»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, November 16th, 2018

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, piano version]

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome to the podcast, ladies and gents. This is your eponymously genial host John Derbyshire with the week's news in summary.

This week's podcast is in fact something of a one-issue show. The issue is nationalism; and once I got started I found I had much to say about it. Too much, possibly, but … let's see.

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02 — Word of the Year.     Nationalism was much discussed this week. It was at the front of the minds of all sorts of people, for all sorts of reasons.

A few of those reasons at random:

  • At a pre-election campaign rally in Texas, October 22nd, President Trump had declared himself a proud nationalist. Apparently in response to this, at a ceremony in Paris last Sunday to commemorate the Armistice that ended World War One a hundred years ago, French President Emmanuel Macron laid in to nationalism, quote from him: "Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism." End quote.

  • That Armistice Day, November 11th, is also, as it happens, Poland's National Independence Day, a public holiday — the Polish July Fourth, as it were. This year is the centenary not only of the Armistice, but also of modern Polish independence, which Poles seized as the empires of Russia, Germany, and Austria were disintegrating all around them in 1918.

  • In Britain, the most significant nationalist event of the past few decades was the 2016 vote by referendum to leave the European Union — Brexit. Negotiations between the British government and the EU on the terms of departure have dragged on for two and a half years, but the matter now seems at last to be coming to a head.

  • Also in Europe, and also with Emmanuel Macron to the fore, there is talk of building a new European Army independent of NATO. German Chancellor Angela Merkel chimed in with agreement. We American nationalists would like nothing better than for the U.S.A. to withdraw from NATO. That would be a great boost to our nationalism, American nationalism. Our nationalist President inexplicably disagrees: he scoffed at Macron's idea.

  • Yoram Hazony's book The Virtue of Nationalism, published in September, has been widely reviewed and discussed.

There have been some lesser manifestations of interest — both positive and negative — in nationalism; I'll squinch some of them in as occasion allows.

Nationalism is definitely a Thing right now, though; so much so that National Public Radio on November 14th declared "nationalist" to be the Word of the Year for 2018.

There is of course a very great deal to be said about nationalism — far more than I can say in a podcast. The topic is highly relevant to our mission here at VDARE.com, though, which is to promote thoughtful, well-informed discussion of the U.S.A.'s National Question, with special attention to issues of demographics and foreign settlement.

I am therefore going to give over most of this week's podcast to poking and prodding the nationalism issue in hopes of uncovering new insights.

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03 — Patriotism with attitude.     Let's start with Emmanuel Macron.

I'm not a close follower of French politics, but I have to say I find Macron deeply unimpressive. None of his recorded remarks has struck me as very intelligent or memorable.

Working from a limited base of knowledge as I am, I could of course be wrong. I note, however, that the French people themselves seem to agree with me. At any rate, Macron's party is polling poorly, below twenty percent — behind Marine Le Pen's nationalists.

It's characteristic of people like that — of mediocrities, I mean, if I've got Macron right — it's characteristic of mediocrities to be in thrall to the shallow clichés of the generation that came before them. For Macron in particular to be in thrall to the generation before him would actually be less surprising than the average, as he is married to a member of that generation.

Mrs Macron's generation is also mine, more or less — she is eight years younger than I am — so I can speak with authority about those shallow clichés that were in the air during the decades after WW2. One of those clichés was that while patriotism was good, nationalism was bad.

Patriotism, the talking heads all told us in 1960 and 1970, was the warm, loving feeling you have for your country, with no malice or prejudice against anyone else's country. Where there was such malice — or disdain, or contempt, or aggressive intentions — that was nationalism. So nationalism was patriotism with attitude.

That was what all good-thinking people believed through my young adulthood, and Mrs Macron's. It's not hard to figure why we believed that. The aggressor powers in WW2, Germany and Japan, had state ideologies of militaristic imperialism, of which nationalism was undeniably a component. Setting out to conquer Europe and Asia, the Germans and Japanese felt justified in doing so because their nations were best.

Nationalism-wise, there's a contradiction in there, though. As militaristic imperialists, the Germans and the Japanese had no time for anyone else's nationalism. They both knew, as imperialists have known since civilization began, that nationalism is the bane of imperialism.

The Germans and Japanese who fought WW2 were not fans of Polish nationalism or Korean nationalism. They strove very mightily and brutally to extinguish those nationalisms. They were imperialists. Nationalist impulses may be harnessed by imperialism, but imperialism is fundamentally anti-nationalist. Ask a Tibetan.

That nationalism can be harnessed to the service of militaristic imperialism is not an argument against nationalism; it's an argument against militaristic imperialism. The bonds of family loyalty and affection can be harnessed to the service of organized crime, as we see with the Mafia. That's not an argument against family loyalty and affection.

So the conventional wisdom of 1970 — patriotism good, nationalism bad — while it was understandable after the mid-century horrors, left much unsaid. Now the things then left unsaid are being said. Here am I saying some of them. It's going to take me a couple more segments.

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04 — Patriot or nationalist?     So what does distinguish patriotism from nationalism?

One answer going around is: nothing. The words "patriotism" and "nationalism" are synonyms.

If true, that's kind of annoying. Why cumber ourselves with two words for the same thing? I am anyway resistant to it. Cyril Mortimer taught my primary-school class back around 1955 that there are no true synonyms; that even words closely related in meaning have different shades of color, different usages and connotations. Mr Mortimer was right.

But then, if — contra President Macron — if there is a healthy and harmless style of nationalism, with nothing negative in it towards other nations, how does such a nationalism distinguish itself from attitude-free patriotism?

I would seek the answer in the complexity of our feelings about our nation and others. Let me offer some literary references.

  • In 1783 James Boswell said, of his hero Samuel Johnson, that he was, quote: "a stern true-born Englishman, and fully prejudiced against all other nations," end quote. So was Dr. Johnson a nationalist, or a patriot? (Yes, yes, Johnson was also the man who said, quote: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." His target there was scoundrels, though, not patriots.)

  • In 1805 Sir Walter Scott wrote, quote: "Breathes there the man with soul so dead, / Who never to himself hath said, / This is my own, my native land!" End quote. Definitely patriotic, right? No attitude there, right? We-ell … Read the whole poem. There's a depth of feeling there that I think goes beyond once-a-year salute-the-flag bland patriotism.

  • Frank Richards told George Orwell in 1940 that, quote: "I have lived in many countries, and talked in several languages: and found something to esteem in every country I have visited. But I have never seen any nation the equal of my own." End quote. Patriot or nationalist?

Discussing this topic with a learned friend, she told me something about the situation here in the U.S. that I hadn't heard before, though it may be a commonplace among people better steeped in U.S. culture than I am. In the names of organizations, she said, the word "national" has generally been preferred by the political left, while the right favors the word "American."

So on the left you have the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Organization of Women, while on the right you have the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

When I raised that in discussion with a different friend, he observed that two of this country's leading political magazines both have "nation" in the title: The Nation on the left but National Review on the right!

(As a sidebar to that, I note that Britain's leading left-wing weekly has, since a merger in 1931, carried the full title The New Statesman and Nation. It used to be, and for all I know still is, known affectionately around Fleet Street as "The Staggers and Naggers.")

Patriotism; nationalism; left; right; at this point my head's beginning to spin. Let me just step back and see if I can extract some final sense from all this.

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05 — Foreigners are funny.     First let me express some skepticism towards the idea of a bland, harmless patriotism, with malice towards none and charity for all.

Human nature just isn't like that. To ask that I have a strong love for my country with no negativity whatsoever towards other countries, is to ask too much. We're not wired that way.

In the vapid dualism of today's ruling ideology, according to which if you don't approve something whole-heartedly you must hate, hate, hate it, this understanding has been lost. All the intermediate emotions between swooning love and seething hate are no longer fit subjects for discussion. Mild disapproval; amused mockery; grudging tolerance; good old utter indifference; nobody has such feelings any more, according to the guardians of our state ideology. If you don't love Big Brother, you must hate him.

Back in 1940, or 1805, or 1783, we had a better understanding of our nature. When Boswell wrote that Johnson was "fully prejudiced against all other nations," nobody would have understood it to mean that Johnson wanted to invade and occupy those other nations, or persecute their citizens. He just didn't like their ways much, because they differed from the English ways he was accustomed to.

In the same letter in which Frank Richards expressed his patriotism to George Orwell, Richards also wrote the following thing, quote:

As for foreigners being funny, I must shock Mr Orwell by telling him that foreigners are funny. They lack the sense of humor that is the special gift of our own chosen nation.

End quote. That's patriotism, but it's not blandly neutral towards foreigners. Richards thinks they're funny. It's not neutral, but it's not aggressive. He doesn't hate foreigners, or want to enslave them. He just wants to laugh at them.

This is human nature in all its convolutions and anfractuosities. If you try to encompass it with the infantile simplicities of Cultural Marxism, you will fail.

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06 — The anti-globalist outlook.     At last I think it comes down to this: that the word "nationalism," whatever anyone thought it meant in 1970, has a new currency now because it is a handy way to refer to the opposite of globalism.

Globalism has been the grand theme of the past few decades. For one thing, globalist organizations came up after the World Wars. Some of them came up in reaction to the horrors of those wars; the United Nations most obviously. Some were products of the Cold War, like NATO. Some were originally mercantile leagues, like the EU.

For another thing, it's just gotten much easier to move around the world, and there are way more people who want to do the moving. So mass immigration from poor countries to rich ones has been rising steeply. There have been winners and losers from this, and the winners have naturally taken up a globalist outlook.

The rise of globalism has generated a reaction. Those big globalist organizations have exhibited bureaucratic arrogance, not to mention corruption. Mass immigration has depressed wages and left many people feeling like strangers in their own countries. This reaction needs a name, and the word "nationalism" is lying around, not much used, so we've taken it up as a name for the anti-globalist outlook.

The word "nationalism" wasn't taken up at random. Public discourse in the civilized world is controlled by globalists. They naturally want to put resistance to globalism in as bad a light as possible.

To people who don't think much, people like Emmanuel Macron, the word "nationalism" has that tinge of darkness, that frisson of Hitlery-Hitlery-Hitler that commends it to the globalists for purposes of vituperation.

There are some contradictions here that globalists would much rather you didn't think about. There is, for example, the tricky matter of Israel.

Back near the beginning of the podcast I mentioned Yoram Hazony's book The Virtue of Nationalism. Hazony is an Israeli scholar, President of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem. He makes the point that Israeli nationalism is in a way the archetypal nationalism, forged over long centuries in opposition to great empires: the Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Roman, Ottoman, and, yes, British.

It's not very surprising that Israel today is a beacon of nationalism, or that a best-selling book titled The Virtue of Nationalism should have an Israeli author.

It is, though, hard to square with those Hitlery-Hitlery-Hitler connotations of the word "nationalism" that are so dear to globalists like President Macron. If "nationalism" is a Hitlery-Hitlery-Hitler sort of word, what sense does it make to talk of Israeli nationalism?

Israel's intense nationalism is also a problem for Jewish immigration romantics in the U.S.A.: people like Max Boot, John Podhoretz, David Brooks, Bret Stephens, Michelle Goldberg.

Reading these pundits, you sometimes get the impression they were happier with the older situation, before the modern state of Israel came up, when Jews were, in the Soviet phrase, "rootless cosmopolitans." Boot, Podhoretz, Brooks, & Co. are not really against nationalism, you find yourself thinking; they're just against goy nationalism.

Well, the Jewish immigration romantics will have to find their own way out of that maze. It's their problem, not mine. I'm happy that nationalism has settled in as a Thing, that the word "nationalism" has been anointed as Word of the Year even by a CultMarx outfit like National Public Radio, and that books praising nationalism are finding a good market.

Globalism is not a contemptible idea. Of course civilized nations should strive to get along with each other, to avoid wars, and to contain, as best they can, the non-civilized. Probably there need to be some transnational organizations to help all that along. And yes, we should try, like Frank Richards, to find something to esteem in other countries we visit.

The nations of the world are our natural homes, though. They are not, in my lifetime or yours, going to merge into a caramel-colored uniformity, speaking the same tongue, eating the same food, worshipping the same gods, laughing at the same jokes. That's a fantasy, and not a benign one.

Let's cherish our nations. Let's be nationalists!

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07 — Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Imprimis:  Last week's podcast led off with a segment I titled "The Great Disappointment," in which I fulminated against President Trump's failure to do anything much about illegal immigration, or anything at all about legal immigration.

The President compounded that disappointment this week by pooh-poohing the idea of a European army.

This thread started November 6th when Emmanuel Macron told a TV interviewer that, quote: "We need a Europe which defends itself better alone, without just depending on the United States, in a more sovereign manner," end quote. German Chancellor Angela Merkel seconded the idea in a speech to EU flunkies this past Tuesday.

Our President has reacted with scorn. Instead of fantasizing about a European army, he tweeted, Macron and Merkel should be paying bigger shares of the NATO budget.

That's more disappointment for us nationalists. We thought, from his rhetoric on the campaign trail in 2016, that Trump understood how obsolete and pointless NATO is. Europe has three times the population of Russia and a far stronger economy; why do they need us to defend them against Russia? Why are we still in NATO?

The suspicion grows that we are still in NATO for the same reason our borders are still wide open: because Donald Trump, for all his colorful bluster, is an empty suit who is easily manipulated by the deep-state globalists and generals who still, two years into Trump's Presidency, are calling the shots.

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Item:  Britain's crisis of nationalism has been the Brexit issue; the nation's attempt to free itself from the EU bureaucracy and resume being an independent sovereign nation once again.

Over the last few days the crisis seems to have been coming to a head. The details go way beyond any lingering interest I still have in British politics, so I'll leave you to read them for yourselves in the newspapers if you're so inclined.

I will, though, point up a major lesson from the Brexit business that applies over here too, a lesson you could get carved in a block of stone to put in your front yard.

I was a young adult when Britain entered what we then called "the Common Market." That's what we thought it was; that's what the elites told us it was; sovereign nations trading more freely and openly with each other, under some common mercantile rules.

The politicians and pundits all assured us that there would be no political union, no restraints on our ability to act independently, no overriding of our own laws passed by our own parliament, no loss of sovereignty.

Now, in the immense difficulty of disentangling themselves from the EU, now the Brits realise that those assurances were all lies.

Americans, those who pay attention, have come to a similar realisation in regard to the promises made at the time of the 1965 Immigration Act — that, quote from Edward Kennedy, "the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset," end quote.

So here's the takeaway lesson you can carve in stone. Get your chisel out. You ready?

When globalist elites assure you in soothing tones that such-and-such a measure will have no effect on your nation's sovereignty, demography, or laws, DO NOT BELIEVE THEM! THEY'RE LYING!

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Item:  Just one more minor item before I leave the topic of nationalism. This item concerns a nationalism you don't hear much about, but which is a considerable force in its homeland.

That homeland is India, and the nationalism is Hindu nationalism. Here's a story from Deutsche Welle, a German news outlet, November 12th, headline: Why is India "Hinduizing" cities' Muslim names?

A little history here. India has of course been an independent nation since 1947. For almost a hundred years before that it was ruled by Britain; and for three hundred years before that it was ruled by the Mughals, a blend of West and Central Asians.

The Mughal ruling classes were Muslim, although they practised the hands-off style of imperialism, leaving Hindus to follow their own religion so long as they didn't make political trouble.

Those three centuries of Mughal government left India with a lot of Muslim place-names, though. Some of these are obvious, like Allahabad in north-central India; some less so, like nearby Faizabad, which translates from Arabic as "abode of success."

Well, the ethnonationalist BJP Party, which is currently dominant in Indian politics, is renaming all those places with Hindu names, not without resistance from multiculturalists over there.

Yes, India has multiculturalists. Liberal-minded Indians have in fact taken pride in their country being a gorgeous mosaic, the occasional anti-Muslim riot notwithstanding.

Sample quote from the Deutsche Welle story: "Indian liberals accuse the BJP government of deliberately creating rifts between Hindus and Muslims and emboldening right-wing extremists." End quote.

Ah, those right-wing extremists! You can't get away from them, not even in Allahabad — oh, sorry: Praygraj.

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Item:  On the same theme — the theme, that is, of renaming places for political reasons — and fusing it with my previous theme of disappointment with President Trump, let's consider the highest mountain peak in North America.

That is of course Denali in Alaska, which I glimpsed shimmering in the distance from the train I was riding south through Alaska two years ago.

"Wait a minute!" I hear you cry. "Isn't the highest mountain peak in North America Mount McKinley?"

Same mountain. It was Mount McKinley, named after the 25th President, until three years ago, when Barack Obama instructed his Secretary of the Interior to change the name to Denali, which is what the local Eskimos called it. Away with those boring old dead white men!

Well, that's only what you'd expect from Obama. Where does Donald Trump come into this, though?

Here's where. Three years ago, shortly after the name change, Donald Trump tweeted from his Manhattan pad about the change and added, quote, "I will name it back!"

He hasn't, of course. One more reason, if you really need another one, to be disappointed in President Trump.

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Item:  Thanks to the listeners who emailed in to commiserate with me on the ending of the Miss BumBum Pageant.

To the listener who offered his opinion that the lady who stormed onto the stage and ripped the sash off the winner, quote, "had a lot of cheek," let me explain. This was the Miss BumBum Pageant. They all had a lot of cheek. That's what it's about.

And I am happy to pass on the rumor, so far unconfirmed, that the Miss BumBum Pageant may be started up again next year in Britain. I don't know if that will come off; but in case it does, may I be the first to suggest a suitable theme tune for the show? This one: [Clip.] The proper name for that tune, in case you don't know, is The Londonderry Air.

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08 — Signoff.     That's it for this week, boys and girls. Thank you for your time and attention; and if I didn't totally untangle the issues of nationalism and patriotism, I hope I at least left you with something to think about.

I mentioned last Sunday being Poland's National Day, and the centenary of the founding of modern Poland. I have never been to Poland and I know only one word of the Polish language: dziękuję, which means "thank you."

In the postwar Britain where I grew up, though, even in our out-of-the-way little country town, there were a lot of Polish émigrés. My first dentist was Polish. In spite of that, I got a good impression of Poles. The English adults all seemed to like them for their willingness to fight alongside us in the war, and for their dignity and good manners.

So here, on that slender basis, are belated congratulations from Radio Derb to the Poles and to Poland on last week's centenary. Good luck to you all, and here's to the next hundred years of your precious national sovereignty! I'll sign off with a snippet of your National Anthem.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week.

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[Music clip: Poland's National Anthem Mazurek Dąbrowskiego.]