Some commenters and emailers have wondered if there is a transcript of Bob Weissberg’s speech to the American Renaissance conference in March. I don’t believe there is, but in the full-service spirit of Taki’s Magazine, I have posted the next best thing here. You’re welcome!
OK, where were we? Ah yes, the race business. I’ll begin with a brief tip of the hat to that unknown reader whose sigh about how boring multiracial societies are (“People waste so much time talking about race…”) still seems to me a good keynote for anything on this topic. Then another hat tip to the friend who, when I mentioned that point to him, said: “Only denialists and hypocrites say ‘race talk is boring.’” Take your pick.
Reactions. Defenestration issues aside, the reactions to my April column were disappointing. I say that without irony; there just wasn’t much meat there.
Reaction from the left was just shrieking and clutching of skirts. What girls they are! So far as there was any content, it amounted to: “Racist racist racist racist…!” Since I long ago owned up to being “a mild and tolerant” homophobe and “an even more mild and tolerant” racist, it’s hard to see what their point is.
I suspect it’s the mildness and tolerance that drives them nuts. Look at this goon, for example. He cites the above remark in quotes but leaves out the adjectives. That is of course dishonest, but it offers a startlingly clear illustration of the totalitarian mindset.
On key points of dogma, there can be no middle path between complete swooning acceptance and utter angry rejection. You have to love Big Brother. If you merely tolerate him, you are just as bad a thought criminal as someone who wants to assassinate him. The idea that a well-socialized person puts up with a lot of things he doesn’t much like is too subtle for these blinkered commissars.
Remember the Ingsoc slogans from Nineteen Eighty-Four?
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
For the totalitarianism of our own age, AKA white-Western liberalism, you can add a fourth:
TOLERANCE IS HATE
Reaction from the right was naturally more intelligent but still of low quality.
There was a lot of moral preening. This centered on racial insouciance—that is, on cultivating an attitude of complete indifference to race, either individual or collective. Several commentators prided themselves on having attained this state of grace, though none of them followed my suggestion that they take the Implicit Association Test and post their results online, as I have done. (My Gawker interviewer, to her great credit, did take the IAT at my suggestion.)
Some of the preeners took it to the next level, arguing that racial insouciance is a core American value. Fiddlesticks! The USA got along for its first 90 years with race slavery in several states and blacks excluded from civic life almost everywhere. It then went another hundred years with blacks as second-class citizens by near-universal agreement. I don’t doubt there were racially insouciant Americans in those two centuries, but I doubt there were many. It’s unnatural.
Racial insouciance as a public ideal came up in the 1960s among the intelligentsia and the Yankee bourgeoisie. To this day it still has not (to borrow from a famous mistranslation of one of Stalin’s speeches) penetrated the backward parts of the proletariat. Racial insouciance is not a core American value; it’s a boomer fad, like James Bond movies. It will be interesting to see which fad outlasts the other.
Democracy has a race problem. A few commentators looked above the petty particulars to put my opinions in some larger context.
A friend (thanks, G. C.) passed on this to me. It’s a posting from the punk-liberal blogger “Midwest Ballad Review.” The poster—call him MBW—argues that in addition to the “Americanist” conservatism of the official, National Review right:
…there is a second conservatism haunting the internet. Look for Derbyshire’s name and you’ll find it. For a sympathetic view of it, take a look at ex-pat right-wing philosopher Nick Land’s praise and appraisal of one “Mencius Moldbug,” another name you will surely run into if you venture into the deep reacto-sphere.
Land calls this set of ideas “The Dark Enlightenment”….
MBW is much better acquainted with us of the Dark Enlightenment than a liberal has any right to be. Did he steal one of our decoder rings? What really got my attention, though, was his prediction at the end of his piece that conservatism’s future belongs to us. It surely does, pal, but you’re not supposed to know.
Not that MBW is all good sense. He goes on to argue that I, Mencius, and others out here in the Dark Enlightenment have rejected not only the Declaration of Independence but also “the whole of Western culture basically since the Reformation, including democracy.”
That’s hyperbolic and a bit silly. The stuff about equality in the Declaration was nothing more than a ceremonial way of saying, “We’ll have no aristocracy of birth in our republic.” Name a Founder who would not have fallen dead of apoplexy on seeing his daughter out walking with a black man. Nor were the Founders great fans of democracy. Nor do I have any problem with post-Reformation Western culture; I have in fact written reverent books about two aspects of it (math and opera).
Democracy, though? We-e-ell…
In Robert A. Heinlein’s Glory Road there’s an episode where the space/time-traveling but rather green hero Gordon meets a much more worldly—I mean, universe-ly—older traveler. The guy perceives that Gordon is a 20th-century American. He asks:
“How were things when you left? Especially, how is the United States getting along with its Noble Experiment?”
Gordon thinks he means Prohibition, and a misunderstanding follows. The older guy explains he meant democracy:
“Then they still have elections and all that?”
“The last time I looked, yes.”
“Oh, wonderful. Fantastic, simply fantastic.…