John Derbyshire

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John Derbyshire

John Derbyshire (born 3 June 1945) is a British-born naturalized American writer, journalist and commentator. He formerly wrote a column in National Review. He has also written for the New English Review. His columns cover a broad range of political and cultural topics, including immigration, China, history, mathematics and race.

Quotes[edit]

  • I have never read the Koran and at this point I most likely never shall. It looks really boring. I can’t offer an informed opinion about Islam, any more than 99.9 percent of other Americans can. I certainly don’t wish any harm to Muslims in general. Jolly good luck to them all. Hate? Not here. But it is surely obvious that if you let masses of Muslims settle in your non-Muslim country, you’ve gotten yourself some frictions and problems you didn’t have before. Why bring such troubles on yourself?
  • The real menace, the disease eating away at the heart of Western society, is white ethnomasochism: hatred of one’s own type, one’s own race, one’s own ancestors, one’s own parents, one’s own fellow citizens who do not share a bizarrely unreal and idealistic view of human nature.
  • Starting with the Minnesota twin study thirty-five years ago, and now with a mountain of data from twin, sibling, and adoption studies, we know that pretty much anything you can quantify about human personality, behavior, and intelligence is to some degree heritable, average-average at around the fifty percent level but sometimes much higher. We now in fact have a busy and exciting field of study called “behavioral genetics.” Given that all these traits are heritable, it follows from the ordinary laws of biology that different races will exhibit different statistical profiles on them. That’s not astonishing, mysterious, or horrible: It’s just first-floor-level science.
  • Universal-suffrage democracy may have been a good idea 120 years ago, when most adults did productive work into their sixties, then died. In today’s top-heavy welfare states, it just empowers tax-eaters to loot the national wealth.
  • Our universities, after a few aberrant decades of experimenting with open inquiry and the advance of knowledge, have reverted to their medieval purpose (the purpose that Chinese higher education always had): to train an intellectual elite for the propagation and defense of the state ideology. Then it was Christianity (in China, Confucianism); now it is utopian egalitarianism—“political correctness,” the Narrative.
  • Historians of the future will amuse themselves by coming up with theories to explain why European civilization, at the height of its powers, rich with unparalleled achievements in science, music, art, literature, mathematics, and technology, gave up its lands and its treasures to people for whom those achievements were mere hated tokens of oppression or the impious and superfluous productions of infidels.
  • I keep trying to resist the thought, but the thought keeps pushing its way back in: The Western world has sunk into madness. There are no solutions to anything. The talk of our politicians is the babbling of fools, but we keep electing them anyway. We are collectively insane.
  • These post-Soviet rulers of Russia are certainly very wicked people. They have sucked their country’s precious natural resources out of the ground, sold them on world markets, and pocketed the proceeds, leaving Ivan and Katya to trudge through freezing mud for a lousy wage or starvation-level pension. Are they, though, more wicked than the rulers of the Anglosphere, who have swamped their own people with millions of hesperophobic welfare-dependent foreigners from regions of low mean IQ and high mean criminality — mullahs, muggers, and moochers — just for the satisfaction of humiliating their own domestic enemies? Will they, in the long run, have done more to destroy their nation, than our rulers have done to destroy ours? History will tell.
  • The Chinese Communist Party has it figured out. After 62 years of blunders, horrors, and reversals, they have pulled off a miracle of statecraft, a Staatskunst Wunder. With their 77 million members distributed in hundreds of thousands of cells, they have turned Lenin’s crude power cult into a robust, adaptable apparatus of total control that, like God in the universe, is everywhere present but nowhere visible—or is visible only, as with that photograph, in a form so bland the eye turns away in search of something recognizably human.
  • The arc of US development this past hundred years once again teaches us history's hardest lesson: A nation can survive anything except success. Mid-20th-century America's stupendous success engendered the softness, idleness, and lack of seriousness that was perceptible to me in 1975 — though the nation I came from was only a decade or so behind.
  • Life's great law is that poverty and hardship build character; prosperity and security destroy it. This isn't anybody's fault; it's merely a natural law, like gravity. Nor is it anything particular to America. Any other nation afflicted with such colossal success will fall into decadence as we are doing. History offers many examples.
  • A nation that does not have the tribal bonding you get with a common culture — a nation that has actually, officially discarded the idea of a common culture as “exclusionary” — is more fragile than most. What happened to the USSR could happen to us, perhaps is happening already by slow degrees. We conservatives, who stand in dissident opposition to the reigning dogmas of liberalism and multiculturalism, as much braver souls like Andrei Amalrik stood in dissident opposition to the Marxist-Leninist dogmas of the USSR — we need to keep speaking these simple truths out loud.
  • The USA — and, to a much worse degree, Western Europe and Japan — have low birth rates, below replacement level. Poorer countries in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East also have dropping birth rates; but their birth rates have only just started to drop, while ours have been falling for decades. So we are, or soon shall be, running out of people; they have people to spare. The easy and obvious answer, if we want to keep our populations stable, is to let people from those poorer, more philoprogenitive countries, come and live in ours. Hence the mass immigration that has been a feature of the advanced world — except for Japan — this past few decades. The trouble is, these policies are premised on the Multicultural Theorem; i.e. that masses of people of different races, from different places, practicing different folkways and religions, carrying various kinds of intercultural and interracial grievances, can live together in one country in reasonable harmony. Unfortunately no-one has bothered to prove the Multicultural Theorem; and the evidence is mounting that it may actually turn out to be false.
  • Stereotypes are, in fact, merely one aspect of the mind’s ability to make generalizations, without which science and mathematics, not to mention much of everyday life, would be impossible.
  • Marriage is one of those things that works best when people don’t think about it too much.
  • The fact is that political stupidity is a special kind of stupidity, not well correlated with intelligence, or with other varieties of stupidity.
  • Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.
  • This is life. People stumble and grope blindly hither and thither, wondering if they did the right thing, occasionally knocking something over and hoping no-one noticed, striving for illusory goals, addled with guilt and insecurity.
  • Nonmathematical people sometimes ask me, “You know math, huh? Tell me something I’ve always wondered, What is infinity divided by infinity?” I can only reply, “The words you just uttered do not make sense. That was not a mathematical sentence. You spoke of ‘infinity’ as if it were a number. It’s not. You may as well ask, 'What is truth divided by beauty?’ I have no clue. I only know how to divide numbers. ‘Infinity,’ ‘truth,’ ‘beauty’—those are not numbers.”
  • Pop culture is filth. It is now completely degenerate. Why do you never hear anyone humming a current pop song any more? Because none of them is hummable, or even worth bothering to remember. What is the main topic on TV sitcoms and "dramedies"? You know what. Why do you stand in the aisle in Blockbuster muttering to yourself: "There isn't a single damn movie in here I want to watch"? Because Hollywood produces nothing but crap, crap, crap.

We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism (2009)[edit]

  • Western culture is in its twilight; there is a dark age ahead; and while college-humanities fads and "secular-progressive values" have certainly done much damage, they are symptoms, not causes - fragments of junk sucked into a vacuum. The fundamental reason why so much of our culture is shit - either literally, like Signor Manzoni's masterwork, or figuratively - is exhaustion, cultural exhaustion.
  • All good ideas are of their time... and are liable to turn from blessings into blights if persisted in too long. The justifiable right of workers to organize in protection of their interests turned at last into featherbedding, the Teamster rackets, auto companies made uncompetitive by extravagant benefits agreements, and government-worker unions voting themselves ever-bigger shares of the public fisc. The campaign for full civil rights and racial justice turned into affirmative action, race quotas, grievance lawsuits, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and everlasting racial rancor.
  • Our political system is now run by the Big People for their own interests. If they ever deign to notice the Little People, it is with disdain and contempt.
  • The more depressed and maladjusted you are, the more likely it is that you are seeing things right, with minimal bias.
  • The ordinary modes of human thinking are magical, religious, social, and personal. We want our wishes to come true; we want the universe to care about us; we want the approval of those around us; we want to get even with that s.o.b. who insulted us at the last tribal council. For most people, wanting to know the cold truth about the world is way, way down the list.
  • Once this was a nation of farmers, builders, inventors, creators, explorers, and thinkers. Now we are a nation of bubblehead academic poseurs, race-guilt hucksters, and keening middle-class "victims" of imaginary wrongs.
  • The remarkable thing about the Diversity cult is that all the circumstances of the actual human world refute its tenets, wherever we look. I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that there has never been an ideology so heartily and jealously embraced by all the main institutions of a society, that was at the same time so obviously at odds with the evidence of our senses. It is as if the entire Western world had committed itself to the belief that human beings can fly by flapping their arms.
  • By holding firmly to a pessimistic, realistic view of what is and is not possible in a society of different ethnicities, we might have maintained the principles of a free republic, and saved ourselves much trouble and expense. In the world at large, diversity causes nothing but problems.
  • The happy talkers tell us that diversity is a boon, making our society stronger and better. Our own lying eyes tell us that it is the source of continual trouble; not merely the solitary "hunkering down" that Robert Putnam discovered, but rancor, disorder, litigation, and violence.
  • After the many hundreds of generations that Australian, East Asian, African, European and indigenous American populations of Homo sapians developed in isolation from each other, in different environments, there ought to be divergence aplenty, though nowhere near to speciation. And so there is. That is why a roomful of Australian aborigines looks nothing like a roomful of Hungarians, and neither looks anything like a roomful of Quechua-speaking South American indigenes.
  • Human beings are religious. We don't all have to be, any more than we all have to be musical, or athletic, or humorous; but as long as there are human beings, there will be religion to offer warmth to those who can believe its stories and its metaphysics, while those who can't will be left with a paler, colder flame.
  • All religions look wacky to an unbeliever, even to one who does not, like the celebrity atheists, consider religion a menace. Islam, in its present frustrated state, is doing more harm than most, but that's historically contingent.
  • Unbelievers may think - all right, we do think - Christianity is only slightly less nutty than Islam; but Christianity is ours. We've got along with it for several centuries; and the relationship between Western unbelievers and Western Christians, if not always polite, is stable and comfortable. Can we fit Islam in like that?
  • We are a rugged species, up for anything the universe can throw at us; and as the great gloominaries knew, we will be immeasurably better prepared for nasty surprises if we approach the universe realistically - pessimistically - than if we continue to peer out at our surroundings through a distorting, rose-colored prism of wish-fulfillment fantasy.

Quotes about Derbyshire[edit]

External links[edit]

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