March 20, 2003
NOTE: PLEASE say if you DON'T want your name and/or email address published when sending VDARE email.
SS: Poor Derbyshire, understandably, feels obliged to conclude his article with some ritual ululations about the evils of MacDonald.
JD: I didn't "feel obliged" to do anything. I wrote my honest opinion, as I always do. SS has no access to my feelings, and it is impertinent of him to suggest he does. And where did I write, much less "ululate," about "the evils of MacDonald"? I don't think Kevin is "evil," and, not thinking so, would not have written so. I think he is tactless, and that is what I said. If SS thinks that "tactless" is a synonym for "evil," he has severe problems with English comprehension.
SS: But the fact is, MacDonald's books are written in prudent but almost-inaccessible sociologese.
JD: I don't altogether agree. I have tackled four of Kevin's books: A People That Shall Dwell Alone, Civilization and Its Discontents, The Culture of Critique 1998 edition, and this new edition of The Culture of Critique. I should say that SS's description applies pretty well to the first two books, but much less so to CofC, which I think is accessible to any intelligent non-specialist. It is unfortunate that you cannot really grasp Kevin's theory of "group evolutionary strategy" without struggling through the first two books.
I did my best with them, but I can't say I really understand "group evolutionary strategy," and have been frank in confessing this. I don't think it's by any means a straightforward theory, and I am willing to bet that most of the people who have scoffed at my review could not, in fact, explain "group evolutionary strategy" to save their lives.
However, you can get a lot of fascinating insights from CofC without understanding Kevin's theories. It is, as I have said in my web page on the controversy, an interesting book. It is also, as I have further said, well written. And this re-issue of it has much clarifying material, as I described in my review.
SS: By his lucid summary, and by provoking Kevin MacDonald into lucid response, John Derbyshire has massively facilitated public discussion on this key issue.
JD: The implication here seems to be that I have shot myself in the balls, unwittingly giving publicity to a book I would much prefer to see sink without trace. That is nonsense. If that's what I'd prefer, I would never have agreed to review it in the first place. As I have said, again on my web page given over to this topic, I think it is a scandal that Kevin's books are not more widely reviewed and read. They discuss matters of general interest, matters that are very commonly talked about among intelligent and socially-responsible adults. That these matters are shut out from the public forum is absurd and unfair.
SS: Why was not this extremely valuable piece not published in Derbyshire's normal home: National (a.k.a. Goldberg) Review?
JD: I have no idea. Why don't you ask them? I am not an employee of NR, and have no input to their decisions about what books to review. NR only comes out every other week, and the book section is small, so they are very severely selective. I happen to think, for example, that Amy Chua's World on Fire is at least as important as CofC, but they're not reviewing that, either. It's National Review, not The New York Review of Books.
And by the way, cut out this puerile stuff about "Goldberg Review." I just read down the names in the NR masthead, and counted 29 names before I got to the first Jewish one. (I confess I am not sure about the Art Director, Luba Kolomytseva—though since she doesn't do any writing, her confessional status is irrelevant here.)
Possibly SS feels there should be no Jewish names at all, on the National Review masthead or anywhere else in the world. Possibly he feels that the presence of No. 29 on the masthead is conclusive, irrefutable proof that NR is a tool of the Worldwide Zionist Conspiracy. Possibly... Sorry, I just got a call from my paymasters at Zionist Central, telling me to keep it short. Next point.
SS: And why was not MacDonald given the normal courtesy of replying in The American Conservative to what in fact became a personal attack?
JD: I haven't a clue. No doubt TAC editors can speak for themselves on this point if they feel inclined. "Personal attack" is preposterous. The only ad hominem in my review is at the end, where I said I though Kevin is "prickly" and "unworldly." If you think that's a "personal attack," you lead a very sheltered life. To the best of my knowledge, Kevin MacDonald didn't take it personally. The last time we exchanged e-mails—about a week after the review appeared—we were on cordial terms. But I am sure Kevin, like TAC editors, can speak for himself on this if he wants to.
VDARE.COM comments: We are glad to have John Derbyshire's confirmation that Kevin MacDonald's work is worthy of discussion, and hope he can persuade his National Review colleague David Frum. "Goldberg Review," of course, is not a comment of the Jewishness of the treezine (has he checked the webzine?) but a term for the strange mutant ideology that typifies the "conservative" wing of the permanent government party, of which National Review is now merely a mouthpiece. This phenomenon was first identified and analyzed by Paul Gottfried, who is himself Jewish. Conversely, we are authoritatively informed, the eponymous (and ubiquitous) Jonah Goldberg is not.