The War on the West: How to Prevail in the Age of Unreason

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The War on the West: How to Prevail in the Age of Unreason

The War on the West: How to Prevail in the Age of Unreason

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Take, for example, his remark that: “Demonisation of the west and of western people is now the only acceptable form of bigotry at international forums such as the United Nations.

At this point the dogwhistle’s well out of my hearing range, I don’t have the foggiest what his problem is, he’s just stating some facts he doesn’t like in a smirky fashion. Murray also claims that issues in other cultures, such as racism between Africans, the Indian caste system, and Chinese domestic crimes against its own people, aren’t discussed. After all, if we must discard the ideas of Kant, Hume, and Mill for their opinions on race, shouldn't we discard Marx, whose work is peppered with racial slurs and anti-Semitism? It seems a thorny philosophical question, and I haven’t read up on the case for reparations but I would certainly be interested in hearing it.Conservatism rails against victimhood culture and yet believes it’s beset by enemies on all sides even when it’s the ruling ideology. One can only hope, as Murray probably does himself, that the Left will prove him wrong by showing that there really is another way, that you can be critical without expressing undiluted contempt, and that you can struggle and hope for change without burning everything to the ground. The antiracist component is a far smaller issue within this story and I doubt that if the west was able to compellingly claim moral superiority that it would dare to lecture the Chinese.

To actually identify who would need to be paid, and how much, would be an extraordinarily complex delve into family trees and genetics if it wanted to have any form of accuracy. A lot of what’s happening now is simply the earth shifting under the old narratives as their flaws are pointed out, and a disillusionment with the way in which they’ve been presented as gospel when they’re anything but. It may not be a perfect way of redressing the balance but there’s no denying that something was amiss). The term was used by the author in a different context and was being used to mean opposition to genocide. There are prestigious universities considering eliminating the end of required notation reading, conducting, studying classical composers, (they’re all white) and of course, their music, due to this stress.Murray’s problem consistently is that he doesn’t seem to want to contextualise anything: you either accept the west as it is or you leave, there’s no inbetween. The one concrete idea Deverell seemed to have at this ‘fork in the road’ moment was to change the display boards and description. Murray, I think, is right to say that art is art and it sometimes depicts unpleasant things but that doesn’t mean it condones them. Democracy, civil liberties, freedom of conscience, and expression—these are simply myths manufactured by an unjust system to induce compliance.

We’re not able to effect another nation’s culture (well, we are, but let’s not go there) so the focus of political activists will always predominantly be upon internal issues. When Murray moves onto the practical consequences of all this rhetoric, he does cite some disturbing cases, but these do appear to be exceptions. Murray often comes close to transcending such petty squabbling and he’s more interesting at these junctures, but he frequently undermines it with hyperbole, half-truths and outright smugness. Dictators who slaughter their own people are happy to jump on the "America is a racist country" bandwagon and mimic the language of antiracism and "pro-justice" movements as PR while making authoritarian conquests. Naturally, this sort of vandalism was condemned and commentators complained that objections to the statue should’ve been handled civilly (Murray doesn’t even say this much).A spate of riots, many inspired by the murder of George Floyd, saw statues targeted, at first mostly monuments to the confederacy, but then expanding to almost all political figures. I felt he sidestepped the history of native American-settler relations, yes there was unintended disease spread but there were many massacres to consider as well and he sidesteps tougher questions around Churchill and racism. At one point, following a discussion of the absurdities of “anti-racist” school curricula, he cites a Twitter thread seeking to prove that “the idea of 2+2 equalling 4 is cultural and because of western imperialism/colonization.

But the “Judeo-Christian” element reveals a deeper truth—that the foundations of western culture are densely entwined with forms of Asiatic mysticism that emerged from the Middle East. I accept that some of the overreach is, again, unhelpful and can become militant, but I don’t believe it’s widespread enough to warrant such hysteria. Murray applies the same argument to reparations: in the case of slavery, people who might be related to people who perpetrated terrible crimes might be offering money to people who might have suffered from those crimes.

In one revealing moment, Murray worries that the reader might regard the war he describes as little more than a “set of culture warriors battling each other in the public square without much in the way of real-world repercussions. Yes, to act as though these institutions are irredeemable is ridiculous, but only fringe lunatics want to dismantle science as a whole, and Murray’s silly act of pretending the views of these people are significant is tiresome. In some respects this is the right-wing version of Peter Mitchell's Imperial Nostalgia, where Mitchell examined nostalgia, Murray picks up on Scruton's idea of a culture of repudiation. Murray’s emphasis on the importance of gratitude is reasonable enough as a moral insight, but as a practical solution to the problem of anti-Westernism and identity politics, it suffers from several problems.



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