JOHN DERBYSHIRE: “The Purpose Of Communist Propaganda Is To Humiliate”—Why The Biden Regime Lies About The Border
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

I recently gave a boot to the New York Times’ Miriam Jordan [Email her/Tweet her], whom the NYT describes as ”a national correspondent covering immigration,” for parroting the Regime claim that the stock of illegal aliens in the U.S. is still ”estimated at more than 10 million.” I noted that the Regime has been telling us that for at least twenty years, so it now seems improbable in the extreme: I was hearing way back in the 2010s that respectable analysts had come up with estimates of twenty or thirty million—see Patrick Cleburne’s Biden Enfranchising 11 Million, 20 Million, Or THIRTY Million Illegals? WE NEED TO KNOW!  It’s caused me to meditate on the theory and practice of the Lie in Totalitarian systems (which is where we are apparently headed). Conclusion: The point is not persuasion, but humiliation.

The April 20 front page of the New York Post happened to be lying on my desk when I wrote those words. It was dominated by two words in very large print: BIDEN LIED.

There was a picture of our president below that with, as background, a great crowd of illegals at the southern border wall.

[Thousands of migrants still flooding over border from banned countries despite US warning,  by MaryAnn Martinez and Emily Crane, NY Post, April 19, 2023]

Which reminded me of a journalistic gem from forty years ago, which I know I have quoted before more than once, but which bears re-quoting now and then.

This was Timothy Garton Ash, a writer with long experience of dealing with Communists in Eastern Europe. Here he was writing in the London Spectator in 1983:

Imagine sitting round a table with four apparently sane and civilized men, the senior of whom suddenly remarks: ”Of course, the Earth is flat.” You expect the others to demur. But no. ”Flat,” says one. ”Very flat,” agrees his neighbor. ”How else could we walk upright!” exclaims the third. And then they all smile at you, challenging dissent.

Far-fetched? If you travel to communist countries as a journalist this is a regular experience. You are ushered into a large government office, greeted with elaborate politeness by the minister or party secretary, seated at a glass-topped table under the marquetry plaque of Lenin. A middle-aged secretary brings in cups of coffee, a plate of small cakes, perhaps a round of schnapps. And then they start quietly telling you these whopping lies.

[Belfast in Yugoslavia, August 13, 1983]

At that time, I had just returned to England after living a year in China, so I could relate to it with no difficulty at all.

Yes, that was a common experience in Communist countries.

And, apparently, it still is.

The key background point was explained to us some years later by a different commentator, Theodore Dalrymple

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate.

Frontpage Interview with Dr. Theodore Dalrymple: Our Culture, What’s Left Of It, Frontpage Mag,  August 31, 2005

Our own politicians have always lied, of course. They didn’t used to lie any more than necessary, though; and their lies were furtive, and obfuscated as far as possible by tricks of language and presentation.

But it seems to me that those older styles of political mendacity are now giving way to the more brazen communist style. Our politicians lie to us now, right to our faces—”and then they all smile at you, challenging dissent,” in Timothy Garton Ash’s words.

Dalrymple was right. Nothing is more psychologically painful, more destructive of the individual ego, than humiliation.

Joe Biden leads the way here. Back in January, when the Biden Administration pretended to tighten up the rules for citizens of Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua, the president said:

But if their application [for asylum, made online or at a port of entry] is denied or if they attempt to cross into the United States unlawfully, they will be returned back to Mexico and will not be eligible for this program after that.

[Remarks by President Biden on Border Security and Enforcement, January 05, 2023]

As the New York Post cover story cited makes clear, that was a bare-faced lie. At just one of the seventy-odd checkpoints on our southern border, an average of 300 people a day from those countries are being waved through without process.

And how many times has Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas assured us, looking straight into the camera, that ”The border is secure”?

I don’t know how many times altogether but I can tell you the most recent time I saw it: Wednesday last week [The week in whoppers: Homeland Security boss’ border bunk, Randi’s revisionism and more, NY Post, April 20, 2023].

And then there’s U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the investigation of Hunter Biden’s taxes and foreign business dealings. A federal grand jury in Delaware has been conducting that investigation since, according to the Associated Press, at least 2018 [IRS agent alleges Hunter Biden probe is being mishandled, by Farnoush Amiri, AP, April 20, 2023].

Just savor that for a moment: a grand jury laboring away for five years on a matter mainly to do with tax evasion.

Do the grand jurors have any lives outside the jury room? Do they have jobs to keep or businesses to run? I’d like to know.

Could it be that the Biden administration has, at any rate for the last two of those five years, been deliberately holding up the investigation? Which, I presume, for the prior three years had been stalled by the political power structure in Delaware, the Bidens’ home ground?

Absolutely not! Comrade Garland told a congressional committee last month. No way! Impossible! [Hunter Biden probe free of interference, Garland pledges, by Lindsay Whitehurst, AP, March 1, 2023]

We are now hearing, however, that a whistleblower has emerged from the IRS to claim that Comrade Garland was lying. The whistleblower—actually his attorney—says he has evidence, according to AP’s Farnoush Amiri, above.

They lie. We know they’re lying, and they know we know. They don’t care that we know. The object is not persuasion, it’s humiliation—to break our wills and make us obedient subjects of the all-knowing, all-powerful state.

I might as well have stayed in China.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount 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. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

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