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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That was a bit of Haydn's second Derbyshire March, played by Peter Gould on the fine old organ of Derby cathedral, and this is your copiously genial host John Derbyshire with a glance at the week's news.
First, an announcement. On Monday September 9th Mr and Mrs Derbyshire depart these United States for a three-week vacation in China. Rather than deprive you of your weekly fix, I have pre-recorded three podcasts and deposited them in the airtight vaults deep below VDARE.com's world headquarters. Our technicians will recover one podcast each Friday evening during my absence and post it in the usual way.
But how, I hear you gasp, how is it possible , Derb, even for a person of your nearly infinite talents — how it is possible to supply commentary one, two, three weeks in advance?
For the answer to that, I can only urge you to tune in next weekend to the first installment.
This week's commentary deals, as usual, with goings-on the past few days. Let's begin.
02 — Brexit: the broad context. The big news this week was Brexit news.
Now, you might suspect that as an ex-Brit I am much more interested in the Brexit business than the average Radio Derb listener — who, to judge from my email bag, is mainly American with a seasoning of Canadian, British, Australian, South American, and Israeli.
That is not in fact the case. My primary political interest is American, as befits a U.S. citizen. I left the Mother Country behind me long ago, and my attachments to it, family connections aside, are merely sentimental. Brexit is interesting to me as one manifestation of a trend all over the Western world.
A few words about that trend before I proceed.
We have fallen into the habit, since the French Revolution, of thinking about politics in terms of left and right: labor versus capital, progress versus stasis, the proletariat versus the bourgeoisie, cloth caps versus top hats, and so on.
In recent years a different division has been shaping our politics. Not only is this new divide not aligned with the old left-right one, it is perpendicular to it. It doesn't separate the old established political parties one from the other, it cuts down the middle of both of them.
That is why, in 2016, our own Republican Party split between Trumpers and Never Trumpers. It was also a factor that year, although less of one, in Mrs Clinton's struggle against Bernie Sanders.
Because this realignment is quite new, we don't yet have a well-established way to talk about it, a vocabulary for discussing it. Academic political scientists are getting to work on that, though. Here is a quote from a book I've been reading. Quote:
In this book, we label those who advocate open borders, universal norms and supranational authority as "cosmopolitans"; and those who defend border closure, cultural particularism and national sovereignty as "communitarians."
I took that from a book I've been reading out of Cambridge University Press, title The Struggle Over Borders: Cosmopolitanism and Communitarianism, published earlier this year. It's a collection of essays by European political scientists — Swiss, German, and Scandinavian — on the title theme.
The book is academic, not polemical; they're not taking sides, they're trying to figure out what's going on. In fact the book is quite drily academic; I'm finding it hard going. If you yourself, gentle listener, are a trained political scientist, you will probably find the book less demanding and more rewarding than I'm finding it.
Well, that's the split I'm talking about: cosmopolitans versus communitarians. Hence the opening words of a blog post I put up on Wednesday, which I confess I'm rather pleased with, quote: "A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communitarianism." End quote. If you don't get the joke, I refer you to the opening words of Karl Marx and Fred Engels' little 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto.
These scholars aren't the first to notice the new divide, of course. We lay commentators have been writing about it for years. We've come up with our own vocabulary. In our news outlets the split is usually described as "populist" versus "globalist." I myself have tried to float "provincial" versus "metropolitan." Sir Roger Scruton came up with "somewhere people" versus "anywhere people." I'm sure there are others I've missed.
[Added when archiving: James Fulford reminded me that the somewhere-anywhere labels were proposed by David Goodhart, not Sir Roger Scruton.]
Thus oriented, so you know the context I'm trying to put this in, let's look at this week's Brexit news.
03 — Brexit: this week's crisis. First, the Brexit executive summary.
Three years and two months ago the British people voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, the EU. The vote was 52 percent Leave to 48 percent Remain. The government and the media, however, had been propagandizing and scaremongering for all they were worth in favor of Remain, so the vote probably underestimated support for Leave. The Prime Minister himself, David Cameron, was a strong Remainer.
Cameron did the decent thing and resigned. His party, the Tories, got a new leader, and Britain a new Prime Minister, Theresa May. Strange to say, Mrs May was also a Remainer. She swore, however, that she would faithfully execute the people's will.
Mrs May then dickered ineffectually with the EU bureaucracy for two years, trying to get a favorable withdrawal deal — favorable to Britain, that is, of course. You could see her heart wasn't in it, though, and when a deal was finally reached last November, it was awful — basically a document of surrender to the EU suits.
The House of Commons had to vote to ratify the agreement. Instead of ratifying, they voted it down — three times! That was in spite of Mrs May's party — still the Tories — controlling the House.
This July Mrs May did the decent thing and resigned. The Tory Party and the British government got a new leader, Boris Johnson. He promised Britain would leave the EU on October 31st, come hell or high water, deal or no deal, and packed his cabinet with people who agreed with him.
His party was still split, though. A lot of them were Remainers of various strengths, a sort of British equivalent of Never Trumpers. A big bloc assumed a sort of Saint Augustine position: "Yes, of course we want to carry out the will of the people … but not yet. Let's go back to the EU, get an extended deadline, see if we can get a deal …" Britain's Deep State was of course solidly Remain.
To further complicate matters a new single-issue party, the Brexit Party, has come up on Johnson's communitarian flank, and is polling well.
OK, that's the executive summary for Brexit. What happened this week was, Johnson tried to get a parliamentary vote to approve a no-deal exit on October 31st. Twenty-one rebel Tories joined the opposition and voted against their government. Furious, Johnson expelled the twenty-one rebels from the parliamentary party.
Johnson's next idea, to restore his authority, was to call a general election. That needs a two-thirds vote in the House of Commons, though, and he didn't get it.
Johnson's not totally out of options, and polling shows healthy majorities for a no-deal Brexit on October 31st — especially if you include the new Brexit Party. As a third party they would of course split the Leave vote in an election, if Johnson can somehow manage to stage one.
However, if the Brexit Party were formally to ally with the Tories in a coalition party, putting forward single candidates on a joint ticket, they'd win easily.
That's where we are at week end.
04 — Brexit: deep underlying issues. As I keep telling you: While this battle is being fought out in Britain's House of Commons, the underlying political and constitutional issues are wide and deep.
Take for example the issue of kritarchy, that has been giving VDARE.com so much trouble recently. "Kritarchy" is, as we've been at pains to point out, a perfectly good and respectable word meaning "rule by judges."
As I noted the other day when advertising Christopher Caldwell's brilliant Brexit piece at Claremont Review of Books, Caldwell says correctly that Britain was never a kritarchy. Heck, Britain didn't even have a written constitution before she joined the EU. Now, implicitly, she has one. Since 2009, in fact, Britain even has a Supreme Court, may the filthy thing rot in hell.
Quote from Caldwell:
The transfer of competences from legislatures to courts is a superb thing for the rich, because of the way the constitution interacts with occupational sociology. Where the judiciary is drawn from the legal profession, and where the legal profession is credentialed by expensive and elite professional schools, judicialization always means a transfer of power from the country at large to the richest sliver of it. This is true no matter what glorious-sounding pretext is found to justify the shift — racial harmony, European peace, a fair shake for women. In a global age, judicial review is a tool that powerful people expect to find in a constitution, in the same way one might expect to find a hair dryer in a hotel room.
End quote. I really can't recommend Caldwell's essay strongly enough.
It hasn't gone un-answered, though. At the Alt-Lite blog UnHerd.com, commentator Ed West pooh-poohed the case for a no-deal Leave and argued that the 21 Tory rebels who'd joined the opposition to defeat Boris Johnson last week are, quote, "the true conservatives."
That's not some mealy-mouthed cuck speaking, either. I've been reading Ed West for years and find him generally simpatico. He's written some excellent popular books about British history that I recommend to your attention.
Ed points out a thing I myself noted on August 9th: that far from being a valiant knight of communitarianism, Boris Johnson has, in his career, been simply terrible on the National Question, pretty much an open-borders guy.
Sir Nicholas Soames, on the other hand, who was one of the 21 rebel Tories voting against Johnson this week (and incidentally is a grandson of Sir Winston Churchill) had been co-chair of an immigration-restrictionist group of MPs.
Quote from Ed West:
Mass migration is an obviously un-conservative policy, bringing about radical change with uncertain outcomes — the same argument, in fact, that some Conservatives made against leaving the EU.
End quote … ouch.
05 — The kaleidoscope is being shaken. Further quote from Ed West — sorry, but he's very quotable. Quote:
Likewise, as the battle went on we began to hear more talk of "the people." As a conservative, I'd say that pretty much everything in history with "the people" in its title has been complete excrement, from the People's Crusade of the 11th century to the various People's Republics of the 20th century. Invoking "The People" is generally the sort of rhetoric associated with charlatans and fanatics like Jean-Paul Marat, idealists who inevitably leave a pile of bodies when their unachievable goals fail to materialise.
End quote. Americans can of course hear the voice of Alexander Hamilton behind the scenes there, muttering: "Your people, Sir, is a great beast."
Ed West's piece in its turn drew a riposte from Peter Franklin, also at UnHerd.com. Franklin closed with this, quote:
Socialism failed a long time ago. Liberalism is in the process of failing. Among the democratic philosophies, that just leaves conservatism. Quite what shape it takes in our fractured political landscape remains to be seen — but it certainly won't be Tory.
End quote. And the debate rumbles on — I'll leave you to follow it at your own time and inclination.
It really is a debate, though, about really momentous issues that apply far beyond the windy shores of Britain. Communitarianism versus cosmopolitanism; legislatures versus judges; sovereign nations versus supranational bureaucracies.
The old cut of left versus right isn't totally obsolete, mind. Class still matters: In the Brexit referendum, those who voted Leave averaged poorer and less well-educated than Remainers. Race and origin still matter, too: whites voted 53 percent for Leave, Muslims 30 percent, blacks 25 percent.
The fact remains that the communitarian-cosmopolitan split cuts right through established party orthodoxies and traditional left-right alignments.
At some deep level this has always been the case. As often when reasoning things through, it helps to consider the extremes. Both communitarianism and cosmopolitanism have pathological varieties.
For pathological communitarianism you could look at the blood-and-soil fascist movements of the early 20th century, generally tagged as being on the right because of their fierce opposition to communism.
Yet then, on the other hand, who was more communitarian than the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia — fiercely patriotic, and so anti-metropolitan they drove their population out of the cities into the countryside? Yet the Khmer Rouge were communists!
Contrariwise, pathological cosmopolitanism is, in one variety, the old utopian-millenarian dream of One World, the universal City of the Sun, the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, with no more differences of nation, caste, class, or religion. It found its 19th-century expression in Marxism.
Yet in the 21st century, cosmopolitanism is a rich folks' club: think of the sleek, fat bureaucrats who staff the EU and the UN, or the Davos crowd, or the upper-middle-class socialites and Hollywood bubble-heads swooning in horror at Donald Trump's communitarianism.
So yes, in the pathological extremes, both communitarianism and cosmopolitanism can express themselves equally well as either a Marxist utopia of perfect equality or a jet-setting plutocrats' paradise.
I must say, although I haven't much taste for academic political science, reading debates like the one I just summarized — Christopher Caldwell, Ed West, Peter Franklin — I find this present moment quite exciting. It's kind of like the political-science equivalent of being a particle physicist in the 1920s, when quantum mechanics was being worked out.
The kaleidoscope is being shaken, the familiar patterns are rearranging themselves.
[Clip: Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are A-Changin'.]"
06 — Leanin' on Lenín. Following on somewhat tenuously from that, suppose you are a fanatical cosmopolitan — no more nations! no more borders! — and you find yourself in charge of a small country: about the size of Italy (but not Italy), population seventeen million. How might you implement your cosmopolitanism as national policy?
Well, one thing you might do is end all visa requirements to enter your territory, opening yourself up to foreigners without check or distinction.
And that's what he did, "he" here being Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador from 2007 to 2017. Six months into his first term he abolished almost all visa requirements.
This policy was enshrined in Article 416 of the Ecuadorian constitution under the principle of, quote, "universal citizenship." President Correa stated at the time that he was determined to, quote, "dismantle those 20th century inventions, passports and visas," end quote.
That breathy sound you hear in the background? Oh, that's our own 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates all sighing in admiration.
I should say, just to get you oriented to early 21st-century Ecuadorian politics, that President Correa's Vice-President was a chap named Lenín Moreno.
No, that's not some quirk of Ecuadorian onomastics: it's "Lenín" as in "Vladimir Ilyich." Vice President Moreno's Dad was an admirer of the famous Russian mass-murderer and nation-wrecker.
And I should further mention that Lenín Moreno succeeded Rafael Correa as President in 2017, and is the current President of Ecuador.
Why should you care about any of this? Well, because Ecuador's northern border is with Colombia; and if you trek across Colombia heading north, you're on the Central American isthmus, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the U.S.A.'s southern border.
That trek might of course be hazardous to your health; but there are very well-established smuggler networks that will provide you with escorts for a very reasonable fee.
Quote from Todd Bensman at the CIS website, September 3rd, quote:
In an encampment of extra-continental migrants at Acuna, Mexico, just last month, across from Del Rio, Texas, I interviewed Congolese and Cameroonian migrants who told me they and everyone else they knew from their countries currently waiting to cross the border had first flown into Ecuador.
Todd reports that the Trump administration does seem to have woken up to the Ecuador problem. Though there's been no publicity, there are signs they have been leaning on Lenín Moreno — yes, leanin' on Lenín — to tighten up Ecuador's visa policies. Let's hope he's right.
In related news, a friend in Brazil has passed on a report from that country's federal police force that Brazilians seeking to enter the U.S.A. are hiring children from some impoverished area, getting them false documents, and passing them off as their own. It sounds like a well-organized business. Quote:
One of the children was brought by his mother and both stayed for one month in the home of a couple of [Brazilians] in order to get acquainted with them and act naturally when caught by the immigration police.
Once upon a time — it doesn't seem that long ago — illegal immigration across our southern border was largely about Mexico. Then Central America took over the headlines — El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras. Now it looks as though the whole of Latin America is getting in on the act.
We are the fools of the world, the suckers and the fools of the world.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Last week I had things to say about the very uneven quality of justice in our country, especially where black-white interactions are concerned, where blacks get benefit of every doubt and whites get the shaft.
A friend emailed in to tell me of an especially grotesque instance. This is the case of Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw. Technically speaking, Officer Holtzclaw isn't white: his Dad is white American, his mother Japanese.
He was white enough, though, to be dragged out as the Great White Defendant for a 2015 trial, accused of multiple sexual assaults by thirteen black women, mostly drug-addicted prostitutes, in the anti-white, anti-cop hysteria following Michael Brown's shooting in Ferguson, Missouri the previous year. Officer Holtzclaw's still in jail serving a 263-year sentence.
Yep, that's 263 years, for cases in which no-one died, in fact no-one seems to have suffered physical harm at all. Compare the beasts who carried out the Knoxville Horror killings: longest sentence there was 127 years, and that's now been reduced to fifty. (I'm not counting the death penalty against Lemaricus Davidson, which of course will be carried out only after a couple of decades' delay, if at all.)
Michelle Malkin has been doing research and video documentaries on the Holtzclaw case. They are infuriating to watch. To say the very least of it, the evidence against Officer Holtzclaw does not meet the "reasonable doubt" standard.
Two hundred and sixty-three years. Still, as my friend remarked, quote from him: "Hey, on the upside the rioters didn't burn Oklahoma City to the ground!" End quote.
Yep, that's the main thing, whatever it takes.
Item: I get regular grumbles from listeners that I'm too hard on President Trump; that he's doing his best, and look at the alternatives!
Well, OK. I call 'em as I see 'em. I really should give Trump some credit where it's due to him, though, and it is definitely due to him on his approach to our trade with China.
I don't know how current negotiations will play out, but I'm glad to see the President taking a strong line. Everyday Chinese business practices are so crooked no self-respecting corkscrew would shake hands with them.
Now here's some supplementary reference material from Betsy McCaughey, who has been writing intelligently about healthcare issues since at least Mrs Clinton's power-grab on those issues in her husband's first administration.
In the September 3rd New York Post Betsy has a column on the drugs we import from China. Sample, quote:
Americans pay close to the highest medication prices in the world, because they shoulder most of the research and development costs for new drugs. Yet what are they getting? Drugs made with cheap, sometimes contaminated, Chinese ingredients.
If you've read Paul Midler's books, the news that we're importing key drugs from China should keep you awake at night.
Go to it, Mr President!
Item: Finally, a word of congratulation to Ann Corcoran, who since 2007 has been diligently exposing the appalling, shameless refugee rackets, most of them run for cold profit by church groups with reassuringly churchy names.
For most of those years Ann did her invaluable work at a blog called Refugee Resettlement Watch, hosted by WordPress. Then the Thought Police took over at WordPress and Ann's blog was dropped.
Now she's back with a nifty website of her own, RefugeeResettlementWatch.org. That's bad news for the crooks and liars at the Conference of Catholic Bishops, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, and all the other scam artists feeding at the taxpayer trough.
08 — Signoff. That's it for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; and please bear in mind that the next three weeks' Radio Derbs will be of a non-topical form, though I hope you will find them as instructive and entertaining as ever.
To help you keep your peckers up these three weeks I'm away, how about a hortatory song?
Hortatory songs are songs that exhort or encourage us. A lot of hymns are hortatory. Outside the religious realm, though, hortatory songs are sadly out of fashion.
There used to be secular hortatory songs, but they've disappeared. Perhaps our lives today are so pleasant and comfortable, we don't need exhorting to anything. Perhaps fifty or a hundred years ago, when life was harder and misfortunes were more frequent, there was a need … and now there is none. Or perhaps something else, I don't know.
At any rate, I have a weakness for this kind of thing. So here is a hortatory song. This one's from the great Scottish vaudevillean and songwriter Harry Lauder. He wrote it shortly after his only son was killed in action during WW1. The singer here is the fine Scottish tenor Kenneth McKellar.
And yes, there will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Kenneth McKellar, "Keep Right On to the End of the Road."]