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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! This is your cathartically genial host John Derbyshire with a full serving of Radio Derb, authentic voice of the Dissident Right.
Apologies once again, ladies and gents, for the truncated broadcast last week. Following a week-long course of medication with ouzo, orally administered, and a daily rub-down from the girls, I am once again glowing with health and primed to bring you key points from the week's news. Let's begin!
02 — Globalization and its discontents. The big news item this week is of course Thursday's referendum on Scottish independence.
That's awkward for Radio Derb. As I've had occasion to explain before, the logistics of Radio Derb production only permit us to report on events up to about midnight on Thursday. The result of Scotland's referendum will not be available until later on Friday, as ballot boxes from remote villages and crofters' cottages in the Outer Hebrides take some time to find their way to the counting stations.
I can therefore only pass general remarks here. If you want me to tell you what I hope will happen, I refer you to my column this week in Taki's Magazine, where I express the hope that the Scots will leave the United Kingdom. If, on the other hand, you want me to tell you what I think will actually happen, I think they'll vote to stay in the Union. By the time you hear this broadcast I shall have been proved either right or wrong. If right, I shall be mildly disappointed; if wrong, somewhat pleased.
Why should anyone outside the British Isles care about this referendum? Well, there are some immediate reasons one can point to. Scottish secession will, for example, roil the international financial markets — never a good thing, often leading to unpredictable, and usually unpleasant, results.
That aside, reasons for being interested were encapsulated very nicely by Neil Irwin on, believe it or not, the New York Times blog. You don't often hear a kind word about the New York Times and its opinions from Radio Derb, but Irwin is spot-on.
The Scottish referendum is, says Irwin, a symptom of something happening in our age. Of what? Of, quote, "a Global Crisis of the Elites." Further quote from Irwin:
Scotland's push for independence is driven by a conviction — one not ungrounded in reality — that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades. The same discontent applies to varying degrees in the United States and, especially, the eurozone. It is, in many ways, a defining feature of our time.
That's quite right. The heading here is: "Globalization and Its Discontents." The great globalization push of the past thirty years has actually done much good, freeing up trade and finance and probably leaving us better off than we would otherwise have been.
As is usually the case in human affairs, though, the bearer of good things comes trailing a dark shadow. We may be better off than we would otherwise have been, but we don't actually feel better off. Middle-aged people can remember when the curves were all rising. You can argue that without globalization they would have turned downward, and that thanks to globalization they have at least only leveled off. The way the human mind works, though, that's not very consoling.
And there have been some stark negatives. Globalization, in both Europe and the U.S.A., was pushed through by elites who believed in it. Belief in globalization goes naturally with absence of belief in the sovereign nation-state. Thus important attributes of the nation-state — control over borders, primacy of one's own laws enacted by one's own representatives in one's own national parliament — have been tossed overboard.
These are not just matters of cold policy, either. People like the idea that they belong to a nation, with some cultural continuity going backwards in time through their parents and grandparents. Believe it or not, people have actually been known to fight and die for their nation. Not crazy people; not "fascists"; not "extreme right-wingers"; ordinary sensible Joes and Janes.
A member of the globalist elite would likely say those people were foolish and deluded to do so, but most of us disagree. Most of us, in fact, think the globalist elites are cold and bloodless. We don't much like them. They don't feel the things we feel. Plus, a lot of them are insanely rich. I don't personally think there's anything wrong with being rich; but if you're rich and also a dogmatic adherent of an unpopular ideology — in this case globalization — it's natural to suspect that your ideology springs from self-interest.
I say again, globalization has done much good; but it's had downsides, and the downsides are now edging to the front of people's minds all over.
People are waking up to what's been lost. They are waking up in different ways in different places, and some paradoxes have emerged. Let's take a look at that.
03 — Nationalism right and left. Back in the fall of 1971, in the chaotic depths of Mao Tse-tung's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the Chinese leadership was rocked by a crisis known as the Lin Biao affair. Lin Biao was a senior leader, supposed to be Mao's closest comrade-in-arms; but they had a falling-out and Lin was declared an Enemy of the People and perished under circumstances still mysterious.
The ideology of the Lin Biao affair was so convoluted that at one point in the crisis the Peking People's Daily, which was the main Party organ, editorialized that Lin's sin of extreme leftism was a right-wing deviation. Once again: Extreme leftism was declared to be a right-wing deviation.
This always comes to my mind when I hear people talk about nationalism. In the modern Cultural Marxist narrative — the narrative you hear from the mainstream media, college professors, and the like — nationalism is a phenomenon of the extreme Right. Here, to pull an example at random from the recent news, is the lead sentence in a Financial Times story dated September 5th, quote:
Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right National Front, would beat struggling incumbent François Hollande in a run-off election for the French presidency, according to a new poll.
End quote. See? Mlle. Le Pen is a nationalist, ergo "far-right."
It follows that nationalism is evil, evil, evil, because Hitler. Far-right: nationalism: Hitler: evil, evil, evil.
Over to Scotland. Is the Scottish National Party, which has been pushing this referendum, are they "far right"? Limited government? Strong border controls? Jealous of their national sovereignty? Correspondingly suspicious of globalist internationalism?
Not exactly. The Scottish National Party, on its website, describes itself as, quote, "a social democratic party." They are gung-ho for the European Union, which is the ultimate in globalist nation-denying bureaucracies. An August 29th press release from the party declares that, quote: "It is in the overwhelming interests of Scotland and the EU for Scotland's membership of the European Union to continue." End quote.
Mass immigration? Alex Salmond, the Scottish Nationalist leader, is hot for it. Quote from Tuesday's MailOnline, quote:
Alex Salmond's independence blueprint aims to attract thousands more immigrants, who could use Scotland as a back door to England.
End quote. So: a globalist, Euro-enthusiastic, social democratic, open-borders party of the Far Right. I need a People's Daily editorial to explain this to me.
I note with interest, by the way, that Alex Salmond was a Maoist in his youth. Unfortunately my researchers have not been able to find any record of him taking a position on the Lin Biao affair.
04 — Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Just a few words more on nationalism.
As I said a few minutes ago, the Cultural Marxist line is that nationalism is a bad thing. Didn't nationalism cause the two world wars?
Well, sort of. The nationalist passions that helped ignite those wars were, though, not the proud nationalism of an ethnically self-conscious people running their own national affairs. They were much more the result of people who felt themselves to be a distinct nationality, but who were under the rule of some other nationality.
Gavrilo Princip, the guy who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, was a Yugoslav nationalist, aggrieved that so many of his fellow Yugoslavs were under Austrian rule. Hitler's rise was fueled in part by anger over French forces occupying Germany's Rhineland, and Sudeten Germans being ruled by Czechoslovakia.
Jerry Muller's 2008 article in Foreign Affairs magazine — the article I discussed in Chapter Two of We Are Doomed — argued, I think correctly, that the long peace enjoyed by post-WW2 Europe was made possible by the ethnic cleansing of that war. There were no longer any resentful national minorities in Western Europe hankering to rule themselves. Eastern Europe was not quite so well cleansed; but there were strict dictatorships or Soviet troops to keep the lid on Hungarians in Transylvania, Croats in Yugoslavia, and so on.
It's tempting to conclude that an ideal and perfectly peaceful world would be one in which every people who felt themselves to be a nation would be ruling themselves in their own territory. It would certainly be a better world if we moved in that direction. Let Tibetans and Uighurs, and Basques and Catalans, and yes, Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs, let them run their own affairs in their own countries. I'm fine with it.
You don't get perfection on this side of the grave, though. There are problems with total Wilsonian self-determination.
For one thing, old man History has left a lot of unsightly messes around, so that it isn't always easy to say which people a piece of land properly belongs to. Palestine and Northern Ireland illustrate the point.
For another thing, some peoples are not very numerous. It's nice for Slovenes, Estonians, Yemenis, and Timorese to rule themselves in their own territories; but if some much bigger, more powerful neighbor begins to cast covetous eyes on your territory, Katy bar the door. The traditional solution to this is for small, weak nationalities to enter into treaties with bigger powers unlikely to be interested in grabbing their territory. That only works if citizens of the bigger power are willing to fight on behalf of the smaller one — that is, on behalf of global order. That implies globalist sentiment coming to the rescue of nationalism, though, so we're back in paradox land.
"Politics ain't beanbag," goes the cliché, and geopolitics ain't Happy Families. Human affairs are knotty and tangled: always have been, always will be. Simplistic slogans like "nationalism is evil!" or "nationalism causes wars!" really don't help. Nationalism can be a good and positive force. So can globalist internationalism.
I'm glad to see nationalism making a comeback, if that is indeed what's happening. It'll be an improvement. It won't cure all our geostrategic ills, though. Nothing will; there are no panaceas. Globalization has over-reached, and it's time for some modest nationalist retrenchment.
05 — Mideast Whack-A-Mole. Wednesday our Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The key issue here is U.S. assistance to the Syrian rebels — the so-called Free Syrian Army, the FSA.
The FSA came up three years ago in rebellion against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. They're still fighting Assad, but now the Obama administration wants them to also fight this new Islamic movement, ISIL. The administration want to train and equip them for that purpose; and that needs congressional authorization. Hence Kerry's appearance before the committee.
It wasn't a very convincing appearance. The FSA hasn't done very well against Assad's forces, and there's no reason to suppose they'll do better against ISIS, however much money we spend on them.
In Iraq the story has been even worse. Sample quotes from the GlobalSecurity website, quotes:
The U.S. spent over $20 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces. But in June 2014 the once-proud Iraqi army simply collapsed and failed to defend the country's second-largest city. Tens of thousands of Iraqi troops abandoned their posts and fled.
End quotes. Arab warriors seem to come in two varieties: fired-up crazy fanatics, or shambolic units of reluctant peasant lads looking to stay as far as possible from the sound of gunfire, under corrupt officers who steal the men's wages.
Whether any amount of "training" or "equipping" will turn this around and transform Arabs into Prussians, is doubtful. If that can't be done, we shall have to put aside the proxies and go in there and fight ourselves for our aims in the region.
Which are … what? Quote from our Secretary of State in Wednesday's testimony, quote: "ISIL has to be defeated, plain and simple, end of story; has to be." End quote. So we're going to do training and equipping with these Syrian rebels and Iraqi peasants enlisted for three hots and a cot, in hopes they'll see off this latest band of fanatics.
What if they don't? And why do we care whether they do or not? Isn't this starting to look like Whack-A-Mole? OK, after thirteen years and a couple of trillion dollars, we've seen off al Qaeda. Now this new group, ISIL, has come up. Are we in for another thirteen years, another trillion or two dollars? And then what?
Wouldn't it be cheaper and easier to get control of our borders, properly monitor foreign visa holders, and severely restrict Muslim immigration? Why can't we do that?
In a bombastic Op-Ed this week calling for U.S. forces to be sent to Iraq and Syria, John Bolton wrote, quote: "We don't get to decide what the terrorists do." That's quite true; but, as 9/11 showed, we do get to decide where they do it. Under a rational, well-managed visa and immigration policy, none of the 9/11 terrorists would have been in our country.
When are we going to get such a policy? As opposed to launching more wars and hosing more money around the Middle East?
06 — Narrative collapse. I coined a new phrase this week, one I'm rather pleased with: "narrative collapse."
By "narrative" I mean the set of preconceived ideas into which mainstream media reporters try to squinch news stories, especially stories involving race. So if a white cop shoots a black civilian, that's racist white power acting on crude stereotypes about threatening black males to keep the black man in his place. Or if a black woman claims to have been raped by a college lacrosse team, that's white plantation owners having their way down in the slave quarters — a thing which, by the way, on the historical evidence, didn't actually happen much.
Any time one of these stories comes up, the first mainstream-media news reports all sculpt it to fit the narrative. Then as time goes on and more and more facts come out, it turns out the story doesn't fit the narrative at all. The baby-faced kid with the bag of Skittles turns out to be a violent young punk, while the racist vigilante who shot him turns out to be a Hispanic registered Democrat who'd mentored black youths in his spare time. This is "narrative collapse."
This week we had another instance of narrative collapse, although a minor one in which fortunately no-one got killed.
As first reported, the story was that black starlet Danièle Watts, who had a bit part in the 2012 anti-white hit movie Django Unchained, was giving her white husband a kiss in a Los Angeles parking lot last Thursday when police appeared and cuffed her on suspicion of prostitution.
We were supposed to think: "Yeah, wouldn't that be just like those racist, sexist police, assuming a black woman giving her husband a kiss was in fact a prostitute working up a client."
Then facts started coming out and the narrative collapsed. The party of the second part was not Ms. Watts' husband, only her boyfriend. They weren't exchanging a kiss; they were making the beast with two backs, in full daylight in a public parking lot, in full view of a nearby office building, some of whose occupants recorded the activity.
Public lewdness is an arresting offense in most jurisdictions. Oh, and the responding police officers were one white guy, one Hispanic, and one female.
"Narrative collapse." Keep it in mind next time some racist outrage fills the airwaves. "Narrative collapse" — you heard it here first.
07 — The nose knows. Tucked away inside your nose, in the wall of tissue that separates your nostrils — that's the septum — is a teeny orifice leading to a teeny pouch. That pouch is called Jacobson's organ, or the vomeronasal organ.
I know this stuff because many years ago I reviewed a book about it: Jacobson's Organ by Lyall Watson.
Nobody's really sure what Jacobson's organ is for. We do know, though, that if you remove it from rats you ruin their social lives. Smell drives a lot of social and sexual behavior, often unconsciously.
Human beings are, by the way, among the smelliest of all animals. Quote from Lyall Watson: "There is little in the animal kingdom … to compare with the human armpit for olfactory potency," end quote.
Why am I telling you this? Because of a story from the week's news. Headline, from the September 16th Washington Post: Study: Liberals and conservatives sniff out like-minded mates by body odor.
The story is, researchers at Brown University collected pads impregnated with armpit sweat from 21 volunteers whose political affiliations they had recorded. These pads were then sniffed, under controlled conditions, by 125 different volunteers, who rated each odor by attractiveness.
Result: quote from the Post story: "The subjects found the smell of those more ideologically similar to themselves more attractive than those with opposing views," end quote.
Seems to me we have the answer here to the riddle of Jacobson's organ. It helps us select mating partners with whom we'll have a minimum of ideological disagreement, thus ensuring domestic harmony for the raising of the next generation.
This whole territory is somewhat fraught, though, as there are well-documented differences in body odor between the major races. The differences follow the usual Rule of Three, with East Asians least smelly, blacks most smelly, and whites intermediate.
Whether the Brown University researchers allowed for this, I don't know. Here's a story about it, though. It's from Fox Butterfield's book Alive in the Bitter Sea, which he wrote after doing a spell as New York Times China correspondent in the late 1970s.
Butterfield is flying back to the States. In the seat next to him is a young Chinese woman. Butterfield decides he's going to ask a thing he'd been meaning to ask all his time in China, but never found the nerve to. So after ascertaining that the lady speaks English and engaging in some bland conversation with her, he says: "Do you mind if I ask you something that I've heard about but never confirmed? Does it seem to Chinese people that we Westerners smell?"
"Oh yes," said the Chinese lady, "you certainly do."
Butterfield was a bit startled at her frankness. "What, a lot?"
"Yes," said the lady, "a lot."
"Like … all the time?"
"Pretty much all the time, yes."
By this point Butterfield is wishing he hadn't opened the topic, but he presses on anyway. "Do I smell right now? I mean, can you smell me?"
The young woman blushed and giggled. "Oh," she said, "smell. I thought you said smile."
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: One local group that has had some success fighting against ISIL is the Kurds. There are actually two groups of Kurds doing the significant fighting: the Peshmerga of Iraqi Kurdistan, and the PKK Kurds of Turkey.
PKK stands for "Kurdistan Workers' Party," and as you can tell from the name, it's a Marxist outfit. One consequence of that is that they include women in the ranks. So, though for non-Marxist reasons, do the Iraqi Peshmerga.
Foreign Policy magazine profiled one of those women recently, a 24-year-old PKK gal who'd been fighting the Turks since she was 15. I need the pluperfect tense there because a few days after the Foreign Policy article appeared, the lady was killed in a gunfight with ISIL.
There's getting to be something of a cult of these Kurdish gal soldiers in certain parts of the blogosphere. This puts us reactionaries on the spot.
I think Marxism is a lousy idea, and I've argued against having women in combat units in our own forces. Given the situation of women in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, though, I have to say: If this is what it's going to take to lift these peoples into modernity, bring it on!
And by way of excusing myself here, I note that these Kurdish squadettes seem mostly to be operating in all-female units, which I think if you're going to have women in combat, is the right way to do it.
Item: Justin Welby, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury and thus head of the Church of England, told an interviewer the other day that he sometimes has doubts about the existence of God. Actual quote from him:
The other day I was praying over something as I was running and I ended up saying to God: "Look this is all very well but isn't it about time you did something — if you're there."
End quote. Well, that's the Church of England for you. I alerted you to this eight years ago. Quote from me:
In England it is quite a common thing for some Anglican bishop to get into the news by saying publicly that the Virgin Birth, or some other point of doctrine, is most probably false, and worshippers shouldn't feel bad about not believing it.
I thought you were none the less still supposed to believe in God, especially if you are an archbishop, but perhaps standards have slipped since I last paid attention.
Item: Here's another case of narrative collapse. Keith Jones, a black firefighter in Oakland, California, was walking with his sons from a ball game one night when he noticed that the garage door to the fire station he works at had been left open. He went in to secure the place when a white police officer turned up, responding to a burglary call.
According to Mr. Jones, the cop, on seeing him in the darkened fire house, told him and the boys to put their hands up. After, quote, "a few minutes," the cop allowed him to show i.d. After the incident Mr. Jones filed a complaint, alleging that the cop never apologized for stopping him. He told TV reporters he was a victim of a racist cop who, quote, "views black males as a threat."
Alas for the narrative, the cop was wearing a body camera, so the entire episode was recorded. The cop asked for Mr. Jones' i.d. less than one minute in. Having ascertained that Mr. Jones was who he claimed to be, the cop apologized three times. The video from the body camera shows the cop acting with perfect propriety under the circumstances.
Following the narrative collapse, the TV station asked Mr. Jones to come back and maybe retract some of his former statements. Mr. Jones declined the offer, referring them to his attorney.
Item: Joe Biden got into trouble this week. Tuesday, in a speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, which helps helps fund legal aid, he commented about mortgage lenders who take advantage of military personnel deployed abroad, quote: "these shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas," end quote.
That offended the easily-offended, and Biden had to do the multiculti grovel. I of course think everyone should lighten up about this kind of thing and not be on hair-trigger offense all the time. Shylock, after all, is not a totally unsympathetic character. "Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? … If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"
Be that as it may, the whole controversy was over the head of New York Times political reporter Michael Barbaro, who tweeted, quote: "Raise your hand if you were not familiar with the word 'Shylock' before it became a controversy in past 24 hours?" End quote. There's a journo-school graduate for you.
Later in the week, at a different venue, our Vice President described Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew as, quote, "the smartest man in the Orient." That got our other overperforming minority, East Asians, choking on their bean curd.
Desperately trying to put things right, Biden assured Radio Derb that, quote, "I'm working like a coolie to put this right. I could just kike myself, I mean kick myself, for using those words. I shall not be niggardly in my apologies …"
09 — Signoff. There you have it, folks: another week of mayhem, madness, and malapropism.
To sing us out this week of the referendum, what else could it be but the precisely observed description of the Scotsman from Flanders and Swann's Song of Patriotic Prejudice?
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Flanders and Swann, Song of Patriotic Prejudice]