01m41s Kamala Harris: controversies. (The nation is convulsed.)
08m17s Kamala Harris: some grudging respect. (A skillful political athlete.)
16m29s United States of Antifa. (Charlottesville remembered.)
20m22s Convergence to totalitarianism lite. (New life for an old theory.)
28m52s Word of the Week. (I will make you fishers of … what?)
30m30s Phrase of the Week. (PC porkers?)
32m43s Belarus gals won't you come out tonight? (Where are the babushkas?)
35m56s Cancel culture scrapes the barrel. (Running out of presidents.)
37m16s "An unsophisticated dullard"? (Slandering a great man.)
38m58s 2+2=... however you feel about it. (Woke math.)
40m55s Illinois should stop teaching history. (It needs rewriting.)
42m30s Signoff. (With the blues.)
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the summer air! What you just heard, courtesy of a Radio Derb fan, was what he describes as, quote, "a sort of languid summer blues interpretation of the Derbyshire March," end quote.
I think it's lovely — thank you, Sir! I speak here as a fan of the blues from long ago. I collected all their LPs back in the day: Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy, Blind Lemon Jefferson, his buddy Deaf Orange Watson, … I knew 'em all.
There is actually more to that interpretation than I just played, but I'll save the rest for my signoff music. I don't want youse all falling asleep before I've got properly started.
So … Greetings, listeners, from your ataractically genial host John Derbyshire with this week's edition of Radio Derb — some key items from the week's news delivered with a Dissident Right spin. Off we go!
02 — Kamala Harris: controversies. Headliner of the week was the decision by Joe Biden, or whoever programs the very lifelike Joe Biden hologram, to pick California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, and so as the U.S.A.'s possible next Vice President — and thence, by logic we are all familiar with by now, likely President.
Controversy erupted immediately. The most acutely controversial issues were: (1) How black is she? and (2) How do you pronounce her Christian name? The nation was convulsed.
To the first issue there, Senator Harris is one of those exotic nonwhites that white American progressives swoon over — a female Barack Obama. Her dad is a white-black mix — a quadroon, would be my guess — from Jamaica. Like Obama's dad, he didn't stick around very long. He's a retired academic, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Stanford. Senator Harris's mother, who passed away in 2009, was a Tamil-speaking Hindu from Madras, a high-level medical researcher.
So … an octoroon, half South Indian, from a family of academics. Not as black as Obama, but black enough to trade on it: black enough to tell, with a straight face, unconfirmable stories about indignities she suffered as a child back in the Jim Crow days around 1970, black enough to get into law school via affirmative action, black enough to sneer at me for my white privilege I'm sure, and plainly black enough to tick the "black-enough" box on Joe Biden's list of V.P. hopefuls.
Is it impertinent of me to wonder how black she seems to a black American descended from eight enslaved black great-grandparents? I think it probably is.
Our own correspondent Lance Welton has much more to say about Senator Harris's blackness in an article that just came up on VDARE.com. He thinks the senator is a quadroon, not an octoroon, and so blacker than I've been estimating here. If it weren't for that Indian mother Lance and I could compromise and call her a high yaller.
To the second issue, the proper pronunciation of her forename, Wikipedia gives /'kɑːmələ/. Eh, OK; but I think that to the eye of a native English-speaker, /kəm'ɑːlə/ comes more naturally, and I'll guess with strong confidence that the lady has been hearing it said that way all her life, just as I've been hearing my surname mispronounced all the years I've been in the U.S.A.
Which I am fine with. I couldn't care less whether people call me "DAH-bi-shuh" or "DER-bi-shire," so long as they call me [drum-cymbals sound]. My guess is that Senator Harris is of the same kidney. People who make a fuss about the precisely proper pronunciations of their names are high up on everyone's list of insufferable pains in the bottom. If you have an ambiguously-pronouncable name, and any social awareness at all, you know that.
I'm saying "Kamala" the Wikipedia way just because I looked it up for this podcast, that's what it said, and I'd think I was being childish if I deliberately mispronounced it.
Why did I take the trouble to look it up? Because it's become an issue. Tucker Carlson pronounced it the natural way, /kəm'ɑːlə/, on his show the other night, causing Social Justice Warriors nationwide to sputter and shriek and denounce Tucker as a hate-filled racist misogynist filled with hate hate hate.
Curious to see if I have mispronounced it that same way in the past, I scanned the Radio Derb archives. Sure enough, here I was on April 17th this year, at 3m22s into that week's podcast.
[Clip: Biden has already promised to put a Gyno-American on the ticket. If he believed he was coming up short on blackety-blackness, he'd feel pressured to pick some crazy white-hating Negress like Stacey Abrams or a mulatto-exotic Obama clone like Kamala Harris.]
That pronunciation, I repeat, is the one that comes naturally to the eye of a native English-speaker who has better things to do than delve into the minutiae of Tamil phonetics.
This may be especially the case for those of us who did The Aeneid in school, or who follow the affairs of Britain's Royal Family. Virgil's great epic has a character named Camilla and Prince Charles married one. Camilla, Kamala, hey.
Well, the lady promotes herself, and speaks and writes, as a left-liberal. That rules her out as a person who'd get my vote for any political office at all. Sorry, Senator.
On immigration she is simply terrible: amnesty, sanctuary cities, free healthcare for illegals, open borders, ICE is no better than the Ku Klux Klan, the whole package. She is of course an eager shill for the tech oligarchs and other cheap-labor lobbies. To make the indictment here as damning as I know how to make it: On immigration issues, Kamala Harris is even worse than the Republican Party.
That said, I find it hard to dislike Senator Harris at a personal level, and will even confess to some grudging respect. She's smart, capable, and energetic — a skilled political athlete and definitely a cut above most of the other names Joe's been pondering.
The political case against her, in fact, from a National Conservative point of view, is that, while any occupant of the White House from today's Democratic Party will be a Left authoritarian, Kamala Harris would be a more-than-averagely effective and energetic Left authoritarian.
Wait, though. If, as I just said, Harris is a skilled political athlete, why did she fall flat on her face in last years' Democratic primaries? She was running strong for a while at first; then poll numbers and donations fell off a cliff. Why?
There's not much disagreement about the answer. Back when Harris was a DA and state Attorney General she was a tad too enthusiastic about prosecuting criminals. Once that came out, the DNC suits and primary voters dropped her.
Punishing lawbreakers goes entirely against the ethos of today's Democratic Party, whose banner reads: Open Borders, Open Jails!
(Although, in the matter of jails, Democrats don't want them totally open. Jails are just the right place for white supremacists and other enemies of the people — the Charlottesville Six, for example, or the Proud Boys. They are just not the right place for drug dealers, street hoodlums, muggers, rapists, robbers, looters, and gang-bangers. Those people shouldn't be in jail. They're just trying to put food on their families.)
Kamala Harris, to judge by her record as a prosecutor, disagreed. She favored locking criminals up: real criminals, who rob and wound, not patriots who make a stand against communist street thugs financed by foreign troublemakers. If locking up criminals is really what she favored, that is not something that bothers me at all.
Now of course she is singing a different tune. She learned to sing it with remarkable speed and tunefulness. This suggests that she is not much of an ideologue.
So is she merely a ruthless cynic, saying stuff she doesn't believe just to advance herself? I don't think so. Here you get down into the weeds of what politicians think, what they're willing to say, how much they are willing to bend to the political winds.
I bet Kamala Harris does believe that the poor average social outcomes for blacks are caused by white racism, that women earn less than men for the same work, that the Second Amendment is a deplorable 18th-century relic, and so on down the social justice catechism.
These things she believes at some level because everyone she knows, and has ever known, believes them, and she doesn't have the critical, curious, open kind of mind that goes against her peer group in matters of belief. She believes them and you won't change her mind on them. However, the degree of severity to apply when punishing lawbreakers? Eh, that's trade-able.
Her beliefs are not deep, strong, driving convictions. There is nothing of the dissident or martyr about her. Saint Felicity she ain't. There is a lot of psychological territory between cold, ruthless cynicism and intense, passionate belief.
In a free and democratic society, politics must always be to some degree transactional: a matter of open argument, persuasion, negotiation, and compromise. With a true believer in charge — a Lenin or a Mao — freedom and democracy are not possible. Politics is then a matter of identifying opponents and killing them, for the greater good. Can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, you know.
We don't, thank goodness, live in a country where true believers like that can work their wills. Kamala Harris's instincts are Left-authoritarian, no doubt. The politics she has to practice, however, is transactional. She is not a Lenin, not a Mao; and as leftist politicians go, not being a Lenin, not being a Mao, is as good as you can hope for. I could never vote for Kamala Harris for any position; but there are worse critters out there in the jungle.
In the situation Senator Harris is in now, where mouthing today's social-justice platitudes might lift her to the nation's highest political office, she will mouth them with a full, and not entirely false, appearance of perfect conviction. Just watch …
04 — United States of Antifa. Having mentioned Charlottesville back there, it is only proper to note that this week marks the third anniversary of the ambushing of the Unite the Right rally in that city.
The organizers of that rally — a lawful, peaceful demonstration for which the organizers had obtained a permit — were attacked by the anarchist mob, who had no intention of being lawful or peaceful and no permit. The city police, under political direction, abdicated their duty to keep order, and mayhem ensued.
Our website here, VDARE.com, has run some illuminating articles by Unite the Right participants and organizers. It's clear from those accounts that, in the eloquent words of that participant, August 12th 2017 was, quote:
… a dress rehearsal for the anarcho-tyrannical nation-wide insurrection now taking place: Antifa violence; official complicity; police paralysis (unless arresting anyone trying to resist); all protected by tightly controlled Narrative of Legacy Media lies … It looks like Charlottesville 2017 was the beginning of a successful Communist coup against America.
The events of 2020 have made the accuracy of this analysis all too clear. Quite large parts of the U.S.A. are effectively under the control of Antifa today. I'm not just talking about the streets of our big old cities, where Antifa rule is plain to see. The takeover has been institutional. The judiciary, the academy, the media and the social media, the big corporations — all are dancing to the Antifa tune.
The coronavirus pandemic has made things easier for the insurrectionists, at least on the judicial front. "We can't have proper court proceedings with social distancing!" squeal the DAs and prosecutors, as they trouser the big fat envelopes full of cash from George Soros. "Case dismissed!"
And then: "Jails are breeding grounds for the virus," they tell us. "Gotta let prisoners go free!"
Of course, if you have the impertinence to stand and fight when Antifa come round to break your windows, you'll be cuffed, tried, convicted, sentenced, and jailed before you can say "due process."
But wait: Don't we have a National Conservative in the White House? Doesn't he have authority over the Justice Department, to right some of these injustices? Doesn't he have a Secretary of Education to address the totalitarian CultMarx dominance in our universities? A Commerce Secretary to rein in the power of the tech monopolies?
If the Tsar only knew!
05 — Convergence to totalitarianism lite. Looking back over my own commentaries of three years ago, my eye was caught by a segment in my December 22nd podcast of that year. In that segment I mulled over the theories of convergence that had some currency in the early 1960s — convergence, that is, between American capitalism, as then was, and Soviet communism, as then was.
The rough idea was that the USSR would allow more and more private-sector activity while government power in the West would expand, leading eventually to a situation is which the two systems were indistinguishable. They'd have converged to a common political-economic mean.
Those ideas weren't new in the early 1960s, of course. James Burnham had aired them twenty years before in his book The Managerial Revolution, which so fascinated George Orwell.
What set me pondering these things was this week's news items about the ChiCom crackdown on Hong Kong, particularly the arrest of newspaper publisher and democracy advocate Jimmy Lai on Monday.
This was of course a deplorable business, cops taking Mr Lai away in handcuffs and looting his offices. Several other people were likewise arrested, including one of Jimmy Lai's sons, who has no connection with the newspaper business.
After forty hours in custody, though, Jimmy Lai was released on $65,000 bail. He's at home now, and has been giving interviews to the media.
I was struck by the lightness of touch there. In Mao Tse-tung's China Jimmy Lai would just have disappeared — been given twenty-five years in a camp, or just shot out of hand.
There are of course some restraining circumstances to be noted. Hong Kong is still a key hub for China's business with the rest of the world. To keep up appearances, the ChiComs don't want to thoroughly mainlandize the place, to go full totalitarian on it all at once. They want to keep up a decent facade of legality while shutting down dissent one voice at a time. Jimmy Lai could never have published his newspaper in the mainland, and mainland dissidents are treated way more harshly than he has been.
Also acting as a restraint on the natural brutishness of ChiCom rule has been their preoccupation with other problems: the coronavirus pandemic; the loss of international face arising therefrom, with consequent trade issues; the severe floods that have been afflicting their country; possibly some insecurities at the top, with Xi Jinping trying to stay on his feet against rivals in the apparatus.
All things considered, though, today's China is not your father's totalitarianism. Visiting China last year, I found the table-talk among ordinary citizens way more open and relaxed than it was in the early 1980s.
That's where the theory of convergence came back to me. China is heading into totalitarianism lite from one side; perhaps we're heading to the same destination from the other side.
The ChiComs have eased up on the pettier kinds of social control while continuing to punish open dissent, and also while quietly setting up a panopticon of data on what citizens are saying, doing, earning, and buying.
Meanwhile we are firming up on those lesser social controls — on what may be said and done in private exchanges, for example between bird-watchers and dog-walkers — while tightening the screws on open dissent. We're not as far along the road to a panopticon yet, but the trend is in that direction. Not much happens in public nowadays that isn't recorded by security cameras or someone's smartphone.
And there are some features of the modern world that work against hard totalitarianism. A few days ago there came out those video clips of Chinese Uighurs handcuffed and blindfolded, being herded into cattle wagons. Apparently they were leaked by someone with access to the drone footage. I watched them with a friend. He observed that if we'd had that kind of footage of Stalin's slave-labor camps eighty years ago, it would have been harder for Soviet sympathizers to deny the reality of communism.
The coronavirus pandemic has also been a setback for the panopticon project, which relies heavily on facial recognition software. What I hear from people working in this field is that — amazingly, it seems to me — facial recognition can work with people wearing masks … but only in small populations. So if you have, say, a company workforce of five thousand people, all wearing masks, the software can tell you which employee you're looking at. With populations bigger than a few thousand, though, a given image of one masked individual can return multiple matches.
Possibly technology will conquer these issues and all others that limit state power, pulling us back to Nineteen Eighty-Four-style "hard" totalitarianism. I think a convergence to "soft" totalitarianism — totalitarianism lite — is more probable, though.
It used to be a standard classroom exercise for high-school seniors to read both Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley's Brave New World, then write an essay on which was the more probable future.
The way things are now trending, both in China and the U.S.A., we shall end up with something of both dystopias: the nihilistic all-wants-supplied hedonism of Huxley's joined to Orwell's managerial panopticon. We could do worse, I guess; but I shall mourn the loss of our old liberties.
Here's what it means, according to British journalist Guy Birchall at RT.com, July 29th, quote:
Wokefishing is the act of pretending to have ultra right-on opinions in an effort to get social justice warriors into bed.
There is apparently a serious demographic imbalance haunting the dating scene. Far more young women than young men are woke. The solution, for a lot of enterprising young men, is to pretend to be woke in order to lure social justice warriorettes into a sexual relationship. That's "wokefishing."
I enquired of a single twentysomething male I know whether he'd heard this term, "wokefishing." He hadn't, so I explained it. He: "Why would anyone want to have a chick like that around?"
He has a point, one illustrated by my next item.
This phrase was coined, so far as I know, by Chris Roberts over at American Renaissance. Chris, last Sunday, was chewing over a topic I have taken a bite at myself once or twice: What's the matter with white women?
Chris didn't actually chew much; he just posted thirty or so pictures of women demonstrating on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Then he posted a link to that on Twitter under the heading "Mad Sow Disease." Then, in a later tweet that same day, Chris observed that, tweet:
This appears to now be the most commented on post in the history of AmRen.
I'm not surprised. There's nothing like a clever turn of phrase to get people's attention.
I must say, though, with all proper respect to Chris, who is doing God's work over there at AmRen, I must say that the women in those thirty-odd pictures at the AmRen post are, for the most part, not unattractive. Their figures are trim and their features, so far as you can tell with all the masks, pleasant and regular.
It's true that the more porcine demographic has certainly been on display at recent protests. On Chris's evidence, though — and again, absolutely no offense, bro — there are also many, many worthy opportunities for wokefishing.
Belarus, yes. Do you know anything about Belarus, listener? Me neither. Seeking enlightenment, I brought up the BBC News website headlined Belarus: Five things you may not know about the country.
OK; thanks to the Beeb, we are now all wiser.
To the main point, though: I've been watching video clips of the women's protests in Belarus. Far as I can see, there are no sows at all. The women are all slender and healthy-looking, most of them pretty.
What happened to the classic Slavic babushka, the one with the rectangular figure and the hairy wart on her nose?
Perhaps I'll take a trip to Belarus after all.
Item: Talk about scraping the barrel: The passion of Social Justice Warriors for denouncing historical figures has been running so strong in recent months, there is no-one of any significance left to denounce.
That, at any rate, is my reading of the controversy that's been raging up in Buffalo, New York. The University up there has decided to expunge from its facilities the name of … Millard Filmore.
Ol' Millard is generally agreed to be the least significant of all American Presidents. Only the most ardent of history buffs can tell you anything at all about him. The Buffalo Gals are going to take him down none the less.
Surely that exhausts the U.S. Presidents as targets for the woke mob. Now they'll have to start in on Vice Presidents. Elbridge Gerry, Hannibal Hamlin, Garret Hobart, watch out!
A very egregious example of such mockery was posted at UnHerd.com on August 13th. The article was by Daniel Kalder, author of the recnt book Dictator Literature: A History of Despots Through Their Writing.
The article's title, which I blush to say out loud: Is this the worlds worst dictator? Subtitle: "Turkmen citizens are condemned to live in a repressive police state run by an unsophisticated dullard."
Yes, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's enemies are legion, and they will stop at nothing to belittle and insult him.
Down with these vile slanderers! We know where you live, Daniel Kalder.
[Clip: Turkmen national anthem.]
Item: A couple of items from the world of EdBiz — which, as readers of my narrative-sundering bestseller We Are Doomed will recall, is, quote from self, "a vast sea of lies, waste, corruption, crackpot theorizing, and careerist logrolling."
First item: Laurie Rubel, who is Professor of Math Education at Brooklyn College, tweeted on August 3rd that, tweet:
The idea that math is culturally neutral or in any way objective is a MYTH.
Professor Rubel went on to tell us that saying math is neutral because two plus two equals four, quote, "reeks of white supremacist patriarchy," end quote.
I tried to follow the ensuing Twitter debate, but the sheer silliness of it soon repelled me. I kept thinking of the late Martin Gardner's famous question: When two dinosaurs wandered to the water hole back in the Jurassic Period and met another pair of dinosaurs happily sloshing, were there then four dinosaurs at the water hole?
What, in Professor Rubel's opinion, is the correct answer? Or is the notion of "correct answer" just another hateful legacy of the white supremacist patriarchy?
Item: Second EdBiz item. An Illinois State Representative, name of LaShawn K. Ford, issued a news release on August 2nd with the compelling title: "Rep. Ford Today in Evanston to Call for the Abolishment of History Classes in Illinois Schools."
That's the title of the news release. It's actually somewhat misleading, although presumably Rep. Ford approved it. He doesn't want a permanent end to the teaching of history in Illinois schools, only a suspension of all teaching until a more woke curriculum can be authorized and implemented.
Perhaps — who knows? — a curriculum that introduces students to the word "abolition."
Current history teachings, said the legislator at a news conference, lead to a racist society and overlook the contributions of women and minorities.
I guess I'm OK with Rep. Ford's suggested reforms, just so long as they don't drop Millard Filmore altogether.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, blues guitar version.]