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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 1, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your historically genial host John Derbyshire, here to bring you some random commentary on the week's news.
Last Sunday, September 18th, was the birthday of Samuel Johnson, the great 18th-century man of letters, one of my literary heroes. In a blog post here at VDARE.com I urged readers to commemorate the event by reading Johnson's fine pessimistic long poem The Vanity of Human Wishes, an annotated version of which can be found on my personal website.
Those elegant verses of Johnson's have been near the front of my mind ever since, so I hope you will excuse my starting off this week's podcast with reference to them. Here we go.
02 — What's driving open borders? Yes, The Vanity of Human Wishes. Just ten lines in to the poem, speaking in a general way about human folly, Johnson gives us this couplet, quote:
How rarely Reason guides the stubborn Choice,
Those words came to mind the following morning when, in my New York Post, I read Mark Krikorian's excellent opinion piece headlined How the gospel of open borders took over the Democratic Party.
Well, how did it?
Mark summarizes the appalling facts about illegal aliens. By the end of Biden's first term, he tells us, millions — quite possibly five million — foreigners will have settled into our country in defiance of our laws, with no effort by the administration to stop them. What, asks Mark, is the administration thinking?
Among those of us opposing this there is a tendency to assume that it is a reasoned policy. Note "reasoned," not "reasonable." We certainly don't think this open-borders policy is reasonable. We do, though, think it may be reasoned — that it may be the result of a carefully-worked-out — carefully reasoned — chain of thought on the part of our rulers.
What we call the Great Replacement Theory is the kind of reasoning we mean. The ruling elites dislike much of the present U.S. population, especially the white working and middle classes — the Deplorables. Realising that they can't get rid of us, they have reasoned that the next best thing is to swamp us with poor foreigners who will be more likely to vote for their socialist-globalist schemes.
Some others among us think the elites just want to manipulate the congressional representation of the various states. Representation depends on each state's population — and so, by the way, does federal funding — and illegal aliens are counted in the census numbers for purposes of apportionment.
The theory in either case is that the ruling elites are carrying out a reasoned, calculated plan to accomplish some end they desire.
Mark Krikorian pooh-poohs all that. No, he says, it's not Reason guiding the stubborn Choice. Elite brains, like all other human brains, do contain a module for working out reasoned plans, but that's not the module that's active in the case of open borders. What's active is a different part of the brain, the part concerned with morality and religion.
Biden's people, and congressional Democrats, and the blue-state liberals who support and elect them, are not working methodically through some open-borders master plan. They just think that enforcing immigration law would be wrong. Quote from Mark:
Immigration enforcement is immoral, don't you see?
A question I ponder a lot is: Is there something new here? The structure of the human brain can't have changed much in just a few decades. It has always contained that reasoning module, and it has always contained the moral/religious module. Moral hysterias are not a new thing in human history — think of the Wars of Religion four hundred years ago. And Samuel Johnson's observation about Reason — the one I started from — was made 273 years ago.
Yet it does seem to me, looking back across my own few decades of political awareness, it does seem that in the Western world the portion of national politics driven by careful, reasoned cost-benefit analysis has shrunk relative to the portion driven by moralistic frenzy — by the conviction that citizens who think like this and citizens who think like that are locked in an apocalyptic war of Good against Evil.
Perhaps our brains really have changed. Perhaps something in modern food additives is doing to us what the ergot fungus on moldy bread did to medieval peasants. I really think someone should look into this.
Closing quote from Mark:
It would almost be better if the administration and its supporters were purely cynical political actors, deliberately importing voters. The real explanation is deeper, more disturbing, and less amenable to a political solution.
I think Mark is on to something. I wouldn't altogether rule out Great Replacement Theory as a factor in some quarters of the ruling class: more on that in the next segment. But yes: most of what's driving open borders is sheer unreasoned moral enthusiasm.
Before leaving The Vanity of Human Wishes, though, let me just give you the next couplet, following the one I started with. Quote:
How Nations sink, by darling Schemes oppress'd,
03 — Bret Stephens rethinks. And yes, there is definitely Vengeance in the mix there somewhere. It's vengeance at one remove, though; like: "I hate these people for what they've done to those people, but I'll get even with them!"
I mentioned in the previous segment that our ruling elites dislike a great mass of their fellow citizens, especially the white working and middle classes — the bitter clingers, the Deplorables. If you want a poster child for that dislike, you couldn't do better than Bret Stephens.
To say that Bret Stephens dislikes a great mass of his fellow citizens is not based on anything subjective or impressionistic; the guy has said so, in cold print.
Here he was in a New York Times op-ed five years ago. Title of the piece: "Only Mass Deportation Can Save America." From that title you might think Mr Stephens wants mass deportation of illegal aliens, which would put him firmly on our side. No: listen. Quote from him:
The United States has too many people who don't work hard, don't believe in God, don't contribute much to society and don't appreciate the greatness of the American system.
See, Bret Stephens wanted to deport American citizens — the deplorable ones. They commit too much crime; their educational attainment is lackluster; they're not pious, not entrepreneurial, not fertile. Immigrants are better!
There's no doubt that Bret Stephens' dislike of his fellow citizens returns an echo from the bosoms of the liberal elites who dominate our culture, as incarnated in the Biden administration; although not many of them would be so bold as to air their feelings in a New York Times op-ed.
Stephens allowed towards the end of his column that the mass deportation of U.S. citizens he'd been arguing for wasn't actually feasible. Quote:
O.K., so I'm jesting about deporting [inner quote] "real Americans" [end inner quote] en masse. (Who would take them in, anyway?)
That op-ed was published in June of 2017. Has Bret Stephens had any second thoughts this past five years? Well, sort of.
Tuesday this week here was Stephens again opining in The New York Times. This week's title: "The Border Crisis Could Still Be Biden's Opportunity."
The first three-quarters of the piece would not be altogether out of place on VDARE.com. Stephens deplores Ron DeSantis' ploy of shipping illegals to elite enclaves, but allows that, quote, "it succeeded politically" by showing up the Biden administration's ineptness.
Then Stephens tosses and gores Kamala Harris and her declarations that the border is secure. He quotes the outrageous numbers of illegals being admitted.
He scoffs at the administration's claims that disorder in Latin-American countries explains the surging numbers of border-jumpers. No, says Stephens, those numbers result from the administration's annulling of Donald Trump's policies, and openly welcoming an invasion. Quote:
This is political malpractice on multiple levels.
There was the turn of thought. Stephens isn't objecting to administration policy on any kind of national, economic, or social cost-benefit analysis. Nor — and for this relief, much thanks — nor is he arguing against it on moral grounds. His objection is purely political. Quote:
The crisis is an invitation to nativist demagogy. It was Trump's ticket to the White House and might be DeSantis's, too.
The administration's blithe, brazen open-borders policy plays into the hands of those people — the Deplorables. Yes, Stephens is telling the administration, immigration is indeed an unqualified good, but you're not managing it right. Quote:
There's a solution to this. It requires us to be much more hardheaded at our borders — like by finishing the wall — so we can be more softhearted toward those trying to cross them.
So the guy who, five years ago, was calling for mass deportation of worthless American citizens and replacing them with smarter, more law-abiding, more entrepreneurial and fertile immigrants is now calling on the administration to "Build the Wall!"
Well, Scripture tells us that " joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
Still I have a lurking feeling that if I were to try engaging with Bret Stephens on, say, birthright citizenship, or chain migration, or universal E-Verify, or — worst of all — an immigration moratorium, he would stomp out of the room in disgust.
04 — How nations sink: Britain. "How Nations sink, by darling Schemes oppress'd …" Nowadays we don't use the word "darling" as an adjective but in Johnson's time they did. Webster's dictionary gives the meaning of the adjective as, quote, "dearly beloved" or "delightfully pleasing."
In that sense there has been no more darling scheme in the Western world this past few decades than multiculturalism, also known as "diversity": the notion that a stable, secure, and prosperous society will be more stable, secure, and prosperous if it imports lots of people from very different societies. Diversity is our strength!
And yes, Johnson was right. This darling scheme is indeed causing nations to sink. We've been watching some of the sinking in our news outlets this week.
Case in point: Britain. This week's news from those scepter'd isles began in grand style with the funeral of Queen Elizabeth. It was an impressive spectacle — a striking affirmation of national identity.
Some uncouth and deplorable viewers remarked on social media that, one or two carefully-placed tokens aside, well-nigh everyone involved, and all the thousands of Britons who had waited patiently for hours to view the procession, were white. I am sure those people will soon have their social media accounts canceled, and quite right too!
That was Monday's news from Britain. The news on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday had a different flavor. It was all about race riots in the city of Leicester.
These aren't blacks rioting, as would be the assumption here in the U.S.A. British blacks don't riot much. The last time they did, to my knowledge, was in 2005; and that wasn't rioting against whites, but against Pakistanis.
No, this week's riots in Leicester were between Muslims and Hindus. We're told that it all started with a cricket match between India and Pakistan, played in Dubai on August 28th. India won; Hindus in Leicester celebrated; Muslims were vexed; and we were off to the races, although it wasn't until last weekend that things got to the riot level.
Quote from a BBC report this Wednesday, quote:
Footage shared by both Hindus and Muslims on social media, allegedly taken during the unrest in the past few weeks, shows groups from both sides — masked men banging on people's windows in Hindu-majority areas and pulling down religious decorations, and others marching down predominantly Muslim-populated streets, chanting: "Jai Shri Ram," a religious chant now commonly co-opted by far-right Hindu nationalist groups in India.
The 2011 census, according to Wikipedia, showed Leicester as only 51 percent white, most of the rest being South Asian — from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Religion breaks down as 19 percent Muslims, 15 percent Hindus.
In last week's podcast I quoted the novelist Evelyn Waugh concerning the Irish in America, quote again:
They have settled in their millions, bringing with them all their ancient grudges and the melancholy of the bogs.
That's what happens with mass immigration; that's what comes with diversity: immigrants bring with them their ancient grudges. The Irish in America soon settled down: the Orange Riots of the early 1870s are now a distant memory. Still, that Evelyn Waugh quote was from 1949, so the ancient grudges were still alive at some level eighty years later.
The Irish are white and Christian, though. More on them in a later segment. Will South Asian Muslims and South Asian Hindus eventually settle down amicably together in Britain? I suppose they might. It's a gamble, though, and in my opinion a foolish one the Brits should never have taken.
Diversity is not strength; diversity is discord.
05 — How nations sink: Sweden. Here's another nation listing dangerously, sea-water sloshing over the decks: Sweden.
In last week's podcast I reported results from the September 11th general election in Sweden, noting particularly the success of the Sweden Democrats, a national-conservative party taking a stand against mass immigration. I noted that the SD's share of the total vote was, quote, "only around twenty percent," end quote. I further noted that that twenty to twenty-five percent zone seems to be a ceiling for national-conservative parties in Europe, like the AFD in Germany.
The final vote count actually came out with the Sweden Democrats at 20.5 percent of the popular vote. That gives them the second-biggest share of the vote. The biggest share went to the Social Democrats, approximately our own Democratic Party, at 30.3 percent, with the third biggest share going to the Moderate Party — that is actually their name, the Moderate Party, approximately our own GOP — at 19.1 percent.
There's been much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the Sweden Democrats having the audacity to place second in the popular vote. You can read a specimen of it in Tuesday's New York Times, where Swedish writer Elisabeth Åsbrink (who is Jewish) goes full Hitler-Hitler-Hitler on them.
Just what part the SD will play in Sweden's government is still not clear, not to me at any rate. Jacob Christensen in today's Washington Post describes a dance going on between the four parties who are more or less on the political right. Those four parties are:
Those four parties beween them got 50.4 percent of the popular vote and hold 176 seats in the parliament — just one more than is needed for a majority. Christensen tells us that the governing of Sweden will depend on how willing the Sweden Democrats are to co-operate with this other three parties. I guess we'll see.
The governing of Sweden certainly needs some urgent attention. Violent crime is way out of control. Sweden now has the highest per-capita number of deadly shootings of all European countries. Forty-seven people have been shot dead so far this year in a population of ten million.
Among shooting suspects, 85 percent are first- or second-generation immigrants. Nearly 23 percent of Swedish adults were born abroad, with Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan as major countries of origin. The immigrants have concentrated in ghettos and they've organized themselves into criminal gangs that are constantly at war with each other.
The word "war" is entirely appropriate. These immigrant gangs aren't just shooting at each other, they are also bombing each other. Tuesday night, powerful bombs exploded at apartment buildings in two different towns in southern Sweden.
Sweden Democrats are the only party whose candidates speak openly about the immigrant nature of this violence. The other parties are all in denial. Given that, the twenty percent ceiling in the popular vote that the Sweden Democrats just barely broke through is surprising: not surprisingly high, surprisingly low.
06 — The Orange and the Green. Let's have a little musical interlude. Here are the Irish Rovers.
[Clip: Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.
In case you didn't get the gist of that, the late Jimmy Ferguson there was singing an old Northen Ireland ditty: "My father he was Orange and my mother she was Green." The "orange" and the "green" there refer to the signature colors of Northern Ireland's two religious tribes, the Protestants orange, the Catholics green.
When Irish independence from Britain was being negotiated a hundred years ago, the six counties of the north voted to stay in union with the British crown. Why those six counties? Because they were majority Protestant while Ireland's other 26 counties were majority Catholic.
Some people observed at the time, and many have observed since, that the Catholics of those six counties had a higher birth rate than the Protestants. At some future point, these people said, the Catholics would win the demographic race. What would happen then?
Well, apparently that point has been reached. We've been seeing numbers from the 2021 census. Quote from the BBC report yesterday, quote:
The proportion of the resident population which is either Catholic or brought up Catholic is 45.7 percent compared to 43.48 percent Protestant.
In the previous census, 2011, the corresponding figures were 45.1 percent and 48.4 percent. On a straightforward linear interpolation, if I got the math right, that means the actual crossover point, when Catholic and Protestant percentages were precisely equal, would have been 36 minutes and 3.8592 seconds after 8 a.m. on the morning of May 24th, 2017.
Does anyone actually care at this point? The old rigidly-Catholic Republic of Ireland is long gone. Last time I looked they had a Prime Minister who was a homosexual with Indian parents from Bombay … or maybe that was two different guys, I'm not sure. Anyway Ireland now is, as I've been reporting for years, the heart of wokeness.
National allegiance probably trumps religious affiliation nowadays. How does that go? Another quote from the BBC report, quote:
In terms of national identity, 31.9 percent said they had a British-only identity, while 29.1 percent said Irish-only and 19.8 percent said Northern Irish-only.
I don't know quite what to make of that; but with British identity showing a 2.8 percent lead over Irish identity, we may have to wait till the next census before there's a strong case for a united Ireland.
As the old saying goes: Every time the Brits think they've found a solution to the Irish Question, the Irish change the question.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: The House Republican leadership has released a policy agenda, presumably in hopes it will influence the November midterms in the GOP's favor. The agenda is called "Commitment to America" and yes, it includes a section on immigration.
So what do Kevin McCarthy and his troops commit to? I downloaded the PDF to find out.
Heading: Secure the Border and Combat Illegal Immigration. Under that are two bullet points.
Hoo-kay. All right, I understand this is just an outline, but even so this is thin stuff. Thin and vague. "Advanced technology"? Is that shorthand for
Systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras?
We were promised that in the Secure Fence Act of 2006, from which I lifted those words. You mean we're finally going to get it, sixteen years later? Yeah right.
Does "require legal status to get a job" mean universal compulsory E-Verify? If it does, why not say so? "Eliminate welfare incentives"? Well, as federal legislators you can eliminate federal incentives; but can you stop those sanctuary cities spending their own money on the illegal aliens they so enthusiastically welcome?
And the word "wall" is missing. It's not a very long word. Surely you could have made room for it somewhere.
Any commitment on birthright citizenship? Chain migration? The diversity lottery? Anything at all about legal immigration?
Item: The politicization of commerce proceeds apace, with PayPal in the lead.
British conservative activist Toby Young is proprietor of the Free Speech Union website, which defends victims of cancel culture, and the Daily Skeptic website, which covers all kinds of woke idiocy. Neither outlet posts anything a sane person would find outrageous.
Last week PayPal closed both accounts, along with Toby's personal account.
Sure, PayPal's a private company. They can decline to do business with Toby Young if they want to; that's freedomn of association. It's no different from a baker refusing to bake a wedding cake for homosexuals, see?
Also cartoonist Scott Adams, who draws the Dilbert comic strip, has been dropped by Lee Enterprises, which owns nearly 100 newspapers in North America. His strip used to appear in more than 70 of those newspapers.
It's not actually clear that this is political. Lee may be cutting down on the number of comic strips it runs for reasons of space or design; they're not telling us. Dilbert has been poking fun at political correctness, though: the strip recently introduced a black character who identifies as white. That makes the cancellation kind of suggestive.
The end point on the road these cancellations are taking us along is what political scientist Karl Wittfogel called a "beggars' democracy." If you're a beggar — which means an insignificant person with no public platform — you have freedom of speech, you can say what you like within reasonable bounds of libel or incitement to violence. If you have any kind of platform, though, you must toe the party line.
It's not modern totalitarianism. You're not scared to voice your opinions among family or friends. Outside those small circles, though, only one viewpoint is permitted. It's a beggars' democracy, and that's where we're headed.
When the war started up back in February I guessed that Russia would prevail, just based on the disparities in manpower and resources. That's still my guess, but it's taking the Russians longer than I thought.
Vladimir Putin made a snarly, defiant little speech this week, channeling King Lear to tell the NATO countries that if we don't keep our distance he will do such things — what they are, yet he knows not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth!
His idea now seems to be to shift to total war, with no limits on targets, military or civilian. He's called up reserves, although so far it seems to be mainly the ethnic-minority areas he's drafting them from: Yakutia, Saha, Buryatia, Dagestan, Chechnya. If the draft hits European Russia in a big way, things might get interesting.
I still can't see Russia losing this war, but it'll get nastier before there's any kind of result.
08 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening; and particular thanks to the many listeners who emailed in with comments — all kinds of comments from many points of view — on the passing of Britain's Queen Elizabeth.
I watched some of Elizabeth's funeral on Monday, as I know many Radio Derb listeners did. Some lingering sentimental attachments aside, I'm not a monarchist, and you didn't have to be one to find the show pretty darn impressive. The Brits still do that kind of thing superbly well.
One oddity in the proceedings was the pipers playing The Skye Boat Song as the procession came to Windsor Castle. That song was a favorite of Elizabeth's and that's why it was played, but it's an oddity none the less.
What's odd about it is, it's a Jacobite song, and the Jacobites gave the British monarchy a lot of trouble. You need a little Brit history here.
"Jacobite" is the adjective from "James," "James" being the common English form of the much older name "Jacob." There's a long story in comparative phonetics behind the transformation of "Jacob" into "James," but I'll leave you to look it up yourselves.
So who is the James that inspired "Jacobite"? Well, it was King James, fourth monarch of the Stuart Dynasty, who ruled over the entire British Isles for four years in the late 1680s.
James proved unsatisfactory to the Brits — or at any rate to the English — so they threw him out in what is called the Glorious Revolution, replacing him with his daughter Mary Stuart and her Dutch husband William. James tried for a comeback but failed, and spent the rest of his life in exile, mostly in France.
We know, however — we surely know — how hard it is for a rejected ruler to resist the hope of a comeback.
James had a son, another James, and this James Junior claimed that he was the rightful King of Britain. He had a lot of support in Britain, especially in Ireland and Scotland, and of course his supporters were called Jacobites. James Junior himself was called "the Old Pretender."
Mary Stuart's sister Anne was the last monarch of the Stuart Dynasty. Anne died in 1714 leaving no heir, so the Brits brought in a King from Germany, related to the Stuarts through some collateral line, and that started up a new dynasty.
The Jacobites saw their chance. They staged an uprising in Scotland in 1715, but the uprising flopped, so the German guy went on being King and James Junior, the Old Pretender, lived out the rest of his days an exile in Europe, like his Dad.
However, James Junior had a son, name of Charles, and Charles kept the Jacobite flame alive. For that he is called the Young Pretender.
So now Charles staged an uprising, again in Scotland, in 1745. It went along better than the 1715 floperoo, but eventually crashed and burned at the Battle of Culloden, way up in the highlands of Northern Scotland. The English army under William, Duke of Cumberland, massacred the Jacobites.
Charles got away. He was smuggled across Scotland to the Western Isles, one of which is named Skye, and that's what the song commemorates. He found a French ship at last and sailed off to exile; and that was the end of the Jacobites as any kind of serious challenge.
The Battle of Culloden is still remembered with bitterness in the Scottish highlands. The victorious English commander — William, Duke of Cumberland — knowing Charles had got away, sent his troops to hunt for him. They hunted a bit too vigorously, committing a lot of atrocities against the local Scots.
The story our schoolmasters told us was that the flower which in England is called Sweet William was named after the Duke; but that this same flower in Scotland is called the Stinking Billy. I don't know if that story's true … but it's a neat story.
Anyway, there goes Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender, escaping down the Western islands, whence The Skye Boat Song.
Speed, bonny boat, like a bird on the wing
If his uprising had succeeded the Young Pretender would have become Britain's King Charles III. It didn't, though, and the Brits had to wait another 276 years for Charles III. Those are the breaks.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Brigham Phillips of the Irish Roses, "The Skye Boat Song."]