JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Happy New Year, America!—At Least We’re Not Canada, Or Britain
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

What will 2023 hold? I’m going to strive to ’take a positive outlook. Yes, that goes against the grain; I am, after all, the guy who wrote a book titled We Are Doomed.

We may indeed be doomed, but I’m going to turn my thoughts in the other direction, striving for optimism on the principle: ”Fake it until you make it.”

The main reason for that turn: baby Michael, our first grandchild, who will be one year old on January 21st.

I wish and hope for the best for him and for the world he’ll grow up into. Wishes and hopes aren’t reality, of course, but they make reality easier to bear.

Last week, inspired by Professor Robert Weissberg, I lamented the appalling state of our federal government, its incompetence and impotence. One listener pushed back:

It’s not impotence and incompetence. The government is growing ever more powerful and competent. It’s just that the power is directed against us, not them. Government officials want to eliminate the border, turn homosexual pedophiles loose on our children, and let criminals riot, rape and murder us. The goal is to eliminate the nation-state, with the U.S. leading the list.

As all other sources of power and influence disappear—nations, corporations (with obvious exceptions), smaller businesses, churches, and the family—the rule of globalist government elites and their corporate and NGO allies will extend their rule over all of us as atomized individuals.

So is it incompetence and impotence, as I lamented last week? Or is there, as my listener says, a goal, a master plan, being pushed forward with competence and ruthless power?

There is an old saying (it’s usually attributed to Napoleon although scholars tell us Boney never said it)—that you should never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Having observed U.S. foreign policy this past thirty years since the Cold War ended, I strongly favor an explanation from stupidity.

Those futile foreign wars with thousands of dead Americans and trillions of dollars wasted; the purposeless, relentless insulting and provoking of Russia; the naivety of thinking that the Chinese Communist Party would yield up its power to liberal democracy if we just opened ourselves to their shoddy goods and shipped our own manufacturing base over there; all of this has been gross, suicidal stupidity. It’s hard to believe that stupidity was restricted to just the sphere of foreign policy.

And yes, it is leading us in the direction of authoritarian government. Authoritarian government—”despotism” for short—is, after all, the default state of human society. The great majority of human beings all through history, when they have not been in a brutish state of nature, have lived under despotic government; from Egypt and Babylon, through the Hellenic and Roman empires, the Persians and Byzantines and Chinese, the Caliphates and Emirates of Islam, the Ottomans and Moguls, the empires of Spain and Russia… there hasn’t been a whole lot of law, liberty, and constitutionalism in the human experience.

Law, liberty, and constitutionalism have been the exception, not the rule. They are the exception in the world today—look around. Wise men imbued with wise ideals can keep law, liberty, and constitutionalism going here and there for a century or two; but it may be that if the wisdom fails and the ideals are misplaced—if great numbers of citizens sink into fantasies of perfect justice, perfect equality, perfect global harmony—it may be that then society easily slips back to the historical default: corrupt, lawless despotism.

So, bottom line here: Yes, I believe that stupidity is an adequate explanation for our current condition; and yes, if things continue in the same direction we may slip into despotism.

Do I think we actually shall so slip? In line with my opening remarks, I’m going to choose to believe not. We’ll return to our senses somehow, to our Constitution.

The Swamp will be drained; the fools and the fantasists will be sent packing; and the USA will again be a free commercial republic, minding its own business, with liberty and justice for all.

Please let it be soon.

Meanwhile, in line with what every grandparent tells his grandchildren, as I shall tell baby Michael when he’s old enough to comprehend, there’s always someone worse off than yourself.

Let me offer some illustrative examples of that in hopes of cheering you up.

  • Example #1: Oh, Canada!

As hostile to its own citizens as our federal government may be, Canada’s is worse.

With Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister, this is not surprising. Back in 2016, shortly after he was first elected to national leadership, Trudeau declared Canada to be the world’s, ”first postnational state” [The dangers of Trudeau’s ’postnational’ Canada, by Douglas Toddy, Vancouver Sun, April 28, 2016]. There is no such thing as a Canadian identity, Trudeau explained, only ”shared values” and a ”search for equality and justice.”

The nation-state is an evil thing, Trudeau believes; and the most evil thing of all is a nation-state with a majority-white population.

Under Justin Trudeau’s government, Canada has in fact become the beating heart of white ethnomasochism. Canada’s leading intellectuals and parliamentarians have for years been accusing their nation of ”genocide” in the treatment of indigenous peoples.

For example: The first Prime Minister of independent Canada was John A. Macdonald, who held office for almost a quarter century, from 1867 to 1891. Macdonald wanted indigenous people to be able fully to participate in the life of the nation. As part of that, he approved placing indigenous youngsters in residential schools, mostly run by the churches, where they’d get a European, Christian education.

In October this year a motion was put before Canada’s parliament to declare that policy ”genocide.” The motion was passed unanimously [MPs back motion calling on government to recognize residential schools program as genocide, CBC, October 27, 2022].

As Jonathan Kay pointed out at the time on Quillette, the last of these residential schools was only closed in 1997, so that the first twenty of Canada’s twenty-three Prime Ministers are all guilty of genocide, according to the Canadian parliament.

Not that Canada’s last three Prime Ministers are off the genocide hook. Six years ago the federal government commissioned a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. In 2019 the report was published. It declared an ongoing ”genocide” of the unfortunate squaws, so that Prime Ministers 21 thru 23 were also guilty of genocide. Justin Trudeau gave the report his full approval.

As Jonathan Kay wrote:

But this is not the final tally: Given Canada’s current political climate, newly discovered genocides are no doubt in the offing.

Welcome to Canada, Where Everyone’s a Génocidaire

[Canadians are being told that they’ve perpetrated multiple genocides. So why aren’t their leaders being tried at The Hague,? October 31, 2022] ·

A different commentator, Canadian writer and businessman Conrad Black, delivered a blistering broadside on all this in the National Post on Christmas Eve.

For this country to be charged with genocide by its own government is a scandalous profanation and a blood libel against the European-descended population of Canada.

Conrad Black: A moral imperative for Trudeau Liberals to resign, December 24, 2022

Conrad Black also notes that Canada’s white ethnomasochism has speciated, producing a white-Anglo variety. The government of Quebec, Canada’s second-most populous province, has banned the use of English as an official language in the province, which is predominantly French-speaking. That is actually unconstitutional, says Black, but Trudeau’s federal government is going meekly along with it anyway.

So if the ethnomasochism of Progressive whites here in the U.S.A. has been getting on your nerves, be thankful that at least you don’t live in Canada.

Likewise with fussy and restrictive gun laws in Blue states like New York. Beginning October 21st this year you can no longer buy, sell, or transfer handguns within Canada at all, nor can you bring newly acquired handguns into the country [Canada bans all handgun sales in latest gun-control move, by Celina Tebor, USA TODAY, October 21,  2022]. Long guns are still permitted, but the government seems to have plans to clamp down on them, too.

Immigration? Quote from the Financial Post, December 19th,

The Trudeau government aims to let in 465,000 immigrants next year, despite serious shortages in housing and health care. As a percentage of the population, this is higher than most other developed nations.

[Diane Francis: Trudeau’s foolhardy immigration targets, December 19, 2022]

 Higher than the U.S.A.? Well, Trudeau’s goal represents 1.2 percent of Canada’s current population. 1.2 percent of our current population would be four million.

If you count the one million and some legal immigrants, the one million and some caught-and-released border-jumpers, and the unknown number—probably well into six digits—of illegals we didn’t catch, we’re certainly competitive with Canada; but yeah, their proportion is probably higher than ours.

You see? Just as I told you: there’s always someone worse off than yourself. Count your blessings, Americans.

  • EXAMPLE #2: The great Brexit fiasco.

Yes, the Mother Country is in a sorry state. The news and opinion outlets are all over it.

  1. Atlantic magazine, October 25th: ”How the U.K. Became One of the Poorest Countries in Western Europe.”
  2. Daily Telegraph, December 5th: ”Britain is heading for systems collapse.”
  3. The Economist, December 12th: ”The strange case of Britain’s demise.”

And so on. Sample quote from that Economist piece:

The economy is entering recession, inflation is high and pay strikes are disrupting railways, schools and even hospitals. The National Health Service … the country’s most cherished institution, is buckling. Millions of people are waiting for treatment in hospitals. Ambulances are perilously scarce.

 I hardly know where to start. The National Health Service is as good a place as any. I don’t know whether it is still, really, ”a cherished institution,” but it certainly used to be.

When it was launched in 1948 the NHS was greeted with wonder and delight by ordinary Brits. Basic medical care, all paid for from general taxation! I remember when I was a kid, suffering from an ear infection, our family doctor coming to the house to give me a shot of penicillin.

The days when doctors made house calls are long gone over there, as they are here; but to see a doctor at all on the NHS you may have to join a waiting list weeks long [Seeing the GP: Advice and tips for young people,, UK].

Emergency care? Even before the current round of strikes there were regular news stories about people dying after waiting hours for an ambulance. COVID of course made things worse, but the waiting lists were growing before COVID.

The political rot goes deep. If you are still glum over the GOP’s apparently lackluster showing in the midterms, pause to reflect that 2022 was the year Britain had three prime ministers, all of the Conservative Party. Those three were preceded by two others, also of the Conservative Party, for a span of control lasting twelve years.

Those five consecutive Prime Ministers from the Conservative Party accomplished just one major act of small-”c” conservative policy in those twelve years, and that only reluctantly, hesitantly, at the prompting of a national referendum.

That act was of course Brexit.

Brexit was a cry from tens of millions of Brits for their nationhood to be restored. They didn’t want their laws struck down by foreign judges; they didn’t want their borders open to unlimited immigration; they wanted their sovereignty back, and demographic stability.

They did not get what they wanted. Why not? Here we circle back to the argument about malice versus stupidity.

It was plain in the run-up to the Brexit referendum that Britain’s Ruling Classes hated the whole idea. Globalism had been good to them, financially and otherwise. Nationalism they thought kind of icky, championed by beery proles or class traitors [Election 2015: The Nigel Farage story, May 14, 2015], not at all the kind of people one would want at one’s dinner party, my dear.

It’s plausible therefore that, once the thing was done, Britain’s elites would strive to sabotage it. That’s the ”malice” argument.

The stupidity argument, which again I favor, says that the post-referendum Conservative Party governments have been too incompetent and impotent to do things that should have been done.

What should have been done? Well, the Northern Ireland conundrum should have been solved by either (a) building a formidable border wall to separate the province from the Irish Republic, with strict customs controls; or (b) expelling Northern Ireland from the U.K., with blessings and all good wishes, to make its way as an independent country or to unite with the Irish Republic, as its people chose.

I favor (b); but either option would demand bold, decisive action. Such action is not forthcoming from the incompetent, impotent jellyfish of Britain’s Conservative Party, any more than it is from our own GOP.

Mass illegal immigration should likewise have been confronted boldly, fearlessly.

  • Why on earth is Britain still subject to rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, the French-German equivalent of our Southern Poverty Law Center—a money racket for leftist lawyers?
  • Why no universal compulsory E-verify with massive penalties for employers hiring illegal aliens?
  • Why no holding camps on remote islands in the South Atlantic or Antarctic?

Jellyfish, jellyfish: incompetent, impotent jellyfish.

So again: As bad as things may look here across the Fruited Plain, they could be worse.

Count your blessings, Americans.

Happy New Year!


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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