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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, "Surfin' Derb" version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That intro music, in case you're wondering, was supplied by an ingenious friend. He calls it "Surfin' Derb" and describes it as, quote, "the Haydn theme as done by the Shadows or the Ventures." Thanks, pal!
This is of course your ingeniously genial host John Derbyshire, surfing along on the mighty rollers of news as they crash down on the beach of our awareness … Hmm, that doesn't really work, does it? Metaphors aren't my strong point.
Whatever, here's the news. Nothing really big this week, no mighty rollers; just some picayune breakers coming in. I shall do my best to make it interesting and thought-provoking; but if your attention flags, just sink back into a fantasy about lounging on a sun-kissed beach with a cooler of beer, a good book, and your favorite person.
02 — The peasants' revolt. For us longtime fans of George Orwell, the scenes of working-class truck drivers shutting down the center of Ottawa, Canada's capital city, in protest against covid restrictions, summons up Chapter Seven of Nineteen Eighty-Four. That's where Winston Smith writes in his diary the words, quote: "If there is hope, it lies in the proles." End quote.
The all-powerful ruling Party, Smith argued, held too tight a grip on its members; it couldn't be overthrown from within. Principled ideological opposition had no chance to organize, to conspire; surveillance was too strict. But, further quote:
The proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength. would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning. Surely sooner or later it must occur to them to do it?
That has been the dream of many a soul feeling helpless anger at the arrogance of a corrupt, oppressive ruling class. However, the history of social revolutions tells us that the dream is probably an empty fantasy.
The downtrodden masses rise up to cast down the mighty from their seats of power; but they fail, or end up with an even worse bunch of gangsters in charge. Victory by the ruling class, or its replacement by one even worse, is the way to bet.
It's not always like that, though. Sometimes there is improvement. The Peasants' Revolt in 14th-century England was put down with major force, its leaders all killed; but once that had been taken care of, the ruling class quietly conceded some of the rebels' demands. The people of Romania got rid of Ceauşescu and his gang in 1989, and what followed was definitely an improvement. It wasn't great, but it was an improvement.
So let's not get our hopes up too high here. The truckers' protests are wonderful to see, a stirring instance of ordinary people — proles — speaking truth to power.
The power is mighty, though, and armed with all the apparatus of modern state enforcement. You could ask the January 6th protestors about that.
Ottawa is even more of a political capital than Washington, D.C. is. Washington at least has a cultural-historical dimension: monuments, memorials, libraries, museums, parks, … Ottawa has some bits of that, but nothing like as much as Washington. The town is all politics — politics and higher education, which in today's culture amounts to the same thing.
My prediction is that this one will end like the Peasants' Revolt. It will be crushed by force. Then, after a decent interval, and as quietly as possible so as not to give the impression the peasants actually won, reforms will be enacted.
03 — Tory authoritarianism. The covid pandemic has, it is plain to see, been seized upon gleefully by our ruling class as an opportunity to let loose their yearning to boss the rest of us around.
A question much aired this past few weeks has been: How is it that the resulting oppression has been so savage, and so little resisted, in nations of Anglo-Saxon heritage: Canada, Australia, New Zealand? What's happened to the ornery individualism of the Anglo-Saxons?
In the first place I shall summon up Orwell again to take the shine off the premise there. Actually I shall summon up myself summoning up Orwell in a column I published ten years ago. I'm sorry to hit you over the head with Orwell twice in two segments, but sometimes the guy is just unavoidable.
So here I was ten years ago. I'd been reading Gordon Bowker's biography of Orwell. On page 183 Bowker is covering Orwell's investigations among the Depression-stricken coal miners of 1930s northern England. Quoting Orwell's notes, Bowker tells us that after attending large gatherings of, quote, "sheeplike" miners, Orwell concluded that, quote: "There is no turbulence left in England."
So perhaps that ornery individualism of the Anglo-Saxons is just a folk memory, with no relevance to today's politics.
I think there is more to be said than that, though, especially in the case of Canada. Remember that the ancestry of Canadians includes large numbers of (a) Anglo-Saxons from what is now the U.S.A., who didn't much approve of the American revolution, and (b) French people who didn't much approve of the French revolution. Perhaps it's reasonable to expect less turbulence in Canada than in the U.S.A. — which makes the Ottawa protests all the more surprising.
Or perhaps, with that un-turbulent heritage, Canada's government felt free to impose covid rules even stricter than the U.S.A.'s — so strict they roused even Canada's obedient peasants to revolt.
I'm just speculating here. My boss Peter Brimelow knows way more about Canada's political culture than I do — he's written a book about it — and he may want to come in with a better-informed opinion.
Australia and New Zealand are more surprising. Ornery individualism? You could hardly have a better image of ornery individualism than the jolly swagman of the Australian outback. I don't know the equivalent for New Zealand, but I've never thought of the Kiwis as sheepish. Note please the mighty effort of will I am exercising here not to make off-color jokes about Kiwis and sheep.
Speculating from an even scantier base of knowledge than was the case with Canada, I'd point out that the notion of Australia as a nation descended from convicts, and therefore more ornery than the average, is false. Yes, a lot of convicts were shipped there; but there were plenty of free settlers too. Australia's government, and likewise New Zealand's, had its origins in colonial administration and settler values, not criminal orneriness.
All these old British-colonial nations have come into the present with a political ethos descended mainly from those colonial administrators, seasoned with successful settler lineages, without ever having been upturned — as America's was — by a revolution. The administrators were from good British families, predominantly Tory, and the settlers were land-owners of generally Tory inclination.
So Canada, Australia, and New Zealand ended up with political systems I think you could fairly characterize as "Tory authoritarianism." Their people might be ornery at the local level; but national politics is conducted in a way even less tolerant of turbulence, of orneriness, than the U.S.A.'s.
There is actually a lot to be said for Tory authoritarianism. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all have much more sensible policies on immigration than the U.S.A., for example. Canada has an employee-verification system like the mandatory E-Verify we immigration patriots keep begging for. Australia detains illegal aliens in camps on remote islands until they self-deport. New Zealand won't admit you for settlement if you're too fat.
The more I think about it, the more I wonder if we couldn't use a dash of Tory authoritarianism here in the U.S.A.
Well, that's my this week's venture into political science, a subject I have never studied in any depth. By all means email in and tell me how wrong you think I am.
04 — The hauls of Congress. On a different topic, there has been some news about restricting the ability of congresscritters to trade in stocks.
The issue here looks pretty straightforward at a first glance. There's money to be made trading stocks. If I have some inside information, information that is not public, about something a company is planning to do — launch a dazzling new product, dump a loss-making subsidiary, that sort of thing — I can use that information to gain an advantage over other players.
Plainly there need to be some federal laws to keep public trading fair. Problem is, those laws are made in Congress; and the making of them — what they are likely to say, what are their chances of being passed — can itself be a kind of inside information. If you know it before it's public, that gives you an advantage in the market; and the congresspeople writing the laws do know it.
So, we need some laws about how our senators and representatives can interact with the stock market, to prevent them falling into the sin of insider trading. Right?
As I said, it looks straightforward. In fact, once you get to grips with the issue, there are some very knotty problems here.
For one thing, setting the congressional issue aside for a moment, there are problems defining the precise meaning of the phrase "insider trading." A character in a great American novel unloads on this. With the author's permission, I shall quote that character.
In this passage the novel's main male protagonist, name of William, is talking to Theo, who used to be a colleague of his at a Wall Street firm. The firm is being harassed by the U.S. government for, among other things, insider trading. So what exactly is insider trading? Over to Theo. He refers to ITSA, which is the Insider Trading Sanctions Act of 1984.
Quote, the speaker here being Theo:
"Trading on the basis of 'material information,' according to ITSA. What a pile of dogshit! Without material information, who'd bother to trade? What, we're supposed to wait for a firm's quarterly report, that's the only information we're allowed? Whose numbers are cooked nine ways to Sunday anyway? And what about not trading on material information? I learn something that tells me to stay clear of a stock — don't buy, don't sell, too unpredictable, too much volatility. This saves me a ton of money. Is that an offense? Insider not-trading?" Theo laughed again. "We're not talking about reason, here, Willy. We're not talking about legality, or equity, or justice, or sense. We're talking about politics."
And that's just insider trading in all generality. American governments have been trying to ensure a fair market for stock trading since at least the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Just establishing suitable penalties for offenders, in an environment where millions of dollars can be made, has been a chronic problem; that's what ITSA was supposed to fix.
In the particular matter of insider trading by members of Congress, things get even knottier. Spot quiz: When was insider trading first forbidden by law to members of Congress? 1822? 1922?
Give up? Answer: 2012, less than ten years ago. That was the STOCK Act, one of those laws with an acronym for its name: S-T-O-C-K stands for "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge." As investopedia.com notes rather drily, quote:
Many people may be surprised to learn that until recently, trading based on material nonpublic information — otherwise known as insider trading — was both legal and commonplace among members of Congress.
Would you like to know how many members of Congress have been prosecuted under the STOCK Act in the almost-ten years it's been on the books? Would you? I'll give you a clue. It's a round number — a perfectly round number.
There has recently been a push for more and better legislation on congressional insider trading. Some of the push is covid-related — what isn't nowadays? Several Senators are said to have executed profitable trades in healthcare and pharmaceutical stocks following private briefings very early in the pandemic. The New York Times names Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Republicans Kelly Loeffler, Richard Burr, David Perdue, and Rand Paul's wife.
So it looks as though we'll be getting more legislation. Nancy Pelosi was opposed when the topic first came up a few weeks ago, I can't imagine why. Now, however, she's changed her mind and supports legislation. We are told that Democratic leaders aim to vote on a bill by the end of the year, potentially before November's midterm elections.
Ah yes, November's midterm elections. Quote from The Hill, referring to the practice of congressional insider trading, quote:
Lawmakers introduced a deluge of bills to end the practice after a poll from conservative advocacy group Convention of States Action found that 76 percent of voters believe that lawmakers and their spouses have an "unfair advantage" when trading stocks, including 70 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Republicans and nearly 80 percent of independents.
05 — Removing a stain on VMI's honor. Is there any idea in current jurisprudence dumber than "disparate impact"?
The idea behind disparate impact is that if some clearly-identifiable subset S of our population forms x percent of the total, and that subset is represented in some undesirable category as y percent of the total in that category, and y is much greater than x, then there must be some feature of our society or culture, some correctable feature — causing that discrepancy, negatively impacting subset S.
Take incarceration, for example. The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that as of last Sunday, 93.5 percent of federal inmates were male, only 6.5 percent female. The most recent numbers I can find for inmates in the generality — I mean, both federal and state — are for 2018, from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. For that year the Bureau gives 93 percent of inmates as male.
So: 93.5 percent, 93 percent, plainly we have some very serious disparate impact there, negatively affecting males. Since "male" and "female" are merely social constructs, there must be something in our society or culture causing this. What is it? How can we correct it?
I know, that sounds nuts. Trust me, though: Somewhere in the U.S.A. some person, almost certainly an accredited teacher at a university, is making that case even as I speak. It's disparate impact! What could be plainer?
Only a tad less preposterous is this story from The Washington Post, February 5th. Headline: VMI will change honor system that expels Black cadets at disproportionate rates.
VMI is Virginia Military Institute, the nation's oldest state-supported military college. On their website they have this to say about the honor code, edited quote:
Above all else, cadets are men and women of honor and integrity who can always be trusted.
Well, guess what: We have some disparate impact here. No, it's not sex this time. It's a different social construct, although one just as untethered from reality. Yes, it's so-called "race."
The Washington Post tells us that of the 28 VMI students dismissed in academic years 2017 to 2020, twelve were black. Twelve out of 28 is 43 percent. Since blacks made up only six percent of the student body in those years, that is a massive over-representation. Disparate impact! This will not stand!
Please don't panic, though, listeners. VMI is on the case. The state of Virginia, which funds VMI to the tune of twenty million dollars a year, conducted an investigation into this egregious case of disparate impact.
In response to that, last Friday VMI issued a 70-page report confessing all their sins and promising reforms. The governing board of VMI will undergo mandatory training in Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity to raise their collective consciousness. The Honor Court system will be reformed: no more one-strike-and-you're-out, heavier burden of proof, pro bono attorneys for all accused.
We commentators have to read news reports like that one, but we don't enjoy doing so. By the time I got to the part about VMI removing the statue of Stonewall Jackson that had stood at the center of the school's campus for 108 years, I was about to head for the liquor cabinet.
I did get one faint smile from the piece, though. That was when they told us the name of VMI's Chief Diversity Officer. They have a Chief Diversity Officer, of course. What kind of school would VMI be without one? Her name: Jamica Love.
Jamica Love. I guess any applicant with the surname Honor would have been ruled out at the first cut.
06 — Xi Jinping goes for the gold. In last week's podcast I surmised that ChiCom leader Xi Jinping needs the Peking Winter Olympics to be a success. He needs this in order to bolster his standing among his citizens; but more particularly among his own Party members prior to the Party Congress this Fall.
An overall failure of the Olympics, I further surmised, might drive Xi to recover his standing by some kind of bold action prior to the congress. I left it to your imagination to guess what that bold action might be.
So how are the Olympics going? Not well.
Last Sunday — so this was just one full day into the games — The Guardian, a left-wing London newspaper, ran a very scathing report on conditions there for the athletes.
The events themselves seem not well-managed. The women's nine-mile skiathlon on Saturday didn't start until 4pm and the ladies were skiing in unacceptably cold conditions. At least one of them was seen shaking and close to collapse at the end of the event.
There have been some questionable decisions, too. Tuesday the South Koreans called a news conference after their skaters were disqualified from the men's short-track event. That ruling meant that the final of the event would include five Chinese skaters, three skating for China, two for Hungary.
The thing to bear in mind here is the thing I said last week: To the ChiComs it is not so important that the games look honest and well-conducted to the world at large as that they please Chinese viewers. That adds legitimacy to the Party and Xi Jinping.
Covid may have been a blessing to the ChiComs here, as much as it was to the Democrats in the 2020 election. For example: Athletes who test positive for covid have to leave the Olympic village, go to an isolation ward, and stay there until they are free of symptoms and have had two negative Covid tests 24 hours apart.
So let's suppose there is an event where China would have a shot at a gold medal if not for the presence of a star contestant from some other country. If that star contestant can be put in the isolation ward, the Chinese contestant has a much improved prospect of winning the gold.
Polish speed skater Natalia Maliszewska seems to believe that some such thing was being tried out on her. Quote from a sports website:
Confused and frustrated with the situation, Maliszewska admitted she no longer trusts the legitimacy of the Covid-19 testing process.
That may be big news in Poland, but it won't show up in the Chinese media, which the ChiComs totally control. Nor will the complaints about lousy food, poor internet connections, lack of training equipment, and endless, all-pervasive covid control-freakery.
If it doesn't show up in the Chinese media then it doesn't reflect badly on the Party or its leader. That's all that matters.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: MacKenzie Scott is the ex-wife of centibillionaire Jeff Bezos, and that is a very nice thing to be. Ms Scott has lots of money.
She is no miser, though. Ms Scott has showered donations on causes and organizations she wants to help. She has of course a perfect right to do that.
This week Philanthropy News Digest reported that Ms Scott has made a large donation to something called Communities in Schools, CIS for short. How large a donation? You might want to sit down for this, listener. You sitting? Here we go: The donation is $133.5 million.
What is Communities in Schools? The name is kind of a tell, isn't it? "Communities," yes. What other word begins with C-O-M-M-U-N-I?
Here is Rey Saldaña, President of CIS, quote:
Today is an important day for students who are underserved, underresourced, and in need of transformative support to build a brighter future … This unrestricted gift allows us to combat the inequities in public education and reimagine the way schools operate and show up for all students …
"Underresourced" … "transformative" … "inequities" … "reimagine" … I think we know what world we are in here: the precious, clichéd little world of wokery.
What I want to know is, why aren't there any tech billionaires on the Dissident Right? A hundred and thirty-three point five million dollars could do a lot to advance patriotic immigration reform, rational jurisprudence, balance in the media, and the other things we promote here at VDARE.com.
William Booth famously asked why the Devil should have all the good tunes. Here's John Derbyshire asking why the anti-white far left has all the billionaires.
Item: Should there actually be a Dissident Right supporter with a few million dollars to spare, here is an actual, serious suggestion from Radio Derb to him or his ex-wife.
Several of us here at VDARE.com have expressed our outrage at the sentences handed out to the Brunswick Three following the show trial over the death of Ahmaud Arbery. I just learned this week that Greg McMichael's wife Leigh has set up a funding site for their appeals. The site is givesendgo.com/McMichaeldefense, all lowercase except for uppercase on the two "M"s in "McMichael," no hyphens.
I've tweeted about this under my Twitter handle @DissidentRight. That tweet also has links to our commentaries on the case. Please help these guys if you can.
[Added when archiving: This Radio Derb was posted on Friday the 11th. On Sunday the 13th news came out that GiveSendGo had been hacked and donors doxxed to the Thought Police. This was connected to the truckers' protests in Canada; the truckers and their supporters had also been using GiveSendGo to raise funds. I put up a post about this at VDARE.com as soon as I knew about it.]
Item: There's been a minor fuss about the N-word.
I wince inwardly every time I say or write that expression, "the N-word." What a prissy, girly, squealy, mealy-mouthed usage! I have to follow it, though, or VDARE.com will get into trouble.
So, there's been a minor fuss about the N-word. I haven't followed the fuss closely as it concerns Joe Rogan, about whom I know nothing, and Spotify, which I have never used. No offense to either, honestly. I'm sure Rogan is a worthy fellow and Spotify a useful service. I've just never met either of them. There are only so many hours in the day.
I did, though, get a chuckle out of this fuss. This was via Darren Beattie who tweeted on Monday that, tweet:
Kanye West should offer 200 million worth of N-passes.
I'm not even sure what that means, or who Kanye West is. It did, however, plant in my mind the notion that there ought to be some central clearing-house where we could buy passes for taboo words.
So the N-word might be priced at a hundred bucks; then for five hundred dollars you would get to say or write the actual word five times in public.
There could be lower prices for less taboo words: just fifty bucks perhaps for the F-word — the one signifying a homosexual, not the common four-letter intensifier. That one, to judge from movies, TV shows, and conversations I overhear, is not even taboo any more.
This concerned the Minsk ceasefire agreement of 2015 between Russia and Ukraine. In a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron this week, Putin mocked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for saying he doesn't like the agreement. Said Putin, quote translated from the Russian:
Like it or not, my beauty, you have to put up with it.
A Russian friend told me that Putin was riffing off a well-known Russian folk ditty, a chastushka. The ditty goes thus, please excuse my poor Russian:
Спит красавица в гробу
My friend offered the following somewhat loose translation:
Sleeping beauty was out cold.
However, that third line of the Russian translates literally as "like it or not," so I guess that was Putin's allusion.
[Added when archiving: The VDARE.com editor who checks my posts declared himself "really worried" about that opening спит (which is pronounced "speet."). That baffled me. Worried? Why? It's a straightforward derivative from the verb спать = "to sleep."
08 — Signoff. That's all I have this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and if there is a person in your life that you dote on, be sure to do some extra-serious, over-the-top doting on Monday, St Valentine's Day.
Returning to this week's intro music: I mentioned my friend describing it as, quote, "the Haydn theme as done by the Shadows or the Ventures." I got a blast of nostalgia from that.
The Shadows were a British instrumental group back in the early 1960s. I and my teenage buddies thought they were as cool as it was possible to be without being, … you know, … American. Hank Marvin, the lead guitarist, was the coolest of the cool — a guitar virtuoso, according to coevals of mine who were trying to learn how to play that instrument.
Bringing up the Shadows on YouTube just now, sixty years later, my reaction was: What were we thinking? It sounds like the kind of instrumental music you could cut off and sell by the yard.
It's likely, though, that the fault here is mine. Quote from Doctor Johnson, quote:
Our tastes greatly alter. The lad does not care for the child's rattle, and the old man does not care for the young man's whore.
I don't know about that; but certainly our tastes in music change as we mature.
Judge for yourselves. Here are the Shadows with one of their hit numbers, "F.B.I."
Younger listeners may be puzzled by the name of the piece, so I should pause to explain. The F.B.I. today is of course an enforcement arm of the managerial state, in cahoots with Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ADL, the Democratic Party, the outfit that Jeff Bezos' ex-wife just gave $130 million to, and everything else funded by George Soros and the tech billionaires. However, there was a time, all those years ago, when the F.B.I. was a widely-admired guardian of law and liberty. Hard to believe, I know, but there really was such a time. This is what that time sounded like.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: The Shadows, "F.B.I."]