Radio Derb: China’s Totalitarian Theater, Economic Pincers, And Sputnik Moment, Etc.
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01m28s  Totalitarian theater.  (China's "legislature" assembles.)

06m16s  China's economic pincer.  (An end to blithe rope-selling.)

10m34s  Land of the Lie.  (It's what commies do.)

14m11s  A Sputnik Moment?  (A nation sufficiently united.)

22m29s  Blackety-black news.  (The depths of Goodwhite denial.)

33m15s  Who you calling "morbidly obese"?  (I got it wrong.)

35m21s  Joe Biden's Veep pick.  (Take my advice, Joe.)

36m53s  Neil Munro hits one out of the park.  (The H-1B scam.)

37m44s  The false azure in the windowpane.  (Avicide in Manhattan.)

40m29s  Signoff.  (With some Bluegrass.)

01—Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your quotably genial host John Derbyshire.

Rather a lot of this week's podcast—around 45 percent, I think—concerns China. I didn't set out intending that; but once I got under way, I just had more and more to say, and I was up at the 20-minute mark in no time. And in justification, much of what happens in China is directly relevant to us Americans and our concerns … as we have learned this past few weeks.

There is other stuff in the podcast, too, though: a round-up of blackety-black news, some insults, some politics, some Eng. Lit. references, and some ornithology, all topped off with a little Bluegrass.

Let's get started.


02—Totalitarian theater.     One thing that, it seems to me, is much more apparent than it was three months ago is that we are living in a bipolar world, or soon shall be.

I know a bipolar world when I see one. I spent my first 45 years in one: the world of the Cold War, dominated by the USA and the USSR.

That bipolar world ended twenty-nine years ago. For a while thereafter the USA stood supreme, economically and militarily. We still do, actually, on indices like per capita GDP and forces deployed overseas. Communist China's been coming up fast, though. It's plain they are aiming for parity with us, regional—I mean, in Asia—if not global. Perhaps they are aiming for global dominance.

Whether they are or not, we are heading into a bipolar world once again. People are waking up fast to this. The coronavirus pandemic has us thinking and talking about China in a way that we weren't before, not in the public realm at any rate. Some sour-faced skeptics and grouches on the commentarial fringes, like your acerbically genial host here, were talking that way; now it's wellnigh universal.

As I come to the mike today, China's national legislature, the National People's Congress, has just completed the first day of its 2020 annual session. Here are a couple of headliners from this first day:

  1. For the first time in thirty years, there will be no announced target for GDP growth this year—that's Gross Domestic Product, a key economic indicator.

  2. There will be revisions to the Basic Law that defines the status of Hong Kong. The point of the revisions will be to, quote: "safeguard national security in Hong Kong," end quote.

What does any of this mean, and why should Americans care?

To take the first part of that question first: What it means is that these are some of the decisions worked out by the ChiCom Party bosses in secret meetings these past weeks. The words "some of" in that sentence indicate that these are decisions the Party bosses want to make public. For sure there are many more they don't want made public.

The NPC is not really a legislature in any dictionary sense. It's totalitarian theater. There is very occasionally—two or three times per decade—some muffled resistance to edicts from the Politburo; but even those have had a staged quality about them, and were probably just a theatrical way of settling some minor power struggle at the top.

Still, the NPC is not without value for outside observers. The things that are announced, like the two items I have noted being announced in Friday's opening session, give clues as to what the Party bosses are thinking. Carefully scrutinized and sensibly interpreted, they can give us the lie of the land.

Those two Friday announcements illustrate the point. I'll give over a segment to each.


03—China's economic pincer.     From the first of my bullet points there, about there being no GDP growth target this year, we can deduce that the ChiComs are seriously worried about China's economy.

Like our economy and everyone else's, China's economy has taken a big hit from the pandemic and the measures taken to slow or contain it. There have been huge employment losses in both manufacturing and services, in a nation with much less of a social safety net than ours. The thought of a couple hundred million hungry, angry, unemployed workers gives ChiCom bosses the heebie-jeebies.

And this couldn't be happening at a worse time for China's economy, which is looking at a pincer trap. I'll describe the two arms of the pincer in turn as the Past Arm and the Future Arm.

The past thirty years have been a sensational boom time for China, with living standards rising faster, I think, than anywhere else, ever, in modern history. By the end of the 2010s, though, the low-hanging fruit had all been picked, and the rate of improvement was slowing. That is one arm of the economic pincer—call it the Past Arm.

And now there is widespread anger and suspicion towards China among its former trading partners—the nations that, by opening their markets and exporting their factories, made the Chinese economic miracle possible. The developed nations of North America, Western Europe, and Australasia are waking to the fact that we have sold the Chinese Communist Party a whole lot of rope with a gift card attached saying "Please Hang Us." They are backing off from China.

There is even talk of boycotts. In a poll done mid-May, forty percent of Americans said they won't buy products made in China.

It's the same all over. Some headline-writer at the London Daily Mail has taken up Radio Derb's Godfather theme: headline, May 22nd: PM "moves to end UK's reliance on China for essential supplies and manufacturing" amid fury at its coronavirus "cover-up" as Beijing hawk MP accuses regime of acting like the "Mafia". End headline.

So looking forward, the era of Western nations blithely helping the ChiComs to consolidate their power, domestic popularity, and international influence by jacking up their economy, are over. That's the other arm of the pincer—call it the Future Arm.

The Past Arm: no more low-hanging fruit. The Future Arm: no more illusions about the regime we've been enabling this past thirty years.


04—Land of the Lie.     On to my second NPC bullet point from today's NPC session, about the status of Hong Kong. What the ChiComs are proposing here reinforces the Future Arm of the economic pincer.

Under the agreement with Britain that handed the city back to China 23 years ago, the ChiComs promised that Hong Kongers would enjoy British levels of social and political freedom, or at least something closer to them than the mainland dictatorship, until 2047.

Well, that promise will no longer be operative. It was just a convenient lie assented to by the ChiComs while they pumped up their economy.

I spoke of the NPC giving us clues about the lie of the land behind the closed doors of ChiCom deliberating. Lie of the land? Politically, China is the Land of the Lie. Strategic lying is not just an occasional aberration in their diplomacy, it is all of it.

Given the feisty spirit shown by the Hong Kong demonstrators this past year, it's not likely that bringing the city back into the warm embrace of the Motherland can be accomplished without highly visible repression, possibly on the scale of Tiananmen Square in 1989, but much more amply recorded in this age of the cellphone camera.

That will just further reinforce the ChiComs' image as a thuggish gangster clique, fortifying the Future Arm of the pincer, shredding any illusions Western populations still have about the nature of the ChiCom regime.

Did I mention Tiananmen Square? Eh: just a few antisocial trouble-makers in need of stern law enforcement. Tibet, Taiwan, and Eastern Turkestan? Integral parts of China since ancient times. Fifty years of autonomy for Hong Kong? Absolutely!—where do we sign? If we are admitted to the World Trade Organization, shall we observe the rules? Of course we shall! COVID-19 originated in China? Certainly not; it was brought in by visiting U.S. soldiers.

Land of the Lie. The world is awakening from its dream of China as a trustworthy commercial nation whose public declarations mean what they say. Communist China is the Land of the Lie.


05—A Sputnik Moment?     So … this coming new bipolar world is nothing to worry about, right? The ChiComs are going to get crushed in that economic pincer I've been describing, right? And Uncle Sam will sail on forward into the middle 21st century as the dominant world power, right?

Well, there are many possible futures, and that is one of them. It's by no means the most probable one, though. China has advantages, and we have dis-advantages, that could shape the future in a Chinese direction.

I'd list China's main advantages as three:

  1. Despotism, which makes it easier to get some things done.

  2. A big Smart Fraction. Smart Fraction Theory argues that "national wealth is determined by the fraction of workers with IQ equal to or greater than some minimum value."

  3. Demographic homogeneity; low levels of ethnic diversity and ethnomasochism.

To the first point there, the one about despotism: Look, I really don't want to live under the ChiComs; and I speak as a person who did live under them for a year. There is no denying, though, that despotism has its advantages, especially in technological development. Exhibit A: China's high-speed rail system. Where is ours?

The second point, about a big Smart Fraction, has a link with the first. The name of the link is "eugenics," both positive and negative.

Positive eugenics means encouraging people with positive heritable traits to breed; negative eugenics means dis-couraging—or actually forbidding—people with negative traits to do so. The despotic power of course gets to decide the definitions of "positive" and "negative" and the degree of coercion.

Are the ChiComs interested in eugenics? Oh yeah. I had things to say about this in my November Diary last year, to which I refer you if you're interested.

It's the third point that most powerfully addresses American weakness. China has some ethnic diversity, but it's mostly out at the territorial fringes, in occupied Tibet, Mongolia, and Eastern Turkestan. The great majority of China's population—and an overwhelming supermajority in metropolitan China, away from those fringes—is of a single ethny. If the Chinese withdrew from those occupied fringes, China would be the world's most homogenous big nation.

This spares China from all the rancors and disorders that sap so much of our social and political energy.

Not only are China's minority ethnies proportionally much smaller than ours, the Han Chinese supermajority is not split down the middle as our own white just-barely-majority is.

It is not the case that one half of the Han Chinese loathes and despises the other half. No Chinese politician ever sought advantage by describing half of his fellow Chinese as "deplorables." No public intellectual in China ever wrote that "The yellow race is the cancer of human history" as Susan Sontag wrote of the white race to which she herself belonged. Ethnomasochism is a white pathology.

And as social dogma, quite a recent one. Susan Sontag wrote her words in 1967. You can take them as the beginning of the rise of white ethomasochism to its present position as a major social dogma.

There is a line of American commentary on China, argued most clearly and persistently by David Goldman at Asia Times (now apparently with Gordon Chang also on board) telling us that we Americans should consider ourselves to be in a Sputnik Moment: a moment in history where, if we don't stop the fruitless squabbling and begin engaging in some serious, co-ordinated national effort, the ChiComs will eat our lunch, breezing past us in key technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, microchip fabrication, and quantum computing.

The problem with that prescription is that the original Sputnik Moment, to which America reacted with such spectacular success, occurred in 1957, a whole decade B.S.—"Before Sontag." White ethnomasochism was not entirely unknown in 1957, but it was restricted to tiny cliques of urban intellectuals.

We could make a united national response to Sputnik sixty years ago because we were a sufficiently united nation. You need that qualifying word "sufficiently" there because there was what people of the time called "the Negro Problem."

White Americans didn't think about black Americans any more than they absolutely had to, though, and the race issue didn't split whites down the middle as clearly and angrily as in what I call today's Cold Civil War. Sputnik-wise, we were a sufficiently united nation—sufficiently to co-operate in a colossal national effort with a minimum of bickering.

If we had been at today's level of social rancor back in 1957, would we have been able to get to a Moon landing in just twelve years? Of course not. It would have taken us twelve years just to figure out and litigate, appeal, re-litigate, and re-appeal the affirmative-action protocols for staffing Mission Control.


06—Blackety-black news.     Ah, the Negro Problem. Every once in a while—quite a long while; I need to be in a certain mood—I go to the Southern Poverty Law Center website and read their entry on me.

This is not from vanity, although I'll admit to being a little flattered at having been noticed by the anti-white witch-hunters of Montgomery. No; it's more to remind myself of the depth of denial and delusion that prevails among Goodwhites.

The task they set for whichever SPLC lower-echelon flunky got assigned to composing my page was to find the most damning possible quote from my writing: something so snarlingly, frothingly hate-filled, so preposterously, inconceivably unreasonable as to put me for ever beyond the bounds of civilized discourse. So what did they come up with?

I'll quote you the relevant paragraph from the SPLC web page. Most of the quote is me speaking—actually writing, of course—so I'll tag that main part with "inner quotes." Quote:

[Inner quote.] "A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us," [end inner quote] Derbyshire wrote. [Continuing inner quote.] "They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming." [End inner quote.]

End quote.

The first thing to note is that they have edited my words so that the second of those two sentences makes no sense. In what I actually wrote, there is a sentence in between those two that the SPLC-bot omitted, whether from lazy incompetence or from malice, I don't know. There is plenty of both at the SPLC website.

Here is what I actually wrote, with the omitted sentence included. Quote:

A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of blacks—around half—will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming.

End quote.

So that pronoun "they" starting off the third sentence refers not to the five percent, as the SPLC mis-quote implies, but to the fifty percent identified in my second sentence—the sentence they left out.

That's by the by. My main point here, and the reason I get satisfaction from re-reading my words, even in the mangled form presented on the SPLC page, is the perfectly obvious truth of what I expressed in that first sentence. Re-quote:

A small cohort of blacks—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us.

End quote.

Is there really anyone who does not know this? Really? Are there really such dark depths of Goodwhite denial?

You might, of course, argue with my estimate of five percent. When that column was first published I got a great many emails from people who did so argue. "Five percent?" they scoffed. "You kidding, Derb?" Then the emailer would proceed to offer his estimate, which was always higher, often much higher, than five percent.

(And to be perfectly truthful I dialed down my estimate to five percent from somewhat higher in hopes of making allowance for my implicit bias. I was trying hard to be nice. See where it gets you!)

All that came to mind yesterday when I saw that video clip of a black orderly beating up a frail old man in a Michigan care facility. I'd read out a link for you so you could see the clip for yourself; but Twitter and the other social media censors—BitChute so far an honorable exception—are deleting it as fast as they can.

Tucker Carlson said in last night's show that he's going to cover the incident this evening, Friday. Tucker, though, while a worthy fellow in many ways, is a pussy about race, so he may back out.

If you can find the clip and watch it all the way through, and still tell me that the thing I'm quoted as saying in the SPLC web page on me is untrue; well, then, you are a very good person indeed, a paragon of race denial.

In other race news—I may as well bundle these together—a site search on the New York Times for Paul Marino, the 86-year-old gent murdered along with his 85-year-old wife in a Delaware cemetery by a black man on May 8th … my site search yielded no references for the past week. I tried the Washington Post, too: same result.

A couple more from the same bucket, this one relating to the February shooting in Brunswick, Georgia of a black guy by Travis McMichael, a white guy. Travis and his father Greg, who accompanied him, were arrested and charged with murder May 7th, as reported on Radio Derb that week.

Well, this week William Bryan, who followed the McMichaels in his own truck and shot the famous video of the fatal encounter, William Bryan was also arrested this week and likewise charged with murder—in fact with "felony murder," according to my New York Post. Presumably there are jurisdictions in which murder is not a felony, don't ask me.

William Bryan had made the video public in hope of showing that the McMichaels behaved reasonably, as a District Attorney had concluded. So much for trying to be a good neighbor.

In further related news on the Brunswick shooting, state police and the FBI are hunting for Travis McMichael's high-school home-room teacher, who they think may have communicated incorrect ideas about race to the younger Travis. The McMichael family dentist has been arrested and interrogated for having recently filled one of Greg McMichael's teeth. A Starbucks employee who served the McMichaels with coffee just two weeks before the shooting has also been taken in for questioning …

The Brunswick shooting, by the way, now has its own Wikipedia page, and it's a big one. I logged the main narrative part of the text—not counting headings, references, and footings—as nearly five thousand words. The Fall of Constantinople, by way of comparison, has somewhat over six thousand.

The killing of Paul and Lidia Marino has no Wikipedia page that I can find. No doubt the good Wikifolk are working on it, though. I'm sure they are.


07—Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Imprimis:  When you do as much browsing of news sites as I do, and have a mind as fuddled with age and liquor as mine is, fragments of news blur together in your mind.

So it was this week. I noted in passing not very attentively through media output that some politician X had referred to some other politician Y as, quote, "morbidly obese."

A day or so later I was browsing again, and for some reason there was a whole lot about Stacey Abrams. I'd forgotten who she was, so I brought up an image. Oh, right: that must have been what politician X had been referring to.

Accurate enough, but not very kind. Perhaps the poor lady has some kind of medical condition.

Only later, in conversation with a person more attentive than myself, did I realise my error. Politician X was Nancy Pelosi; politician Y, who she called "morbidly obese," was President Trump, not Stacey Abrams.

Having opened a can of appearance bias there on Stacey Abrams, albeit in error, I may as well draw attention to that gap in her front teeth. It reminds me of an old English belief that such a gap indicates lustfulness. The Wife of Bath in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales was thus endowed, Chaucer's way of explaining her five marriages.


Item:  The reason for all the coverage of Stacey Abrams is, that she is being promoted—most vigorously by herself—as a possible running mate for Joe Biden.

Don't buy it, Joe. Amy Klobuchar is the right pick. Radio Derb advised you way back in mid-January that, quote from me:

I think a Biden-Klobuchar ticket would be the sweet spot for the Democrats in November. It's dull as all get-out—the anti-weird ticket.

End quote.

Joe Biden has all the blackety-blackness he needs from eight years of tongue-polishing Barack Obama's loafers. He doesn't need crazy Kamala Harris, Mulatto Mafia Susan Rice, or the Wife of Bath to pull in the black vote.

As for white possibilities: Well, there is Michigan's strict governess, but … I don't think so. The nation is not that far gone in masochism.

If Joe Biden has half a brain he'll pick Amy Klobuchar. Wait … what did I just say?


Item:  As I sometimes do, I'm going to direct your attention to a really really good, out-of-the-park column by another opinionator.

The opinionator here is Neil Munro over at Breitbart, May 20th. Neil's topic is the H-1B visa scam, and he leaves no stone unturned.

It's a long piece, but well worth your time. There is some overlap with the 2015 book Sold Out by Michelle Malkin and John Miano; and in fact Neil interviewed John Miano for the column, and quotes him several times.

Beautifully done, Neil. Thank you!


Item:  If you are well-read in 20th-century American fiction you may recognize this couplet:

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the window-pane …

Those are the opening lines of the second section in Vladimir Nabokov's strange 1962 novel Pale Fire. That second section is all in verse: nine hundred and ninety-nine lines.

The waxwing is a kind of small bird, although the one in Pale Fire is of a fictitious species. Nabokov's waxwing has mistaken the reflection of sky in a window-pane for actual sky, flown into it at full speed, and died.

What has this got to do with anything? With a news story, of course. Would I hit you with some empty literary whimsy totally unrelated to the news? Me? Come on!

So, New York Post, May 19th, headline: Deathtrap NYC condo killed 28 birds in one day.

See, there is this big 11-storey condo building right on the edge of Central Park in Manhattan, fronted with dozens of big glass windows, built three years ago. Migrating birds see the park's reflection in the glass and think it's the actual park. Thump!—dead birds, as many as 28 in a single day.

Are any of them waxwings? I don't know, and couldn't tell from the pictures given in the Post.

"There is no question that this is a problem now," local resident and bird-watcher Terence Zahner told the Post. I'm sure he's right; but New York City has rather a lot of problems right now, and I doubt this one's going to get much attention.

I'll file this under "Life Imitates Art."


08—Signoff.     That's it, ladies and gentlemen, for this Memorial Day weekend. Thank you for listening, and may all be well with you and yours.

Take some time over the weekend to quietly remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our nation. Then, take some other time to relax with loved ones and friends, to enjoy the life that those heroes, by their sacrifice, gifted to us. It's what they would have wanted.

In the matter of signoff music, I recently received a rather impertinent email from a reader. Not a listener, a reader: some people prefer to wait until Wednesday and read the transcript. Here's what this reader said, edited quote.

Mr Derbyshire:

I enjoy reading the transcripts of your weekly podcast. At the end of the transcript I always click on the link so I can watch the YouTube clip of your signout music.

I have noticed that when you sign out with a country-music clip, the performance always features a comely young female. This was the case most recently in your podcasts on November 29th, April 3rd, and April 24th.

Are you practicing appearance bias in your selections?

End quote.

The answer is: absolutely not! Radio Derb is known worldwide as a sober, serious, and family-friendly news outlet. We would never stoop so low as to use crude sex appeal in choosing our sign-out clips. The sole criterion is musical quality. Shame on this reader for suggesting otherwise.

So much for that very unseemly insinuation. Now to this week's signout music. How about something on the banjo? Here's a little snippet in the bluegrass style, played by Willow Osborne. I don't know the name of it, but it sure got my attention.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week.


[Music clip: Willow Osborne, unnamed piece.]


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