• Play the sound file
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, this New Year's Eve Eve, from your unrepentantly genial host John Derbyshire with our summary of the week's news.
There hasn't actually been much news this week. That's as usual. Journalists talk about the Silly Season — that spell in the high summer months when everyone's on vacation, nothing much happens, and we ink-stained wretches have to fill our newspaper columns with low-grade stuff about celebrities and kittens. Well, when Christmas and New Year's both fall on a weekend, that week in between is the silliest of all silly seasons in the Western world. Unless there's a natural disaster, or some non-Western lunatic tries to start a war, nothing happens.
You're therefore going to have to forgive me if I give over most of this week's podcast to the one newsy thing that did happen this week, even though I don't think it's half as important as it looks. That of course has been the fuss over the U.S.A. not using its veto in the U.N. Security Council to take down a resolution critical of Israel.
First, excuse me while I indulge myself in a rant against the U.N. in general. I've never seen the point of the thing; and four years of living on New York's East 46th Street, in the close vicinity of U.N. headquarters, only fortified my antipathy.
Here comes the rant. It's driven mainly of course by my fondness for ranting; but I'm going to claim that it also gives some larger global context to this week's fuss.
02 — USexit! Since Britain's Brexit vote back in June — that was the referendum vote to get Britain out of the European Union — there's been a fad for thinking up similar shorthand expressions for other nations pulling out of the E.U.: Frexit for France, Nexit for the Netherlands, and so on.
Well, if we're going to have a repudiation of grand multinationalist schemes and a return to countries attending to their national interests without taking orders from globalist bureaucrats, why not a USexit?
What are we going to get out of, though? America isn't in the E.U.
No we're not. We are in the United Nations, though; and if ever there was a multinational organization that needs knocking on the head, it's the U.N.
Seven and a half years ago, on publication of my paradigm-shattering book We Are Doomed, I gave an interview to The Economist. At one point the interviewer asked, quote: "Give me some examples of how conservative pessimism might translate into policy," end quote.
I rattled off a whole list, among which was the following, quote from me talking to The Economist, quote:
Withdrawal from the U.N., followed by razing of all U.N. structures on American soil and sowing the ground with salt.
Well, I'm glad to see that significant politicians in the U.S.A. have swung round to my longstanding point of view regarding the U.N. They're not quite on board yet with the bit about sowing the ground with salt, but it can only be a matter of time.
Here for example is Sarah Palin, fertility goddess of the 2008 election cycle, telling Breitbart on Thursday this week that President Trump should, quote, "get the heck out of the U.N. and get the U.N. out of the U.S." Mrs Palin called the U.N. a "globalist circus."
It's not just Mrs Palin, either. Last Sunday Senator Lindsey Graham said he'd move to stop our funding of the U.N. if they didn't rescind that anti-Israel resolution.
On Wednesday former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee chimed in on Fox News, singing the same tune. He actually suggested that America's contributions to the U.N., currently around eight billion dollars a year — fifty bucks from every taxpaying American — should be redirected to veterans' benefits.
Works for me, although I'd still like to keep alive the idea of rubbling the U.N.'s buildings and sowing the ground with salt. Or alternatively, since sowing the ground with salt would probably violate some New York City environmental ordinance, we could just send the bureaucrats back to their home countries and auction off the buildings to property developers.
I believe New York City is well supplied with property developers who know how to refurbish tall buildings and market them as apartment complexes. Perhaps the incoming President could make a few phone calls.
03 — Venezuela, Senegal: arbiters of the world's security. The Security Council itself illustrates much of the U.N.'s problem. There are fifteen members of the Security Council, five permanent and ten seated for just two years each, elected by the General Assembly of all U.N. members. The five permanent members have veto power over U.N. resolutions; the ten elected members don't.
Those five permanent members are Britain, France, Russia, China, and the U.S.A. That's the way the show was set up seventy-one years ago.
The world has changed a lot in those seventy-one years. Back then France and Britain had huge world-wide empires; now they are just middling-sized nations, ranked 22 and 23 in population, behind much bigger countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Brazil. Sure, they are quite prosperous, but even there the rankings are middling: France and Britain rank 39 and 40 on per capita GDP in the CIA World Factbook.
France and Britain punch above their weight militarily, though, don't they? Well, they both have nukes; but so do North Korea and Pakistan. France does have an aircraft carrier, but Britain has been carrier-less since they decommissioned Illustrious two years ago. Carrier-wise, Britain is now behind Italy, Brazil, and … Thailand.
Culturally, though, surely France and Britain are major players, aren't they? Not really: The English language is behind Chinese and Spanish in number of native speakers, and French is nowhere in sight. If you estimate total speakers, to the degree that you can, English does better, second now to Chinese; but French is still way down at number ten, below Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, and Malay.
So why are France and Britain among the five permanent members of the Security Council, with veto power on U.N. resolutions? Well, because that's the way it was set up back in the Truman administration. I guess it would need a U.N. resolution to change it, and … well, you see the problem.
Russia and China are not much more plausible as ultimate arbiters of international affairs. Russia is by no means the same nation as Stalin's U.S.S.R., which first occupied Russia's Security Council seat. It's a lot smaller, for one thing; and, as I keep telling you, an economic basket case.
China's been through some changes, too. China's seat was actually held by the Republic of China, a.k.a. Taiwan, until 1971, when Chiang Kai-shek's corrupt little island autocracy was replaced by Mao Tse-tung's much bigger, but at least equally corrupt, totalitarian despotism.
And if you want to talk about governmental revolutions, I may as well mention that France chucked out its constitution in 1958 and wrote a new one. France is not in fact a stable nation. While we Anglo-Saxons have been plodding along under the same constitutions for centuries, France has had five republics, two empires, and two monarchies, just since 1792. Someone once described the old Soviet Union as "Upper Volta with nuclear missiles." France is the Congo with really good sauces.
All in all, the permanent members of the Security Council, our own U.S.A. excepted, don't bear very close scrutiny. The ten other members are no more inspiring. True, they currently include New Zealand, Uruguay, and Japan, which at least have some claim to be actual nations under rational government; but Senegal? Ukraine? Venezuela? Have you been keeping up with the news from Venezuela lately? Sample headline: Military Trafficking Food as Country Goes Hungry.
These are the nations making major decisions about the direction of the world.
There may be a case for the existence of the U.N., as a place for trashcan nations like Venezuela and Senegal to let off steam and for their diplomats — outlying members of the ruling families, mostly — to collect bribes and plot their next coup; but if there is a case for United States membership of the U.N., I can't see it.
04 — Israel isn't very important. OK; that resolution critical of Israel, and the Obama administration not vetoing it.
To judge from my email bag and donation logs, I have a surprising number of readers in Israel. I say "surprising" because I hardly ever say anything about Israel or her affairs, and don't actually know much about the place.
The last time I wrote at length about Israel was I think in mid-2010 at Taki's Magazine, and that was only by way of putting down a marker. I had just started writing regularly for Taki's Magazine, which runs some anti-Israel stuff, and I wanted to make my own position plain. Sample quote:
Any fair-minded person must be an Israel sympathizer. A hundred years ago there were Jews and Arabs living in that part of the Ottoman Empire. After the Ottoman collapse both peoples had a right to set up their own ethnostates. It has been the furiously intransigent Arab denial of this fact, not anything Israelis have done, that has been the root cause of all subsequent troubles.
Aside from being a well-wisher of Israel in sentiment, though, I agree with Steve Sailer that we pay much more attention to the place than our national interest justifies, for reasons to do with the over-representation of Jewish Americans in the main-stream media and the wealthy-donor classes.
From a cold-eyed view of U.S. interests, Israel isn't very important — less important than Mexico or Japan, which get far fewer column inches. The problem is that American Jews are not cold-eyed, and their collective voice is loud.
For example: We found out by chance a couple of years ago that David Brooks, an American citizen who writes a much-read Op-Ed column in the New York Times, has or then had a son serving in the Israeli military, a thing that Brooks and the Times had never told us.
Why didn't Brooks, Jr. join the U.S. military if he felt the urge to go soldiering? I don't know. How many other bigfoot American pundits or political donors have kids in the Israeli military? I don't know. Do any have sons or daughters in the Mexican or Japanese military? I don't know, but I doubt it.
And when I said the collective voice of America's Jews is loud, I should of course have said "voices," plural There's a division of opinion, which this week's ructions have highlighted. New York Times, December 29th, headline: American Jews Divided Over Strain in U.S.-Israel Relations. Sample quote:
American Jews are … overwhelmingly Democratic; Jews voted for Hillary Clinton over Mr Trump, 71 percent to 24 percent, according to exit polls.
The contradictions and paradoxes here have often been noted. American Jews of all positions want Israel to remain an ethnostate, a Jewish state; yet liberal Jews are horrified at the suggestion that the U.S.A. should likewise maintain a solid monoethnic core.
The [American philosophical-Constitutional] Creed is unlikely to retain its salience if Americans abandon the Anglo-Protestant culture in which it has been rooted.
Colmes' position is the common one among liberal American Jews: ethnonationalism for me, but not for thee.
All this has been said many times, of course. Pat Buchanan has been saying it for forty years. The sheer tiresomely repetitive quality of talk about Israel in fact deserves a segment to itself. Here's that segment.
05 — The integrity of their quarrel. The other thing that deters the thoughtful commentator from writing about Israel is that the geopolitical situation over there is exceptionally static. It's been the same just about for ever, it seems — actually since the Six-Day War of 1967, fifty years ago this coming June. What can one say that hasn't been said?
There's a historical parallel here. The Irish historian Conor Cruise O'Brien raised it, and was followed by others. It's worth resurrecting, though; and the fact that it's not original speaks to the very point I'm making. Here's the parallel.
When Britain went into the First World War in 1914, lesser problems were put on hold. One of those lesser problems was some arrangement for Irish Independence, an issue that was just coming to the boil in 1914.
When the War was over at last, Ireland heated up again, leading to the armed struggle for independence, then to partition and Home Rule at the end of 1921, violently opposed by the Unionists of Northern Ireland.
Winston Churchill made a famous remark about this when speaking to Parliament in 1922. The Great War had changed the whole map of Europe, he said, quote:
But as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world.
That's how most of us feel about the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Fifty years on from Israel's astonishing victory over the massed forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, the world has turned over several times. The European Union came up, consolidated, and is now disintegrating; Europe's colonial empires have been dismantled; the Soviet Union, which looked as though it would last for ever, is one with Nineveh and Tyre; the Islamic world has gone from enthusiasm for modernization, socialism, and secularism to a revival of the most primitive, most violent and passionate styles of Islam; China has shucked off revolutionary austerity for a gross style of consumer crony-capitalism; and the U.S.A. has been busily replacing its legacy population with Third World immigrants.
And as the waters of this slow and — thank goodness — mostly peaceful turmoil subside, we see the dreary mosques, temples, and churches of the West Bank emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the changes which have swept our world since 1967.
One consequence of this long stasis is that anything you say about Israel and her situation has been said before, usually many times.
For example: Secretary of State John Kerry, in his Wednesday speech in Washington, D.C., said that, quote:
Israel can either be Jewish or democratic — it cannot be both.
That caused a mild fuss, with some of the fiercer partisans of Israel denouncing it.
It wasn't original, though. It would have been astonishing if it was, coming from an unimaginative mediocrity like Kerry. Ehud Barak had said it back in 1999, and I doubt he was the first. Barak was no enemy of Zionism, either. He was born in a kibbutz, served with distinction in Israel's armed forces, became Chief of the Israeli General Staff, then Minister of Defense, and then Prime Minister. His opinion has some weight.
It's arguable for all that. The arithmetic doesn't quite work. If Israel, Jewish population 6.3 million, non-Jewish population 2.1 million, were to annex the West Bank — half a million Jews, 2.8 million non-Jews — it would then have 6.8 million Jews and 4.9 million non-Jews. So it would still be a majority-Jewish state; although at 58 percent, that's an uneasy sort of majority. And this is assuming that if they annex the West Bank, the Israelis would be unwilling and/or unable to just expel all the non-Jews, which I think is a fair assumption.
So Kerry, if not precisely, mathematically right, is not altogether wrong. And his Wednesday speech, although way too long, is actually not bad.
Whether it's good, bad, or indifferent makes no difference to anything, though. Nothing makes any difference.
The Israelis will go on building settlements and ignoring the U.N.; Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank will go on harassing Israel with occasional random acts of murder; nations hostile to Israel will go on being too fearful and weak to give any military support to their Palestinian brothers; American Jews will go on using their media pulpits to keep the whole wretched business in the news; Cultural Marxists like Obama, who mentally divide the world into victims and oppressors, will go on seeing the Israelis as oppressors.
And the rest of us will go on wondering why we should give so much attention to a nation which, however sympathetic we may be to it for reasons of civilizational solidarity, is irrelevant to our national interests, and anyway seems well able to take care of itself.
06 — Is the Pope Catholic? The United Nations is not the only globalist bureaucracy in town. While we're all talking about how there's a struggle going on between nationalism and globalism, let's remember that we've been here before; at least, the Western world has.
It was called the Reformation. The nationalists here were 16th-century Protestants like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Henry VIII. The universalist bureaucracy they were rejecting was the Roman Catholic Church.
That Church is of course still with us, and still universalist. The word "catholic" actually means "universalist." So where does that church, as an institution teaching faith and morals, stand in the current debates over the proper status of nations in a world order?
On the left, mainly. Wall Street Journal, December 22nd, headline: How Pope Francis Became the Leader of the Global Left. The author is Francis Rocca, the Journal's Vatican correspondent.
The current Pope, says Rocca, has checked pretty much all the boxes on the progressive score card. Global warming? Check. Open borders? Check. Wealth inequality? Check. Minimum wage? Check.
The snag here is that a lot of Roman Catholics, probably most, are socially conservative, and the Church itself — even under a leftist Pope like Francis — has some profoundly conservative features thoroughly baked in.
Feminism, for example, is a core element of the modern progressive mindset; but I very much doubt we'll be seeing female priests any time soon, or hearing "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" reworked to "Parent, Offspring, and Holy Ghost."
Likewise I am confident that abortion will remain, for most Roman Catholics, the taking of an innocent human life against God's laws, and same-sex marriage the profanation of a holy sacrament.
Speaking as an outsider, I doubt many Roman Catholics are seriously bothered by the Pope's positions. You don't keep an institution running for two thousand years without having some ingenious work-arounds to cope with eccentricities in the leadership. "He's not speaking ex cathedra," a pious Roman Catholic will explain to you, "so it's just a guy voicing his opinions."
I understand that. I worry a lot, though, that Western Civilization, of which the Roman Church is a key component, is turning into a suicide cult.
Three and a half years ago Pope Francis went to the Italian island of Lampedusa to say mass for the thousands of African illegal immigrants camped there. If Francis had shown up a couple of years earlier, when the flood of illegals to Lampedusa began, he might have met Anis Amri, the Tunisian illegal who landed on the island in 2011 and left it under arrest after setting fire to the refugee center there. Amri was the guy who drove a truck into a crowd of Christmas shoppers in Berlin, December 19th, killing twelve of them.
Christian universalism simply doesn't have any purchase on Muslims. It didn't in the 12th century, and it doesn't today. The current Pope shows no sign he understands that. Where the threats facing Western Civilization are concerned, complete moral universalism is not any part of the solution; it's part of the problem.
07 — The greatest force in the universe. Following our family tradition, the Derbs — Dad, Mom, and both kids, now aged 23 and 21 — took a trip to the local mall the week before Christmas, to buy presents for ourselves and each other, and eat a family meal in the food court. A good time was had by all. At the mall.
A mall visit the week before Christmas is okay; a similar trip the day after Christmas, not so much. December 26th is chimpout day at malls nationwide.
When smartphones with video cameras built in first became ubiquitous, a lot of people — including me — thought that media reporting of events like this would become more frank: that all the mealy-mouthed fudging about "teens" and "youths" would be impossible to keep going once everyone could see plainly that these incidents involved young blacks almost exclusively.
Nope. Even the MailOnline website, which is usually less restrained than the more upscale media outlets, did not include the word "black" in its two-thousand word report on this year's December 26th mall riots.
So who was doing the rioting? Quote, "Teens" … quote, "youths" … quote, "apparently juveniles" … quote, "several unruly juveniles and adults" … quote, "students" … quote, "boys" … quote, "teenagers" …
TV news stations took pains to have at least one black newsreader on the desk for their reports of these riots, using just the right diction of disappointment and reproof. See? We blacks are just as mad about this as you whites are!
The newsreaders, both black and white, chanted the traditional mantras of disapproval: "Where are the parents?" (Why would different races with different genetic histories exhibit the same parenting styles?) "Maybe they should be in school." (It's the Christmas vacation, you nitwit.)
So I guess easy instant video recording hasn't brought us any closer to honesty about race. I wonder if anything ever will.
The cosmologists can talk all they want about Gravitational Collapse and Dark Energy; the mightiest, most irresistible forces in the universe remain wishful thinking and the power we human beings have to deny what is in plain sight under our noses.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: White ethnomasochist of the week was undoubtedly George Ciccariello-Maher, who is an associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Tweeted the professor on Christmas Eve, tweet:
All I want for Christmas is white genocide.
This learned scholar followed up on Christmas Day with another tweet, tweet:
To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed.
Once again: the professor himself is white.
I assume that second tweet refers to the events of early 1805, described by an eyewitness thus, quote:
The murder of the whites in detail began at Port-au-Prince in the first days of January, but on the 17th and 18th of March they were finished off en masse. All, without exception, have been massacred, down to the very women and children … A young mulatto named Fifi Pariset ranged the town like a madman searching the houses to kill the little children … Many of the men and women were hewn down by sappers, who hacked off their arms and smashed in their chests. Some were poniarded, others mutilated … others disemboweled with knives or sabers, still others stuck like pigs. At the beginning a great number were drowned. The same general massacre has taken place all over the colony, and as I write you these lines I believe there are not twenty whites still alive — and these not for long.
You might of course hold the reactionary opinion that hacking defenseless women and children to death is a bad thing. Correct your thinking, Comrade! You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, you know. Had those whites not given up their lives for a greater cause, Haiti would not be the thriving, prosperous, successful nation it is today.
Item: The indefatigable Ann Corcoran, who runs the indispensible website Refugee Resettlement Watch, has a posting on an Iranian man who is claiming refugee status in Australia on the grounds that he is an alcoholic.
Iran, you see, has very strict laws on the consumption of alcohol. You can actually be executed for a third offense, and this guy says he already had two before he left Iran.
He can't help himself, he says. If he's deported back to Iran, he'll take to the sauce again and end up with a capital sentence.
His claim was originally rejected; but that's been overturned, and it's been passed up to something called the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I guess the Australian judiciary has plenty of time on its hands. Yo, guys: de minimis non curat lex.
As Ann says, quote:
Why would Australia even want to keep a drunk Muslim?
An unkind person might add the further rhetorical question:
Doesn't Australia have enough drunks already?
Fortunately I'm not that person.
See, when the Middle East sends us its bogus refugees, they're not sending their best.
Speaking as an old married guy whose wife must have spent an aggregate several hundred hours out shopping with her husband, I must say, I think the law enforcement authorities of Sar-e-Pul have their values all wrong. There have been times when I would willingly have submitted myself to decapitation as an alternative to being dragged around J.C. Penney's hunting down bargains in ladies designer shoes.
We must always defer to cultural relativism, though. I'm sure the Afghans know their own culture best.
09 — Signoff. And there you have it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and a very Happy New Year! to one and all.
In accordance with time-honored Radio Derb tradition, here's Peter Dawson to sing us out; and there will be more from Radio Derb next year.
[Music clip: Peter Dawson singing "Auld Lang Syne."]