The Capitol insurrection: Our Altamont moment

If you are looking for terms to describe America in our own age—not simply the age of Trump, but also of Iraq and Afghanistan, Amazon and Google, Fox News and Facebook, Antifa and Proud Boys, epic government dysfunction and the havoc wreaked by COVID-19—egotism, hype, ineptitude, and greed provide a good place to start.

After 9/11 and the costly military disappointments that ensued, why should anyone be surprised at the inability of the Capitol Police to secure the building that moist-eyed members of the media have suddenly christened the “people’s house”? Incompetence combined with hyperbole are twin signatures of our times.

The Great Insurrection of 2021 rings down the curtain on the post-Cold War era: that is what this event signifies. The mirage of American global preeminence, nursed in official circles since the fall of the Berlin Wall, has now become untenable. Once tantamount to a civil religion, American Exceptionalism has devolved into little more than an excuse for ignoring facts and evading responsibility—like the organizers at Altamont hiring Hell’s Angels to serve as an improvised concert security force.