This week’s column is an apology. I am taking off the entire month of August, like a Frenchman. I plan to write nothing at all for 31 days, at VDARE.com or anywhere else; although Radio Derb, which I actually put together on Thursday evening, gets in under the wire and will appear on Taki’s Magazine tonight as usual. (And I wouldn’t rule out an occasional blog post on VDARE.com.)
So: My apologies to readers, and to the VDARE.com editors, who’ll be a tad short on copy.
(When I started doing freelance writing in the early 1980s I assumed the field would be ferociously competitive and hard to break into. To my surprise I found that newspaper and magazine editors were hungry for copy. They lay awake at night wondering how to fill their pages. If you could put decent sentences together and had something halfway interesting to say, they’d gladly publish you. Don’t get your enthusiasm up, though: the pay is terrible.)
Some explanation for my absence is in order. No, there’s no kind of personal crisis. My health is fine and my domestic life blessedly cloudless [touches lucky rabbit foot]. If things were otherwise I’d probably write more, being of the school of thought that believes hard work to be the only cure for unhappiness.
I’ll confess, though to being somewhat burned out—on the point of despair, frankly—in the matter of public affairs. This recent surge of illegal aliens across our southern border, with the obvious complicity of our own national government, is especially appalling. But the same thing has been happening more slowly for thirty years, as VDARE.com has amply documented.
Yet nobody important cares, nothing gets done. Overwhelming majorities in both big political parties see mass immigration as an unqualified good. Indeed, mass illegal immigration is supported by enough legislators in both parties to prevent any meaningful action against it.
Those thirty years have seen five presidents and sixteen congresses come and go. Republicans had total control of Congress—both houses—for twelve of those years, six of them under a Republican president; Democrats likewise controlled Congress for twelve years, four of them under a Democratic president. Nothing was done.
If that isn’t a temptation to despair, I don’t know what is. Pegging away at my little polemics here, I have more and more found myself distracted by a small voice speaking from somewhere near my supramarginal gyrus. It is the voice of Basil Fawlty saying: “What is the point?”
Now despair, as well as being a sin in (I believe) all major religions, is also an unattractive and unproductive state of mind. Here at VDARE.com we eschew it. Peter Brimelow has pointed out in this context that as late as the early1980s
No-one knew that the West was going to win the Cold War. After the fall of Vietnam in ’75, it was a universal if unspoken assumption among the American Conservative movement, in which I was by then deeply involved, that we were going to lose and that the Red Flag would one day wave over the world.
Yet what John F. Kennedy called the “long twilight struggle” against communism was won at last after 46 years.
I guess not. And I do my best to cheer myself up with hortatory verse. The gloom thickens none the less, and at a certain point I have to back away and recharge my batteries.
Hence the one-month vacation.
There are temperamental issues in there, too. I’m inclined to think that the public realm is a zone of unreason, a playground for cranks and monomaniacs—a cast of mind that opens the way to negativity. That’s a consequence of having been born when I was, shortly after V-E Day.
In the 1960s, when my ideas about the world were settling in, matters seemed pretty straightforward. There were some obvious injustices that needed reforming. Once the reforms were done, we should be sailing under clear blue skies, a harmonious society.
The fundamental premise of Cultural Marxism, however, is that some group somewhere is being oppressed by some other group. Remedy the injustice, remove the oppression, and the whole CultMarx system is weakened, with major loss of prestige and jobs. That can’t be allowed to happen.
To prevent it from happening, logic must be perverted and reason thrown out of the window. Public discourse was therefore twisted into bizarre inversions, where every righting of a wrong seemed to have spawned more wrongs, worse wrongs, new victims.
The first time I fully grasped the scale of this Cultural Marxist lunacy was in the 1980s when the AIDS scare came up.
It was plain that AIDS was being spread in the U.S.A. mainly by promiscuous homosexual buggery. I assumed that AIDS would set back the liberalization of attitudes to homosexuality by 100 years; that a general revulsion by the 97 percent would push the three percent firmly back in the closet.
That would not, by the way, have been something I would have welcomed, as an irreligious person of live-and-let-live inclinations with a couple of homosexual acquaintances. It is only what I expected to happen.
“Imagine my surprise” (as the narrators of Victorian novels say) when the opposite thing happened: the homosexuals who were spreading the disease became victims, their transgressive lifestyle became something to be celebrated with pride, and the conquest of this single easily-avoided venereal disease became a matter of the highest national priority and the recipient of billions of taxpayer dollars. An athlete who caught it became a national hero, worshipped at shrines throughout the land by weeping devotees, most of them from the 97 percent.
Twenty years further on, two men—so far it’s just two—who want to bugger each other on a regular basis can pretend to be “married”; and if you think this degrades the ancient institution of marriage, and are incautious enough to say so out loud, you can be fired from your job. Meanwhile the disease toll from buggery slowly rises, and we await the next plague outbreak.
Then I started to notice the race business. I knew about race of course, and understood how fundamental the concept is to modern biology. The very foundational text of that science has the subtitle The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life (and is hardly concerned with human beings at all).
Of course most sexually-reproducing organisms mate with nearby members of their species; and of course, by the well-known laws of inheritance, this makes every species a patchwork of localized inbreeding populations with particular characteristics—races. Given enough time, some patches in the patchwork die out, while the surviving ones become so different from each other they can no longer cross-mate. That’s what the foundational text is about.
No sooner had I thought through these simple scientific facts, and noted the plentiful evidence for them in the world around me, than I learned how unpopular they are. Persons of great social and cultural authority assure the public daily that so far as human beings are concerned there is no such thing as race! Or: It’s merely a social construct! (Like … what? A political party? A bowling league?) Or: It’s just a matter of skin color!
(Speaking of the co-discoverer of DNA in a 2008 book review, the late Christopher Hitchens wrote: “James Watson has several times speculated, against all the evidence, that … people with too much melanin pigmentation are genetically programed to underperform.” As if the world’s greatest living geneticist could understand human biology as well as a Oxford PPE!)
Like the homosexuality thing, the race thing just got crazier with time. As society moved from striking down legal discrimination against blacks to heaping ever more favors and privileges on them, blacks just got angrier about their imagined persecution: and the nonblack majority took their swelling claims of victimhood at face value!
By 2012 it was de rigeur to believe that black Americans tiptoe through life in mortal terror of white malignity. When the Trayvon Martin affair came up, black journalists lined up to tell us sorrowfully how they have to give their kids The Talk: to explain to the little ones that there is a gang of white (or, I guess, “white Hispanic”) Klansmen lurking around every corner waiting to assault the poor Negro with pick handles and nooses.
Don’t look up an’ don’t look down You don’ dar’st make de white boss frown …
Et cetera. In fact, on Department of Justice Statistics, blacks are far more dangerous to whites than whites are to blacks, so that it would make more sense for white parents to advise their kids to be wary around blacks … as of course most of us do.
(In fact, on those same statistics, blacks are far more dangerous to blacks than whites are. Nobody cares about that, though. The core myth that must be upheld is of white malice, the only acceptable explanation for the social and civilizational failure of the black race.)
Thus what, in the innocence of youth, I took to be rational moves to remedy injustices—like the Factory Acts or Catholic Emancipation in a previous era of reform—turned out to have been opening shots in a Cold Civil War: two big groups of white people who can’t stand the sight of each other striving for social mastery.
One of those groups is bringing in foreign auxiliaries to do some of the fighting for them—just as the Romans of the later empire hired in Germans, or the later Arab Caliphates hired in Turks. How’d that work out?
I have to believe that victory in the Cold Civil War—victory over Cultural Marxism—is possible. But the fight has already lasted longer, and seems much harder, than that original “long twilight struggle.”
I am battle-weary. I need a break for a few weeks behind the lines, away from the thud of the shells and the rattle of the guns.
See you in September.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. His most recent book, published by VDARE.com com is FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle).His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.