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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your paschally genial host John Derbyshire, here to offer some observations on the week's news from a Dissident Right viewpoint.
In this week's podcast I attend a lecture, chronicle some cuckery, draw some elegant literary analogies, and take side trips to Arizona, China, and 1958. I close with a flourish of theological and philosophical apothegms, and some music by Richard Wagner.
If that doesn't leave you thoroughly sated, I shall have to start adding recipes.
02 — The war on citizenship. Eye-opener of the week for me was a talk I attended in New York City, given by political scientist Hans von Spakovsky. The talk was organized by CIS, the Center for Immigration Studies, who are a Washington D.C.-based outfit, but who do a couple of events a year in New York.
Von Spakovsky toils in the vineyards of what we on the Dissident Right refer to dismissively as "Conservatism, Inc." He held minor executive-branch positions in the George W. Bush administration. He's currently a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, an organization that shall dwell for ever in the odium of having fired young researcher Jason Richwine at the behest of CultMarx ideological enforcers. Von Spakovsky also writes for National Review, a different organization but likewise not best known for firmness of spine in standing up to progressive witch-hunters.
I therefore took my seat at the von Spakovsky lecture bearing low expectations and a large glass of Cabernet Sauvignon to aid in falling asleep, should my senses be dulled to somnolence by bland neoconnery.
To my pleasant surprise, von Spakovsky's talk was coherent, engaging, revealing, and thought-provoking. The title of it was, "How noncitizen voting threatens our democracy." That's what the man spoke about for forty-five minutes, with examples, statistics, and some colorful anecdotes.
Bottom line: This is a real problem, one we don't pay half enough attention to. Some jottings at random from my notes.
1. California, encouraged by the Obama administration, gives drivers licenses to illegal aliens. That's bad enough. Worse is this: When acquiring a license, the applicant is automatically registered to vote, unless he specifically asks not to be. Close to a million illegals have been given licenses since the motor-voter law came in two years ago.
2. When you get a form from your local County Court asking you to register for jury duty, one of the questions on the form is: "Are you a U.S. citizen?" (As it happens, my wife got this form just the other day; and, yes, the question is right there.) In most jurisdictions, including mine, the address lists for these forms to be sent out to are compiled from the voter registration rolls for the district.
3. Scholarly researches have come up with a figure of 6.4 percent of noncitizens — legal and illegal resident aliens — voting in the 2008 election.
4. Attempts to bring these and related issues to the attention of the Obama Justice Department — issues of voter fraud whose perps could be identified by some easy low-level data mining — were greeted with total lack of interest.
That's just a sample of points from von Spakovsky's talk. He published a book about this in 2012, title Who's Counting? co-written with veteran conservative analyst John Fund. I'm ashamed to say I haven't read the book; although other VDARE.com writers have noticed it. We've written about the efforts of von Spakovsky, Fund, and others to get some order and integrity into our voter-registration processes.
This is supposed to be the age of Big Data, when not a sparrow falls but some government or commercial outlet somewhere can tell you the age, birthplace, color, educational history, marital status, sexual orientation, and purchasing habits of the sparrow. Yet in the matter of voter registration, one of the foundations of our republican institutions, the computer may as well not have been invented.
This is true at the most basic level. A lady known to me moved from her family home in a certain state to live with her husband in a different state. The voter-registration form sent to her family home in the original state continued to show her name. She wrote to the registrar in that state, telling him she was now resident elsewhere, and should be removed from that state's rolls.
Nothing happened. She wrote again; again, nothing. Some years later, despite her efforts to be a good citizen, she is still a registered voter in two states. This, von Spakovsky said, is very common.
Another big take-away from his talk was the ruthless, relentless, unblinking efforts by CultMarx bastions like the ACLU to stamp hard on any suggestion for reform. Local politicians and county officials are terrified to do anything about situations like that of my friend. They know that if they do try to clean up the voter rolls, someone from one of these busybody progressive outfits will show up with a battalion of lawyers in tow and camp out in front of the county courthouse, staffed-up and financed — very well-financed — to litigate the matter to death.
The deep ideological purpose here is quite plain: To erase the distinction between citizens and resident aliens, both legal and illegal.
Cultural Marxists detest the nation-state. The citizen-noncitizen distinction is, to them, Jim Crow. Any effort to restrain noncitizen voting is, in the CultMarx mind, the thin end of a wedge whose thick end is separate drinking fountains for noncitizens.
That ideological purpose is itself just the hard core in a cloud of fluffy anti-nationalism that blankets all of Western society nowadays.
Five years ago I reviewed Steven Pinker's excellent book about the decline of violence. Pinker's an extremely intelligent and mostly sensible fellow, but even he couldn't resist a gratuitous swipe at the concept of a nation-state.
If we are going to preserve our civilization, this default trans-nationalism has to be challenged everywhere it shows itself.
President Trump said back in January that his Justice Department would conduct a major inquiry into voter fraud, presumably including noncitizen voting. Will he actually follow through on that, or will it be swallowed up, like so many of his other promises, in the Big Cuck?
Ah, the Big Cuck! Let's take a look at that.
Donny, we hardly knew ye. Like the Irish soldier who came back from the wars without arms, legs, or eyes, our President has emerged from White House personnel struggles looking very different from the candidate we cheered on to victory last fall.
As Radio Derb went to tape last Friday we were just digesting the news of U.S. cruise missile strikes against an air base in Syria, a nation with whom we had no argument and which had harmed no Americans or American national interests. As I commented last week: "So much for 'America First.'"
The Syria attack generated a lot of good-quality commentary, from every conceivable point of view. A minor industry sprang up, generating theories about what really happened, and why.
I confess my own interest in those theories is at a very low level. Believe whichever one you like. I'm mainly just annoyed about being forced to think about the Middle East and its interminable tribal squabbles, or Mr Putin and his rusting hulk of a country.
Let the buggers kill, cook, and eat each other: I couldn't care less. We have major pressing issues to deal with here in the U.S.A. Let's give them our full attention … please?
Lefty commentators were mostly just crowing about how unhappy we Deplorables are over the attack. "Those racists thought they had put one of their own in the White House! Turns out he's just another neocon Republican-bot. Nyah nyah!" That was the general tone.
Leaving all that aside, and postponing to another time the weird inversion whereby Cultural Marxists are now the War Party, commentators more sympathetic to Trump covered a pretty wide spectrum.
Representative of one end of that spectrum was blogger and Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, who posted on Friday last a seven-point rationale for the action. Bombing Syria, said Adams, scotched the charges that Trump is Putin's puppet; it set the table for talking to China about North Korea; it prompted Iran to be more flexible when talking about their nuclear program; and so on.
At the other end of the spectrum was the blogger we know as Z-man, also posting last Friday. Title of his post: Donald Herbert Walker Trump. That sets us up for an extended parallel between President Trump and the first President Bush. Sample quotes from the Z-man, edited:
The '88 election was a landslide for Bush and a lot of sensible people thought that he would be the finishing touches to the new conservative majority … His famous pledge to never raise taxes was the cornerstone of his pitch … When Bush broke his promise, a year into his presidency, his voters were crushed. Bush was a liar.
End quote. Naturally, I come down on the Z-man's side in this argument. I understand of course that when speaking on the campaign trail, a man is not upon oath. Every presidential candidate I can recall across thirty years has promised that if elected, he will move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. None of those elected has ever done it. We all understand that it's just a pitch for one small voter segment.
There are core issues, though, that define a candidate and inspire tens of millions of us to vote for him. America First nationalism was Trump's core issue. With that gone, he is fatally weakened.
If the President showed some awareness of what he has done to his base, there would be grounds for hope. Instead, he has doubled down on the cuckery.
Syria wasn't a one-off cuck; this was just the biggest, most visible betrayal — just one component of the Big Cuck.
No sooner was the President through bombing Syria, he had a carrier group in motion headed for northeast Asia to do something or other — attack, threaten, intimidate — North Korea, another country with which we have no differences of substance.
On the campaign trail last spring, candidate Trump told us that, precise quote: [Clip: "NATO is obsolete."] That wasn't a misquote, either. The obsolescence of NATO was a regular campaign theme. Here's candidate Trump in July: [Clip: "I said it's obsolete, and it is. It's obsolete."] A few minutes googling turned up two more clips.
Trump wanted us to know that NATO is obsolete. So it is; it became obsolete when the Warsaw Pact was disbanded twenty-six years ago.
Well, those statements are now no longer operational. We have that from the President's own mouth, speaking on Wednesday this week. [Clip: "I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete."]
I wonder what else is "no longer" the case in President Trump's world. Does the Earth still orbit the Sun? Is Bismarck still the capital of North Dakota? Is it still the case that two plus two equals four? Or have we passed over into some postmodern style of presidency, where words are merely an expression of power relations, and Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia?
So NATO stands, and our obligations under the NATO charter are as firm as ever. If Russia invades Estonia, we are at war with Russia.
Eighty-four days in to the Trump Presidency, and we have already gone from "America First" to "Estonia First."
04 — The Flight 93 Election brings us the Tom Wolfe White House. The cuckery is not merely geostrategic, either. On anything to do with the National Question, we Trump voters are being stiffed.
On refugee resettlement, for example. Here's a quote from Ann Corcoran, the indefatigable, indispensable chronicler of this topic, posting on Thursday this week, edited quotes:
It has been 4 weeks since President Trump announced his 120-day "moratorium" on refugee resettlement as part of the court-halted Executive Order. And, for the umpteenth time, I repeat that the President did not have to even announce any "moratorium" or put it in an Executive Order! He has the power to simply stop the processing!
End quote. Also on the National Question, March 30th the President nominated Kevin McAleenan to lead CBP. That's U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security in charge of guarding our nation's borders.
How much of a cuck is that? I'm not sure, not having been able to find much on McAleenan's views and record. There are bad signs, though. ABC News on Friday reported that, quote:
Top Homeland Security officials from not only past Republican administrations but also Barack Obama's administration have signed onto a letter to Congress expressing "enthusiastic support" for President Trump's pick to lead border enforcement.
Uh-oh. Breitbart reports widespread feelings of betrayal among actual Border Patrol agents.
There is economic cuckery, too. Candidate Trump called China a currency manipulator; President Trump, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week, said, quote: "They're not currency manipulators." Candidate Trump blasted Fed chief Janet Yellen as a tool of Barack Obama; President Trump told the Journal, quote: "I like her. I respect her."
It can't be helping that President Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — do you have any idea how hard it is to not pronounce that as "Munchkin"? — Secretary Mnuchin and Director of the President's National Economics Council Gary Cohn have between the two of them an aggregate 44 years employment at Goldman Sachs on their résumés.
So this populist insurgency against transnational elites has its major economic decision-making in the hands of two long-serving alumni of the flagship institution of globalist banking interests.
Whether or not the Z-man is right that we have elected another Poppy Bush, we sure as hell haven't elected another William Jennings Bryan. Quote from him: "The issue of money is a function of the government and … the banks should go out of the governing business," end quote.
On trade, too: It's possible Trump has cucked out on China. I'll deal with that in a later segment.
What on earth is going on? Current speculations center on the President's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner. Both are standard-issue metropolitan liberals, the speculations go. They are serving as a conduit into the Oval Office for metropolitan-liberal views and sensibilities; and the conduit has flooded the damn place.
I don't know if that's true or not. If it is, it brings to mind Charlie Croker, hero of Tom Wolfe's 1998 novel A Man in Full. Charlie's a rough-diamond good ol' boy who's made a fortune in real estate development. His trophy second wife is an urban sophisticate devoted to the New York Times Art and Style sections. Tom Wolfe has much fun with the clash of outlooks there, most notably in the stud farm scene in Chapter 12.
So maybe that's it, with Trump's daughter playing the trophy-wife role. Cherchez la femme is a pretty reliable working principle in human affairs.
The Progressives warned us that if we elected Trump we'd end up in a George Orwell novel. In fact, we may have ended up in one of Tom Wolfe's.
I wouldn't be surprised. Orwell is good for making your flesh creep; but for the realities of life in today's U.S.A., most especially the realities of class, style, and influence, Wolfe is hard to beat.
Or perhaps it's been just inattention and incompetence on the part of the President himself. Michael Anton famously warned us that last year's contest was the Flight 93 Election. Quote from him:
Charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You — or the leader of your party — may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.
End quote. No, there weren't. It was the Flight 93 Election, and our guy made it into the cockpit. Now we find out where he's taking the plane.
05 — Jeff to the border. But … we still have Jeff Sessions.
I'm starting to worry a bit that Radio Derb will succumb to a formula. First you'll get a depressed, angry segment or two on something stupid, crazy, or just wrong that President Trump has done. Then you'll get an upbeat segment on Attorney General Sessions' ongoing efforts to drain the Justice Department swamp and see that the people's laws are firmly but fairly enforced.
I shall try to avoid being that formulaic, I promise. A-G Sessions has certainly been cheering me up, though.
Tuesday this week Sessions was down at the southern border to see the state of affairs there for himself. He made a good stirring speech, promising to hire new immigration judges and firm up immigration enforcement procedures in U.S. Attorney offices nationwide. He spoke angrily about the drug traffickers and other criminals who've been taking advantage of our lackadaisical law enforcement, and promised a new era of serious border protection.
That drove progressives nuts. The New York Times, plaything of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, published a honking editorial on Sessions' visit, sample quote:
Mr. Sessions and the administration are being led by their bleak vision to the dark side of the law. The pieces are falling into place for the indiscriminate "deportation force" that the president promised.
End quote. Mr Slim and his elves at the New York Times apparently don't know that the U.S.A. already has a deportation force, and has had one since the U.S. Border Patrol was founded in 1924. It's called, duh, the U.S. Border Patrol.
Sessions made his speech at the border town of Nogales, Arizona. Congresscritter Raúl Grijalva, who represents Nogales and its county, put out a news release ahead of Sessions' visit saying, inter alia — or perhaps that should be entre otras — quote: "The question is not whether or not [the administration's] policies meet the needs of our borderlands, but rather, will they even bother to learn what those needs actually are? So far, the answer has been a resounding no." End quote.
Rep. Grijalva is a Hispanic supremacist, a former stalwart of the irredentist and anti-white Raza Unida Party — "Raza Unida" means "United Race" — with an F-minus grade on immigration from NumbersUSA. That he represents Nogales is not at all surprising: the U.S. Census bureau listed Nogales as 95 percent Hispanic or Latino in the 2010 census.
As it happens I was in Nogales nine years ago this week. My strongest impression of the place was of fatness. It may very well be the fat capital of America. Concerning what Rep. Grijalva is pleased to call "the needs of our borderlands," to judge by Nogales, the foremost need is some education in healthy eating.
That aside, Nogales is hardly in the U.S.A. at all. You don't see anybody white or black and nobody speaks English.
It was heartening to hear Sessions siccing U.S. attorneys nationwide on the problem of illegals.
I live in Suffolk County, New York, several hundred miles from the southern border. The big story in my county this week was the discovery, in a pleasant little town park fifteen miles from my front door, of the decomposing corpses of four young men, ages 16 to 20, who were murdered and then dumped there sometime in the last few days. Our County Police Commissioner told us that, quote: "They all suffered from significant trauma throughout their body," end quote. That's a cop's way of saying they were tortured to death.
These are killings by the Salvadoran gang MS-13, which is rampant in the area. Last September, in a different park close by, two 16-year-old girls were found dead, likewise tortured. Ten Salvadorans have been arrested and charged with those killings. All are illegal aliens. One of them was deported in 2010 but sneaked back into the country four years later.
Waiting at my town railroad station Tuesday afternoon for a train into Manhattan to hear Hans von Spakovsky speak, I was on the platform there waiting with forty or fifty other travellers, most of them Central Americans chatting in Spanish. On a statistical basis, it's not unlikely there were MS-13 gangbangers among them.
We others, we handful of gringos, hung around in the background exchanging looks that said, pretty plainly: "What the hell happened to my country?"
This was on Long Island, in a county named for an English county, where the towns have old English or Dutch names, twelve hundred miles from the southern border.
Enough of this. It has to stop. That's why we elected you, Mr. President. Let the Syrians, the Russians, and the Koreans go to Hell by any route they choose. This needs fixing. Fix it! … Or we'll start looking for someone that will.
06 — Sessions, Holder, and Orwell. Just a footnote to the above, brought to mind by having mentioned Orwell and then Hans von Spakovsky again.
Von Spakovsky was very good on the shameless determination of Eric Holder's Justice Department to do nothing at all about voter fraud. It's something he knows about: in fact he and John Fund co-wrote another book on exactly this topic, title Obama's Enforcer: Eric Holder's Justice Department, published three years ago.
Watching Jeff Sessions speaking in Nogales the day after I attended that lecture, the contrast between the two Attorneys General jumped out at me.
I don't mean the contrast in political or jurisprudential viewpoints. There's that, of course; but that's just intellectual disagreement. The contrast that struck me was one of deep-ingrained attitudes to the law; and the contrast was, to put it very bluntly, between the Anglo-Saxon attitude — "Anglo-Saxon-Celtic," if you want to be finicky about it — and … other.
George Orwell, in one of his essays about the English character, said the following thing, quote:
The masses still more or less assume that "against the law" is a synonym for "wrong." It is known that the criminal law is harsh and full of anomalies and that litigation is so expensive as always to favour the rich against the poor: but there is a general feeling that the law, such as it is, will be scrupulously administered … An Englishman does not believe in his bones, as a Spanish or Italian peasant does, that the law is simply a racket.
End quote. In another essay, Orwell enlarged on that theme, long quote:
Here one comes upon an all-important English trait: the respect for constitutionalism and legality, the belief in "the law" as something above the State and above the individual, something which is cruel and stupid, of course, but at any rate incorruptible.
End long quote. The first of those essays was written just after WW2 ended and the Brits were feeling exceptionally pleased with themselves; the second was written earlier, during the Blitz.
Still, even discounting for the nationalist buzz that Orwell and his countrymen were enjoying at the time, there is definitely something in what he wrote.
Jeff Sessions represents that older Anglo-Saxon sensibility. Eric Holder represented something quite fundamentally different, something close to what Orwell's "Spanish or Italian peasant" believed: that the law is simply a racket, a way for the powerful to buttress and preserve their power, and to practice spite against categories of people they dislike — in Eric Holder's case, towards non-elite white Americans.
I'm sure the contrast is a real one, but I can't explain why it is so. Eric Holder was born and raised in the U.S.A., which is an Anglo-Saxon creation. His family came from Barbados, which was a British colony for three centuries. On those bases, I guess we can rule out nurture. That leaves us with nature; or at best, nature qualified with lifetime immersion in the postmodern intellectual counterculture.
I'd like to think — there's no way to know, of course, but I do think and believe — that Jeff Sessions, confronted with the kind of evidence of massive voter fraud that Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund sent to the Justice Department, would have acted vigorously to put a stop to it, without any thought for the political consequences for the faction he supported.
"These are our laws — our laws, the people's laws — enacted by the people's representatives according to longstanding customary procedures. They are being mocked, violated, ignored. That has to stop."
That's the sum total of the thoughts that would have gone through the head of a patriotic conservative such as I believe Jeff Sessions to be. It's the law; it needs to be impartially administered; its judgments need to be firmly enforced.
That's it. That's the mindset Orwell identified. You don't find it much outside the Anglosphere. If we lose it, we're no better than Syria or Russia, China or Zimbabwe. In those places the law is just a tool with which the powerful can crush the skulls of their enemies … which was more or less Eric Holder's position.
It was shocking and horrible, during the Obama administration, to see that latter mentality abroad in the U.S.A.
I wish long life and good health to our Attorney General, and many more years of service to our republic.
07 — Squid ink on the China summit. Last week I promised a report on President Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Here's my report.
The one great big thing in the front of Xi Jinping's mind is the 19th Party Congress coming up this fall, a stage-managed affair at which Xi will win another five-year term against no allowed opposition, and will pack even more of his yes-men into the ChiCom apparatus of government.
For this, Xi wants to look good to his people, so they'll accept the results of the Congress without too much grumbling, or any unsightly public protests that would oblige him to put tanks on the streets, or — worst of all — any intraparty factional fights.
Our President obliged, acting the soul of respect and hospitality. From the outside, it was a friendly meeting between men who respect each other.
But what was said between Trump and Xi?
We don't of course know. We have to do the best we can by deciphering what the two parties said about what was said. The indications are: Nothing much.
Here for example, was Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at last Friday's briefing, quote:
So I think we think the restructuring of the dialogue and having specifically a breakout that will address comprehensive economic opportunities across our different agencies both here and within China I think we felt was very productive, very good start in how we're going to structure it, and again, very specific things that we talked about to look forward on making progress in the short term on.
So what Mnuchin said about what was said is some content-free boilerplate observations about what he thinks we think.
I took that quote from Gordon Chang's report in Forbes magazine. Chang points out that there are real live Americans, lots of them, who are being hurt by Chinese trade practices — our steelworkers, for example, put out of their jobs by Chinese dumping. These workers are not likely to be satisfied by some Goldman Sachs alumnus putting out a cloud of squid ink about "restructuring dialogue" and "addressing comprehensive economic opportunities."
There had been stories before last week's meeting that President Trump was about to issue an executive order against the dumping of steel into our markets. There has been no action on that, though; and when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was asked about it at a press conference, he blew out more squid ink.
Bottom line looks to me like: Xi is too preoccupied with his upcoming Congress to bother much about American concerns; Trump is too preoccupied with babies in Syria to push forcefully for the trade changes he campaigned on.
Does that justify Gordon Chang's headline, quote: Did Trump Just Roll Over On China Trade? I don't myself believe it does; but you have to think — or perhaps, as Secretary Mnuchin might say, you have to think you think — more might have been achieved.
In fairness I should declare myself a skeptic, in a general way, on Gordon Chang's pessimism, when I recall that I reviewed his book The Coming Collapse of China … mm, let me see … yes, sixteen years ago.
And while we're thinking about what we think about China, let's never lose sight of what a corrupt, lawless despotism the communists are running over there.
There is a useful update on this in the March issue of Literary Review, where Lucy Popescu, on behalf of PEN — that's P-E-N, the worldwide association of poets, essayists, and novelists — Lucy has an article on the persecution of dissident writers in China and in Chinese-occupied Tibet and Eastern Turkestan.
It's their business, and I have no desire to go to war with the ChiComs. It's good to be reminded, though, that while our President and media are blathering about what an evil, cruel man Bashar al-Assad is, Assad's government prior to the current civil war was far less repressive than China's was, and is, and continues to be.
And that while we are encouraged to obsess about a crazy dictator in North Korea brandishing nukes, China just forty years ago was emerging from Mao Tse-tung's Great Cultural Revolution, an episode of systemic breakdown and collective madness at least as alarming, and also nuclear-armed.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Just a follow-up on Hans von Spakovsky's lecture about voter fraud.
Hans posed the following thought experiment: Imagine if all the lawyering, political activism, and M-O-N-E-Y that goes into deterring and litigating against efforts to clean up the voter-registration rolls, imagine if all that energy were directed into setting up voter education facilities where people with no photo i.d. could be instructed in how to get some.
That came to mind when I read yesterday's post by Brenda Walker here at VDARE.com about the 86-year-old veteran whose VA card, issued back in the 1960s, had no photograph. He lives in Texas, where a law was passed six years ago mandating picture i.d. for voting.
Put up billboards and run TV ads telling people who to call for instructions on getting photo i.d. It would be way cheaper than all the activism and litigation.
Why don't progressives want to do this? See if you can figure it out.
Item: A great social issue of our time, all over the Western world, is: What will become of the left-hand side of the IQ Bell Curve? The orthodox, politically-correct answer is: We'll retrain them all as software engineers. I'm assuming that you, like me, find that answer jejune.
The evidence is mounting, and has been laid out in books like Charles Murray's Coming Apart, that you can have meritocracy, or you can have social mobility, but you can't have both.
As the best rise up in society, they mate with others of the best; and the plain laws of genetics then get you a society of hereditary castes, with low social mobility. When doctors married nurses and lawyers married their secretaries, there was some churning. Now doctors marry doctors and lawyers marry lawyers: no more churn.
If this is true, which it looks like it is, it is a fatal truth for the American project. The ethos of this republic is one of both meritocracy — rewards according to contribution, not to accidents of birth — and social mobility — log cabin to White House. If the two things are actually incompatible, as they seem to be, we are in trouble.
All this was foretold sixty years ago by British socialist Michael Young, in his 1958 book The Rise of the Meritocracy. I have commented before, more than once I'm sure, that if you can only read one book about the prospects for modern society, it should be that one.
Michael Young's son Toby Young has carried his Dad's banner forward into our time via articles and talks. He was at it again the other day with a half-hour program on BBC Radio that you can listen to on the internet: google "BBC Radio 4, The Rise and Fall of the Meritocracy."
I urge you to set aside half an hour to listen to Toby Young's program. Next to the need to preserve our national character by immigration restriction, this is the second great issue of our time.
Item: Finally, a sad little story from today's New York Post. Joseph Woznik, 23 years old, of this city, but homeless, has been arrested and accused of burglarizing three Christian churches and a Hindu temple.
Explaining himself, Mr Woznik told police that, quote:
I'm mad at God … I don't break into houses, only churches. I break in to get back at God.
End quote. Reluctant as I always am to be thought a nitpicker, I feel bound to observe that either Mr Woznik's theology or his grammar is faulty. Hinduism is polytheistic, so he needs to specify which of the many Hindu gods he was taking his vengeance against when he robbed that temple, or at least re-cast his explanation with a plural.
That aside, being angry with the supernatural power or powers is not unusual. I've known several such cases, and literature supplies many others. One of my favorites in the latter category is one of Samuel Beckett's characters who declares, in regard to the Christian God: [Clip: "The bastard! He doesn't exist."]
The sages of antiquity have counseled us against this kind of anger, though. While Mr Woznik awaits his arraignment at Queens County Criminal Court next Wednesday, I urge him to pass the time in self-improvement by studying the works of the philosopher Mencius, where he will find the admonition: 君子不怨天、不尤人。 — "The superior person bears no resentment against Heaven, holds no grudges against his fellow men."
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening; and may you, along with Mr Woznik, pass this Easter weekend in solemn reflection.
To help you with that, here's some Wagner: the Pilgrims' Chorus from Tannhäuser. And yes, I know: Wagner would probably have agreed with that Beckett character. Never mind, it's lovely music.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Wagner, The Pilgrims' Chorus from Tannhäuser.