[Excerpted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively through VDARE.com]
Communism has always suffered from tensions caused by the need for both political rectitude and expertise in fields of practical knowledge.
Fields like medicine, for example. Lenin nursed a deep distrust of Bolshevik doctors. In a letter to the writer Maxim Gorky, who suffered from TB, Lenin wrote:
The news that you are being given a new kind of treatment by "a Bolshevik," even if a former one, has really worried me. The saints preserve us from comrade-doctors in general, and Bolshevik-doctors in particular! …In 99 cases out of 100 the comrade-doctors are "asses," as a good doctor once said to me. I assure you that you should consult … only first-class men. It is terrible to try out on yourself the inventions of a Bolshevik!
So at least where medicine is concerned you can put Lenin on the side of the experts against the ideologues. He didn't care how Bolshevik his doctors were; in fact he preferred them not Bolshevik at all. He just wanted them to be good at doctoring.
Stalin not so much. The late Boris Zeldovich, son of the great Soviet physicist Yakov Zeldovich, told me that Lavrenty Beria, the head of Stalin's secret police, saved many lives among Zeldovich's fellow physicists working on the early Soviet nuclear program.
Stalin, said Boris, would have anyone shot on suspicion of political "unreliability," but Beria knew that some personnel had knowledge and skills critical to the USSR's progress, so he protected them even when they strayed from the Party line.
In Mao Tse-tung's China this dichotomy between people who were politically pure and people who actually knew useful things was expressed as "Red" versus "Expert." In his writings Mao tried to fudge the issue by appealing to the Interpenetration of Opposites, one of the principles of Dialectical Materialism.
Mao wasn't much of a philosopher, though. The much-advertised Mao Tse-tung Thought was just a cheap Chinese knock-off of Marxist-Leninism. Mao kept losing the thread of his argument and coming down on the side of the "Reds" against the "Experts." Sample quote:
Ideology and politics are the commanders, the soul. A slight relaxation in our ideological and political work will lead our economic and technological work astray.
Red And Expert, January 31, 1958
In our own Cultural Revolution in the West today, that same divide between "Red" and "Expert" is plain to see, and we don't even have the philosophical mumbo-jumbo of Dialectical Materialism to tell us about interpenetrating opposites. When "Red" and "Expert" are in conflict, the "Red" must win and the "Expert" be crushed, expelled, canceled.
I offer you three and a half case studies from just the past few days. I
Fifty-four-year-old David Sabatini, a world-famous molecular biologist specializing in how cancer tumors develop.
Four years ago Sabatini was a tenured professor at MIT. For twenty years he'd been running a big lab at the nearby Whitehead Institute for biomedical research, supervising a team of 39 researchers.
Sabatini is a real Expert—a genius, according to colleagues. He made a key discovery in cancer research while he was still at medical school. Back in 2018 he was a good bet for a Nobel Prize.
So what's the latest news on David Sabatini? I'll let Suzy Weiss, writing on her sister Bari Weiss’ Substack site, tell you:
Today, Sabatini is unemployed and unemployable. No one wants to be associated with him. Those who do risk losing their jobs, publishing opportunities, friends, visas, and huge federal grants.
What precipitated such a downfall? The key here is in those lines penned by William Congreve three and a quarter centuries ago:
Heav'n has no rage like love to hatred turn'd,
Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn'd..
In April of 2018, Sabatini, separated from his wife and in divorce proceedings, started an affair with Kristin Knouse, below, a researcher at the Whitehead who was twenty years his junior—thirty to his fifty.
The affair chugged along for two years, although you get the impression from Suzy Weiss's account—and she spoke to everyone that was willing to meet her—that Sabatini was losing interest.
You can guess the rest. Knouse told the director of the Whitehead Institute, a woman named Ruth Lehmann, that Sabatini had harassed and abused her. Ms. Lehmann [Email her] hired in a big law firm to do an investigation. They did one, and in August last year delivered their findings in a 250-page report.
What did the report say? It said Sabatini had failed to disclose his consensual relationship with Knouse as per company policy. Also that "his behavior created a sexualized undercurrent in the lab.” Also that, notwithstanding the fact Sabatini didn't work with Knouse or supervise her and had no power to fire her, he had undue "influence" over her.
Those of Sabatini's colleagues willing to speak to Suzy Weiss said the report was all hogwash, although one went further and called it "deeply insane."
There is of course a money angle here. Labs like the Whitehead and research institutes like those at MIT live off multi-million-dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health (a federal government outfit) and big corporations and foundations, all of them locked in to Regime Ideology and terrified of the Thought Police.
So a brilliant cancer researcher, whose discoveries might have saved innumerable lives, has been canceled. Sure, he was an Expert—a first-class Expert in his field, the best of the best. And sure, there is no clear evidence he did anything that a sane person would consider deplorable or even just unpleasant.
Ah, but there was that "Bro Culture" that he was alleged to have tolerated in his lab. "Bro Culture"! [Scream.]
There is nothing "Red" about "Bro culture." And in the Western world today, if you're not "Red" enough, it doesn't matter how much of an Expert you are. Off with his head!
Case Study Two:
You may also have heard of Roy Thomson, the Canadian press baron who scandalized the British Establishment in my college years by buying up—for cash!—the infinitely respectable Times newspaper of London, the very voice of the British Establishment. It was as if some sleazy billionaire night-club owner had purchased Buckingham Palace. I mean, really: a colonial upstart owning the Times…
Well, Roy Thomson went to his reward in 1976. Over the following decades his business holdings metastasized into a worldwide media conglomerate. In 2008 it acquired Reuters.
Today Thomson Reuters makes most of its money from financial and legal news and consulting, like Bloomberg. Reuters is today just the somewhat newsier arm of Thomson Reuters.
So an outfit like that needs data Experts, right? I mean, it needs people highly skilled at extracting useful information from great masses of data.
Meet 44-year-old Zac Kriegman of Massachusetts:
Zac Kriegman is a Director of Data Science in Thomson Reuters Labs where he heads the Deep Learning Team that is building neural networks to understand, analyze, and generate legal language by training on Thomson Reuters' vast repositories of legal, tax and news data. Before heading the Deep Learning Team, Zac co-created Thomson Reuters' Singapore Lab focused on developing novel financial applications with international banking customers …
Zac Kriegman, Berkman Klein Center, Harvard.edu, March 24, 2020
There's much more. This guy has a heck of a résumé. A real Expert.
So you can see where this is going. After the death of lowlife junkie George Floyd in 2020, when we were all being told by the news media—including Reuters—that black Americans are disproportionally killed by police, Kriegman got to wondering if that is really so.
He turned his exceptional, world-class data-analytical expertise on the crime statistics, and concluded that it wasn't so. Black Americans are not disproportionally killed by police. He shared his findings with colleagues on Thomson Reuters' internal social media platform.
Once again: Kriegman was Director of Data Science at Thomson Reuters. That's a very high-level position in the data biz, paying $350,000 a year. His fellow employees on that internal social media platform included a lot of much lower-level cube jockeys, midwit coders and administrators deeply invested in the cult of Wokeness.
The company itself, Thomson Reuters, was fully on board with the "diversity and inclusion" racket. There had been many lectures and workshops to spread the anti-white gospel among the company's workforce.
Kriegman saw that all that indoctrination was corrupting Reuters' news coverage [The Price of Dissent, by Christopher Rufo, City Journal, January 5, 2022]. In May last year he posted a long analytical critique of the company's reporting bias, which favored for example the Black Lives Matter money scam. Human Resources called him and told him to correct his thinking. He wouldn't, so in June they fired him [White Thomson Reuters data scientist says he was FIRED from $350k role by woke bullies for sharing data showing cops kill more unarmed white people than black people - and claiming BLM contributed to deaths of thousands, Daily Mail, May 12, 2022]
So once again: Expertise came up against Redness, and Redness won.
The case of fifty-two-year-old Classics professor Josh Katz at Princeton University combines elements of both the previous two case studies, sexual misdemeanors and Bad Thoughts about black activists.
The sexual misdemeanor here occurred sixteen years ago when Prof. Katz had a consensual relationship with one of his students. This is a zone in which I myself am…not totally disinterested, so I won't get into the rights and wrongs of teacher-student love affairs.
The main point here is that such affairs are against Princeton's code of conduct for teaching staff. When, a decade later, Princeton found out about Prof. Katz's liaison, they suspended him without pay for a year as punishment. That was 2017-2018.
Prof. Katz's Bad Thoughts about black activists were revealed in July 2020, at the height of the George Floyd hysteria. On the Fourth of that month—Independence Day—a big group of Princeton radicals had published an Open Letter to the college president calling for a complete overhaul of the college administration along woke lines.
Quite specifically along anti-white lines. The letter opened thus:
Anti-Blackness is foundational to America.
Prof. Katz punched back with an Open Letter of his own, dissecting the claims and demands of the activists. He took particular exception to their demand that the university apologize to the Black Justice League:
The Black Justice League, which was active on campus from 2014 until 2016, was a small local terrorist organization that made life miserable for the many (including the many black students) who did not agree with its members' demands.
[A Declaration of Independence by a Princeton Professor, Quillette, July 8, 2020]
Those remarks from July 2020 stirred Princeton's administrators to action. The university's president Christopher Eisgruber [Email him], a typical academic-administration invertebrate, folded immediately, telling the campus newspaper that he objected "personally and strongly to [Katz's] false description” of the Black Justice League as a terrorist organization [After Campus Uproar, Princeton Proposes to Fire Tenured Professor, by Anemona Hartocollis, NYT, May 19, 2022].
BREAKING | "I object personally and strongly to his false description of a Princeton student group as a ‘local terrorist organization,’" Eisgruber wrote to the 'Prince.' The administration “will be looking into the matter further.”https://t.co/aztCGMtI90— The Daily Princetonian (@princetonian) July 12, 2020
Prof. Katz has a tenured position at Princeton, so it's not easy to fire him; but where there's a will, there's a way.
What's the way? Sexual misconduct with an undergraduate! Wait, didn't that happen fifteen years ago? And wasn't Prof. Katz disciplined for it five years ago? Wasn't he suspended for a year without pay? Have there been any accusations of sexual misconduct since?
No there haven't. That undergraduate from fifteen years ago, however, has somehow been persuaded to renew and refurbish her complaint, and there has been a whole new investigation.
Doesn't that constitute double jeopardy? And isn't the timing of this new investigation, coming up after Prof. Katz's Open Letter revealing his heretical opinions about the George Floyd panic, kind of… suggestive?
Yes and yes. But Prof. Katz is merely an Expert, you see. He really is, too; he is the only person I have ever met who can read Hittite. The Princeton authorities, however, want the world to know how "Red" they are.
So once again it's "Red" against "Expert," and the result is a foregone conclusion.
This one is kind of a footnote to the above. It concerns the ESG Index, which I have only just learned about and am still reading up on.
"ESG" stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. The ESG Index is a tool of Standard & Poor's, a financial ratings agency.
If someone tells you that such-and-such a security is "triple-A rated," he's telling you that S&P or some other ratings agency has formed the opinion, after investigating the issuer of the security, that they are a very good credit risk indeed.
I assume that the ESG rating tells you that a security's issuer is properly woke in those Environmental, Social and Governance dimensions. A triple-A ESG rating tells you that the issuer is fully committed to the Green Revolution, supports anti-white Social Justice activism, and favors the Democratic Party's radical wing.
I'll have a clearer idea of the precise nature of the ESG rating when I've done more reading. This week's news is that Tesla, Elon Musk's signature company, has been dropped altogether from the ESG ratings:
Factors contributing to its departure from the index included Tesla's lack of published details related to its low carbon strategy or business conduct codes, said Margaret Dorn, S&P Dow Jones Indices' head of ESG indices for North America, in an interview.
[Tesla cut from S&P 500 ESG Index, and Elon Musk tweets his fury, by Ross Kerber and Hyunjoo Jin, Reuters, May 18, 2022]
Nothing to do with Elon Musk's recent expressions of heterodox opinions, then. So that's all right…
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 VDARE.com com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.
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