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Victor Davis Hanson
Life with the Vandals « Back to Story

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B. Samuel Daveis wrote: "[California is] a land where there will be three classes - the vast poor, those party leaders at the top along with a favored few among the wealthy, and apparatchiks who run the bureaucracy. There is no room for anyone else..."
George Orwell would have neatly summarized those classes respectively as the proles, the Inner Party and the Outer Party. I suspect that in California I would have been vaporized by now.
I live in a rural area in southeastern NC, and the countryside is blighted with every imaginable eyesore--junk cars in yards, abandoned trailer houses, derelict farm houses, miles and miles of litter, etc.

And the terrible truth is that few rural dwellers care about the trashing of their once-pristine environment.

A redneck mentality has taken over, and I am considered to be an elitist because I care about quality of life issues.

We Americans think we're all getting a bargain with illegal labor but we pay in other ways.
Wonder what the Greeks or Romans would have done?

A Slave cannot be helped, or saved.
VDH: You will be gratified to learn that this column has inspired the Discovery Channel to begin producing a new reality series, "Ride Along with the California Vandals."
As I recall my history, the Great Depression commenced in the farm belt about 5-7 years before it hit the cities. That we would allow our greatest agricultural center to disintegrate does not bode well for cities like...LA. Like you, professor, I have forbodings of doom not helped by the likely prospect of a TERM TWO.
And the California legislature aids and abets this continuing travesty in several ways.... laws and related penalties are weak and ineffective; laws allowing the public to arm themselves against this sort of activity are harsh to prohibitive, though I do have it on good authority that Tulare County Sheriff will issue concealed carry permits to his residents, and that California law allows the use of arms to protect property in addition to one's person. Local government entities continually devalue the need for funding to protect life and property, whilst continuing to assign funds to other less critical issues. Were there enough local LEO to do so, or even others deputised to do so, scrap buying firms could be better policed. You cannot convince me that the buyers are innocent of knowingly purchasing stolen material. Random checks of newly arrived inventory and the requred sales records could quickly lead to ending many of these rings operating as they do. Time the people rise up, demand the right to arms, work together, demand access to buyers and their inventory and sellers records, record vehicle number plates when dumping is observed, perhaps even photos, and insist that LEO follow through with consequences.

As to the roadside vendors (excepting those draining waste onto the roadways), I've no issue with them. I have a larger issue with the state raising the bar to starting/running a business prohibitively high, squeezing out all except the big boys and good ol boy networks. How is a man with the desire to do so to feed his family honestly in such conditions? Rather than government getting out of the way to enable entrepreneurs, they seem to spend public money deliberately preventing them from operating. Maybe when the state government has folded completely of its own obesity even the sit down restaurants will be able to function more freely. SO MUCH potential profit is denied because of the tyrannical and overweening regulatioins, licenses, requreiments, prohibitions, etc. Sure, the public needs some protection from thieves, foul food, etc. But the present status quo in California? I had opportunity to return to that state, but learned that, due to their insane regulations, I literally cannot conduct my business with their borders in anything resembling its present form.The additional costs to comply with their insanity are prohibitive. Yet it functions perfectly legally where it is now, in another state. So, instead of getting a larger chunk of the pie with your higher taxes, fees, licenses, permits, they will get nothing from me. And they scratch their heads in wonder at how to "fix" things and restore a healthy economy? Letting the state run out of the money to feed these leeches so they will quit coming to "work" may well be the best thing to happen to California. Those "renegade" independent entrepreneurs seem to have it figured out.... others will catch on as soon as "the man" stops coming round to harrass them to poverty.
My sympathies. It must be awful. We Iowans know we're frequently the butt of Californians' jokes, but this article makes that a heckuva lot easier to bear!
Sounds like the South Bronx in the 70s.
We should salute Victor David Hanson on political correctness elevated to a properly acceptable level. As commenter Bob and others noted below, Hanson’s problems revolve around Mexicans and these guest workers, undocumented visitors or whatever PC term is the current rage are well represented in his part of the state. But us coastal, post-modern (whatever that means) Californians aren’t exempt either; stuff disappears overnight, cars are burglarized, tools carelessly left outside vanish and all manner of landscapers, painters, tree trimmers, etc. roam our neighborhoods while us homeowners are off at work. This unofficial and politically correct illegal immigrant tax is simply another burden Californians must pay but, unfortunately, a tax you can’t deduct on your annual 1040.

Everyone who lives here knows what the problem is and who is responsible for these mass disappearances but, like Mr. Hanson, no one is supposed to get into specifics. There’s a lot of money to be made in roofing repair, mowing, weeding, housecleaning, fruit picking and car washing. Since Americans won’t do these jobs, or so we’ve been told, someone has to do pick up the slack and reap the rewards. Sidelines like petty theft are to be expected – it’s an expensive state to live in after all. But pretending unnamed persons, perhaps even extraterrestrial aliens, are responsible seems politically correct to an excessive degree and totally unnecessary. Nothing is going to change here in California, so why the coyness?
B. Samuel Davis, I agree with your concerns.

I'm a fourth-generation Californian and thought about fleeing the state for much greener pastures. However, I plan to stay and fight.

Unfortunately, most Conservatives nationally have written off California as a lost cause. It isn't, but liberating it will not be easy.

Because California represents such a large fraction of the U.S. GDP, it is in the national interest to organize nationally to re-take California and liberate it from its flawed leadership.
Ah, the memories!

I grew up in the exciting part of California between Bakersfield and Fresno during the late 1970s. Your stories are eerily familiar to my experiences then.

In a complete coincidence, Jerry Brown was Governor then too!
Neil McCarthy - Of course theft of copper should be a concern, in fact a major concern. What is your recommendation? Just because there are concerns to be addressed at the macro level then everything else should be forgotten about?
Victor, welcome to the Democratic vision of America.

I have sympathy for you but you need to understand that there is a method in this madness you are facing. In other words, you are being driven away in a purposeful manner, the goal is remove those who oppose the new Democratic vision for California - a land where there will be three classes - the vast poor, those party leaders at the top along with a favored few among the wealthy, and apparatchiks who run the bureaucracy. There is no room for anyone else, and if you don't like it then just try to fight it. They will count on you simply leaving. After all, you are vastly outnumbered, and in this country the elections are winner take all.

This isn't just the Democratic vision for California, it's the vision for America. Get used to it because the Democrats have been busy - and successful - incorporating party and state. Thus, among many many examples, you have tax money coming from public unions filling party coffers; tax money funneled to non-profits which in partnership with the party act as the on the ground troops of the party in the new America. These are two examples among many.

I hate to say it Victor but you have lost the war even as you are fighting these battles - those opposing the Democratic takeover have already lost in California, and are losing most other places as well. Democratic control over the most of the media has resulted in conditioning of enough people to win the next election which will ensure a compliant Supreme Court. The America you knew is going going and will soon be gone.

As another example, Democratic control over immigration has ensured a flood of people into the country who do not have a stake in the traditions that the people already here had adhered to. The control over the media ensured that those traditions were misrepresented. So there is no longer enough people left to tell those coming in what their traditions should be.

Don't believe it? Ask yourself, why did Democrats fail to enact immigration reform the two years they had full control over Congress? The answer is simple - Democrats needed to preserve this as a dispute issue. Same with abortion - Democrats could have enacted statutory protections for abortion but figured why resolve abortion when it is so useful when the only 'protection' for abortion on demand is the thin line of Roe v. Wade?

Once Obama is re-elected Democrats will simply continue incorporating state and party until they can simply mop up those in opposition.

Paranoia and cynicism? Then explain what's going on - why people accept Democrats even as their communities are criminalized and beggered, and their families ruined, and gangs making life impossible. How could all this have happened? How could we have allowed it to happen?
A clarion call by an eminent patriot.
This story is NOT about litter, or about parking tickets, or about someone stealing copper piping.

In my quiet, racially-mixed, middle class neighborhood in New Jersey, a local builder bought a large property from a family whose father had died. The builder demolished the old house and, in a short time, began the construction of a much larger, much more expensive house with an elaborately landscaped yard - the entire labor force, from laborers to carpenters and electricians, was Mexican.

As the building progressed, the immediate neighborhood began to experience crimes that had never before been a problem - car vandalism, theft of car radios, gps's left in cars overnight, mail stolen out of mailboxes, break-ins when owners were not at home - appliances stolen from kitchens and garages and living rooms. There was even a push-in robbery where an old woman was knocked over by two Mexicans who grabbed her purse from her kitchen counter and fled back out her back door. We had never had anything more serious than a couple of kids throwing firecrackers before this in the neighborhood.

A few of us went to the construction supervisor and basically told him that if his Mexican crew showed up at the site one more day, the house would be burned to the ground the same day that it was finished.

The Mexicans never came back. An American crew was brought in the next day to complete construction. The house was finished. The local crime wave stopped literally overnight.

I spoke to two newspapers, one local, one statewide, about this incident (minus the arson threat, of course). Neither one would touch the story.
Dr. Francis Stocker September 24, 2012 at 8:20 AM
Depressing. Most of us who have lived in urban areas have had personal experience with the decline of neighborhoods in S. California. In parts of Detroit, the police department has officially abandoned some neighborhoods. In many other municipalities, public safety is minimal.
It is well not to confront the criminals. The state cannot afford the trauma care much less the criminal justice and prison system.
This is a repeat of an old post on Hanson's own blog. What is remarkable about it is that he does not once mention that the barbarians who afflict all this upon him are Mexican immigrants.

He is not alone in this. No one wants to mention that our urban problems are due to the black and brown underclass. They have destroyed Detroit and Newark and are destroying Baltimore, Chicago and many other cities. The underclass is our main problem, far surpassing and other. We have to find some way to integrate them into the mainstream economy and society. To civilize them as it were. Instead, we merely bribe them with welfare and hope they will go away. Fat chance.
You should move to my street in Odenton, Maryland -- our biggest issue right now is a neighbor's dog that barks too much.
I wonder if Mr. Hanson has supported the local tax levies necessary to pay for police enforcement that would not have to be "entrepreneurial."
Yes,one option might be to move. There are likely to be some great deals available for farm and ranch land here in Texas along the Rio Grande.
Only time will tell if Jerry Brown will sign the bill making us a sanctuary State. Why in the world would ANY state oppress the law-abiding citizens while pandering to lawless foreign nationals who are desecrating the landscape, and bankrupting the state with their welfare demands? Are the politicians setting up for a Mexico-like hell hole, to be paid off by drug cartels? "I am undocumented, and I'm not afraid." Of course not you bimbo, no one is going to deport you. Get me out of here.

Mexifornia indeed.
Typically Dr. Hanson's pieces are an intellectual treat, but I respectfully must say that "Life with the Vandals" is not one of his better endeavors. His subject is well worthy of mention. However, perhaps he was short on time, for his execution is lacking his usual brilliance.

He wrote, "... so all prior benefaction has been erased from our collective memory." What, pray tell, is a collective memory? Cultural history, I suppose, is what he intended, but I shudder every time I see the word "collective." Material objects logically can be collected, even pooled and shared. Minds and their contents, past, present, and future, are the products of individual thought.

Given Dr. Hanson's vivid description of the trash abandoned, illegal entrepreneurialship, illegal squatting, rentals, and "like it or lump it" state attitude toward law and order, how could this possibly remind Dr. Hanson of the natural wilderness his pioneer greatgrandmonther found upon her arrival?

One can but assume all of his woes are the byproducts of illegal migration, condoned and encouraged by his state, and our current federal Big Daddy government. Why not make that clear? Isn't the first step in curing a disease, the correct diagnosis of its pathology, or pathologies?
Earlier this year, my son received a speeding ticket while driving through rural central CA. A few weeks later, when he appeared for his court date at the small county seat courthouse, there was one other driver who'd been ticketed for speeding. The rest of the room was full of people who had been charged with driving without a license. All were speaking Spanish among themselves.

Before hearing from the accused, the judge made an announcement, which was duly translated into Spanish for those present. "I have also forgotten my wallet and license on occasion," he said, "so anyone here who has been charged with driving without a license can reschedule their court date for later this week, if they come back with their license. I will take that into consideration when you return."

Now here's the interesting part. Not ONE of the people took the judge up on his offer, because, as my son was to hear later, as he waited his turn, not one of the defendants had a drivers license. Of the two dozen or more ticketed drivers in that small county courtroom on that one day, not a single person had a drivers license. In fact, as my son was leaving the courthouse, he saw several of the defendants get in their cars and drive away.
At Neil McCarthy - a debased currency is all the more reason to be concerned over the theft of copper!
Let me get this straight...

...our economy is spiraling out of control. the U.S. Dollar is debased on a minute by minute basis...

and you see the theft of your copper as 'concern'?

wake up.

Very Truly Yours,

Neil McCarthy (@nilesmc on twitter)
A painful read: Mr. Hanson, a master writer and historian protecting his property and cannot rely on his local police. With your vast following, perhaps a posse can be formed from amongst neighbors and your readers nation/world wide and take charge of your homestead.
I live in the San Joaquin Valley and have met VDH. He is absolutely reliable and is telling the truth. Is this a slow descent into anarchy? He forgot to add the $400 Red Light fines for stopping too soon or even turning right on a red light. If you don't come to a complete stop if you inch up to get a better look you can get a $400 ticket.
there was a similar problem in Athens County
Ohio. pressure by citizens on city council
members and county commissioners and changes
in the laws plus enforcement by judges has
gotten after a problem similar to yours.

Involve the public health people. children
in school have units on litter.

Good Luck.
Please forgive the typos. I am writing, sleepy and w/o my specs! INFURIATING! -LT
Don't worry. The Mexican drug gangs will pay off the state's debt and pension liabilities once all the anglos have fled.
Victor Davis Hanson: Your article is heartbreaking and enfuriatin. Preservation of the true past, heroic and flawwed, is critical to the course of civilization. We must know what our ancestors valued and what drove them. It was "freedom," yes. But that freedom was invested in growth, not consumption. My new book is based upon oral history and personal witness. It took 15 years to polish and vet, and was not set down for profit, only as legacy. Please visit It is a Twentieth Century Saga. I wrote it for you and for our progeny.
When the Jews turned their backs on God, they were chastised with Nebuchadnezzer's invasion and expatriation of the survivors.

With advent of liberalization galore into these United States since JFK's presidency of 1963 (3 6's backwards, get it?), highlighted as it was by his drug abuse, fornications and adulteries, and, aptly, named Came-a-lot (isn't satan interesting?) and the ensuing almost complete undoing of civilization, is it any wonder the inherent chaos in the drug cultah is now at our doors?

And, gosh, it only took over 54 million abortions of the most innocent life to be found on the planet in unholy sacrifice to the intellectual destitution of our nation (soon to be a 3rd world also ran with a debilitated currency) for God to inflict His favorite punishment upon our liberal, luxurious, drug addled nation.

And that abortion part all bound up in the Islamic 5th columnist currently standing in as president, who is accused by Newsweek (May 21 cover article) as being gay, is the foremost ultra leftist proponent of abortion, seeking to contradict even (especially?) Catholic constraints against such violations of the Hippocratic Oath, and who is quite obviously dedicated to doing everything he can to destroy the nation and calling all who stand in opposition "racist."

Well, I don't recall any African nation producing a culture as noble or intellectually progressive as western Europe. Any stealth craft being produced in Africa? So, is there indeed an inherent racial difference which actually (shock! gasp!) goes a little bit beyond the mere tone of the skin?

Naaaa, I'm smoking crack, aren't I?
"Minority Bolshevism" is killing America.
Google it.
Here two more expanded versions of this article: and
As a native California, and retired law enforcement, I find this appalling. Where is the outrage at the government level? Where is the illustrious Jerry Brown? While I never enjoyed living in the great central valley - Manteca, Ceres, Sacramento - I was proud of the hard working ranchers and farmers that provided the harvest to the world. This is shameful!
Move to town, Hanson!
And those yoyo cops pay is outrageous and their retirement benefits off the walls. They claim a dangerous life but it is statistically more dangerous to be a farmer than to be a cop. Aren't unions wonderful.
Another trend we have started right here in California. If the borders are not secured soon, the rest of nation will so follow CA's lead, and the Democrats are just the party to usher in the future in quick fashion. As the left has slowly destroyed the middle class by effectively outlawing manufacturing, and ruining the educational system, the worker class has left for TX, UT, and AZ. The lawless culture has quickly filled the void.
please don't dinosaur out......either move or arm up.

here in backwoods kentucky we would never let a neighbors house or property be ripped off by scavengers from the urban areas.

EVERYBODY has at least one gun, most more. And a dog or two (not vicious, just to wake the owner up)

Please relocate before some punk deprives all of us of your otherwise wise commentary.

I love short well-written articles, especially about the effects of regulation and cop corruption.
So that is what life would be like with minimal law and economic depression.
Most esteemed enforcers of the law are just treading water til they can collect their pensions. That's why they need to ticket those who can pay, for their pensions that is.
I couldn't help but chuckle when I read this article.

Yesterday, while in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a city with one of the highest violent crime rates in the state, I was verbally abused by a a policeman (with an 'attitude') because I threw a cigarette butt down a storm sewer.

If I didn't 'pick-up something' as a substitute for my unreachable butt, he threatened me a $300 fine for littering.

Case closed.
I live in upstate NY in a small rural area and I see the beginning of the same kind of corruption, crime that Dr. Hanson describes here. Empty store fronts downtown, rising property taxes with no end in sight. Home invasions are now a part of the local news. Drug gangs are common and the places where they sell the drugs well known,except to the police I guess. This is Obama's vision of America, a down graded, lesser country. His motive is a mystery to most and after 60 + years I now find myself fearing the future for the first time in my life. Very, very depressing.
Sadly, the phrase "anarcho-tyranny" perfectly describes the world where we in the Central Valley reside. Tyranny is imposed on the citizens with the means to pay for frivolous transgressions of ever more rules, while anarchy prevails in areas where the police are outgunned or don't want to bother going. When I go to work, I see police hiding their cars and motorcycles from the road just so they can write a ticket to someone who has the means to pay it. They dare not go into crime areas for fear someone will not be nice to them. I haven't gotten a ticket in decades, but when I see them, I just sneer and laugh at them. So far I haven't been ticketed for that. Not yet