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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, from your eternally genial host John Derbyshire, on the road this week in pursuit of intellectal nourishment at the Mencken Club conference in vibrant Baltimore, Maryland.
This close to the general election I find myself sunk in fatalism as to the result. I shall therefore be passing very little commentary on the events of the past few days pertaining to the contest.
Instead I shall take some soundings on our society and culture at large, and the state of the world. This will be the Radio Derb equivalent of what opinion journalists call a thumb-sucking piece, decorated towards the end with some voices from the Mencken conference.
02 — Conservatism's rule of three. In last week's podcast I indulged myself in a short riff on conservatism — conservative politics versus the conservative temperament. That's not really much of a versus, of course; conservative politics arises naturally from discussions among persons of a conservative temperament … mostly.
For the zone of exception, where it doesn't, I mentioned healthcare. Sure: The conservative preference, a private-sector model, works some of the time. Pay $20 for a flu shot; buy an insurance policy against some serious illnesses. That works.
Some of us, though, are born needing medical care; others may need it for decades, especially towards the end of life. There is no private-sector model for those circumstances. It's a government function.
One of my political heroes was the great British conservative Enoch Powell — the man who, in 1968, sounded the alarm over mass Third World immigration into Britain. Powell's party was out of government at that time; but in the early 1960s, when they were in government, he served as Health Secretary, in charge of Britain's nationalized, single-payer healthcare system.
Powell was as conservative as it is possible to be: a strong nationalist, passionate in the defense of free enterprise, and also of strict limits on public expenditure. His attitude to the health service was Derbish, though. Quote from the excellent biography by Simon Heffer, quote: "For all the emphasis Powell had already put on free markets and limiting the role of the state, he regarded the [National Health Service] as an essential social service and not as an economic good." End quote. I'll stand with Enoch Powell on this.
Leaving that issue aside for another day, we've had some musings on the past and future of conservatism in the pages of the New York Times this past few days.
Ross Douthat was first up with a column titled What the Right's Intellectuals Did Wrong in the October 26th edition. So what'd they do wrong, Ross?
Very short answer, in three parts:
These three failures brought about the result that, quote from Douthat:
So it is that today, three generations after Buckley and Burnham, the academy and the mass media are arguably more hostile to conservative ideas than ever, and the courts and the bureaucracy are trending in a similar direction.
Two days later, October 28th, David Brooks took up the issue — the issue, that is, of what went wrong with the conservative movement that Bill Buckley and James Burnham launched. This column was headlined The Conservative Intellectual Crisis.
So what does David Brooks tell us? Again, he fingers three causes of the crisis. We're really in the realm of Threeness here. I refer interested listeners to the last segment of my October Diary here at VDARE.com for more explorations of that realm.
That's David Brooks' three-part diagnosis.
If you got a whiff of snobbery in all that, especially from Brooks' piece, your sense of smell is working just fine. What a shame that the genteel, cultured salons of the intellectual Right got invaded by tobacco-chewing hillbillies with mud on their boots!
I hear you; but that's not my main problem with Douthat and Brooks. I don't mind intellectual elites, and I don't in fact believe you can have rational politics without them. I just don't think the elites we actually have right now are any good.
The liberal elites are in fact terrible: dishonest, corrupt, and in thrall to magical superstitions about human nature and society. The conservative elites Douthat and Brooks are writing about are not that bad, but they need seriously to revise some of their premises.
Buckleyite conservatism was a stool with three legs. See, I can do the threes business with the best of them. Here are my three, the three legs of intellectual American conservatism in the last half of the 20th century.
None of those three things is any longer the case. The Cold War is a whole generation in the past. Religious devotion among educated Americans is fast draining away, for reasons I explained at length in Chapter Eight of We Are Doomed. And in one more generation, give or take a year or two, white Europeans will be a minority in the U.S.A., and quite possibly in large parts of Europe itself, too.
America's conservative intellectuals have not made the necessary adjustments. That's what accounts for their irrelevance and impotence.
They have, I'll allow, acknowledged the end of the Cold War. They're in denial, though, about the weakening of Christianity in our hedonistic welfare state. As for what a much earlier American writer called "The Rising Tide of Color," conservative intellectuals like Douthat and Brooks are terrified to speak about it because they have internalized the social taboos about race talk imposed by the liberal establishment.
With no more Cold War as a unifying principle, no more consensus on the centrality of religious faith to their program, and no courage to stand up to the race bullies, our conservative intellectuals are reduced to ineffectual arm-flapping, leaving citizens of a conservative temperament with nowhere to turn but to populism. And so, that's where we turn.
Unless, of course, ineffectual arm-flapping is your thing; in which case I recommend the efforts of Ross Douthat and David Brooks.
03 — Liberalism now to the left of Marxism. Since I've started out here surveying the landscape of political intellectualism, why don't I have a glance at the other side? How is the intellectual Left doing?
Well, in the matter of sheer power they are of course doing very well indeed. They've captured all the commanding heights of our civilization: the universities and schools, the churches, the media, government bureaucracies, the courts, the big corporations …
Cultural Marxism is triumphant everywhere. Refuse to bake a cake in celebration of a homosexual coupling, see what happens to you.
And just this week a professor at New York University who had criticized the sissified totalitarianism of the college campus — safe spaces, trigger warnings, and the rest — was forced to go on paid leave. The Cultural Marxists are in total control.
It's not all roses and sunshine on the Left, though. There are what old-line Marxists would call contradictions, and even some stirrings of discontent.
Take for example that NYU professor who's been suspended, name of Michael Rectenwald. The twist here is that Prof Rectenwald is a Marxist: not a Cultural Marxist, an actual old-style modes-of-production, class struggle, workers-of-the-world Marxist. Sample quote from him, quote:
My contention is that trigger warning[s], safe spaces and bias hot-line reporting is not politically correct. It is insane … The crazier and crazier that this left gets … the more the Alt Right is going to be laughing their asses off …
End quote. In the words of the excellent Australian blogger who calls himself Oz Conservative, quote from him:
For uttering these thought crimes Rectenwald found himself being condemned not by "The Workers' Collective Against the Running Lap Dogs of Imperialism" but by a similar sort of committee calling itself the "Liberal Studies Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group."
End quote. As Oz Conservative also points out, what we see here is that modern liberalism is now to the left of orthodox Marxism. Liberals, like that working group at NYU, are having to devote some energy to purging the Marxists who dwell on their right.
This disgust that an academic Marxist feels towards the CultMarx campus commissars has a parallel in the world of actual American politics. Old-school Democrats, friends of the working man and his labor unions, enemies of heartless big corporations and bankers, are less than happy with the people running today's Democratic Party.
This unhappiness found eloquent expression on Monday this week in the U.S. edition of the Guardian, Britain's main CultMarx propaganda outlet.
The writer here was veteran lefty commentator Thomas Frank, who had a bestseller back in the 2004 election cycle with his book What's the Matter with Kansas? In that book he wondered aloud why American working people in places like Kansas were voting for the Republican Party, which mirrored their personal and social values, rather than the Democratic Party, which — according to Frank — represented their true economic interests.
Well, here was this old lefty on Monday in the Guardian with a scathing piece on the Wikileaks emails; precisely, on those leaked from the email account of John Podesta, Mrs Clinton's campaign manager.
Podesta's emails, says Frank, offer, quote, "a window into the soul of the Democratic party and into the dreams and thoughts of the class to whom the party answers," end quote.
Peering in through that window he sees a smug, wealthy elite of bankers, Silicon Valley billionaires, consultants, tame academics, and executives of nonprofit foundations awash with loose cash. They all know each other; they all vacation at Martha's Vineyard, the Hamptons, or Malibu; they get each other jobs for their kids and grants for the academics; they hand out favors in return for donations.
Says Thomas Frank, quote:
Yes, it's all supposed to be a meritocracy. But if you aren't part of this happy, prosperous in-group — if you don't have John Podesta's email address — you're out.
If Frank wasn't such a die-hard old lefty, I'd say we have a Trump voter right there. At some level, he gets it. He sees what we Trump voters are seeing, and is just as digusted by it as we are.
Come aboard, Mr Frank — help us drain the swamp!
04 — Familiarity breeds conflict. To return for a moment to Enoch Powell: How are things going in Europe with that mass Third World immigration Powell warned about in such alarmist phrases 48 years ago?
Let's see. In Powell's own Britain, the current talking point is a report out of Open Democracy, a left-liberal think-tank, about racial segregation in Britain. Sample headline: Call for action to tackle growing ethnic segregation across UK.
The segregation, which is of course voluntary, is massive. Muslims want to live among Muslims, blacks want to live among blacks, and white British people don't want to live among either.
White flight has been dramatic. In last week's podcast I mentioned my uncle Fred, who lived in the Aston district of Birmingham until he died last year. When I stayed there with them in my childhood sixty years ago, there was nobody in Aston but working-class white English people, with a few Irish Catholics for variety. This new report lists Aston as still 45 percent white in 1991. In 2011, twenty years later, it was down to 14 percent white.
The London borough of Newham, where I bought my first house in 1970, was 34 percent white in 2001. Ten years later it was half that, 17 percent. In the Northern town of Blackburn, billed as one of the the most segregated towns in Britain, one newspaper reporter found a butcher who declared he had never served a white person in the entire year he's been in business.
Not that there is no contact at all across the race lines. Every couple of years there is another news story about Muslim men raping and prostituting white British teenage girls: "grooming" is the newspaper euphemism. Quote from one such story, the men in this case being Somalis, quote:
Several of the girls … believed the sexual abuse was part of loving relationships they were having with the defendants, and that having sex with their "boyfriend's" friends was part of their "culture and tradition."
End quote. Multiculturalism, you see?
In short, a complete failure of integration and assimilation, just as Enoch Powell predicted.
The authors of the report recommend unspecified measures to encourage white Britons to stay put when minorities colonize a district. The rationale here is presumably Contact Theory, which says that prejudice arises from isolation and ignorance, and that when people get to know each other prejudice melts away.
Contact Theory was launched by American psychologist Gordon Allport back in 1954. Subsequent events, and indeed subsequent research in the human sciences, have shredded it. We now know that familiarity mostly breeds not harmony and understanding but rancor and conflict.
Crossing the English Channel we find ourselves in France, whose capital city, once a favorite with tourists for its elegance, beauty, and civilized life, is now a dogpit of warring African and Middle Eastern street gangs.
It got worse this week after French authorities demolished a huge camp of illegal aliens near Calais. A big group of the illegals headed for Paris, where they got into running street battles with illegals from Afghanistan and Eritrea already camped there, right there in the streets of Paris. Sample quote from the British press, November 2nd, quote:
A mass brawl broke out as migrants in Paris attacked each other with sticks — hours after authorities moved in to smash up an illegal city centre camp. Pictures show men lunging at each other with makeshift clubs last night next to a row of tents in the Stalingrad district of the French capital.
Over to Germany. Another quote from the London newspapers, also November 2nd, quote:
During the first six months of 2016, migrants committed 142,500 crimes, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office.
End quote. German police say they are losing control of the streets to the foreign invaders. In Leipzig a ten-year-old girl was raped by an illegal. In the town of Bautzen, in the far east of Germany, there are regular street battles between local Germans and illegals.
Up to Denmark, which has its own report on white flight. That nation now has 31 ghettos, says the government, defined as areas with more than 50 percent minority residents.
Across to Sweden, where police are struggling to cope with a massive crime wave caused by immigrants. There are now 52 areas where police officers can't cope with the levels of crime being committed, according to the government. Arson against automobiles is especially popular. The city of Västerås, in central Sweden, population 110,000 has seen 88 cars set alight so far this year. Sweden's police forces are seeing mass resignations of officers.
And so on. This is the great catastrophe of our time: The willed self-destruction of Western civilization by nations that have disarmed themselves before the enemy, disarmed themselves with sentimentality and guilt and crazy economic fantasies.
We all thought the Third World War would be fought between Russia and the West, in mighty tank battles on the plains of Eastern Europe; or else between China and the U.S.A. in the Western Pacific, with carrier groups and submarines chasing each other around the sea and marines storming up the beaches of tropical islands.
No: This is World War Three, the First World vs. the Third World. To date, the First World is losing. Losing? It's barely even fighting.
05 — Familiarity breeds conflict. Our core issue here at VDARE.com is immigration. A related topic, obviously, is e-migration. We don't write about that much because it's not a big issue for the U.S.A. Elsewhere in the Western world, though, it's a big issue, and getting bigger.
One aspect of the emigration issue arises from all that multicultural mayhem and dispossession in European countries. There is now significant white flight not just from regions within those countries that have been colonized by the Third World invaders, but from the countries themselves.
For example: The broadsheet German newspaper Die Welt reports that more than 1.5 million Germans, many of them highly educated, left Germany during the past decade.
I took that from an October 20th report out of the Gatestone Institute, an international policy think tank. Headline on the report: Germans Leaving Germany "in Droves".
Where are they going? Many head to European countries further east, countries that used to be behind the Iron Curtain — countries where resistance to the Third World invasion is stiffer, and the German language is widely understood.
Hungary is popular. Around Lake Balaton, a lovely scenic area in western Hungary, property prices are soaring as German purchasers pour in.
The old British settler nations are still favored, too, although interest in the U.S.A. and Canada will likely decline as Europeans dwindle to minorities in these countries. Australia's still a good bet: This week the Australian Prime Minister proposed a lifetime ban on re-entry by illegals who've been deported.
The Gatestone report quotes a letter written by a German lady named Anna to the Mayor of Munich, explaining why her family is moving out of that city. Anna's sentiments will return an echo from bosoms all over the Western world. Quote:
My husband sometimes says he has the feeling that we are now the largest minority with no lobby. For each group there is an institution, a location, a public interest, but for us, a heterosexual married couple with two children, not unemployed, neither handicapped nor Islamic, for people like us there is no longer any interest.
Here's another emigration topic: the brain drain from Russia.
A couple of weeks ago on the podcast I recycled the old diplomats' quip that Russia is never as strong as she looks, and Russia is never as weak as she looks. I added, though, that on the economic and military indicators, Russia sure looks weak right now, notwithstanding Putin's military blustering.
For more on this, I refer you to Alex Alexiev's November 2nd column at American Thinker. His main thesis is that, to quote him precisely, "Russia has entered a period of prolonged decline that will take many years to reverse even if it could be stopped soon, which is unlikely."
Alexiev walks us through the many depressing aspects of Russian decline. Private enterprise, for example, is in retreat. When Putin came to power 17 years ago, 70 percent of the economy was in private hands — much of it acquired corruptly, to be sure, but at least free from the inefficiencies of the command economy. Now the figure is fifty percent.
Russia's military, as I said two weeks ago, is in a sorry state, under-resourced and technologically more and more behind not only the West but also China. The state simply has no money for the improvements that badly need doing.
Russia's demographics are not as dire as they looked in the 1990s, and improving them has been a major interest of Putin's. The fertility rate is still way below replacement level, though. Overall life expectancy is 71, lower than Bangladesh, Egypt, or Guatemala; but there's a huge gender gap there. For Russian males, life expectancy at birth is 65, down there with the Africans.
Putin's government masks the demographic problems by advertising the good numbers for im-migration; but if you look closely it's immigration of ethnic Russians from the old Soviet republics, now independent: from Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Once settled back in the Motherland, these ethnic Russians drink themselves to death and fail to breed just like the others.
And meanwhile there are high levels of e-migration, especially of skilled and educated people who can easily find work elsewhere. Alexiev gives the number 330,000 for this year.
Russia's hovering on the edge of being a failed state. The treasury's empty, the military is rusting, the talented people are leaving, and there is not one single darn thing in your house that says Made in Russia.
This is a sad thing, and not only for sentimental Russophiles like me. It's also a dangerous thing. Remember the second half of the quip: Russia is never as weak as she looks. National collapse can get awfully messy, and the mess doesn't necessarily respect national borders or norms of international behavior.
Russia's a great nation that has made major contributions to Western civilization: to the arts, to music, to science and math, to technology. We should be offering them a helping hand to get themselves back on their feet, to enlist them as allies in the fight to preserve that civilization. The kind of belligerent bluster we hear from Mrs Clinton sure doesn't help.
06 — The past rewritten. Why is Russia in such bad shape, though? The short answer is: 75 years of communism. That can't be the whole story. China's had 67 years of communism, and still has it, but they're doing a lot better than Russia.
Those decades of communism can't have helped, though. Communism was a terrible destructive force, with an appalling human toll.
That's beyond dispute. It's also beyond the understanding of today's American college students. An admirable outfit named the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation released a report in October on American attitudes to communism and socialism. It makes depressing reading, especially those parts dealing with knowledge and opinions among millennials — that's people born from the early 1980s to the mid 1990s.
Sample: Of those millennials familiar with Vladimir Lenin, 25 percent have a favorable view of him.
Sample: Approximately one in four Americans and one in three millennials believe more people were killed under George W. Bush than under Joseph Stalin.
And so on.
Here's a question I like to try out on the younger generation. By the number of premature deaths, what was the greatest single non-military catastrophe of the 20th century? The answer is the Mao Tse-tung famine that struck China in the years 1959-62, with a death toll variously estimated in the range 20 to 40 million. The famine was caused directly by Chinese communist state policies. I wonder how many millennials know that.
I wonder how many of them know about the great Ukrainian famine, the Holodomor, of the early 1930s, likewise a direct consequence of communist state power, in this case Stalin's. How many know about the Katyn Forest massacre in 1940? The autogenocide carried out in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge? The murderous "land reform" campaigns of Mao and Ho Chi Minh? The ongoing nightmare of North Korea?
Or how about the brutal suppression of the Hungarian uprising, whose 60th anniversary was being celebrated this very week?
And still they want communism. These kids at one of our premier universities sure do. Quote:
Communist protesters at the University of California, Berkeley staged a demonstration Wednesday railing against the "capitalist system" and "American imperialism" by encouraging students to stomp the American flag alongside them.
Note my emphasis there, not in the original: "frequented by communist academics and students alike". There are credentialed academics, learned people with impressive strings of letters after their names, who subscribe to this homicidal dreck.
And oh — did you know? — the American Communist Party is backing Mrs Clinton's candidacy. Mrs Clinton has of course loudly repudiated their support when challenged about it by interviewers. Oh, wait …
In related news, here's a chap named Duke Pesta, currently an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Every year at the beginning of the school year Prof Pesta gives quizzes to his students to test their knowledge on basic facts about American history and Western culture.
He declares that students overwhelmingly believe that slavery was a phenomenon exclusive to the United States. Quote from him: "Most of my students could not tell me anything meaningful about slavery outside of America," end quote. It goes without saying that they know nothing about the history of communism, either.
These are the fruits of decades of utterly corrupted education, the corruption seeping down from our universities, to the schools of education, to the high schools and elementary schools.
We now have a whole generation raised with a radically false view of the past. History has been rewritten, and the rewritten version prevails. The triumph of Cultural Marxism could not be more plain; nor could the ineffectuality of the conservatism that Ross Douthat and David Brooks are waxing nostalgic over.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Have we reached and possibly passed Peak White Guilt?
The latest offering from Hollywood in the White Guilt Porn movie genre has been Birth of a Nation, about the Nat Turner slave uprising in 1831 Virginia.
The movie is of course targeted at guilty white liberals. Nobody expects blacks to turn out in numbers to watch a historical movie, even one about blacks. The last time I myself attended a White Guilt Porn movie I noted in my review that only two of the 36 people in the audience were black; although admittedly that was a weekday afternoon screening.
So the news that Birth of a Nation is bombing at the box office may signal a real decline in white guilt. The firm that purchased distribution rights for the thing may have lost as much as ten million dollars.
So perhaps white people's appetite for portrayals of rich, arrogant, cold-hearted white people insulting and oppressing heroic, soulful blacks is at last sated. We can hope.
Item: If whiteness is the number one target of the CultMarx revolutionaries, maleness is number two.
For the war against white people we have the catchphrase "white privilege." Something similar is needed for the assault on maleness, and here it is: "toxic masculinity."
I learned this from the College Fix website, November 2nd, an article headlined: TRENDING: Universities work to purge male students of their "toxic" masculinity. Sample text, quote:
At a mandatory freshmen orientation training at Gettysburg College in August, male students had to watch a documentary which stated in part that the "three most destructive words" a boy can hear growing up [are] "be a man." The freshmen also went through breakout sessions in which they were told mass shooting sprees are rooted in toxic masculinity.
There is a point in there somewhere, although it's not the one the PC commissars are trying to make. Masculinity is indeed slightly toxic. Men don't live as long as women, and one of the culprits is testosterone, which weakens the body's resistance, and causes it to age more rapidly. Women live longer than normal men; so do eunuchs. This all follows from biology's First Law of Sexual Reproduction: sperm is cheap, eggs are expensive.
Taking humanity as a whole, though, and this current Presidential contest in particular, I think Rudyard Kipling got it right: "The female of the species is more deadly than the male."
Item: Having been rude about the goings-on in our institutions of higher education, I feel a duty to report such glimmers of sanity as I see in the college news.
So here's a glimmer. This is from Kansas State University. Thomas Frank asked "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Not much, to judge from this newsletter out of the University's Office of General Counsel. That's "counsel" spelled "-sel," so this is the university's lawyers speaking.
The lawyers take a firm stand in defense of free speech on campus, and against the exaggerated sensitivities of Generation Snowflake. "As a general rule, there is no right to not be offended," they say, arguing that, further quote, "if the government started shutting down speech that is offensive to some, it would end up shutting down all speech, because virtually everything can be offensive to some."
They go even further, quote:
Controversial speech and robust debate are expected and valued on college campuses and in our society … offensive speech and unpopular viewpoints are what need legal protection the most …
End quote. It's a bright sunny day in America when we hear sound good sense from lawyers.
Item: I have to apologize for getting listeners' hopes up. Last week I introduced you to the anti-establishment Pirate Party, which I told you had a shot at winning last Saturday's election in Iceland.
Sad to say, the Pirate Party fell badly short, winning only 15 percent of the vote. That's up from five percent just three years ago, but nothing like enough to form a government, so Iceland's political establishment remains unscathed.
Seeking a ray of light in the Arctic darkness up there, I will note that the result was a big fat poke in the eye to the pollsters. That's the third such poke in a year and a half. The polls mis-predicted both the U.K. general election in 2015 and the Brexit vote this June, to take Britain out of the EU.
So pollsters are far from being infallible. That could work either way next Tuesday, but take what comfort in it you can between now and then.
08 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, but don't hang up on me yet.
As I said at the beginning, I am at the Mencken Club conference in Baltimore. I'm just going to take a walk out among the attendees to see if I can get some voice snippets for you. Here we go.
Paul, I wonder if I could just ask you: It seems to me that this is a bigger turnout than usual at Mencken. Do you have anything to say about that, anything to attribute that to?
Paul Gottfried: It could be that Professor Payne is here to lecture us tomorrow … I think there's probably many factors at work. I know my wife worked very hard putting this meeting together; but I think we established momentum in some of our earlier meetings, and we've just gone on from there. And I'm delighted to see that we have all the same people coming back, and they've brought other people with them.
So I think it's been a cumulative development, and I hope it continues to grow next year. This year we actually had to turn people away because we were limited, because of fire regulations, to ninety attendees. Next year perhaps we can perhaps meet in a more capacious auditorium …
Me: A football stadium?
Paul Gottfried: A football stadium, or the site of a Trump rally. We'll see what we can do.
Me: Thank you very much, Professor Gottfried.
Here I have Peter Brimelow of VDARE.com. Hello, Peter.
Peter Brimelow: Hello, John.
Me: I wonder if you could just tell us what you hope for, and fear for, from next week; and perhaps just give some words to VDARE.com readers and listeners as we approach this hinge of our national destiny.
Peter Brimelow: Well, the most important thing is that we're going to be here. We're going to continue, regardless of whatever happens. We're in it for the duration. I think it's not impossible that Trump could win in a landslide. It doesn't look like Hillary is going to win in a landslide. I guess she could win. Who Knows?
Me: Who knows? Thank you very much, Peter.
Peter Brimelow: Thank you, John.
I have Jared Taylor here. We've just stepped out from the banqueting hall. Jared, I wonder if I could ask you about your hopes and/or fears for the result of the election next week.
Jared Taylor: I have a very important prediction to make.
Jared Taylor: Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be our next President.
Me: Good gracious! Thank you very much, Jared.
Jared Taylor: My pleasure.
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