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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your dramaturgically genial host John Derbyshire, here with some notes and reflections on the passing charivari.
We're deep into the Silly Season here news-wise, listeners. The President's out of the country, the congresscritters are fidgeting and checking their airline schedules. Your neighbor's at the beach (where he might run into a state governor or two) and your kids are serving scoops at the local ice cream parlor, unless the owner brought in his third cousin from Bangladesh on an H-2B visa to do the job.
Stuff's happening, though, stuff's always happening somewhere. Let's start by following our President on his travels, to Europe.
02 — Europe's big issue is … capitalism? The G-20 summit ended in Hamburg last Saturday, attended by our President and other worthies.
That's one of those headlines that, when you see in a news outlet, you feel you eyes glazing over, & pass right on to something with a bit more flavor to it. What is the G-20, anyway? What were they summitting about? I didn't know, had to look it up.
OK: The "20" in "G-20" is twenty countries with big economies — precisely, 19 countries and the European Union, although France, Germany, Italy and Britain are also included in the 19, so I guess they're represented twice over. The point of the thing is global financial stability. It started up after the global financial ructions of the late 1990s.
The summitting is the main thing they do, far as I can gather. Each summit is a two-day affair. This year's was last Friday-Saturday in Hamburg; last year's was in China; next year's looks like Argentina. They have a website, g20.org, and a slogan, "Shaping an Interconnected World," and probably a T-shirt and a coffee mug you can buy, I don't know.
Sure, it still doesn't get the juices flowing. There just isn't any way to make global financial management interesting. You can't deny it's important, though, so Radio Derb is doing a public service here by explaining it. You're welcome!
The newsiest thing about this year's summit was the antifa demonstrations against the show. Several tens of thousands of people showed up to protest the G-20 summit, and a big subset of them were antifa types: anarchists and other extreme-left types who hate capitalism, especially hate the U.S.A., and especially-especially hate our current President.
Cars were torched; stores were looted; Molotov cocktails were thrown. Twenty thousand police were deployed — twenty thousand. They used baton charges and water cannon against the antifa. More than four hundred cops were injured. There were two hundred arrests.
Watching this and reading about it, I thought how out of kilter everything is, and what a bizarro world our mainstream media present to us.
If you were the proverbial Martian, just arrived on Earth and getting up to speed by reading the New York Times and watching CNN or the BBC, you'd suppose that the main threat to public order in the West would come from the right — from Trump supporters, from Richard Spencer and his legions, from sinister, subversive outfits like American Renaissance and websites like VDARE.com spitting hate.
Where Europe is concerned, you'd learn that the main threat is from neo-Nazi insurgents like Marine Le Pen or Germany's AfD party, or Geert Wilders in Holland, or Nigel Farage and his skinheads, trying to get control of Britain's borders back in British hands.
In fact all those people and parties I just mentioned are genteel, well-behaved, and reasonable. As our own Peter Brimelow says: We brush our teeth. It's the antifas that are breaking windows, torching cars, and throwing bricks at the police.
Then when you think about it some more, from an Alt Right point of view, it gets even weirder. The big issue in Europe, we Alt Rightists tell you, is the ongoing invasion from Africa and the Middle East. If Europeans are going to take to the streets and throw Molotov cocktails, that should be their target. That's the existential threat, the threat to Europe's future — the future these millennials will have to live in.
But that's not what the protestors are protesting. Their target is … capitalism? Say what?
We're coming up to the hundredth anniversary of Lenin overthrowing capitalism in Russia. How'd that work out?
Sometimes the world just doesn't make sense.
The best takeaway from all this mayhem was a comment by the indefatigable tweeter David Burge, a.k.a. "Iowahawk." Tweet:
Nothing says "anti-fascist" like guys dressed in black uniforms smashing windows and starting fires in Germany.
End tweet. Nice one, David.
03 — Stories from retail politics. For further evidence that the world of public affairs has veered off the path of reason into some kind of mass neurosis, there has been yet another outbreak of hysteria in the U.S. media, this time over Donald Trump, Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer in last year's campaign.
I'm just going to pause before proceeding to renew my call to President Trump to issue an open invitation to the Russian Ambassador to sit in on all cabinet meetings. Russia is not a hostile power; we have no differences of interest with Russia; having Ambassador Kislyak sit in on cabinet meetings would have no effect on policy, either ours or theirs, and it would cause our mainstream-media reporters and pundits to hurl themselves from high windows, which I think would be a positive thing for the country. I say do it! Mr President. Lance the boil.
To the main story here: What actually is the main story? An aide to one of the candidates, hoping to hear some dirt on the opposition, agreed to meet a foreigner claiming possession of such dirt.
How many times does that happen in the average political campaign? Less than a hundred? I doubt it. Less than a thousand? Eh, maybe.
Confirmation here from sci-fi writer Jerry Pournelle, an old acquaintance of mine. I'll just quote from Jerry's blog, July 12th. Jerry's reminiscing about his time as campaign research director for Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty in the 1969 mayoral campaign against Tom Bradley. Quote:
When I was a campaign manager for Mayor Yorty … I received countless offers of information for sale about the Mayor's opponent, former LAPD Lieutenant Bradley. I ignored most of them. One or two were intriguing enough that I accepted meetings with the offerer; on at least one occasion, the offer was through a third party, just as in this situation. In that particular instance, I was offered a number of unsubstantiated rumors which I could have someone run down, mostly of crime victims unhappy with Bradley's police performance; worth nothing, as it happened, but I think I paid $20 for copies of the documents, none of which proved useful …
Thanks, Jerry. It's instructive to hear some plain talk about retail politics. There must be thousands of Americans who've been involved in political campaigns as researchers or advisors, as Jerry was, who could tell similar stories.
Does anyone in the mainstream media want to hear those stories, though? Not now, not here — not here in the United States of Hysteria.
04 — South Africa: Zimbabwe in slow motion. Of all of Africa's 54 nations, only one is a member of the G-20. That would be South Africa (although Guinea and Senegal were guest participants at this year's summit).
South Africa's an interesting study. For race realists, it's also a disconcerting one.
When the blacks took over 23 years ago, we all assumed the country would quickly collapse into economic destitution and tribal warfare, with the white people of South Africa counted as one of the tribes. The joke going around at the time was: Q—What's the difference between South Africa and Zimbabwe? A—About five years.
That was 23 years ago. South Africa's still up and running, under black-run government all this time. Some humility is called for here among race realists.
Sure, South Africa has its problems, as all countries have. They have 27 percent unemployment, with widespread serious poverty, including a big poverty-stricken white underclass. Levels of corruption are, well, African.
The crime rate is tremendous. South Africa's homicide rate is in the low-to-middle thirties per hundred thousand. That puts South Africa in the world's top ten, up there with Jamaica, Honduras, and Guatemala, although not in quite the same league as St. Louis, Baltimore, and Detroit, all of which have broken fifty per hundred thousand.
A lot of the problems are First World-ish, though. South Africa actually has the ultimate status symbol among First World national vexations: an immigration problem.
The country is doing so well — by African standards, that is — that it's plagued by illegal aliens from other African countries. There are frequent black-on-black anti-immigration riots. There was a nasty one earlier this year. From the New York Times report, February 24th, quote:
The latest anti-immigrant sentiments were set off in a neighborhood south of Johannesburg called Rosettenville, where residents burned down a dozen houses that they said were being used by Nigerians as drug dens and brothels.
Reading South African news outlets, it's surprising how many immigration stories there are. Random headline from this week, quote: Crackdown Halves Number of Foreigners with Temporary Residence Permits.
For a further claim to First World status, South Africa also has declining fertility, now just above replacement level.
The nation's politics is quite sane by African standards. Given the current levels of hysteria in Washington, D.C., it's even tempting to say, "by American standards" … but let's not over-egg the pudding here.
True, it's a de facto one-party state, with the ANC, the African National Congress, holding power all 23 of these years. The ANC has quite distinct right and left wings, though, economically speaking: a pro-business wing and a pro-labor wing, who bicker constantly. There are significant opposition parties that did well in last year's municipal elections. One of them won control of Pretoria, one of South Africa's three capital cities.
(South Africa has three capital cities, one for each constitutional branch: legislature, executive, judiciary. Pretoria's the executive capital. This seems to me a very good idea, that could be usefully adopted by the U.S.A. Why do we have all three branches located in Washington, D.C.?)
So, hey, we could just as well be talking about Denmark here!
Well, not quite. South Africa adopted the crony-capitalist economic model. Well-paid do-nothing government jobs are dominated by blacks, while the white and Asian — mostly Indian — business classes are left alone to make money. It's not a bad model — Malaysia's made it work for coming up to fifty years.
South Africa has its own particular issues, though — the issues spelled out in Ilana Mercer's 2011 book Into the Cannibal's Pot.
Fertility may be down towards replacement level, but as any demography buff will tell you, that leaves a huge "bulge" from the previous higher rates to work its way through the age cohorts. Millions of young black South African adults are jobless. They are rallying to Julius Malema's new Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, which is Castro-ist in economics and fiercely anti-white.
The ruling ANC is becoming more anti-white to protect its left flank against the EFF. At an ANC party conference last week the most hotly debated issue was whether white assets should be expropriated with or without compensation. Nobody seemed to think that white assets should not be expropriated.
So while race realists should admit they were too pessimistic back in 1994, I for one am not about to eat crow. As a model of multiracial harmony, South Africa will likely soon lose the little luster it had.
Four years ago here at VDARE.com I quoted that quip about South Africa being five years ahead of Zimbabwe, and said it should be filed under the heading "true but premature," like videophones. I stand by that judgment.
White South Africans, get out of there.
Well, Liu died on Thursday, in a hospital under police guard. He was a patriot and a hero. The treatment of him by his own government just reinforces the backwardness of that government, that I spoke about last week. Politically, China is a Bronze Age despotism masquerading as a modern managerial state.
No, it's not our government's business. Nation to nation, we have to get on as well as we can with the gangsters in Peking. I'm no neocon. I agree with the American President who said that we should be the well-wishers of liberty everywhere, but the champion and vindicator only of our own.
And I'll allow that I'm more vexed by China's political backwardness than the average citizen need be. It's my country-in-law. I've been involved with China, one way and another, for most of my adult life. There's an emotional connection.
And of course I understand that we need to co-operate with China on a lot of stuff for our own interests: on North Korea, on trade, on finance, on intellectual property rights. Sure. I want our leaders to act in our national interests.
All that said, it was dismaying to see our President praising Chinese dictator Xi Jinping so effusively while Liu Xiaobo's corpse was still warm.
This was Thursday evening in Paris, at a joint presser with the new French President Emanuel Macron. An American journalist — I don't know which one — asked President Trump, quote, "What do you personally think about Mr Xi Jinping?" Here's what our President said, edited quote.
Well, he's a friend of mine. I have great respect for him. We've gotten to know each other very well. A great leader. He's a very talented man. I think he's a very good man. He loves China, I can tell you. He loves China. He wants to do what's right for China.
Did you have to lay it on so thick, Mr President? Couldn't we get the results we want — and perhaps a little more respect, by keeping Xi Jinping and his leg-breakers at a polite distance?
Xi Jinping "loves China"? He "wants to do what's right for China"? Liu Xiaobo loved China, too. He also wanted to do what's right for China; and his notion of what's right is a lot, a lot, closer to our own nation's ideals than is Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought.
Xi Jinping's "a very special person"? No he's not. He's a cookie-cutter commie apparatchik who rose on his father's influence, never stood in a popular election for anything, and is now busily engaged shoveling his nation's wealth into a Swiss bank account. The Chinese Communist Party is full of these creeps; Xi isn't "special."
Again, I understand that when practicing international diplomacy, a politician is not upon oath. Still, he's not required to gush. He especially should not gush over the tormentor and persecutor of brave patriots, just hours after one of the bravest of those patriots has died. For shame, Mr. President.
06 — Moravec's Paradox takes another hit. A couple of years ago when I upgraded my laptop to Windows 10 I was intrigued to learn that this operating system will sign you in by face recognition. You don't need to remember a password or give it a fingerprint: just show it your face.
You need something called a RealSense camera, which will set you back 75 bucks, or the equivalent built in to your laptop, but that's worth it for some neat technology.
Face recognition has been creeping up on us for some years now, and it's really good. By some accounts, gadgets can now recognize faces better than we can.
This is another depth charge going off under Moravec's Paradox. Things that only a tiny proportion of high-level human geniuses can do — like winning international chess competitions — are not that hard to program into machines. On the other hand, things that even the dumbest human beings can do, like face recognition, are really hard to computerize. That's Moravec's Paradox. Well, Moravec's Paradox is holed below the water line and sinking fast.
For the science geek there are always two aspects to topics like this:
If you've cracked number two, number one's a breeze; but you can accomplish number one without mastering number two, as the chess-playing case illustrates.
Getting to real artificial intelligence depends heavily on progress in number two, though. Current face-recognition technology is more one than two; we don't really understand how the brain does it.
This is some of the most difficult and challenging work in science. We're still a long way from understanding how the brain does all that it does, but there's steady forward progress. Artificial general intelligence — getting machines to do all the things our brains do — is somewhere in our future. I doubt I'll live to see it; but my kids likely will, and my grandkids surely will, if civilization is still around.
For keeping up with this stuff I depend on a handful of websites, with Steve Hsu's "Infoproc" blog up near the top. Steve just recently posted on a result out of Caltech, where some biologists have figured out how face recognition works in the brains of monkeys.
It's cool stuff; and along the way it debunks a story that's been going around for some years in what you might call "folk neuroscience": the story of the Jennifer Aniston neuron.
A neuron is a brain cell. The story, which came up about twelve years ago, was that one single neuron responded to a picture of that lady. Quote from Scientific American, October 2005, quote:
In one patient, a single neuron responded to seven different photographs of actor Jennifer Aniston, while it practically ignored the 80 other images of animals, buildings, famous or nonfamous people that were also presented …
This got out into the popular culture. You've probably had it quoted to you at a dinner party or in a bar. Well, it ain't so.
I always thought there was something fishy about it. As one of Steve's commenters says: "After a night of heavy drinking, a few of your neurons may die [but] has anyone ever heard of a case where a person subsequently couldn't recognize a celebrity?" Just so.
From the social point of view, as always, this is a case of science depositing something on our doorstep and leaving it up to us to decide what to do with it. Really good, super-fast facial recognition is neat stuff for us techno-geeks, but it can also be another blow against privacy — liberty's younger brother.
For good or for ill: that's up to us, and to our wise, prudent, incorruptible legislators. Oh boy.
A footnote to that. When I mentioned this topic to Peter Brimelow, he said: "That could seriously reduce attendance at Alt Right gatherings."
What Peter means is, a lot of people who show up at, for example, an American Renaissance conference would rather their employers not know they are doing so. Enemies of the Alt Right, knowing this, might use face recognition to make sure their employers did know.
Eh, possibly. That's sure not a factor in this year's AmRen conference, though: The event is totally sold out. Let's keep our shoulders to the Overton Window and keep pushing.
I just knew, when I first heard about this, that Progressives would all be swooning over the play as relevant to our times — the phrase "our times" referring, in the narrow, media-hooked imagination of the average progressive, to the last news cycle or two, as shaped by CultMarx outlets.
Sure enough, they were coming out of the woodwork to tell us how relevant and contemporary Orwell's 1949 novel is.
Moaned the New York Times reviewer, quote: "The production … may be arriving on Broadway at a ripe, perhaps even overripe, moment," end quote.
A video commercial for the show flashed images of President Trump, Sean Spicer, and James Comey. So relevant! "We languish in a country that shows many of the traits of a proto-fascist state," lamented the reviewer at Slate.com.
The darkest depths of infantile narcissism were plumbed by the Charlie Rose show on July 11th.
Charlie himself struck the keynote for this festival of ignorance with his opening description of Orwell's novel.
[Clip: "The book is seen as a seminal work arguing against authoritarianism and totalitarian regimes."
Charlie, Charlie: the difference between "authoritarian" and "totalitarian" is in Political Science 101. Try not to use words if you don't know what they mean.
But while Charlie may not know his Pinochet from his Lenin or his Lee Kuan Yew from his Mao Tse-tung, he looked positively professorial by comparison with his guests.
These were the three principal actors in the Broadway production, the ones playing Winston Smith, Julia, and O'Brien.
To call these actors "airheads" would be an insult to air. You can't even call them Progressives: they are too dim and shallow even to hold something as facile as 2017 Progressivism in their pretty heads.
The Brits have an expression I like when discussing these light-as-air … I'm sorry, I'm insulting air again … light-as-a-vacuum showbiz types: "luvvies." That's the informal term of address they use to each other: "luvvy."
Sentence for practice: "Why Rodney, dear boy, hel-lo. How are you? I saw you on the telly the other night in that police drama thing — marvellous performance, luvvy!"
So there was Charlie Rose with three luvvies talking about Nineteen Eighty-Four and its relevance. Sample:
[Clip: O'Brien: "It feeds into the great paranoia that we all are experiencing now, about who can we trust and who's on whose side."]
Or try this extended sample. You might want to pause the podcast and take a stiff drink first.
[Clip: O'Brien: "It's a very good story to tell right now."
That is so dumb it is, as the physicists say, not even wrong. "What we're willing to sacrifice in the name of security?" Why should we have to sacrifice anything in the name of security? Oh, right: because we allowed unassimilable foreigners to pour into our country. Yet if the local CultMarx organizer calls up Julia to tell her there's a demo against immigration restriction, she'll be out there with her placard, marching.
And see that little Freudian slip from Winston: "The moment you don't know what is real, how can I tell you what to think?" Who gave you the right to tell me what to think, pinhead?
As for "you lose the ability to have an argument," well, I'm happy to have an argument any time. I'd have been happy to have an argument at Williams College last year, but the college president banned me. There is nothing Progressives want less than to have an argument. It's like their calls to "have a national conversation" about this or that. Translation: "Shut up and listen while I tell you what to think."
And look how narrow and transient their base of understanding is. They can tell you all about what James Comey said, or Kellyanne Conway, or Sean Spicer.
If you're going to draw parallels with totalitarianism, though, you need to know more than last week's news. A grasp of twentieth-century history would help. Could anyone in that studio name two other members of Lenin's first Politburo? I'd be very surprised.
The world of Nineteen Eighty-Four was one in which nations had been abolished, swallowed up into three vast slave empires. Britain had become Airstrip One, a mere region within Oceania, with no longer any control over its own destiny. So … where did the luvvies on Charlie Rose stand on Brexit?
And Orwell's deepest, most enduring insight was into the way totalitarians weaponize language, twist and alter it for their own purposes.
If we go looking for this tendency in our own society, we find it mainly on the progressive left: among the people who call dissent from progressive orthodoxy "hate," who call illegal aliens "undocumented immigrants," who call the desire not to hear one's race endlessly insulted and belittled "supremacy," the people for whom delinquent young blacks are "teens," an Arab terrorist is "a Michigan man," and mass amnesty for foreign scofflaws is "comprehensive immigration reform."
It's not the Progressives who have shown real understanding of Orwell's Newspeak vocabulary and its purpose; it's we here on the Alt Right.
"Crimestop," "goodthinkful," "doubleplusungood," "Ministry of Truth," … if you want to see these words used in a pointed or ironic way, an Alt Right website is your best bet. We understand "crimethink"; we're constantly being accused of it. We understand "crimestop"; we see people around us practicing it all the time.
And what, after all, was the model for Oceania: for the rectified language, the manipulated history, the torture chambers and disappearances, the Two Minutes Hate, the fear and suspicion of your own neighbors, your own family members? It was not the easygoing social democracy of Clement Attlee's Britain, nor the bumptious, argumentative U.S.A. of Harry Truman's administration. It was Stalin's Soviet Union, which Progressives of the time could find nothing wrong with — which, indeed, they swooned over — and whose horrors their children and grandchildren, the Progressives of today, have flushed down the memory hole. (That's an Orwell reference, Charlie.)
Although if it were still around, they'd like it just as much as grandpa liked the original. The current Mayor of New York, a Progressive's Progressive, took his honeymoon in Fidel Castro's Cuba.
And here they still are, the progressive luvvies, pampered, primped, and perfumed on our TV screens, not minding Stalin at all — hey, they never heard of him — but finding Donald Trump, quote, "very upsetting." Old Joe Stalin's long gone — and Mao, and Ho, and Pol Pot, and Castro too — but the luvvies are still with us, always with us.
If you want — there's another Orwell reference coming up here, Charlie — If you want a picture of the future, imagine a luvvy's Gucci loafer stamping on a human face — for ever.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: We finally have a result in Mongolia's presidential election, I know my listeners will be pleased to hear. Businessman Khaltmaa Battulga won with 50.6 percent of the vote over his opponent, Miyeegombo Enkhbold of the ruling Mongolian People's Party.
I wouldn't mention this but for the facts that, one, Mr Battulga is described as a "populist" by the New York Times, thus adding another notch on the walking stick of the worldwide populist revival; and two, the Times also tells us he is a former martial arts champion — perhaps he could put on a charity bout with his neighbor, Vladimir Putin — and three, I think it's neat to have any news at all out of Mongolia, where it seems like nothing much has happened since the 13th century.
What's that? You want to hear the Mongolian National Anthem? All right, just a snippet.
[Clip: Mongol Ulsyn Töriin Duulal.]
Here is one of the loopier instances of that tendency.
Addressing the annual conference of her party last Fall, British Prime Minister Theresa May, in reference to the Brexit vote of a few months earlier, said that people who believe they are a citizen of the world are, quote, "a citizen of nowhere."
Well, a Member of Parliament named Vince Cable, from the tiny Liberal Democrat Party — think tree huggers and cat ladies — took exception to that early this month by saying, quote:
I thought that particular phrase was quite evil. It could've been taken out of Mein Kampf.
To grasp the full silliness of Mr Cable's remark, you need to know that Theresa May belongs to the ineffectual arm-waving chocolate fudge wing of her party and has spent her career tiptoing around all the important issues of the day for fear of giving offense. The term "cuckservative" could have been tailor-made for her.
As has been wisely said (by our Steve Sailer, I think): In the future, everybody will be Hitler for fifteen minutes — even meek, useless, apologetic Theresa May.
Isn't it way past time lefties found a new boogie-man to compare their opponents to? Why not Genghis Khan? It would please the Mongolians; they're proud of old G.K. [Clip: More Mongol Ulsyn Töriin Duulal.] Ah, shaddup.
Item: Get ready for the latest terrorist threat in Europe: the Cornish Republican Army.
Cornwall is the southwestern peninsula of England. It has a lovely climate, by English standards, gets the full benefit of the Gulf Stream, and is popular for vacations. People from England proper have been buying up the houses down there, vexing the locals.
Who are a funny lot — a species of Celt, somewhat akin to the Welsh. They used to have their own language. It died out in the 18th century, but there's been something of a revival, and there are now several hundred speakers of Cornish.
If your surname begins with Tre-, Pol-, or Pen-, you are likely of Cornish ancestry. Fatla genes? That's Cornish for "How ya doin'?"
Well, the vexation over those vacationing English carpetbaggers has turned nasty. The CRA has claimed responsibility for setting fire to a restaurant, and now they are talking about suicide bombings.
I dunno, I have trouble taking the Cornish threat seriously. It sounds too much like a Monty Python sketch, especially since I learned the Cornish for "My hovercraft is full of eels": Leun a sylli yw ow skath bargesi. I think I'll just stick with worrying about Muslims.
09 — Signoff. That's it for this week, listeners. Thank you for listening, and please note the care with which I addressed you as "listeners."
I always used to sign off to you as "ladies and gentlemen," but that phrase now dwells under a cloud as being insufficiently gender-neutral. The London Daily Telegraph reports that the subway authority in that city has ceased to use "ladies and gentlemen" in its platform announcements.
This follows a campaign by sexually eccentric groups, supported of course by London's Muslim-supremacist mayor Sadiq Khan. Quote from him, so far as I can tell not intended to be ironic. TfL is the transit authority. Quote:
TfL serves a vibrant, diverse and multicultural city, and provision of an inclusive transport service is at the heart of TfL's purpose.
"Vibrant" … "diverse" … "multicultural" … "inclusive" … George Orwell, call your office.
Having somehow squinched a Cornwall item in there, here's a song about the place.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Please note: I mis-spoke there. In fact I'm taking a two-week summer break. The next Radio Derb will be on August 4th.]
[Music clip: Peter Dawson, "The Floral Dance."]