Another must read volume by Douglas Murray:
That the West is in a war – a cultural, ideological and political war – is well known by anyone with eyes wide open. It has been underway for over a half century now, and it seems to get worse each passing year. The hatred of the West, the demonising of morality, the trashing of history, and the politicisation of everything is now the status quo condition of the West. It cannot end well.
The English writer and political commentator Douglas Murray has already released a number of important volumes on these and related matters, including the 2017 The Strange Death of Europe and the 2019 The Madness of Crowds. Those who are aware of his previous writings, and are up to speed on the present conflict that we are in, will find much familiar territory in his new book. But it is a much needed volume, bringing together the various battle fronts in an informed and cohesive whole, alerting us to the need to stay alert and get involved.
I should say at the outset that as a biblical Christian I am not fully onside with Murray, given that he is an atheist and a homosexual. He had been an Anglican, but he says that a form of ‘cultural Christianity’ may be the best we can run with today. Of interest, his new volume says next to nothing about sexuality and the sex wars.
The six main chapters of this book deal with race, China, history, reparations, religion, gratitude and culture. As to the bigger picture, he writes: “Today the West faces challenges without and threats within. But no greater threat exists than that which comes from people inside the West intent on pulling apart the fabric of our societies, piece by piece.”
Every aspect of the West – past, present, and future – is now under wholesale assault by its myriad of enemies and detractors. Every fault – whether real or imagined – is highlighted and magnified, while similar faults – and worse – of those in the non-Western world are ignored or even celebrated.
An “unfair ledger has been created” by which everything in the West is viewed as sinful, evil and unforgivable, while the non-West gets away with murder – often literally. Such is the irrational and diabolical nature of the attack the West is now undergoing. Standards of perfection are applied to the West while any failures and faults found in the rest of the world are regarded as quite acceptable.
The West is being told to be ashamed of everything about itself, is being immobilised by self-doubt and self-loathing, and is being forced to capitulate to its enemies. This is asymmetrical warfare. The other side is allowed to do anything and everything to tear down and destroy the West, while we are told simply to be thankful for our own condemnation and erasure. As he puts it in his introduction:
In a few short decades, the Western tradition has moved from being celebrated to being embarrassing and anachronistic and, finally, to being something shameful. It turned from a story meant to inspire people and nurture them in their lives into a story meant to shame people. And it wasn’t just the term “Western” that critics objected to. It was everything connected with it. Even “civilization” itself…
The culture that gave the world lifesaving advances in science, medicine, and a free market that has raised billions of people around the world out of poverty and offered the greatest flowering of thought anywhere in the world is interrogated through a lens of the deepest hostility and simplicity. The culture that produced Michelangelo, Leonardo, Bernini, and Bach is portrayed as if it has nothing relevant to say. New generations are taught this ignorant view of history. They are offered a story of the West’s failings without spending anything like a corresponding time on its glories.
Let me pause here to point out one thing. Just where did all – or most – of these wonderful traits and values and institutions come from? In large measure it was the Judeo-Christian worldview that helped to bring these tremendous social goods to the world. So in his own personal rejection of his Christian heritage, is not Murray part of the problem here? I speak more to the Christian contributions to Western civilisation here: billmuehlenberg.com/2022/06/06/top-20-books-on-how-christianity-changed-our-world/
But back to the book. The rest of the volume fleshes out in great detail just how this Western demolition job is unfolding. Consider his chapter on history – or rather, revisionist history. It was Orwell who said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
And that is exactly what the haters of the West have been doing for decades now: seeking to rewrite our history in order to get us to be ashamed of our own culture. And they have been hugely successful: how many Westerners today loathe their own countries, their own values, and their own history?
Today most schoolchildren are brought up on a steady diet of the sins of the West – especially America’s sins. Murray offers plenty of examples of this – many of them well-known to those who have been following all this. The infamous “1619 Project” is of course just one key case of the rewriting of history, and the demonising of America.
And hand in hand with the direct assault on all things Western is the elevation of all things anti-Western. Thus Marx gets rave reviews in our schools, media and political arenas. Murray offers us a number of alarming quotes from Marx on how he spoke about Jews and “niggers”.
The very things America especially is said to be guilty of – including systemic racism – was part and parcel of the worldview of Marx. Yes there “is no special effort to eradicate, problematize, decolonize, or otherwise act in an ‘antiracist’ manner against the legacy of Karl Marx.” Instead he is still being lauded and glorified in our schools and universities today.
Whether it is pulling down statues or banning books, the historical revisionists have been hard at work, and the Orwellian nightmare discussed in his dystopian novel is now nearly fully upon us. And since the West has already been pronounced guilty of every criminal charge levelled against it – without judge or jury – the only thing that remains is payback.
Thus Murray has a chapter on reparations. Yep, we are all guilty as charged, and we must atone for our sins, via massive payouts to aggrieved and oppressed victims. The entire notion is of course fraught with difficulty. If my son stole your son’s bike, a case could be made for an apology and reparations. But what if my great-great-great grandfather stole a bike from your great-great-great grandfather? Should I now be forced to apologise for that and pay you for the stolen goods? As Murray says:
Any apology begins to consist of people who may or may not be descended from people who may have done some historic wrong apologizing to people who may or may not be descended from people who have had some wrong done to them. In the realm of reparations, this becomes messier still. For at this stage, the divide in the West is by no means clearly between victims and perpetrators….
The issue of reparations now comes down not to descendants of one group paying money to descendants of another group. Rather, it comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong. It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.
But that of course is the aim of the game: to rip apart society. The left, the woke brigade, the critical theory proponents all want nothing less than the destruction of the West, to be replaced by their own version of utopia – a utopia that has never existed on planet earth and never will.
After chronicling a long litany of leftist lunacy, Murray finishes his book with a reality check. For all the enemies of the West, and for all the Westerners who have fallen for their never-ending attacks, we have a few brute facts to counter the left’s narrative with.
Among them is “the most devastating proof of all, which is the simple matter of footfall: a footfall that is entirely one-directional. For there is, even today, no serious movement of peoples in the world struggling to get into modern China. For all its financial prowess, the world does not wish to move to that country. It does want to move to America and will go to extraordinary lengths – even the risk of life – to reach that goal.”
He continues: “America is still the world’s number one destination for migrants worldwide. And the next most desirable countries are Canada, Germany, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The West must have done something right for this to be the case.”
Exactly. As he says in his concluding paragraphs:
People growing up in the West today remain among the luckiest people in human history. . . . Much of the world can see this. Too few people in the West today apparently can. But they can learn to see it and be encouraged to see it. And encouraged at the same time to realize that the culture, history, and people they have been taught to disdain and deplore have handed them riches that are enough for a whole lifetime.
And this book should go a long way in helping people to see these very truths.