. Nowadays people look back and declare FDR a great warrior, but it was certainly hard to see in the summer and autumn of 1941, when the majority of the people and most of the leading intellectuals were isolationists. And what would have happened if the Fuhrer had not declared war on us after Pearl Harbor?

So you never know. Free societies have unexpected strengths at moments of crisis.


Michael LedeenMichael Ledeen is an American historian, philosopher, foreign-policy analyst, and writer. He is a former consultant to the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense. ...


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