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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings yet again, listeners, from your rigorously genial host John Derbyshire.
Just a word before I proceed. In my September 21st podcast I used the term baizuo with the following explanation, quoting myself:
Baizuo is a loan-word from Chinese, literally "white left." It's used by Chinese bloggers to make fun of our Social Justice Warriors, whom they regard with somewhat baffled amusement. Baizuo has two less syllables than "SJW," so I use it in a spirit of syllabic conservation.
End quote. I believe there are nations with seats in the U.N. General Assembly whose populations are not as numerous as the host of listeners who emailed in to tell me that baizuo has three less syllables than "SJW," not two less: two syllables as against five.
I could bluster my way out of this, say perhaps that I have striven so hard to Americanize myself that I was mentally hearing the "W" as two syllables — "dub-ya" — thereby reducing the difference to two.
Blustering is unbecoming to a Confucian gentleman, though. In a proper spirit of dignified humility, I am merely going to say that Homer nods, and so do I.
And to Radio Derb followers who wait to read the transcript, a couple of whom emailed in to ask for the pronunciation of baizuo, just follow this link.
OK, let's take a look at the week's news.
02 — A major battle in the Cold Civil War. Bruised, battered, and bandaged, the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Legislature — I beg your pardon: Supreme Court — the nomination lurches and staggers towards Senate approval, or possibly rejection, tomorrow, Saturday afternoon.
This has been, as Pat Buchanan correctly said, a major battle in the Cold Civil War. The mechanics of the Senate vote are pretty well understood by all concerned, and will anyway likely have played out before you hear this.
There are 51 Republican senators and 49 Democrats. On a tied vote, Vice President Mike Pence will be called in to break the tie, and of course will vote for Kavanaugh.
Among Republican senators there are have been 48 probable Aye votes and three uncertains: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Jeff Snowflake of Arizona. As I go to tape here on Friday evening Lisa Murkowski looks like a No, Collins and Snowflake are probable Ayes. That gives us fifty Republican Ayes. We could even lose one, and the Vice President's vote would break the tie and give us Kavanaugh.
On the Democrat side, talk has concentrated also on three senators: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. All three are running for re-election in November, all three come from "red" states, all three voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's previous Supreme Court pick, a year and a half ago.
Donnelly seems to be a definite No with, of course, the other 46 Democrats, making 47 Noes. The latest I've heard is that Heitkamp will also vote No, but Manchin will buck his party and vote Aye. Looking at the numbers as I've just been, Manchin probably figures it's a done deal for Kavanaugh whichever way he votes, so he may as well go for what theologians call "cheap grace": getting the benefit — the grace — of not ticking off Trump supporters in his state, without risking anything worse than hostile glares from Chuck Schumer and perhaps a committee assignment or two.
To ramp up the tension just a little more, Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana has said he's going to attend his daughter's wedding in that state on Saturday. That means he can't be in Washington, DC for the Senate vote on Kavanaugh.
On the numbers as I've presented them, assuming they hold, this shouldn't matter. Senator Daines none the less put out a tweet midday Friday assuring us that, quote, "I will be back to vote YES this weekend if needed," end quote.
It doesn't look as though he will be needed. If he is, it will be some last-minute panic situation. How he would then get back from Montana in time to vote, he doesn't tell us. Perhaps our President will send a helicopter to lift Senator Daines off the church roof and bring him to DC. That would certainly be in style for Trump, and would make great TV.
You can imagine the pressure Senator Daines has been under. I have mixed feelings about this.
In the public-private balance, my heart's always on the side of the private. A guy who thinks that being at his daughter's wedding is more important than getting a judge on the Supreme Court, is a man after my own heart. Longtime listeners and readers will be familiar with my periodic grumbles about there being far too much politics about. I'd probably he happier living in Switzerland, where nobody knows the name of the President.
That skeptical, laid-back approach to politics just isn't tenable in the U.S.A. today — more's the pity, for people like me. The old quip of Trotsky's applies: I may not be interested in politics, but it's interested in me — and you, and him, and her. An easygoing collegiality in politics is like pacifism: it's a nice ideal, but it only works if everyone practices it. If you are a pacifist but your opponent is a ruthless militarist, nobody's going to sell you life insurance.
That's the situation we're in. That's why I call it the Cold Civil War. You don't win wars without fighting. The genteel, collegial Jeff Flake, Mitt Romney approach — "maybe they have a case, let's give them the benefit of the doubt …" — that approach is a recipe for defeat.
This is war; the Kavanaugh nomination is a battle. Armor up, Senators!
03 — The working class finds its voice. At this point it's interesting to speculate on the political consequences of the Senate rejecting Kavanaugh, which is still possible on the numbers, although not probable.
On the arithmetic as heretofore stated, that can only happen if two Republican Senators vote No and Joe Manchin switches to make a 51st No. The political effect of that would be to enrage millions of Republican voters. And that would make the GOP even more unstable than it currently is; or perhaps just further expose the party's instability.
The GOP is a coalition. One part of it is free-trade open-borders business-friendly globalists; the other is protectionist immigration-restrictionist working-class nationalists. The division was perfectly clear in the 2016 election: Never Trumpers versus Trump voters.
This coalition is, as I said, unstable. It's really amazing that it hangs together at all. If the fissure between the two factions opens wide enough, the GOP will stop hanging together. The two factions will then be hanged separately by the gentry-liberal opposition, which hates both of our factions equally. A Kavanaugh defeat would drive another wedge into that fissure.
The Republican Party, if it's going to survive, has to become a working-class party. That sentence would have sounded bizarre fifty, twenty, even ten years ago; but I believe it's true. Donald Trump is not some kind of weird aberration: he is the GOP's future. And yes, of course I know, he's not exactly a child of the slums: but he voices what tens of millions of working-class Americans believe.
Similar changes are happening all over. Here's a longish quote from British commentator Ed West in the Weekly Standard. Ed is writing about the British political scene, currently dominated by Brexit of course, and he's sounding somewhat Never Trumpish, but he makes some good points along the way. Quotes, slightly edited:
All of these feelings [about mass immigration pushing working-class wages down] drove a sense of anger and despair that resulted in June 2016 when, as John Lydon of the Sex Pistols put it afterwards, [inner quote] "the working class have spoken," the [vote to leave the European Union] pushed beyond the 50 per cent mark by large numbers of people who had not voted in years. Indeed it was probably the biggest display of British working class muscle since 1945 when they booted out Winston Churchill in a Labour landslide (a decision which also probably cost the economy dearly).
End quotes. That all translates pretty clearly into U.S. politics, although the Brexit business has accelerated the shift over there, so they're further down the road than we are now. It won't be long, though, before some U.S. pundit can plausibly write about the GOP that, "the low tax, laissez-faire party of Ronald Reagan is most likely gone forever."
The Democratic Party, like Britain's Labour Party, once represented horny-handed sons of toil — working-class wage slaves. Now it's the party of gentry liberals, college-educated globalists and Silicon Valley capitalist oligarchs. If the Republican Party is going to survive, it needs to shed its own globalists, stiffen its nationalist spine, and fight for its people as ruthlessly as we have seen Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein fight for theirs.
04 — The new Sokal Hoax. Cliché of the week, actually of the last year or so, but I think especially prominent this week, is that the crackpot ideology of the campus left has leaked out from our colleges and universities to infect other social and political institutions. Sample headline: Campus Chaos Has Come to Congress. That's a piece by Victor Davis Hanson at National Review Thursday. Nice alliteration there, Prof.
This goes along with a swelling awareness among thoughtful citizens that there is something seriously wrong with higher education in the U.S.A. I should declare some personal interest here, as my son is a freshman at a respectable university here on the East Coast.
That awareness got a boost this week from what people are calling the New Sokal Hoax.
Just to remind you of the original Sokal Hoax: Back in 1996 a professor of physics named Alan Sokal sent in an article to an academic journal called Social Text. This journal operates in the zone loosely called "cultural studies" — theorizing about the world as seen through a Social Justice Warrior lens, written up around themes of race, sex, oppression, patriarchy, whiteness, social constructs, and all the rest.
Sokal's article was a deliberate spoof of all that ideological flapdoodle. It pretended to discuss physics in terms of those same themes. The title was: "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity." It was accepted and published in Social Text, to the embarrassment of the journal's editors when at last the hoax was exposed. They accused Sokal of "unethical behavior."
OK, forward to the present. This new version of the Sokal Hoax cast its net much wider. This time there are three academics pulling the hoax. Their fields are physics, history, and philosophy. Over the past year they produced between them twenty spoof papers, all along the lines of Sokal's. Seven of the papers were accepted for publication. The others were "retired" because the hoax was exposed before they'd been formally accepted.
The titles of the papers make hilarious reading. Everyone's favorite was "Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity in Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon." I'll just quote you the summary thesis of that paper, quote:
That dog parks are rape-condoning spaces and a place of rampant canine rape culture and systemic oppression against [inner quote] "the oppressed dog" [end inner quote] through which human attitudes to both problems can be measured. This provides insight into training men out of the sexual violence and bigotry to which they are prone.
End quote. That paper was accepted and published. Name of journal: Gender, Place, and Culture.
Also published was, title: "Who Are They to Judge?: Overcoming Anthropometry and a Framework for Fat Bodybuilding." Name of journal: Fat Studies.
Just one more. Title: "An Ethnography of Breastaurant Masculinity: Themes of Objectification, Sexual Conquest, Male Control, and Masculine Toughness in a Sexually Objectifying Restaurant." Name of journal: Sex Roles. And in case you're wondering, a "breastaurant" is one of those places like Hooters that lure in male customers using young female wait staff with big breasts.
One oddity about this latest hoax is that the three academics who perpetrated it are all gentry liberals. You don't need to dig through their article about the hoax, which is awfully long, to figure this out. Their pictures are right there at the top: one young neckbeard-type young white male, one obese female of indeterminate race, one comparatively normal-looking middle-aged guy (he's the philosopher).
If you do read through, as your diligently genial host of course did, you encounter this, in a paragraph explaining why they cooked up the hoax. Quote:
We hope this will give people — especially those who believe in liberalism, progress, modernity, open inquiry, and social justice — a clear reason to look at the identitarian madness coming out of the academic and activist left and say, "No, I will not go along with that. You do not speak for me."
End quote. So the moonbattery of "cultural studies" — all the flimflam about whiteness, patriarchy, oppression, privilege, and the rest — has gone too far even for some progressives.
How did we get here? Is there a road back to academic sanity?
There is a great deal to be said about this, way more than I can fit into a segment of Radio Derb. I'll just point up two factors, and put them in a segment of their own. Here you go.
05 — Elite overproduction? Here are my two factors: one cultural, one economic.
First factor: science envy. Since modern science came up four hundred years ago, it has been wonderfully successful. It's been successful most obviously in a practical way — curing diseases, transforming work and leisure, giving us wonderful new gadgets.
It's also been intellectually successful, though, quite outside the practical sphere: giving us marvellous new understandings about the material world.
Example: All the stars we can see belong to a single object, our home galaxy. There are untold numbers of other galaxies beyond ours, some much bigger. Nobody knew this until recently. When my own father was a young adult, nobody knew it. Now we know it. The knowledge is of no practical importance, but it's wonderful none the less — it's wonderful, I mean, if you think knowledge is good.
In my September Diary the other day I wrote about my own days at university, about what arrogant intellectual snobs we math undergraduates were. Math is difficult and logically very rigorous. One thing follows from another by iron chains of reasoning. We scoffed at people studying what seemed to us less demanding subjects. I think some such attitude is pretty common in math and the hard sciences.
That attitude generates an equal and opposite reaction in other departments. The name of the reaction is Science Envy.
People studying history, literature, politics, law, philosophy, psychology, sociology want to be sciency. They want us to believe, and they want to believe themselves, that their disciplines are just as rigorous, just as good at uncovering truths about the world, as math or physics.
In some cases science envy flaunts itself openly and unashamed. We talk unironically about "the social sciences"; and you can take a degree in Political Science at most universities. To some limited degree these claims to scientific rigor are justified. There is a lot of good quantitative work done in fields like psychology, sociology, and linguistics — even in history. I'm fine with using the word "science" for those kinds of investigations.
The problem is that there is plenty of room in those departments for people who are constitutionally innumerate and unscientific in outlook, who have some kind of ideological axe to grind, and who have a facility with words that allows them to ascend the academic ladder while never engaging with true facts.
On top of that, there are entire departments in the modern university where no empirical or quantitative work at all is done, where the entire faculty is just engaged in turning out prose of a certain fashionable kind. These people want to sound sciency too; so they develop an elaborate jargon, as scientists have to, and present long chains of reasoning, as mathematicians do … but from preposterous premises.
These people want us to believe they have discovered things previously unknown, like Edwin Hubble discovering the existence of galaxies. White privilege! Toxic masculinity! Rape culture! Transphobia! See, you didn't know these things existed, did you? But we've uncovered them, we've unmasked the true nature of reality — just like scientists!.
That's one of my two factors: Science Envy. The other one is money. There is way, way too much money in higher education. How else can these bogus disciplines, these gibberish journals, these chairs of Nonsense Studies, be supported? Along, of course, with all the deans and sub-deans and assistant sub-deans for Diversity and Inclusion. Our campuses are infested with these parasites because higher education is swilling in money.
The seeking after knowledge should be austere and hungry. A university should be built around a core of rigorous intellectual inquiry, constantly tested against reality. It needn't be all quantitative: non-quantitative history, law, philosophy, classics, even some of what we call social sciences are certainly worth pursuing.
And in a free society, of course if people want to immerse themselves in Africana Studies, Gender Studies, or Fat Studies, no-one should try to stop them … so long as not one penny from the public fisc goes to finance their endeavors.
Our entire higher education system needs a drastic overhaul. Will it get one?
There are good reasons to think it won't. Some of those reasons are dark. Here for example is a dark reason.
It may be that we have reached a point in our social development where we have more people than we can employ in useful work. The great job-killing automation revolution you see being forecast by pundits like our own Brenda Walker may in fact have already snuck up on us a decade or two ago.
All those Professors of Queer Legal Theory, all those Assistant Sub-Deans for Diversity and Inclusion: If they weren't kept busy filling the pages of those journals I named in the previous segment, what would they do?
The phrase "elite overproduction" mean anything?
06 — Sex in the physics lab. There is of course a direct causal line from envy to homicide. If I am envious of something that you have or are, one way to relieve my envy is to kill you.
The science-envious practioners of fake scholarly disciplines like Gender Studies seem to be traveling down that track.
I belong to both the MAA (Mathematical Association of America) and the AMS (American Mathematical Society). I get their journals. The more heavyweight ones like the AMS Bulletin are still reliably serious, but the lighter ones are pushing the Social Justice ideology for all they're worth.
It happened in fact that while preparing this edition of Radio Derb the mailman arrived bearing one of those lighter math periodicals: the October/November issue of Focus, which bills itself as the newsmagazine of the MAA. This issue contains three long-form articles. Number two: "Using Makerspaces to Attract and Retain Women in STEM." If I ever get round to reading the article, I'll tell you what a makerspace is.
There are four authors listed on those three long-form articles, by the way; three of them are women. The editor of Focus, Jacqueline Jensen-Vallin, is also a woman — quite an attractive one, actually, although it is of course shamefully oppressive of me to say so. Oh, and I've just noticed that the editor of the AMS Bulletin, Susan Friedlander, is also Gyno-American.
It's like this all over in the rigorous sciences. Last week a friend sent me a link to a handout from CERN, C-E-R-N, over in Geneva. CERN is the world's biggest laboratory for research in high-energy physics. Title of the handout — I'm not making this up: "1st Workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender."
The friend who sent me that link added the comment, quote: "Somewhere right now, the Chinese are having a good laugh." I'm sure he's right.
If you were thinking you might sign up for that workshop, you are too late: it ran September 26th to 28th. On the latter of those dates the workshop hit a spot of turbulence. An Italian physicist, name of Alessandro Strumia, contributed a talk arguing, with charts, graphs, and tables, that the under-representation of women in advanced physics is not due to discrimination by men. Outrage ensued, and CERN has suspended Prof. Strumia.
Did I mention that CERN is headed by a woman, particle physicist Fabiola Gianotti, also Italian? This week Dr Gianotti unsheathed her claws against Prof. Strumia with a long screeching tirade on a website called www.particlesforjustice.org, which she seems to have created just for this purpose.
I'll read you a sample: actually two samples, a short sentence and then a long one that immediately follows it in Dr Gianotti's post.
Short sentence, quote:
We hope that Strumia's professional colleagues and superiors will take all these points into careful consideration in all future decisions involving him.
End quote. Translation: You'll never eat in this town again.
Long sentence, quote:
We also hope that the entire community has learned from this incident that speakers for workshops on gender — or other ascribed identities — in physics should include recognized experts, with a track record of speaking and publishing in an appropriate manner on the topic at hand, and moreover that organizers should seek guidance from such experts.
End quote. Translation: The purpose of workshops like this one is the promotion of Cultural Marxism. Other points of view are not welcome — good grief, no!
[Added later: Apparently that tirade was not the work of Dr Gianotti. See my grudging apology at VDARE.com.]
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: Monday, October 1st marked the beginning of a new fiscal year for the U.S. government, Fiscal 2019. President Trump has signed off on most of the funding for this new year, but pushed off some of the difficult stuff until after the mid-term elections.
The pushed-off stuff includes a Department of Homeland Security funding bill, a bill that ought to include money for the border wall we voted for two years ago.
Meanwhile our borders remain wide open. Wednesday this week Customs and Border Patrol reported that, headline: Yuma Sector Border Patrol Apprehends 164 in a 5-hour Period.
Quote from the CBP report: "There were a total of 88 children ranging in age from 3 months to 17 years old. All subjects will be processed accordingly." End quote.
You know what that means, right? Coming soon to a town near you.
Item: One of the things that did get funded for 2019 was the military. That's good, as we have just entered the eighteenth year of our military operations in Afghanistan.
We are also in at least the eleventh year of me gnashing my teeth and asking, quote: "Can anyone please tell me what the heck we are doing in Afghanistan?" That's from the Radio Derb podcast for July 25th 2008. I'm sure there were earlier gnashings than that, but I still have very few Radio Derb transcripts for earlier dates, although I am working on it.
The two great disappointments of the Donald Trump presidency for a National Conservative are, one, no border wall, and two, we're still thrashing around futilely in the Hindu Kush and elsewhere for no purpose that anyone feels like explaining to us.
I see from a Pew poll that 49 percent of Americans think the U.S.A. has mostly failed in achieving our goals in Afghanistan.
What goals? Are there really 49 percent of us who can even remember?
Item: There were provincial elections in Quebec this week, and the result seems to be another data point on the trend from globalism to nationalism — the trend that brought forth Donald Trump in the U.S.A., Brexit in the U.K., Matteo Salvini's coalition in Italy, the Visegrad Group in Eastern Europe, and so on.
I say "seems to" because I don't know much about Quebec politics, while I work for a boss who knows a great deal about it. So I'm treading carefully here.
The following things are indisputable, though. This election was won by a new party, the Coalition Avenir Québec, CAQ for short, only founded in 2011. The Liberal Party, which has been in power for most of the past 15 years, was routed.
Immigration was one of the fault lines of this election: The Liberals planned to raise the immigration quota from 50,000 per year to 60,000, while the CAQ vowed to cut it to 40,000 and subject immigrants to a "Quebec values" and French-language test, potentially expelling those who failed it.
On the same theme — provincial elections in big important countries — Bavaria, Germany's biggest state, capital Munich, is having an election next weekend, October 14th, and the nationalist, immigration-restrictionist AfD party is polling well.
That's relatively well, 12 to 13 percent. That's still pretty good for a party that's even younger than Quebec's CAQ: AfD is only five years old. The current ruling party in Bavaria is also well to the right of Quebec's liberals, and they've been moving still further right in hopes of warding off AfD.
It's happening all over, folks. People want their countries back.
Item: Tuesday one of our readers noted here on VDARE.com, with a supporting link, that one of the gals who screeched Jeff Flake into submission in that elevator last week is likely an illegal alien. Nobody else in the world of news seems to have thought this worth reporting.
Netroots says that the woman emigrated here from Colombia at the age of 17, but isn't clear about her immigration status.
Both girls were apparently operatives for the Center for Popular Democracy, a group funded by George Soros.
So if you thought the big decisions about our national life are made by voting citizens, through our elected representatives and the officials they approve and appoint, you couldn't be more wrong.
Big decisions on major national issues like whether, and on what terms, to vote Judge Kavanaugh out of the Senate Judiciary Committee are made by George Soros and his paid hirelings, possibly including illegal aliens.
Item: Finally, from across the pond, the BBC reports that the Students' Union at the University of Manchester has banned clapping at Union events, quote, "to avoid triggering anxiety and improve accessibility," end quote.
Students have been told that in place of clapping they should use "jazz hands." What the heck are they? I had to look it up on YouTube. OK, got it: You raise your hands to head level, fingers splayed, palms facing forward, and wiggle them, Al Jolson style.
I'm sorry, but that brings to mind an old joke from the early days of Caribbean immigration into England. It's politically incorrect, but not actually ill-humored, and anyway I don't give a damn.
Suburban English homeowner hears his doorbell ring, goes to front door, opens it. There's a black guy standing there: smiling, friendly, hands on hips. "Well hello dere!" says the black guy. "I's yo new neighbor!"
The homeowner gives him the cold English stare. Then he says snootily: "In this country, when one is first introduced, it is customary to shake hands."
Whatever, thinks the black guy. He lifts up his hands and starts again. "Well hello dere!" (Wiggling his hands jazz-hands style.) "I-I-I-I-I's yo new neighbor!"
08 — Signoff. That's all for this week. Thank you for listening, and I promise to settle on the number of syllables I shall use when saying "W."
For sign-out music, some old pop. This one's from my middle adolescence, which was even more tormented and confused than the average, and which I navigated poorly, crashing into one iceberg after another. Long-belated apologies to all I inconvenienced. And there is this to be said for the early 1960s: If you were tormented and confused, there was great pop music like this to be tormented and confused to.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: The Chimes, "Once in a While."]