01:19 Another Orwell Moment. (A barbarian raid.)
06:09 Superman stumbles. (Boomer impressions.)
10:29 Israel pessimism. (Goldman, me, Nixon, Unz.)
15:21 Demography and despair. (Morland’s Trilemma revisited.)
20:43 Trump and the Muslims. (A new travel ban?)
28:40 Kissinger on multi-culti. (Still got it.)
30:19 Race, sex, and beauty. (It just gets wilder.)
32:27 Another gas crisis? (No: This is not 1973.)
34:27 Physics Nobel Prize. (Attoboy, scientists!)
37:13 Signoff. (With an umlaut.)
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners. That was the progressive metal version of Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 and this is your elegiacally genial host John Derbyshire ruminating on the week's news.
The news was of course dominated by the assault last Saturday on Israel out of the Gaza Strip. Commentators on the news outlets and social media have had all week to tell us what they think, so while I shall of course do my best with observations and speculations, don't expect anything dazzlingly original from Radio Derb.
02 — Another Orwell Moment. Reviewing Arthur Koestler's book Spanish Testament in February 1938, George Orwell wrote the following thing, quote:
You cannot be objective about an aerial torpedo. And the horror we feel of these things has led to this conclusion: if someone drops a bomb on your mother, go and drop two bombs on his mother. The only apparent alternatives are to smash dwelling houses to powder, blow out human entrails and burn holes in children with thermite, or to be enslaved by people who are more ready to do these things than you are yourself; as yet no one has suggested a practicable way out.
That was 1938, please note, well before WW2. Eighty-five years on it still happens here and there, now and then, that a nation faces an Orwell Moment; Someone's dropped a bomb on their mother, and there's nothing for them to do but go drop two bombs on his mother.
If they're a civilized nation they won't feel any joy in doing so. To laugh, cheer, and exult while dropping a bomb on someone's mother marks you unmistakably as a barbarian. It's only that, as Orwell said, as yet no one has suggested a practicable way out.
So Israel's facing an Orwell Moment, not for the first time. And to judge from the merry party spirit in evidence among last Saturday's Hamas raiders as they carted off their victims naked and bound while gleefully shouting out praises to God, it's not hard to figure who the barbarians are here.
Yes, I'm with Israel. There wouldn't be much point in denying it. I have a paper trail going back more than twenty years with pro-Israel pieces scattered through it. Scanning through my archives just now, there's very little I would change.
And yes, I see Saturday's event as a barbarian raid into civilized territory. Call me eccentric, but I prefer civilization to barbarism. If Israel were to be wiped out by critters like those Hamas goons, that would be a net loss for civilization.
All that said, those are foreign places there, dropping bombs on each other's mother. I'm an American. My very strong preference is that my country, the U.S.A., stay out of the fight.
Uncle Sam spent four years and a ton of money training my son to be a paratrooper. Junior's a civilian now, but I assume he's on some kind of reserve list. If the U.S.A. were in existential peril he'd be called up, and I'd be proud to see him go off to fight. Heck, I'd enlist myself if the recruiting officer judged my withered old hide to be worth the expense of a uniform and a rifle.
Still I very much do not want Americans maimed or killed because two tribes four thousand miles away have claims on each other's land: not if the tribes are Jews and Arabs, not if they're two varieties of Eastern Slav, not if they're island Chinese and mainland Chinese. Sort it out yourselves, guys.
It took me back to June 1967, when I was sitting with some others at a table in the Liverpool University students' dining hall listening to a Jewish classmate, a high-spirited and eloquent young woman who had spent some of her teenage years on a kibbutz. I forget if the Six-Day War was over at that point or still in progress, but that classmate gave us a good historical grounding … although from the Israeli side, of course.
None of us expected Israel's victory in that war. After it happened there was a newspaper cartoon going around, based on the old Superman comics we'd all grown up reading. The cartoon had two frames. Left frame: a nerdy round-shouldered pencil-necked big-nosed young Jewish guy in street clothes — Star of David on his briefcase, or some such signifier — about to enter a phone booth. Right frame, five minutes later: a big bold grinning muscular guy in Superman costume stepping out of the phone booth.
That impression lingered for decades in the minds of my generation, with an occasional boost from events like the Yom Kippur War and the Entebbe Raid. Such a small nation, seeing off so many much bigger enemies!
The stories we heard about the Israeli Secret Service taking care of covert business were also impressive: a terrorist leader in some Middle East hotel picking up the phone to take a call and getting his head blown off, that sort of thing. Overt or covert: you better not mess with Moshe.
Well, those impressions took a major hit this week. Israel was caught totally flat-footed by Saturday's raid. What on earth went wrong there?
Seymour Hersh at his Substack account tells us it was Netanyahu's fault. The Israeli Prime Minister, says Hersh, thought he had Hamas in his pocket after a raft of concessions he's made to them. He was far more worried about settlers in the West Bank who wanted to stage a big religious celebration just when tension was high there. Quote from Hersh:
The Sukkot celebration, held near a Palestinian village known in Hebrew as Haware, would need extraordinary protection, given the tension over the latest violence, and the local Israeli military authorities, with the approval of Netanyahu, ordered two of the three Army battalions, each with about 800 soldiers, that protected the border with Gaza to shift their focus to the Sukkot festival.
End quote. Whoops!
Of course I don't know if that truly is what explains the failure. If it is, though, then I bet Seymour Hersh is right: Netanyahu's Prime Ministership, probably his entire political career, is history, or very soon will be.
Goldman is Jewish, religiously observant, and a Zionist. His essay is none the less pessimistic. Sample quote, edited:
The present generation of Israelis has become soft and complacent. Its youth has not been called on to fight since their grandparents did their military service. Israel has not fought a ground war since Lebanon in 1982, and no serving officer of the IDF has combat experience …
The civil disorder that plagued Israel this year over judicial reform also indicates a weakness in the fabric of Israeli society. This reached into the armed forces. Hundreds of Air Force reservists last July declared that they would not report for duty to protest the reforms. This breach of discipline is unprecedented in a country where the reporting rate for reservists previously exceeded 100 percent (some superannuated reservists reported although not required to). The desire of secular Israelis to be an ordinary country whose main activity is the pursuit of individual fulfillment, rather than a Jewish State, stands in terrible contrast to the mass murder of Israelis simply because they are Jews.
I'm not one-tenth as smart as David Goldman — and I can say that with confidence: I know David personally — but I can claim a kind of precedence here.
Twenty-one and a half years ago I posted a column on National Review Online under the title: "Does Israel Have a Future?" I concluded — sadly, of course — that it does not. In support of my case I named two fellow pessimists, Richard Nixon and Ron Unz.
For Nixon's verdict I referred to Pat Buchanan's book The Death of the West, which had just come out. Nixon was, as Pat quotes Golda Meir saying, one of the best friends Israel ever had. He none the less turned his thumb down when asked about the country's long-term prospects. There was no malice in Nixon's opinion, only reasoned calculation.
Ron Unz, who is also Jewish, unloaded his own pessimism in the "Letters" columns of Commentary magazine, quote:
I expect Israel's trajectory to follow that of the temporary Crusader kingdoms, surviving for seventy or eighty years following its 1948 establishment, then collapsing under continual Muslim pressure and flagging ideological commitment.
Did last week's intelligence failures arise from that "flagging ideological commitment"? Again, I don't know.
That column of mine that I'm taking all this from is dated January 2002, though. Ron Unz's "seventy or eighty years" on from 1948 gets you to the zone 2018 to 2028. Right now we're just halfway through that zone …
I covered Morland's Trilemma in my podcast of April 1st last year. Here's the relevant clip.
A trilemma is like a dilemma but more so. If you're faced with a dilemma, you have two options, but you can't choose both. In a trilemma you have three options, but you can't choose to take all three. You may only be able to choose one of the three; or you may be able to choose two; but not all three.
British demographer Paul Morland, who has a new book just out, argues that under today's conditions of economic and cultural modernity every nation is faced with a trilemma. There are three options, but a nation has to pick two and leave the other one un-picked.
The three options are:
Notice that option three there implies low fertility. If citizens want that comfortable low-stress lifestyle, you're heading for population decline.
- Ethnic continuity.
- A thriving economy.
- A comfortable lifestyle without the huge stress of mixing child-raising and a modern economy.
For examples Morland offers Japan, which has chosen Options One and Three: ethnic continuity and that comfortable low-fertility lifestyle at the cost of a lackluster economy. Britain, on the other hand, has chosen Options Two and Three: the thriving economy and the comfortable low-fertility lifestyle, at the sacrifice of ethnic continuity.
And then, Israel, the only advanced modern nation with Total Fertility Rate well above replacement level. So Israel has chosen Options One and Two: ethnic continuity and a thriving economy, at the sacrifice of an easygoing, low-fertility lifestyle.
That was pretty upbeat. Demographic projections can be famously misleading, though: recall the Population Bomb we were being warned about fifty years ago by Paul Ehrlich and such.
Fertility measures for Israel, Palestine, Arab Israelis, and secular versus religious Israelis are much argued about. I'll skip over that argument here and just wonder aloud whether David Goldman's fears that what he calls the "desire of secular Israelis to be an ordinary country" might, as years pass, triumph over patriotism, with all the sacrifices patriotism involves in a neighborhood like the Middle East.
Then my thoughts wandered back to Morland's Trilemma and it occurred to me that you could, to a fair approximation, express it more crisply, with just one word for each leg of the Trilemma, thus:
From there my mind wandered back to those video clips from Saturday's massacre: the happy, harmless, heedless hedonism of those young people dancing to their music when the wolf pack arrived.
Is there a hideous kind of symmetry there somehow — some kind of warning? Or do I just let my thoughts wander too much?
Sorry about this. I set out today not intending to say this much. In fact, I had the vague idea yesterday to say nothing at all about Israel and Palestine in this week's podcast, on the grounds that you'd all be thoroughly fed up of hearing about it.
I had to abandon that idea, though. There just wasn't enough happening elsewhere; and I myself had been so marinated in a week's worth of Middle East news, I couldn't concentrate on what little other news there was.
So … another footnote, this one concerning ex-President Donald Trump.
Just let me preface it by saying what I have said many times before. I was disappointed in Trump as a president and I hope he's not the Republican Party presidential candidate next November. However, if he is the GOP candidate I shall vote for him rather than for any likely Democrat candidate I know of. As erratic and ineffectual as Trump's presidency was, it did far less harm than Biden's has, or than Gavin Newsom's would, let alone nightmare scenarios like a Hillary Clinton or Kamala Harris run.
I'll give Trump credit where it's due, though, and it's due on his so-called Muslim Ban.
Just to remind you: In January 2017, right at the beginning of his presidency, Trump signed an executive order banning travel to the United States from seven majority-Muslim countries.
The ban of course generated much shrieking and rending of garments on the multi-culti Left. Cries of "Islamophobia! Xenophobia! RACISM!" rang out from sea to shining sea. There was a spell of lawfare, outfits like the ACLU trying to get the ban declared illegal. Eventually, in mid-2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban in a slightly modified form, spelling out which categories of visa from which countries were banned.
It was of course a perfectly sound policy. Muslims have serious and angry disagreements with other ethnies — most notably, but by no means only, with Jews. Why should we import ethnic conflicts from other parts of the world? While the fuss over Trump's proposed ban was under way I offered the following opinion here at Radio Derb, September 15th 2017, quote from self:
The most astonishing, most incredible statistic of our age is that the U.S.A. admitted more Muslims for settlement in the fifteen years after 9/11 than it did in the fifteen years before.
The folly of having done so was in plain sight — and sound — this week, as Muslims and Jews faced off in rowdy demonstrations.
Joe Biden of course rescinded Trump's order as soon as he was settled in the White House. Now we're waving Muslims in by the thousand across our Southern border.
Well, in July this year, campaigning in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Trump promised that if re-elected as President next November he would re-introduce a ban, an even stronger one. Quote:
Under the Trump administration, we imposed extreme vetting and put on a powerful travel ban to keep radical Islamic terrorists and jihadists out of our country. Well, how did that work out? We had no problem, right? They knew they couldn't come here if they had that moniker. They couldn't come here. When I return to office, the travel ban is coming back even bigger than before and much stronger than before. We don't want people blowing up our shopping centers. We don't want people blowing up our cities and we don't want people stealing our farms. So it's not gonna happen.
That's encouraging. However, this is Trump talking, so look carefully before you buy. How, exactly, will this new ban be bigger and stronger than the previous one in 2018?
The guy does have a habit of over-promising. As a matter of fact, the 2018 ban was first advertised to us when he was on the campaign trail in December 2015. Trump advertised it as a complete ban on Muslims entering the U.S.A. Quote from the Guardian, December 7th 2015, quote:
Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Trump's proposed ban would apply to "everybody," including Muslims seeking immigration visas as well as tourists seeking to enter the country. Another Trump staffer confirmed that the ban would also apply to American Muslims who were currently overseas — presumably including members of the military and diplomatic service. [Inner quote.] "This does not apply to people living in the country," Trump said in an interview on Fox News, "but we have to be vigilant." [End inner quote.]
And then of course there's the issue of how well this "bigger, stronger" ban will survive the lawfare sure to be launched against it by the ACLU etc.
All right, all right: the guy's heart is in the right place; I give him credit for that. If a Muslim ban were constitutional, which it probably isn't, it would be a blessing for the U.S.A.
Imprimis: The folly of mass Muslim immigration into non-Muslim countries is slowly dawning on Europe. It dawned on the French yesterday, when stupendous numbers from all over the Muslim world demonstrated in Paris.
There are somewhere around five or six million Muslims in France, no-one's sure of the exact number. Whatever it is, it's way too many for a peaceful, stable society. Similarly with Sweden, as we've been reporting on here at VDARE.com.
It's not hard to figure out, even if you're a hundred years old. Here's a guy who actually is a hundred years old: Henry Kissinger, being interviewed for Politico yesterday. He's referring to Arabs in Berlin celebrating the October 7th attack. Here's Henry.
[Clip. It was a grave mistake to let in so many people of totally different culture and religions and concepts, because it creates a pressure group inside each country that does that.]
Last week I told you about the nation of Zimbabwe, whose population is 98 percent black, electing a white lady to represent them in the 2023 Miss Universe pageant next month in El Salvador.
Another week, another aspiring Miss Universe. This is 28-year-old Marina Machete of Portugal, awarded the title Miss Portugal. The lady is in fact — yes, you guessed it — a gentleman.
She's not the first such, either. Miss Universe Netherlands, chosen back in July, is also male. What on earth's going on here?
What's going on is, the Miss Universe pageant has been acquired by by Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, a Thai business mogul who began identifying as a woman 5 years ago. Last year he bought not only the Miss Universe pageant but also the Miss U.S.A. and Miss Teen U.S.A. competitions.
Thailand, Huh? Trannies, eh? Yes: I lived there for three months back in 1972. I got stories. Never mind that, though. Let's just hope this Jakrajutatip character keeps his hands off Miss Bum Bum. The pageant, I mean, not … Next item.
The last really big dust-up in the Middle East was the Yom Kippur War of 1973. I hadn't been long in the U.S.A. when it broke out; I was washing dishes for a living in the New York City suburbs.
A major talking point in the kitchens at the time was the gas crisis. Arab members of OPEC cut oil production and banned the export of petroleum and its products to countries that supported Israel. That of course included us. There were long lines at the gas stations.
Will something like that happen again? Not likely. For one thing, world patterns of production and consumption of oil are different. For another, the Arab countries are even more fed up with the Palestinians now than they were then, and there is anyway less policy co-ordination among them. Plus there are electric vehicles taking up some of the slack. And then, we have the Strategic Oil Reserve — depleted, yes, but still enough there to weather a 1973-level crisis.
The Washington Post thinks that if Iran comes under attack from Israel or the U.S.A., oil prices might soar. If there is such an attack, though, I think we'll have more to worry about than gassing up the Camry.
Item: I'm a little late in noticing the Nobel Prize in Physics awards. This year's went to three physicists from three different institutions. Let their names be known: Pierre Agostini of Ohio State University, Ferenc Krausz of the University of Munich, and Anne L'Huillier of Lund University in Sweden. Congratulations to all!
What did these scientists collectively do to get themselves a Nobel Prize? They figured out how to create extremely, extremely short pulses of light — pulses lasting mere attoseconds. An attosecond is 10-18 seconds, a quintillionth of a second — a millionth of a trillionth of a second. There are more than twice as many attoseconds in a second as there have been seconds since, on current theories, the universe began.
What is an attosecond flash of light good for? Not for finding your dropped house keys on a dark porch, that's for sure. I'll leave you to look up the actual answer for yourselves.
For me the word "attosecond" brings to mind one of of those silly jokes we young science geeks used to trade about fictitious units of measurement. So far as I know, the millihelen is the only one to have broken out of geek circles: one millihelen is the degree of female facial beauty required to launch one ship.
"Attosecond" reminds me of "ignisecond," from back in the days when you had to put an actual key in an actual keyhole to start your car. One ignisecond was the time that elapsed between slamming the car door shut and locked and realising that you'd left the key in the ignition.
Boomers will understand.
08 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your time and attention, and I hope you celebrated appropriately on Columbus Day, this Monday past. What a great man he was, Columbus — and, as I feel sure I have mentioned before, not a phony but the Genoan article.
OK, some signout music. How d'you feel about umlauts, listener? I know some people find them intimidating, even a bit scary. The late P.J. O'Rourke once suggested that we'd get more respect from the other nations of the world if we spelled "U.S.A." with an umlaut over the "U": "Ü. S.A." … see?
Personally, I can boast that I'm quite at home with the umlaut. I had it explained to me at an early age that when, in an English word, a vowel alongside another vowel has an umlaut over it, that just means that both vowels are pronounced separately, not made into a diphthong: "naïve," "coöperation," and so on. Then in high school I took German as my modern language with all those umlauts on "a," "o," and "u."
Yes: those two little dots and I are good friends from way back. I know the difference between a Russian letter "e" and a Russian "ë." I can even handle Hungarian, which has two different umlauts, a short one and a long one. Umlaut-wise I am Renaissance Man.
I'll admit, though, that I was baffled recently when a friend introduced me to the music of a 19th-century Belgian composer whose name is spelled thus: Y-s-a-ÿ-e. An umlaut on a letter "y"? I'd never seen that before; and I've been to Belgium, several times.
I had to look up the pronunciation on Wikipedia. They say it's [iza.i]. I guess I'll go with that. Here's the opening theme of Ysaÿe's Poème élégiaque in D minor, which is famous enough among people musically better informed than I am to have its own Wikipedia page.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Philippe Graffin, Eugène Ysaÿe's Poème élégiaque in D minor.]