Index > Briefing
Sunday, January 10, 2021
The Defects of American Civilization and the American Sickness
Chan Kung

The Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., has particularly shocked American society. While some have commented that this incident could affect American society for decades (Moore), Vice President Mike Pence and some politicians have called for the world to see "the amazing resilience of American democracy", and they certainly hope that it will pass as soon as possible, as if it had never happened. However, this incident will not be so easily forgotten by people.

The memory will live on forever. As seen in the footage, the Capitol rioters waved their flags and stormed the Capitol just as Bolshevik Red Guards forces stormed the Winter Palace in Moscow in 1917. The police officers guarding the last gate were unable to resist and escape from the mob's onslaught, screaming hopelessly as they were crushed and trampled by the mob, dozens of whom were injured and one died.

The American politicians who were entrusted with the responsibility, showed no signs of their courage, they scurried, scattered, and panicked like refugees under the eyes of the world. Instead, it was their young assistants, who had not forgotten their responsibility to protect the documents and the votes. The American political community, both Democrats and Republicans, did not show the courage, cohesion, and, above all, integrity and rationality that one would expect and that they used to claim for themselves.

At the same time, a video from the Trump family was released, in which they can be seen enjoying the live television coverage of the riots at the Capitol, while rejoicing and holding up their mobile phones to shoot videos pouring out their victory speeches and celebrating their victories. It will not be forgotten that Senator Josh Hawley entered the Capitol facing the mob with clenched fists raised; nor will it be forgotten that just minutes before the mob stormed the Capitol, Senator Ted Cruz was making incendiary speeches and insisting on a nonsensical dissent to Joe Biden's election, despite the helpless attempts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stop him.

The course of this incident is actually very simple and very clear.

After the election, encouraged and called upon by the unhappy Donald Trump, more than 10,000 people from all over the United States rioted in the Capitol for four hours, creating a stain on the history of the United States. They spent several days trolling online, and gathering in Washington by all means of transport, this was so blatant yet the Congress and the Capitol Police were unaware. Donald Trump even incited the crowd that morning, calling on the American people to do what Osama bin Laden had failed to do, i.e., to destroy the values of democracy and the rule of law that more than a million Americans in uniform have defended with their blood and lives throughout history.

It's a comprehensive institutional failure, and America is sick.

With this incident, one has to ask: Who elected such a president in 2016? Who is advocating a pay cut for America's police officers that encourages violence in the streets in disguise? Is there no one who cares about the consensus and rationality in the bipartisan politics of the United States, where the only thing that matters is each other's political interests? Is the rallying point of American politics the personal attacks that go on and on? Why do so many people believe in online rumors? How many American politicians do not stand for their personal interests, but go on to preach for justice, rationality, and the national interest? Do America's Congressmen work for rationality, i.e., the morality, the law, and democracy that they espoused in their speeches, or do they work for their personal political interests?

There are many more questions to ask. However, at a crucial moment on January 6, they are all answered.

What is America's sickness? It is that no one in this country cares about the overall interests of the American, no one cares about rational social values, and everyone is absolutely egoistic, who only looks out for one's own interests and the positions of one's partners. What we saw at this critical moment on January 6 was that they had no sense of responsibility, no courage, no stand, no sense of justice, no wisdom, no ability, and no charisma to work for America for all Americans. All they had was a highly shrunken and refined sense of interest. Nowadays in American politics, those human qualities that we grew up knowing and being encouraged have become so scarce that only a flawless saint could possess.

Alas, there are no saints in the Congress, or even a truly representative elite.

The elderly Joe Biden was clearly shocked by the Capitol riot, as he called the rioting at the Capitol an "insurrection," before going on to link the riot to the BLM movement, blaming the police and others for their political attitudes. Most Republicans in Congress have until now been reluctant to convict Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, with even some senators insisting he has learned from this "pretty big lesson". Many of them accepted Trump's so-called "statement of condemnation" afterward, standing on the moral ruins of Congress, ignoring the video recordings of him and his family rejoicing and reveling in the storming of Congress.

We are not talking about one or two people. We are talking about the performance of 588 members of Congress and perhaps many more American political activists on the day of January 6. Needless to say, their performance, as a whole, was disappointingly out of step with the spirit that has coalesced throughout American history and those famous public moral pursuits.

Political elites are out of place in the United States, and they do not have a substantial position of influence in American society today. In today's United States, political leaders such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, James Polk, Martin Luther King, and Andrew Jackson would have been. Today's American political community is populated by a large number of Ivy League law schools' graduates, they are intelligent, pragmatic, and personally ambitious "political peddlers", who haggle over political agendas by using data and technological tools, but mainly to seize political opportunities. The American educational tradition has equipped them with almost all professional abilities. The only thing they do not have is thought, faith, courage, honesty, sense of justice, critical thinking, and sense of judgment that political leaders must possess.

There are only politicians in the United States today, but the country has no political leaders. The so-called Ivy League education should bear certain responsibilities. It has trained a large number of scientists, is famous for its STEM education, and has created many engineering miracles. They have sent people to the moon and are on their way to Mars, but they seem to forget that the spirit of humanity is more important. Technology can allow humans to work more efficiently, but in the colonial United States in the 17th to 18th centuries, there was also such a pursuit. Slave owners also required slaves to master certain technology to work more efficiently. This is obviously not because of ethics, justice, etc., but only because of the needs of work.

Today's Ivy League education in the United States has not escaped the influence of colonialism at the educational framework level. Compared with 200 years ago, it has only cultivated a new generation of more efficient digitalized slaves. They can grasp the data, are familiar with equations, understand mathematical models, and can write code proficiently. They can work more efficiently, but they are also more marketable, more selfish, and indifferent to various public agendas and challenges. As it stands, they are even worse than the slaves who worked tirelessly to fight for their freedom more than a century ago. They are more concerned about their own life, being egoists who lack lofty ambitions and goals, without concerning on being righteous. Indeed, the current American Ivy League education actually discourages them from doing so.

It has been 245 years since the United States achieved independence in 1776, yet rationally it still depends on Europe. Among the ten philosophers known to have influenced the world, apart from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in ancient Greece, none among Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hegel, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Locke came from the United States; they all came from Europe. At a critical moment in history, the political leaders that "Americans' America" can rely on are either from the military, such as Dwight Eisenhower; or almost self-taught, such as Harry Truman who ended World War II; or from a non-Ivy League school, such as Ronald Reagan who ended the Cold War. Today's American Ivy League education system has not contributed many outstanding leaders to "Americans' America". On the contrary, they have obtained the greatest amount of educational resources and high-quality talents from American society.

Mathematics is certainly important, but the philosophy and social sciences respected by Europeans are even more crucial because it is the basis of fundamental rationality; they are the source of judgment and courage at critical moments. Indeed, they are a ruler to measure everything. On January 6, when the leaders of the major countries in the Western world saw the jaw-dropping scene happened in the Capitol, while expressing their concerns, they were also warning, educating, and guiding American politicians on how to do their job well. This is by no means a sign of the success of Ivy League education and American politics.

The United States of present and future lacks mainstream influence and appeal, and the Ivy League education system has not emerged from the shadow of ideological colony. The widespread existence of irrationality makes the country increasingly a desert of thought. It is not an exaggeration that people living in the United States begin to fear "Americans". If American laws and police forces cannot even protect the Capitol, then who else can be expected to protect ordinary Americans and their families? People have reason to worry that the United States will gradually become a terrifying mob nation, even if its achievements in mathematics and engineering technology continue to be enviable.

If American civilization is to continue in the future, there must be a group of people who are willing to look beyond ethnicity, religion, class, and skin color. They must think and act for the overall interests of the "Americans' America". Unless this is done, there is no hope for the United States.


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