Small flags of USA and China next to each other on a world map representing bilateral relations.
Small flags of USA and China next to each other on a world map representing bilateral relations.

Xi Van Fleet, a Sage for Turning Around a Troubled America

Originally published at Townhall

Outsiders often have more and better insights on societies and countries than native people. Such was the case with Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman who traveled widely through America during 1831 and 1832. 

His observations, published in 1835 in Democracy in America, have proven so profound and timelessly relevant that this book remains a classic, providing insight and lessons of that time that are still relevant—especially what is required of us to preserve and pass on the free society that we have inherited. 

However, the America of today is markedly different than it was at the time of Tocqueville’s writing. Our downward spiral in the last two generations suggests a need for a new “outsider” sage to help us: first, to understand how we arrived at our present state of disorder,  dysfunction, division, and diminished standards (the four Ds); and second, to provide us deeper insight about how our values, norms, and social relationships essential for advancement and progress for all Americans can be recovered. 

That new sage is Xi Van Fleet, who describes herself as “Chinese by birth; American by choice, survivor of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, defender of liberty.” Having lived through and witnessed the horrors of Mao’s Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, Van Fleet believes that history is being repeated here in America today. 

It is difficult for Americans to see the extent of communist infiltration in their country for several reasons. First, the process has happened slowly as a “long march through the institutions.”  Second, Americans suffer from a “normalcy bias” –a state of mind that projects the norms of the past onto the present and future. Third,  Americans are optimists and tend to deny problems that they cannot grasp or readily fix. 

Van Fleet reminds us that cancel culture, which Americans have grown accustomed to in the last four or five years is one of the core elements of the Marxist cultural revolution. Mao’s “cancel culture” that turned China upside down and tore Chinese society and families apart operated under “Destroying the Olds”—which included old ideas, old traditions, old customs, and old habits. 

The specifics of all that—now in the cancellation crosshairs in America and parallel to the Chinese “Olds”—reveal why cancellation and replacement are not just a feature of communism, but an essential driver of totalitarianism. Here’s how this is all rapidly progressing in America:

-Individualism is being cancelled and replaced by collectivism and group rights and group identity. 

-Unalienable constitutional rights are being cancelled and replaced by politicized and arbitrary government rule. 

-Equality of opportunities is being replaced by equality of outcome. 

-Rule of law is being cancelled and replaced by mob rule and lawlessness.

-Free market capitalism is being replaced by ESG and stake holder capitalism, which are steppingstones to socialism and communism. 

-Nationalism and sovereign states are being replaced by globalism. 

-Diversity and independent thought are being replaced by conformity. 

-Equal justice for all is being replaced by unequal and customized justice, like racial, environmental, and social justice. 

-Freedom of expression is being replaced by censorship and political correctness. 

-Parental rights are being cancelled and overridden by state control of children—seen in vaccination and transgender policies. 

-Common sense is being cancelled and replaced by political narratives and ideology.

In her recent best-selling book, Mao’s America: A Survivor’s Warning, Van Fleet states that “Marxism and communism’s infiltration in America is complete.”  She says that the condition of the U.S. military showcases the “most compelling place to see this infiltration,”  citing the experience of Space Force Lt. Colonel Mathew Lohmeier. 

During his military command, Lohmeier saw the harm that Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Diversity training was doing in the military. He blew the whistle and ended up being discharged from duty after his 2021 book,  Marxism’s Goal of Conquest and the Unmaking of the American Military, documented how CRT and diversity training was demoralizing and dividing the military by denigrating the U.S. as a white supremacist nation. 

Van Fleet’s sage advice on turning around America includes the reminder that we cannot depend on any one leader. Even if Trump wins the presidency and patriots gain in numbers in both the House and Senate and the Supreme Court retains its conservative majority, it does not mean that the infiltration of cultural Marxism will simply disappear. 

Because politics is downstream from culture, we must think of our mission to save America as a long march back through our institutions. Van Fleet stresses  the importance of schools, and electing school boards and hiring teachers who understand the importance of reversing indoctrination and inculcating an appreciation of American heritage that considers the good and bad with a focus on what has contributed to American progress and well-being. 

Just as people change their behavior from a life-threatening accident or disease, more Americans need to do likewise after this brush with the death of our republic from internal and external enemies. It can start with a simple sacrifice of more of our time for constructive participation in associations that are clearly part of the solution.

When we give back to others, we draw closer to our founding principles—that all people are created equal in value and have rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’re also likely to rediscover that these ideas first expressed in 1776 in the Declaration of Independence remain as powerful today as they were then. 

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.