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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your spasmodically genial host John Derbyshire with a mid-June survey of the passing scene.
Ah, June. Indulge me a moment please while I reminisce.
June for me is strawberries. My birthday is in early June. I grew up in a country town in England's East Midlands. At the center of the town was a large open space used as a market. Twice a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays, people from the farms and villages all around would set up market stalls and sell their produce. At the point in the year when I first heard these vendors calling out, "Strawberries! Lovely ripe strawberries! Two shillings a pound …," I would know that my birthday was imminent.
Two shillings was at that point twenty-nine cents U.S. My local Stop & Shop is currently charging $4.99 a pound for strawberries, 17 times the price in England back then. There's inflation for you.
If the price of strawberries in the U.K has tracked the U.S. price, it has actually lagged inflation. Prices there today overall are 24½ times higher than in 1960. The lesser inflation of strawberry prices is probably because back then the fruit was being picked by sturdy English peasants, while today the strawberry-picking is done by illegal aliens from Senegal.
I don't really understand inflation. Why can't the Treasury just recalibrate the currency every so often: declare yesterday's five dollars to be today's one dollar? That would keep things nice and stable, wouldn't it?
All right, I'm an economic ignoramus. Go ahead, listeners, grumble about inflation. I'm grumbling, too. Then, buy yourself a nice bag of strawberries and scarf 'em down with whipped cream. "Two shillings a pound!"
02 — Political outrage theater, then and now. You've probably seen notices in the media that today, June 17th, is the fiftieth anniversary of the Watergate burglary — or attempted burglary, the details still seem unclear.
That, on a long fuse, ignited Watergate-the-event: a major political convulsion in which the enemies of Richard Nixon, who was re-elected to the Presidency by a landslide later that year, united in an effort to get him removed from office.
Those enemies included well-nigh all the major media of the time. The progressive establishment really hated Nixon — hated him, and feared him. New York Times veteran William Safire, in his book Before the Fall, famously quoted an unidentified senior editor as saying, after the 1972 landslide, quote:
There's got to be a bloodletting … We've got to make sure nobody even thinks of doing anything like this again.
Sound familiar? Yes: Nixon was the Donald Trump of his time. The Watergate mass hysteria was a preview of today's moralistic panic over last year's Capitol Hill protests. It had all the same features.
There was, for example, naked and brutal politicization of the judicial process. Remember federal judge John Sirica, who sentenced Gordon Liddy, architect of the burglary, to twenty years in prison and a fine of forty thousand dollars? That was for a first offense of organizing a breaking and entering in which nothing was stolen and no resistance offered to police. In our big cities nowadays that would get you released on your own recognizance, no bail required.
(Liddy, I should say, got his prison term commuted by Jimmy Carter and only served four and a half years. He was stuck with the $40,000 fine though — a lot of strawberries back in the mid-1970s.)
As with January 6th, there were actual criminal offenses in play. They were picayune, though, and only got pumped full of hot air and indignation by Nixon's enemies in their campaign to depose him.
There is no evidence that Nixon ordered the break-in, any more than there is evidence that Trump told his supporters to enter the Capitol building. So far as I am aware there isn't even evidence that Nixon knew about it, although he did do his best to help the cover-up, out of loyalty to his subordinates.
But again, it was all picayune, and nothing that was new in American politics. Did the burglars hope to bug the DNC office? Lyndon Johnson had bugged Barry Goldwater's campaign in 1964, and weaponized the FBI and CIA against him. There was no moral panic about that. Why not? Because the political establishment and its media mouthpieces liked Johnson. They didn't like Goldwater. That was the beginning and end of it.
Again, the echoes resound. After 2016 some leading establishment voices, by no means necessarily of the Democratic Party, were muttering: "We've got to make sure nobody even thinks of doing anything like this again." The Russia conspiracy hoax followed. After the 2020 election, when Trump did much better than the ruling class had anticipated, we got the January 6th circus.
It's all couched in high moralistic language, of course: "Threat to democracy!" "Treason in high places!" "Collusion!" "Sanctity of the People's House!" That's how these political hysterias proceed.
It's all b-s. The regime liked Hillary Clinton and hated Donald Trump. They like Joe Biden and still hate Donald Trump. That, again, is the beginning and end of it.
Why do they hate Trump so much? Because (a) their tribal antennae tell them he is not one of them, and (b) because he's popular. How dare sixty-three million American voters — middling people in places you never heard of, devoted to their families, industrious, patriotic; what Nixon called "the Silent Majority" — how dare they vote for an outsider like Trump?
We'd be a happier and healthier nation, a more harmonious nation, if we could cure ourselves of these recurrent spasms of political outrage theater. How do we do that? I don't know, but I sure hope someone's working on it.
03 — Law-enforcement morale is low. We just got numbers for illegal aliens apprehended on our southern border last month: a tad short of 240,000. That's the highest number of migrant encounters recorded in one month ever. It brings total encounters in FY 2022 to more than one and a half million.
That's "encounter," mind. The actual encounter being tallied there is one between an invader and a Border Patrol officer. Either the invader presents himself to Border Patrol with some plausible claim for entry, or he tried to sneak in avoiding the Patrol but got caught by chance. Some large but unknown number of sneak-ins did not get caught.
The good news is that 42 percent of these encounters were deported — or at any rate, "processed for deportation" — under Title 42, the Trump-era protocol allowing deportation on health grounds that Joe Biden tried to end until he was thwarted by a judge.
The other 58 percent are being processed under Title 8 of current immigration law. That will result in some number of them being deported. How many: fifty percent? a hundred percent? ten percent? I don't know.
For a clue I have this from Washington Examiner, June 13th, quote:
More than 2 million migrants were stopped while attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico illegally in the calendar year 2021 [not to be confused with fiscal year] … Of the 2 million, roughly 1.1 million were immediately expelled back to Mexico or flown to other countries. Some attempted crossing multiple times, inflating the numbers. But nearly 800,000 were released into the U.S.
So the news there is not so much good as could-be-worse. Draining even more of the residual goodness out of it, the CBP tells us roughly a quarter of those encountered had at least one prior encounter in the past twelve months. These invaders keep trying until they get lucky.
The main thrust of that Washington Examiner article was the cratering of morale among border agents. Sample quote, from an agent based in Arizona, quote:
"Under Biden, things are the worst they have ever been by far. Agents are calling in all the time. You always hear, [inner quote] 'It doesn't matter,' or, [inner quote] 'What's the point?' in reference to doing our job. Agents are afraid of ending up on the news for doing their job or getting in trouble for doing their job. There is no morale."
I have no doubt you'd hear the same from big-city police officers. "Afraid of ending up on the news for doing their job." Well, they are right to be afraid. The high-level authorities — federal, state, metropolitan — are hostile to law enforcement.
No, that's not exactly right: They're hostile to the enforcement of the laws against privileged groups: foreign scofflaws, blacks, Antifa and BLM rioters, people who fire-bomb anti-abortion support centers. Against dissidents, critics of the regime, or any white person in the vicinity when there's a black corpse on the ground, law enforcement is just fine!
It's an extraordinary thing when you think about it, that the highest authorities in the land should have such disdain for the street cops and border agents charged with enforcing the people's laws. How much longer can that go on?
04 — Life imitates art on the border. There's been a curious little wrinkle in the immigration news this week, though. This is about a story I spotted on CNBC last weekend.
We all know that Californians — 360,000 last year — are fleeing to states that are more friendly to middle-class families with normal values: Texas, Arizona, Idaho. The CNBC story tells us that, quote:
A rising number of former Californians are migrating out of the country altogether and are instead heading south of the border. Many are seeking a more relaxed and affordable lifestyle in Mexico.
This is actually an instance of life imitating art. In my monthly diary here at VDARE.com in November 2019 I had a segment commenting on a novel I'd read that month. I'm going to be lazy here and just read you the segment, somewhat edited, between pips. Here it is.
[Pips.]On a friend's recommendation I read Lionel Shriver's 2016 novel The Mandibles. Ms Shriver — yes, she's a gal — is a seasoned literary veteran from way back: novels, reviews, opinionating … Her literary career somewhat resembles mine, although she has been much more successful in fiction and is less politically incorrect than I am. (But not much less.)
The Mandibles is a near-future dystopia novel about the U.S.A. from 2029 to 2047, after the national economy has gone into total collapse, followed by partial recovery. The story is told through the fortunes of four generations of a family, the Mandibles, who start out comfortably upper-middle-class — Georgetown economics professor, novelist, New York Times journalist — with an assist from some inherited wealth, but are dragged down to destitution by the general misfortune.
It's nicely done, and all too believable. Some of the social observation is almost at a Tom Wolfe level of painful accuracy.
… … … …
There are some neat reversals of the familiar order. By the mid-2040s the U.S.A. is in such bad shape, people are desperate to leave. To Mexico, for example, although you have to hire coyotes to get you across the border into Mexico. Plus, it's best to be Latino.
"Esteban slipped across before they [i.e. the Mexicans — J.D.] finished building the fence," Savannah said. "Which is electrified, and computerized, and 100 percent surveilled, from the Pacific to the Gulf. Esteban has a pedigree, too. He'd have a chance at naturalizing. They don't naturalize any 'non-Lat whites' down there. We're a pest species."
You can't help but smile. Shriver has a nice way with the slang of younger people in the 2040s, too. The word "treasury," for instance, is a synonym for "b-s," in spoken constructions like:
"There's none of that 'human rights' and 'due process' and 'claiming asylum' treasury."
As I said, all too believable.
So yes: A couple more turns of the historical wheel, a couple more long strides towards Venezuela-style breakdown of social order, a few more years of government extravagance and fiscal incompetence, we might indeed see a big beautiful wall along our southern border. Problem is, it won't be there to keep foreign scofflaws out, it'll be to keep us in.
05 — Britain's immigration fiasco. As dumb and treasonous as our current immigration policies are, they fairly glow with integrity, efficiency, and patriotism by comparison with Britain's. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say — and I say it in all earnestness — that Britain's clueless, brainless, worthless government is currently perpetrating the greatest immigration fiasco since Chinese General Wu Sangui opened the gates of China to the Manchus in 1644.
This is the fourth year it's been happening. The numbers for these four years, to the nearest thousand: 2019 — two, 2020 — eight, 2021 — twenty-nine. Estimates for this year's total start at fifty; and once again, these are thousands, so that's fifty thousand.
Essentially none of these invaders get expelled. They plead asylum or refugee status, although that is a priori preposterous: they're coming from France. They destroy their identity documents so they can't be deported. The British authorities conscientiously process their bogus asylum claims anyway, putting them up in good hotels while the processing is under way.
For three of those four years the invasion went on with the British government doing nothing at all about it. This, incredible to report, is a government of the Conservative Party; but these are metropolitan progressives led by a Prime Minister who has, all through his political career, been well-known as an enthusiast for multiculturalism.
Then, earlier this year, pressure from voters became too strong to ignore. The government grudgingly agreed to do something about the invasion.
What did they do? They cut an agreement with the black African nation of Rwanda to take in some of the illegals while their obviously-fake asylum applications were processed. We first heard that 700 illegals would be shipped to Rwanda, to be accommodated in that country's hotels.
Britain, however, is choc-a-bloc with well-funded groups who favor mass illegal immigration. They got busy lawyering. That 700 was quickly whittled down to 130 — which is still a good plane-load.
By the time the first flight to Rwanda was scheduled for Tuesday this week, the 130 had been further whittled down to seven. The pro-illegal activists swung into action on Tuesday, blocking exit routes from the airport detention center and lawyering up a frenzy. By late Tuesday it seemed there was just one illegal left on the plane.
Then some outfit called the European Court of Human Rights issued an injunction to prevent that one illegal being deported. So the flight was cancelled. Number of illegals deported: zero.
Wait: Didn't the Brits unshackle themselves from Europe? How come they have to obey this ruling by a bunch of Frogs, Krauts, Dagos, and Wops? I have no idea. Nobody in Britain seems to have any idea, either.
While all this was going on, of course several hundred new scofflaws landed in Britain and were escorted to nice hotels.
Did I say "fiasco"? This makes our own Border Tsar — or "Tsarina," I guess — this makes Kamala Harris look like a strategic mastermind.
As an ex-Brit, in a spirit of nostalgic affection for the old place, I hereby offer my advice to the British government free of charge.
That should take care of the problem. No, no, no need to thank me. You're welcome!
That's what I've been telling you to expect. From the beginning it was David versus Goliath; and in that kind of fight, Goliath is the way to bet. The original David, David the son of Jesse, just got lucky with that slingshot, if you want my opinion.
And while I am preening about my foresight regarding the outcome of the war, I may as well preen further about my speculations on Putin's motives for the attack on Ukraine.
This was on the February 25th Radio Derb, just one day after the war began. I chewed over possible motives, beginning with the intention to "gather the Russian lands" in the sense that Alexander Solzhenitsyn expressed thirty years ago: bringing the three Slavic republics — Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine — along perhaps with Kazakhstan, all together in a unitary state.
I thought at the time that was the most plausible of the three or four possible motives I discussed. Well, it's looking even more plausible now.
That's following a talk Putin gave last week to a gathering of young scientists and entrepreneurs. In that talk Putin made extensive references to Peter the Great, who ruled as Russian Tsar in the decades around 1700 and founded the city of St Petersburg.
The first twenty years of the 18th century were dominated in eastern Europe by the Great Northern War. Several nations were involved in it: Denmark, Poland, Prussia, and some lesser combatants. The main fight, however, was between Russia, under Peter, and Sweden, under Charles XII. This was a real, big, no-holds-barred war fought all over eastern Europe.
The decisive battle took place in July 1709 at Poltava in Ukraine. This was such a big deal the 19th-century historian Sir Edward Creasy included it in his classic book The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World. It's number 12 of Creasy's 15, in between Blenheim and Saratoga. The winner was Peter. The defeated Charles had to work his way home via Turkey.
Well, earlier in the war, in 1703, while Charles had his hands full fighting Poland, Peter founded St Petersburg on a sliver of Swedish territory he'd captured. In the peace treaties at the end of the war around 1720 Peter got more territory, including the Baltic states.
That's what Putin was talking about the other day to those young Russians. According to the BBC report he told them Peter was his role model.
The BBC offers some actual quotes from Putin. Quotes, Putin speaking:
You might think [Peter] was fighting with Sweden, seizing their lands But he seized nothing; he reclaimed it! … It seems it has fallen to us, too, to reclaim and strengthen.
End Putin quotes.
So yes: maybe Putin's real war aim is to "gather up the Russian lands." For us, that is actually the least-bad possibility. If Putin had more than that in mind — recreating the old Russian Empire, for example, or the U.S.S.R. — he'd need to take on NATO. Uh-oh.
As the Beeb notes, there is a paradox in Putin's taking Peter as his model. Peter was a modernizer and Westernizer. He strongly disliked the old, dark, feudal, priest-ridden Russia and tried to elevate his country to the higher civilizational level of western Europe. Putin by contrast regards the western nations, including ours, with contempt, as decadent and frivolous. Is he wrong? Discuss among yourselves.
07 — Deep currents. To us demography buffs, the Russia-Ukraine war looks somewhat like a pillow-fight in the old folks' home.
Neither country has much demographic vitality. Russia's population is aging fast. Fertility is low and rates of emigration are high. They were high even before this war started: In 2019 a Washington think-tank called the Atlantic Council estimated the size of what it called "The Putin Exodus" over the previous twenty years as between 1.6 and 2 million, mostly educated and talented people.
There's a lot to emigrate from. The healthcare system scores dismally low on international comparisons. Crime, corruption, and alcoholism are rampant. You wouldn't want to live in Putin's Russia, war or no war.
I don't know what Russia's Total Fertility Rate was when Peter the Great was on the throne, but I'll bet it was a whole lot higher than today's feeble, geriatric 1.5 children per woman.
Ukraine is very little better. I'll just mention emigration again, and again this is from before the current war. Quote from David Goldman at Asia Times, January 26th this year, quote:
Ukrainians vote with their feet. Nine million have work abroad, according to the National Security and Defense Council of the Ukraine, and 3.2 million have full-time jobs in other countries. There are only 21 million Ukrainians between the ages of 20 and 55, which suggests that more than two-fifths of prime working-age Ukrainians earn their living elsewhere.
Since the war started emigration from both nations has of course accelerated.
Fertility and population levels are sliding down into the basement all over, of course, except in sub-Saharan Africa and one or two anomalies like Afghanistan and Israel.
I was just this week looking at a report on India's fertility. Yep, down there in the tank with the rest of us: below replacement overall, with some provinces down at 1.3 or 1.6 children per woman. India!
Nations all over aren't trying to fight ferocious, city-flattening wars with each other, though. Russia, Ukraine is, as I said, a pillow-fight in the old folks' home. These are dying nations.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: I'll begin with just a couple of footnotes to those major segments.
First footnote, to that segment where I mentioned Californians emigrating to Mexico. I have a better suggestion.
Regular readers of my monthly diaries will know that I have for years been promoting Uruguay as a small, quiet country where nothing much happens and you can raise a family and pursue a career in peace and modest prosperity.
Well, the rest of the commentariat is catching up with your genial host. Here is a bloke named Andreas Campomar writing in The Spectator, June 12th. Title of the piece: "How Uruguay held out against South American socialism." Money quote:
Uruguay continues to be the region's great success story. It may be one of the smallest countries in Latin America, but it is one with the highest quality of living and has the largest middle class … The country also has some of the lowest rates of extreme poverty in the region and the highest income per capita. Unsurprisingly then, it's also one of the least corrupt.
The downside of this for me is that the more commentators put out pieces like this, the fewer my chances of being noticed by key people in Montevideo and getting invited to an all-expenses-paid jaunt as thanks for my flattering words. I tell ya, it's a dog-eat-dog world out here in Punditland.
Item: Second footnote item, to that segment about Russia-Ukraine. We — we, the civilized world — we may be losing the demographic vitality to sustain prolonged meat-grinder wars, but that doesn't mean we're losing the willingness to kill millions or tens of millions of our enemies.
There's been a scattering of stories like this one, which is from The Guardian, June 13th. The headline tells the story, quote: "Global nuclear arsenal expected to grow for first time in decades," end headline.
At least five of the world's nine nuclear powers are known to be increasing or upgrading their nuclear arsenals and factoring nukes into their war games. Non-nuclear powers, with Ukraine in mind, are having second thoughts about non-nuclearity.
These long decades of nukes being limited to a single-digit number of countries may be drawing to an end. Ten, fifteen years from now we may have nuclear Brazil, nuclear Japan, nuclear Thailand, nuclear … Uruguay? Who knows?
Nukes are, after all, 1940s technology. Remember the 1940s? Radio sets with glass-bulb diodes; automatic transmission still a novelty; about, what? three computers in the whole world? Probably any decently-functioing nation could nuke up if it wants to. And of course, the more that do it, the more will want to.
The nuclear peace was a happy dream while it lasted. We may be about to wake up.
Item: An Englishman named James Watt has been sentenced to 20 weeks in prison for sharing memes — which I suppose means "jokes" — about George Floyd in a WhatsApp group chat. One of the group members snitched on him and the bobbies sprang into action.
To add insult to injury, Mr Watt was ordered to pay the snitch 75 pounds compensation (that's about $92), along with court costs.
The judge's name, I note, is Tan Ikram. Yes, he's a social justice warrior, the offspring of Pakistani immigrants. In his own words, quote:
I'm passionate about social mobility and am involved in initiatives aimed at improving diversity in the legal profession.
I would mind this sacralization of blacks a bit less if it was restricted to normal law-abiding citizens like Ben Carson; but for an Englishman to be forced, on penalty of jail, to bow his head in respect before a worthless low-life like Floyd, who never did a day's honest work and didn't bother raising his children — and who lived in another country! — that could only happen in a terminally diseased society.
Item: I cheered up a bit when, right after reading that grotesque story, I read this quite uplifting one.
There's some background here. Football — which is to say, soccer — is of course a huge thing in Europe. It's also a massively woke thing. Major stadiums are decorated with homosexual "pride" banners for big matches.
The players of several countries, including England, take a knee when their national anthem is played at the start of a match. That's a signal of solidarity with poor oppressed blacks, and presumably also with somewhat less-oppressed black soccer professionals like Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, current annual salary a tad north of fifteen million pounds.
The wokeness doesn't go over well in the old Iron Curtain countries of eastern Europe, who have had enough force-feeding of crackpot state ideology to last them a couple of centuries.
So at last year's UEFA championship game against England in Budapest, the Hungarian fans booed when the English team took a knee, and then engaged in anti-homosexual chanting.
That got them penalized by UEFA, the ruling body of the championship. Hungary, said UEFA, would not be allowed to admit any supporters to their first two games this year. The games would be played, they told Hungary, "behind closed doors."
Forward to June 4th this year, just two weeks ago. The England team was in Budapest to play a qualifying match. They came out on the field and, yes, all took a knee. Loud booing from the Hungarian crowd!
Wait, what? Weren't Hungarian supporters supposed to be banned from the stadium? Well, yes, but the Hungarian Football Association found a work-around. They handed out 30,000 free tickets to fans aged 14 or under, with one adult allowed to attend per ten children.
The Brits, when they had stopped weeping and flagellating themselves, protested mightily, but Hungary was unapologetic. A dignitary called Secretary of State for International Communication and Relations scoffed at people upset about the booing and called them "idiots." Talpra Magyar!
Punch line: Hungary beat England, one goal to none.
Double punch line: Ten days later, playing on their home ground in England this time, England lost even more bigly to the Hungarians, four goals to none.
I told you this was uplifting.
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and I hope you remembered to put out your flag on Tuesday, Flag Day.
Sympathy and best wishes from Radio Derb and VDARE.com to folk in the mountain states out West afflicted by these horrendous floods. Yellowstone Park has been closed indefinitely; some campers, I read, have had to be evacuated by helicopter.
If you want to help people who've lost their homes or property in the flooded areas, just google creatively with keywords like "Montana Flood Relief Fund." There are plenty of sites out there.
For signoff music, I don't know why but I feel like some jazz: old-style, corny, traditional jazz. I've always had a weakness for it and now and then I yield. Here's Ken Colyer and his Jazzmen playing "Out of Nowhere."
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Ken Colyer's Jazzmen, "Out of Nowhere."]