Thursday, 26 December 2013

NICELY DEFENDING THE NASTY AND INDEFENSIBLE

From the Dissident Right
by John Derbyshire
Vdare Books, 224 pages
Available for purchase at Amazon.com

Reviewed by Gilbert Cavanaugh

I would be surprised if there was a single AltRight reader that was not familiar with the sordid tale. After writing the now infamous The Talk: Nonblack Version for Taki’s Magazine. John “The Derb” Derbyshire was summarily fired from The National Review. Shortly thereafter Peter Brimelow hired him full-time at Vdare and he has now become a bit of a celebrity among we who dare speak of race. Last April, to mark the one-year anniversary of said brouhaha, Vdare released a collection of The Derb’s writings and talks.

Serving as a kind of “greatest hits,” one is reminded of The Derb’s charming plainspoken bluntness:
"The Multicultural Theorem – that nothing but the lowest and grossest kind of human wickedness (“hate”) stands in the way of peoples from all regions of the world living together in happy harmony – has not been proved." (from Enoch Powell’s Revenge)
So too is one reminded of what he calls his “perspective as a stone-cold empiricist.” His background is in mathematics (he even worked on Wall Street for a while), not philosophy or journalism, and his willingness to dive into the numbers and report back to us is one of his great strengths:
"Of our 40 million self-identifying blacks, 25 percent are on food stamps; of our 268 million self-identifying whites-plus-Hispanics-plus-Asians-plus-Amerinds, nine percent are. Put it another way, blacks “commit poverty” at 2.8 times the rate of non-blacks…. So if blacks commit crimes at 2.8 times the rate of non-blacks, then crime-wise it could indeed be that “it’s not race, it’s poverty.” But if the multiplier is much different, then the assertion is false."
Guess what? The multiplier is way different, depending on the crime. For homicide it’s about seven; for robbery, eight and a half. Even for white-collar crimes like fraud and bribery, it’s in the four-to-five zone. (From My Vade Mecum for Diversity Conversations)

When I purchased the book, I was slightly worried that it would consist of one pro-immigration restriction essay after another and grow tedious by page 100 or so; but that is not the case at all. Since “diversity” is a bit of a dirty word in these circles, I will instead say that the collection has a good deal of “variety.” One particularly noteworthy piece in this regard is What’s So Scary About Darwin? based off of a talk he gave at a Washington Summit Publishers conference. In it the Derb outlines the last 150 years of debate and understanding regarding human biodiversity. The topic is broad and involves many different players, but the Derb has a way of giving us a solid progression in a succinct way. For the large number of us in the Dissident Right that are more identitarians or nationalists than race realists (I am certainly one of them), this essay is particularly useful because it serves as a neat reference guide on a topic we are not too familiar with. Blessedly, it eschews the simplistic narrative I sometimes see of: “First there was Darwin, and it was good. Then there was Lothrop Stoddard, and it was better still. Then there was Margaret Mead, who ruined it all. Then J. Philippe Rushton tried to bring it back, but society had already been lost.”

This paragraph was going to start with, “Other highlights include,” but listing half the titles inside the collection seems like it would make for rather dull reading. Instead I would like to again note his “variety” and general erudition. Reading works by people smarter and more learned than yourself is a great way to bulk your mind up, and the way the Derb can go from knowledgeably providing background and commentary to a news story, to casually referencing John W. Davis or Neal Stephenson; is truly impressive. It’s enough to send you running to Wikipedia more than once as you read it – always a good sign.

One curiosity the book does have is that although it’s subtitle says, “2001 - 2013,” over three quarters of the content come from these last two years. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but a few months before the book came out, Derb wrote a review of Paul Gottfried's War and Democracy: Selected Essays 1975 - 2012 and complained that, “The date range given in the title is somewhat misleading: All but the first four essays date from the current century.” (Truth be told, this bit of minute hypocrisy is not meaningful in any real sense, it’s just a little funny.)

What Jerry Woodruff wrote of Sam Francis applies to the Derb as well, “far from being the bigot imagined by his enemies… [he] never penned a single line of racial hatred, but sought simply to protect and conserve his own people and culture.” When I reflect on it, it still amazes me that anyone in America could get fired from anywhere for writing something as obvious as advice to stay away from black areas, and to be wary of blacks in general. Those who fired him, called his work “nasty and indefensible,” and have deemed his opinions to be beyond the pale fall into the same category as the revolutionaries described by Edmund Burke centuries ago:
“... they commit the whole to the mercy of untried speculations; they abandon the dearest interests of the public to those loose theories to which none of them would choose to trust the slightest of his private concerns. They make this difference, because in their desire of obtaining and securing power they are thoroughly in earnest; there they travel in the beaten road. The public interests, because about them they have no real solicitude, they abandon wholly to chance; I say to chance because their schemes have nothing in experience to prove their tendency beneficial.”
Unlike the company the Derb used to keep, he will if nothing else avoid what his hero Enoch Powell called, “the curses of those who come after.”

It’s Christmas time, and the book isn't even twenty bucks. Treat yourself.

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