Meanwhile, John Derbyshire is expressing increasing and uncharacteristic annoyance at the many readers who write to him complaining about his lack of real conservatism and his lack of Christian belief. He makes this complaint in a long article he just wrote explaining his, uh, lack of Christian belief along with his total reliance on biology as the source of the truth of man. For some reason he fails to understand that readers’ indignation at him is perhaps set off by the fact that he is a ubiquitous, endlessly talkative figure at America’s leading conservative magazine, sharing with the reading public every twist and turn of his interior thought process, and that the main drift of all this chat is his distancing of himself from conservative beliefs and allegiances, including foundational conservative principles.
Thus he’s an Anglican—but now he tells us he gave that up, doesn’t believe in it any more and is no longer a Christian. Thus he’s a conservative—but he happily informs us that he prefers the company of New York City liberals to red state conservatives, and, after all, he’s really a “metropolitan conservative.” Thus he’s a race-conscious, immigration-restrictionist paleocon—but he’s married to a non-Christian Chinese woman. Thus he’s a hard-line immigration restrictionist—yet he now urges Republican voters to stay home on election day, which, if they followed his advice, would lead to the election of a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and the passage of President Bush’s catastrophic open-borders bill. Thus he supported the invasion of Iraq—but only for punitive reasons, not for national defense reasons, and now he’s renounced his support for the invasion in any case. Thus he’s against homosexual rights—but only because he is personally repelled by homosexuality, not because he can articulate any argument against it— not a very helpful stance in the culture wars (however, he has made useful comments about the issue). Thus he says he believes in some kind of mysterious (non-Christian) divine being—but he regards as an idiot anyone who doubts the neo-Darwinian view of life, he has withering contempt for advocates of Intelligent Design, and he thankfully states that the most formative experience of his intellectual life has been his participation at Steve Sailer’s Biodiversity e-mail list, a collection of mostly stone-cold materialist atheists and religion-haters. (I know whereof I speak; I was a member of the list back in 2001 and fought many battles there, alone against a room full of atheists.) It never occurs to Derbyshire that if he stopped calling himself a conservative or at least absented himself from the supposed seat of the conservative movement (where readers are—gasp!—looking for conservatism, not Derbyshirism), conservatives would stop being offended at his continuing demonstrations of his non-conservatism, and stop being annoyed that he is weakening conservatism from within. No. Derbyshire is a modern guy; he wants it all. He wants to spend his life hanging out at a conservative online magazine while gassing on about his non-conservatism, and have no one criticize him for this.
Of course, he denies that he’s non-conservative. After all, he “respects” traditional beliefs. Right, he respects traditional beliefs, after approving whole-heartedly of the sexual revolution and arguing at length that Darwinian evolution by random mutation and natural selection explains everything we are and makes it impossible to believe that man is created in the image of God.
But never fear. One official Christian conservative at NRO warmly approves of Derbyshire’s confession of materialistic, non-Christian belief: the increasingly unfocused Michael Novak, who gave Heather Mac Donald an avuncular ok on her much more offensive attack on Christianity and who also has not a word to offer about how the West can defend itself from Islam.
This is not intended to deny the value of all of Derbyshire’s writings. He occasionally (when not regaling us with his personal thoughts, feelings, and anecdotes) makes worthwhile contributions to contemporary debate. But if he can’t see that conservatives have a legitimate case against him, he’s blind.
On the substance, it would be useful at some point to go through the entirety of Derbyshire’s profession of non-belief showing his profound errors. His errors are those of modern man in all his reductionist folly, and therefore worth discussing.
Jacob M. writes:
It seems I only write to you concerning John Derbyshire. I’d hate to think I’m obsessed; it’s just that it’s so disappointing to me each time he backs further away from conservatism since he used to be my favorite National Review writer.LA replies:
In fact, in response to the question, “What is the purpose of an individual human life?”, the only answer he gives is the propagation of offspring.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 02, 2006 12:38 AM | Send