Douglas Murray: The gullible Right has fallen for Putin
Freddie Sayers discusses the backlash against Western values with Douglas Murray
When Douglas Murray was writing his new book The War on the West, Putin had not yet launched a war on the edge of Europe. Now, two months after the invasion of Ukraine, has the battle of ideas he writes about been changed by developments, or put into a new perspective?
Douglas Murray tells Freddie Sayers about the factions of the Right who have been fooled by Putin’s ‘woke West’ propaganda and why the war in Ukraine is not the wake-up call we might have expected. The battle over religion, culture, race and history, Murray argues, will continue to rage.
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His book, The War on the West, is out now.
Douglas M in fine (and combative) form. My big takeaways from this interview are that the culture wars are only the tip of a much deeper attack on Western values that now runs throughout every aspect of government and the establishment, and that these wars will not end any time soon.
Sadly, Freddie did not ask Douglas Murray about why Western society has been so supine in the face of the attacks by the culture warriors? Murray worries that eventually white people will have had enough and there will be a huge, potentially violent, reaction against the racist attacks of the left. So far I see no sign of that happening. Our culture seems to lack any fire in its belly to the extent I wonder if we’re seeing the end of the Western experiment. Freddie didn’t raise that possibility with Murray either.
Douglas Murray used to be a regular contributor to Unherd but has drifted away. Might just be me but his interaction with Freddie in this interview seemed a bit cold. Hopefully he continues to contribute to Unherd.
Over the last few days I’ve listened to Mr Murray in three interviews as he promotes his latest book. His displeasure at the current situation is clear. What is not clear is that he has any useful advice on how to combat the problems he sees.
This lack of advice may be because he hasn’t the tools to to offer or share. It is practical advice people need for coping with ideologues in the workplace, in schools and even at home as our children become “woke scolds.”
I hope the book does more than describe the problems we face. But going by his recent interviews, it seems not.
I suppose it is enough to stay that we stand up for the values of the Enlightenment. Humanism, equality, freedom of speech. That we oppose any theories that identify and divide us by race or other immutable characteristics.
I am sympathetic to that view, Graham. But unfortunately, we’ve tried humanism + The Enlightenment approach for years. It has only made us weaker. Publications like Quillette, Unherd and The Critic have not stopped the current problems. How does promoting equality and freedom of speech help us against Antifa? Or a student mob? Sure, we can argue against them and be correct. But that’s not enough to claim victory.
The Enlightenment won’t save us. The values may sound good, but they are not weapons in -this- war. Liberalism was never the ideology of warriors.
You are in error on several points:
1. Humanism and Enlightenment have not been tried: what has been tried is a distortion of those values by grossly inhuman and unenlightened opportunists (like with Putin with his ‘christianity’).
2. You want help to fight Antifa? What? So you are opposed to anti-fascism? Ergo you suppot fascism? Are you serious?
3. The trick is to argue not AGAINST them but WITH them. Big difference! Arguing with them suggest accepting their case partially and being kind and understanding where you disagree!
4. ‘Weapons’ ‘war’? Must win (be ‘correct’) What are you on about? In the words of John McEnroe you cannot be serious! Compromise not conflict is the solution. The lack of this is the nub of the problem, surely? Mutual respect, patience, balance, fairness and empathy are what are called for. Like Putin in Ukraine your ‘conflict’ is one you cannot win.
I’m not only oppossed to anti-fascism but anti-racism as well. And then there’s BLM and Vaccine and every other phrase or word turned on it’s head by the Left… Madeline’s military framing makes perfect sense from the view that we are in a cage match and the stakes are Western civiliztion itself. I have no respect for the woke communists. Beyond that – feed the sheep. Confront the wolves.
(2)Putin is Antifa . At least he says his ‘special military operation’ is to fight the fascists .
Ergo anyone who wants to help Ukraine supports fascists .
Those calling themselves ‘Antifa’ are just as worthy of respect and support as Putin .
“Standing up” for the values we believe in looks like what exactly? The activist playbook is well prepared for most the standard attempts at defence you might care to make The reality is, most people won’t stand up, they want a quiet life.
Those encouraging “activists” make it clear that activists need to be comfortable with conflict, to call out “injustice” wherever and whenever it is perceived. To “speak truth to power”. To make unfalsifiable accusations, to support sophistry with histrionics.
So when dealing with such people, we ourselves have to become comfortable with conflict as it will occur wherever and whenever “activists” are present.
I agree that we need a greater willingness to engage in conflict. But the very values we are speaking of suggest that by engaging in this conflict of ideas, we will emerge stronger for it.
Perhaps the mistake was to believe defending liberalism would be easy. It never was and never will be. We must indeed fight for what we believe in. But I am not prepared to cede ground. I will argue the point with any race baiter, ultra feminist, transactivist or like wokester, with whatever means I have.
..you got it in a nutshell!
“What is not clear is that he has any useful advice on how to combat the problems he sees.”
Excellent point. Unherd has posted many outstanding articles describing the phenomenon of wokeness but they make no attempt to address the question of how to resist it.
I’m at the point where I think the West as we’ve known it is finished. Intentionally or not, we constructed a society that emphasized individualism and material wealth and that abandoned its spiritual underpinnings. Our greatest contribution to society became our ability to purchase and consume.
Now the jobs and manufacturing have been exported, expensive university degrees are required for the most basic jobs and young people are, in many cases, left without a future, and they’re rejecting Western society because it offers them so little. What do you do with a consumerist society where people increasingly can’t afford to consume? What holds such a society together? I’d like to read an article that tries to answer these questions, but they’re few and far between.
Do you think it possible that school kids and childish adults would be capable of absorbing BOTH sides of the issue? Or sadly can today’s poorly educated masses (and many universities too!) accept only one side of any argument in order to preserve their “identity” and/or avoid being cancelled? I regret to say I think the answer is “yes”. Even DM seems to have difficulty accepting both sides or at least giving fair weight to each side.
It’s a modern thing. We Irish (used to) love to argue both sides just for the heck it, especially us Corkonians. I remember my father, in 1958 in a discussion about the wickedness of Hitler saying the man was not there to defend himself! Now that Douglas is what you call balance!
Are you sure he wasn’t just reflecting a tendency in Irish Republicanism to regard anyone at war with the British as friends and allies ?
The basic problem at the root of it all is this: we want to promote a society that values tolerance and freedom of expression. As such, we avoid intolerance, even if this behavior hurts us. That’s the point of it all.
As a result of this idea, the least tolerant influences will after some time take over every aspect of public life. (side note: there’s an Osho video on tolerance that is actually quite grand, and I highly recommend it)
The only way we’ll ever find “back” to our values is if we are forced to double down on them & hold them so important that we would positively lash out at people who do not follow them. Like beating up the snitch in class. So long as we don’t unite to “beat up the snitch”, which is hard to justify with our humanitarian values, we will continue to lose out. We can only beat up the snitch when things become bad and the alternatives (being intolerant) seem even worse.
Now, Christianity has always had some great values, namely that every human is worth the same (but not “is” the same, as in communism). But people seem to forget that Christianity, traditionally, was also quite intolerant of many things.
And whether you like it or not, our values depend on Christianity, and by diluting it to make it more tolerant, as well as by attacking it with “enlightened” science, we have pulled the rug away from under out spiritual feet. Only science and technology remains now, and we see how soul-less that stuff is every single day.
We are either going to become Christian again, or something along the lines of that, or we will be assimilated by the large machine-AI that is being pushed for by transhumanists, all the while fighting each other over petty nonsense.
The best thing you can do right now is get ready for some hard times. Learn how to survive without a supermarket, learn how to remain calm and un-emotional in a discussion, and train your instincts to allow for excellent split-second decision-making. Physical fitness, cold resistance and a health body weight are not only generally healthy, but are now more important than ever. The fat times are over, friends.
Not as good as the other interviews I’ve seen with Murray, I’m afraid. There is a fine line between combative and bad-tempered, Murray crossed it here and his persuasiveness suffered for it.
Must get round to reading his books…I’m sure the books in my to-read pile secretly multiply in the dead of night, it never seems to get any smaller!
I red all the comments before replying.
So only 8 comments?
Just think about it.
Not many people care about future of the West.
I had discussion about Douglas Murray and Owen Jones in the bar few days ago.
One guy who hated my views wanted to know where I worked.
After I said I am retired, he lost interest.
That is the main problem with the lefties.
They try to cancel you.
It is like late communism.
They did not kill people that often in 70s or 80s (in Europe)
It was more about losing jobs, career prospects, university places for your children etc.
I am afraid, we are in this phase in the West now.
Just listened to Mr Murray talking with Jordan Peterson about his book. Much better interview, more revealing, and yes, Mr Murray does offer some possible solutions to the problems he sees.
Not in any plausible, well-defined way he doesn’t or else I missed that bit. Maybe you can expand on that a bit for me?
DM is indeed insightful and always worth listening to: for sure; and while 80% of what he says is largely unassailably true, still there is a certain lack of balance. Granted he did try to redress the balance towards the end but too little and arguably too late.
I must confess, personally I too have been guilty of overstating one side when, unfairly the other side seems to be getting all the attention! That’s a human failing. Amusiingy, immediately after saying we must be kinder to Trump and Putin supporters etc and not try to hurt them he himself tries to hurt those ‘in error’ by calling them stupid. ‘Nice to see DM is human.
But how much more persuasive would his arguments be if he gave sufficient weight to the negatives while upholding the positives of Western history and values.
He is wrong, however, in one crucial point! He and his generation should NOT be without guilt and shame on the wrongs done IF (and this is true) his generation CONTINUES to enjoy the benefits of the wrongs done by its forefathers. To correct this, reparations must be made: but rather the reverse is true. As Julius Nyerere said of his still exploited Tanzania “every year you pay us less and less for our sisal etc: but every year you charge us more for your tractors (to harvest them)” and “when will you say you have enough? you are now 23 times richer than we are: will you stop exploiting us when you are say 30 times richer? We could work towards that! But sadly we fear you will never have enough.”
So enough of your imbalance Douglas. You have a very good argument but it is weakened by a lack of balance. But lest I be accused of the same let me say I did and always do enjoy your talks and a great deal of what you say is valid and indeed crucially important if not vital to our survival.
I’ll have to check for myself. I’ve already seen numerous book interviews with DM. I simply can’t believe he’d equate Trump and Putin. Doug knows the Trump Russian collusion thing was all BS. Although I did hear Doug talk about attacks on the West by the Right with Rogan it was accompanied by Qanon nonsense – a trope of Leftist media. In general, I would have thought Freddie’s interview might have been the best one of the tour. Apparently not.
If Murray really believes that the USA is a benevolent entity, he really wins the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Journalistic Gullibility.
The USA is a deeply malignant entity, treating all its so called allies like slaves and servants and ripping them off ever more with each passing year.
If Murray is so in love with the Americans, he should emigrate there.
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