“Disagreement is not oppression. Argument is not assault. Words – even provocative or repugnant ones – are not violence. The answer to speech we do not like is more speech.”
About the Book:
Title: The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity
Author: Douglas Murray
Genre: nonfiction, politics, sociology, psychology
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“Douglas Murray examines the twenty-first century’s most divisive issues: sexuality, gender, technology and race. He reveals the astonishing new culture wars playing out in our workplaces, universities, schools and homes in the names of social justice, identity politics and intersectionality.
We are living through a postmodern era in which the grand narratives of religion and political ideology have collapsed. In their place have emerged a crusading desire to right perceived wrongs and a weaponization of identity, both accelerated by the new forms of social and news media. Narrow sets of interests now dominate the agenda as society becomes more and more tribal–and, as Murray shows, the casualties are mounting.”
Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds is another refreshing book about the craziness of our current society.
The Madness of Crowds explores four of the main issues taken up by social justice and the chapters are accordingly and rather bluntly named:
The book also touches upon the similarities of current frameworks to that of Marxism, how technology is exacerbating polarization, and cancel culture.
Here are some of the points I thought were especially interesting:
– people now have this idea that had they lived in another time of history they would definitely be on the “right side of history” and thus apply a 21st-century judgement to historical figures, when really history is a lot more complicated than that and it’s hard to know whether you yourself would be better. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently as I’ve been writing a post on “problematic” classic lit.
– really, why does modern feminism claim to be against the objectification of women but then go encourage women to objectify themselves? This book came out before WAP, but I just have to insert my opinion right now, that song and the way everyone called it “feminist”… nope
– the book brings up a really interesting point about cancel culture: Nietzsche theorized that with the gradual phase-out of religion from society, people would retain the ideas of guilt, sin, and shame, but not the opportunity for forgiveness and redemption that Christianity offers– and Murray compares this to cancel culture in that there are so many ways to mess up as a human but the religion of woke for lack of a better word (I really hate using that word) offers no real way to atone for your transgression.
– there are so many practices throughout history that we look back on in horror, wondering how anyone could have thought it was permissible. In elementary school after we learned about slavery, I remember I started scrutinizing everything in modern society because I was so shaken by the idea that people had been able to normalize something so horrific. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something going on right in front of me that future generations would look back on with similar disbelief and I couldn’t realize because I was so mired in our own culture.
I was quite worried about this for a while actually. And this book brings up the same idea: we have clearly progressed past something as brutal as slavery, but we should not automatically assume that everything going on in our society right now will be always viewed as the “right side of history” when we have no idea how it will turn out in the long run.
“Every age before this one has performed or permitted acts that to us are morally stupefying. So unless we have any reason to think we are more reasonable, morally better or wiser than at any time in the past, it is reasonable to assume there will be some things we are presently doing– possibly while flushed with moral virtue– that our descendants will whistle through their teeth at, and say, ‘what the hell were they thinking?'”
– although many right wing people like to use Marxism as the ultimate scare word, the kind of critical race theory/intersectionality/whatever ness has a very similar structure to Marxism. And a lot of the proponents of these sorts of worldviews are very anti-Western, despite not really having an alternative. The interesting thing this book brought up is that, yes, people are pointing out all of the problems with America/Europe/etc. but are not offering many solutions other than “deconstruct the white cis heteronormative patriarchal hegemony” which isn’t very helpful because having an imperfect system that has worked moderately well as a liberal democracy for centuries is better than having… nothing. Or communism.
– Social media ruins everything! As we already knew. But this book brings up the point that people are much more likely to be rude or tribal in online discussions because they won’t ever have to converse with their opponents face-to-face. But that’s a problem, because face-to-face communication is the best way to have a debate.
Overall, I’d recommend this book if you want to read a book that makes an attempt to explain how we ended up here.
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