Welcome to another episode of Conversations with Coleman. Today's guest is Douglas Murray. Douglas Murray is a best selling author, journalist and political commentator. He's also an associate editor at the British magazine The Spectator. Douglas and I had a wide ranging conversation about the rise of intersectionality and its consequences for society as a whole. I really enjoyed this one, and I hope you do, too. So without further ado, Douglas Murray, media bias is one of the great problems facing our democracy.
It doesn't matter how smart you are or how much time you spend consuming news. If your news diet is unbalanced, you are very likely developing a false picture of the most important news stories of the day.
To combat this problem, I've recently been using something called a ground news, ground news is both a website and a smartphone app that collects the most important stories of the day, along with the various articles that cover that story and then sorts the articles by their political bias in a user friendly way. So, for example, I'm recording this on November twenty first, when the biggest story is that a federal judge threw out President Trump's lawsuit requesting that the results of the Pennsylvania election not be certified.
So I can click on that story and then get a collection of links sorted by political bias. I can then check out how the left is covering this story and how the right is covering it. But the most important part of this app is a feature called Blind Spot. If your news diet is unbalanced, then every day there will be stories that you simply don't see. There are whole topics that the right is not interested in covering and likewise for the left.
So, for example, today on Ground News, I can see that the left is more or less ignoring the fact that ISIS launched rockets into a residential neighborhood, killing eight people and injuring two dozen more in Afghanistan. And I would guess the left is not so enthusiastic about stories like this because they are hard to square with the narrative that jihadist violence is an understandable reaction to American imperialism. Meanwhile, the right is barely covering the fact that covid-19 cases in the US have surpassed 12 million today and the virus seems to be spreading with a renewed vengeance.
This obviously does not make America or the Trump administration look very good. So the right is not so interested in it. So that's the kind of thing you can learn every day with the ground news app. This is a great tool to have if you're interested in having an accurate picture of reality, so I'll put that link in the description and you can all try it out.
Douglas, thanks so much for coming on my show. Great pleasure to be with you finally. Yes, we've been going on the same podcast circuits for a couple of years now. So you're you're one of my most requested guests, and it's a pleasure to be in the same room as you finally.
Well, likewise. I'm really pleased that could work. And I was allowed in by the US authorities at the time of pandemic. I'm with you in New York.
What a time to want to come to our humble country. Well, it's a very interesting month to be. Yeah. So there's a lot we could talk about. And I went out on Twitter to see what people were interested in us talking about. And the two most popular topics seem to be first year by subroutine. And secondly, the the challenge of living a meaningful life, religion, philosophy, literature. You know, rather than. Another conversation about your book, The Madness of Crowds, which I have to imagine many of many folks in my audience have read and I enjoyed thoroughly, I think there's a broader question about identity when we talk about identity politics, as you note in your book.
At the beginning of your book, we're talking about something that has sort of something that is religion shaped, something that's filling a kind of hole that religion has typically filled for many people. And I observe this firsthand at Columbia University. The role of intersectional politics, it was much more than a politics for people, it was a subculture and a sense of community and a sense of identity. It's how people built a sense of self. It was the primary way in which they build the sense of self.
I didn't meet many Christians. I met many devoted intersectional. So then there is larger questions about how not to build a sense of self and then the harder question of how to build this sense of self, and that's kind of what I want to put to you as a starting point for the conversation. Well, there's a lot there. First, I mean, you're completely right, there is a religion shaped hole in society. And I'd go further say there's a religion shaped hole in people who inhabit that society.
You see it with the intersection ists, with the fact that all of it shapes all of the habits of organized religion. It has by now developed its own theories of guilt, Tony, and. Excommunications, ARACY. We've even got flagellation on Billett Limited form hasn't caught on that widely yet, we have seen it said. And all of this is because I think I said in my last book, one in the strange death of Europe, we are in this unusual position as a society, America, Britain, where.
We have conversations about almost everything, but not about what we're doing here. Well, the purpose of life must be or might be. I noticed this quite often when talking to people in their teens, there's this sort of. Let's put it this way. Broadly speaking, conservatives sort of say, well, let's get the conditions of the market in place to free people up and then find happiness where you will. Have you got any idea of how we should do that?
Well, kind of left that alone. And then a portion of the left has come along and actually we've got a very. Clear set of routines for you. We've got a really. Almost full time job for you. And it's got purpose and it's got drive and it's got some justification, and this is something to do with your life. And I do think that there has been a massive. Abdication of responsibility by a lot of the adults in us.
Of saying. How that hole should be. I have my own views on that. And I'm not that prescriptive about it happens because I think there's an infinite, almost infinite number of people can find purpose and meaning lives. The reason I wrote The Madness of crowds was to say. I about this no, the scale of it and try as hard as possible, as fast as possible to shortcut it. And then get on to what you should be doing.
That question of what you should be doing after that. I mean, I can give them broad views on it. I think, firstly, as a person who's instinctively culturally pretty conservative, I think that one of your best shortcuts is to look at where people found meaning before and find whether you can find it there. In the places, in the ideas. In the. In which our forebears found purpose and meaning and drive. And that's a good place to start.
It's better than trying to invent totally new ways. At least start from there. The other point in that is it helps people not to feel themselves totally at loose in the world. What I mean by that is that if you know how to throw yourself into the places where people have previously found purpose. You won't find it so strange in our society and in our world, you will know what people are talking about when they talk about certain music or certain art or or religion, you'll have a less vague idea of what it is that's going on than what went on before.
And I would also say and I say this as a non-believer, but I think it's a great failing of nonbelievers, atheists, agnostics and others not to address this. I would say if you're not going to aim towards God shaped things, the issues that religion has always sought to address across societies and culture are the big issues. No purpose, life, death. But it'd be a shame to skip over all of these things, I believe we were beyond.
I remember a few years ago I was on Yasha Monk's podcast and he asked me a question that really stumped me at the time. Which was similar to the question I just asked you. So say, you know, I've been very critical of WOAK, identity, intersectional politics, all of the things you're talking about in in the book are things that I. I'm young enough that I basically grew up with it in the teenage years, I sort of was exposed to it before it hit the wider culture and.
Really was I was really enmeshed in circles where everyone adopted it pretty wholesale, right. So I feel I understand the appeal of it. To a degree that a lot of people don't like I and that's the reason I've been so critical of it, is because I understand. How you can. Give a teenager with who's not been given any grand metanarrative who either because because of the wider secular quality of American culture, religions not on the table, Christianity certainly isn't on the table.
And if it is, it's in a deeply watered down form because how tribal our politics are, Christian, just in this country does mean right wing. So if you're not right wing, you can be unapologetically Christian, right. So so that's not a that's not really an option for people. And it was never an option for me as a as a kid who was always attracted to. Rationalist thinkers that would destroy the sacred cows and growing up during the Bush era, when we were seeing a lot of Christianity having an impact in American politics, it really felt like atheism was the underdog to identify with.
Right. So I see how you give a kid like that a set of beliefs. About a set of beliefs that sets up a good versus evil narrative, says there are bad people in the world and their bad systems. And is your spiritual mission essentially to fight this? And we have very simple solutions, policies you can support beyond even policies, just ways of moving through the world and navigating the issues of race, gender, sexuality, gender identity and so forth, that just make you a part of this, you know, Star Wars like struggle against the empire.
Yes. And the truth is that there was no competition. There was there there was no other game in town for or kids in my generation who the kind of kid that sort of needed that. Right. Or whatever reason they weren't content to just party or whatever, they needed something. And there was no other game in town.
And by the way, isn't it interesting that that's across intellect? So in my view, it's a very, very bright people who've immersed themselves in this. Yeah, there are intellectually very curious people who have also immerse themselves. So it's as a movement, one of the interesting things about it is that it's it's not actually reliant on some highly doctrinaire sect of intellectuals. It's been. Panopticon, its ability to be adopted, right? Right, but but the question you asked me was, OK, you're critical of this.
I agree with all your criticisms. What are you going to replace it with? Because if you don't have an answer, then it's a it's a it's a bit like how it's much more easier to write a book review than it is to write a book. And to just Devore's devastate someone's book without putting forth one of your own. It's easier to destroy than create.
Exactly. And I found the answers I have to this question. I don't are not shaped like the the same the ideology that I'm criticizing. I don't have an all encompassing thought system that's going to give you everything WOAK gives you.
Right, and that I fear that that puts people like myself and yourself at a perpetual disadvantage. In this conversation, it could do. It could be the opposite, the desire to have totalistic systems you can adopt might also be a downside of some of our opponent. Hierarchies, a hierarchical structures, have great advantages and very obvious downside. The Catholic Church howay set up as a women's upside's in recent years around the world. It has discovered one of the downside.
Which is that if the top becomes badly flawed on a very visible issue. Disintegrates everywhere, and you have whole countries like Ireland just divorcing themselves, something they've been in for centuries, so that that can be a downside as well. The highly doctrinaire people who want to do WOAK do have certain advantages as all people with totalistic systems that explain what you should be doing and everything else are always going to have. But they've got a hell of a disadvantage to like what about when the whole damn thing falls apart on their watch?
What about when people don't want the highly doctrinaire. What if one of the things we're going through in our era is a need to. Absorb the complexities of thing and that that's more deeply understood and more widely understood than many people give it credit for. No, I mean, I would have thought on a whole range of political issues, the public instinct is, for instance, much more nuanced than the people who speak on behalf of. And that the public have adopted a whole set of.
Complex things simultaneously and that we should give them credit for. So I agree it can be a disadvantage not to have the whole thing mapped out, but it is also an advantage is an advantage to say, you know. That guy, they're coming towards you 100 miles an hour with all of his views and all of his claims. He's got something going for him, and he's also somebody who should run a million bloody miles from. You know, like everybody across history who comes at you with that famous glint in their eye, that suggests that they think they know better than you how you should live your life, and they will make you if they get the chance.
You know, the people who don't have that are at a disadvantage at some point in history. There are other times and it's a deep advantage not to be doing. Yeah, the other question that comes to my mind is I just spoke to Amy Chua about this. Who's she? She's done a lot of work on tribalism and ethnic attachments. Yeah, very, very hard to categorize her. Whether being an American can any more be be a metanarrative that people buy into, because growing up in that particular blue tribe, I would say roughly you really do have to speak of America and as two different countries at this point, I think sometimes to understand it.
But if you're from the Blue Tribe. They're just like Christianity is not really on the table as a metanarrative to to throw yourself into as a kid looking for meaning patriotism likewise is increasingly unavailable. Yeah. Has been for a long time. Yeah. Arguably. Deckert, yeah. In Europe, his decade in America is more recent.
Is this this this goes to something you've talked about in the West, which is in the past, which is the West's lack of confidence in itself. Yes. And this is a this is an issue it's difficult to talk about this because on the one hand, I'm I've always felt that my country, right or wrong, is not the right is like you want you want to hold your country to the fire on the things that it's genuinely lagging behind on.
And so I've always felt that if patriotism means well, I'm just for my country, period, regardless of what is actually true about my country, that's something I've never felt comfortable with. On the other hand. And I just look at. What's true about how do people vote with their feet in the world, where do they want to come if we're just judging neutrally? Yeah, it's unarguable. America has to be among the most amazing places to live in the world.
Something is going right here. Yes. All of the black and brown migrants around the world want to come here first before anywhere else. And there's something, you know, that fact just the America described by the WOAK left seems so different than the America that black and brown people all over the world are leaving everything behind for. And so I just seek some kind of coherent, some kind of accurate description of the country that is not reflexive, but is that's the first task for when you mention your generation.
And growing up is, of course, one thing that was on my mind is during that time, it's so important that people actually get a reasonable view of what happened the day before they arrived.
Well. And I'm not sure that people of your generation, I may say so not sound to ancient, but I think a lot of people of your generation don't actually have an accurate idea of what the world was like before they came along. I by the way, this isn't their fault. There is a deranged trend in history books and in the media that presents the world in a very unsatisfactory way. That is rewriting the past and redoing the past, apparently.
In a tone of extraordinary ignorance, my observation, we continually have news stories, for instance, in my own country in Britain, and I think it happens here, which presented as if we didn't have prominent black intellectuals, artists, thinkers, musicians and much more until now. I have this pet obsession over when the does frontier Jessye Norman died last year, it was presented by the BBC and other news media as if there was something absolutely amazing about the fact that he was black.
And that hadn't been amazing or interesting for decades. She recorded Zarganar with the Caribbean in the 1970s. You know, if Kerri-Ann didn't have a problem with that in the 1970s, I don't know why news media does in 20/20 or presents it as if there is something like that going on, something surprising. And we keep on having stories presented like this. It happens on all of your identity. It's happening with Kamala Harris right now, absolution that it's it's amazing that there's a black vice president, so she's broken through.
That's so strange to me, obviously, because we had a black president for two terms.
And so there is this really strange dynamic that also gets under my skin of the moment. Some genuine gain happens. A black person or a woman breaks through in an area where it actually has never been done before, like the presidency. Before it happens, everyone says it's impossible, if you remember before Obama, everyone was saying the country is not ready. The country's too racist for this black man named Barack Hussein Obama. And that's a prediction based on the model of the country.
And then the prediction gets destroyed. But the model never changes. Yeah, that's right. In fact, sometimes it gets worse. It gets worse. And so so I really worry about that. This is something I've run into when we're talking about the attitude towards the past is incredibly important.
Yes. By the way, there's a there's an important, I think, quite deep thing that that can be addressed as a monk question. There's an important and deep thing that can be addressed here, should be addressed. Which is precisely over this issue of the attitude towards the past. Do you look at the past, including the past, in your own country as a thing to. Sort of hack through in order to find injustices in it. And then sort of burnish something about yourself from it, for instance, by presenting yourself as better than your forbert.
Do you find a way to reconcile yourself with the past and indeed understand the past in its own terms as well as on your own, on your own, in the area you find yourself? My own view is that. Since every human being, to some degree, various degrees finds themselves bemused in the universe. Finding the correct attitude towards what went before you as well as what's happening around you is absolutely crucial and that the the narrative of oppression. The narrative of progress, by the way, which I'm not an enormous fan of as a view of history, but the idea of progress that ends with the brilliant arrival of you.
Is an unedifying way to view the past. Not least because it can't reconcile you with it. And this means that almost everybody in the past fails to come up to the standard that you set for yourself in 2020. Now, I think that and a lot of thinkers who persuaded me of this fact that. One of our jobs in life is is to is is not to war against the world, but to reconcile ourselves with it. Now, when I say that, of course, some people say, aha, but what about injustice?
I I mean, the things there will be injustices and there will be things were struggling with and for. But there there is also a requirement to find out where you can reconcile yourself. Well. Past your forebears, and that's where that's where the the the issue you touched on of of nation of nationalism. Would once have stood, the late Roger Scruton described the importance of nationhood as being that it was the widest way in which you could apply the first person plural.
But if you felt you could say we with pride, the things you yourself had not actually done when we did that, then that was a successful use of of nationhood for all sorts of reasons. That's off the table and all these other forms of belonging are off the table. We do have to find some way individually, collectively. So I think there are lots of people now trying to do this to say, well, what would we cohere around?
I was very struck with I've just been reading Thomas Chatterton Williams. This book is memoir. And I was very struck by a passage in that in which he talks about the way in which people who recognize that there is significance in race, but that it isn't the defining issue are going to have to cohere in some way. In the years ahead to protect that ground and. To defend it against several different directions where it could be assailed from, and I think that's a wider aim of those of us who believe in.
In what one would have called a form of liberal pluralism. It's actually going to be a task. I mean, I see, for instance, a great but it goes back to this thing of a purpose in life. I see a great purpose in life of seeing the great rivers of thought and art and beauty and culture and religion and much more that have been coursing through the thing that you're born into and seeing where you add to it. And if you can't add to it, to be within it at least.
You know, one of the instincts that makes me against identity arianism of any kind, and specifically now the identity Arianism of our left is I don't want there to be gay literature. I don't want there to be black studies. I don't want there to be women's books. I want these these things all have a role and had a role. As tributaries flowing into the main and once they're in the main. That air you're off, you don't need the.
Weird people trying to redirect them out of the river again and into some stagnant pool. Yeah, this is why this is why Bayard Rustin back in the 70s, Bayard Rustin, who organized the march on Washington and was Martin Luther King's strategist. Was against the nation, black studies, trends and all of these departments, he said, well, we're finally they're finally beginning to study our history. This is what we wanted. Why would we then segregated?
This is exactly what the white supremacist wanted or that battle has been lost. And black studies departments now there are a few in like you can really put them on one hand where people are. Getting there, getting black liberals, progressives, conservatives, and learning how to think in almost the way that you would if it were a normal sociology or history class, but overwhelmingly these are just indoctrination factories where you have to you have to believe in critical race theory when you come through the door.
And we should talk about critical race theory a little bit, because I've been pleased to see that just in the past two or three months, it's increasingly being called out and sort of, you know, people who didn't know what this was six months ago now know what it is surprising.
People say, see, that is a new trend.
I think it's I think it's a very welcome trend. And one of the big contentions of critical race theory is. What you just said about bringing people into the main what critical race theory does is it says, well, actually what you think is a mean is just whiteness in disguise. Yeah, right. There is no mean. Yes, that's why they're so that's why they're so desperate to stop all heresy as they see it of. People being adopted and I mean, they don't do it on every as you know, mean, they they seriously try to hive off what are now called LGBTQ writers.
The idea that there are no gay writers in the canon historically is just the great, you know. How did you think you were going to persuade people of that? But again, if you are in your late teens or your teens and you're told, oh, no, no, no, this whole thing was there was, of course, repression of gay rights, like so many other things, of course. But the idea that this didn't exist until, you know, 2020.
And it's the same thing with with women, right? It's the same thing with all of these things. And there are people who are writing this who keep trying to.
To present the past, you know, as if George Eliot didn't exist. And of course, this all things sort of things to be said about it, but these people, yes, they fear. They feared the sharing of ideas. That's one of the things I just can't help seeing at this stage. And by the way, we have a great advantage over a great, great advantage, which is that the people who push this stuff are pushing something false.
How can you tell it's false? In the way that George Orwell told us the best identify false ideas, which is if the language is false. The language of these critical race theorists like the Post, everything feminists and the queer studies bullshit. All these people write atrociously because they think atrociously they reveal themselves. You ever tried to read Judith Butler? Of course.
Of course I've tried.
I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I can usually get my head around ideas. And I read a couple of paragraphs of Judith Butler and I. I have a migraine.
I need to lie down for a short time because she's lying. And she's using language to try to cover over that fact and the critical race theorists, right, impenetrable books and refer to each other as impenetrable books because nobody would read them ordinarily. Why would I read a critical race theory book when I could be reading Rilke? No, it's really true, I've spent I think we both spend probably more time than any sane person should start reading what are considered some of the great works of critical race theory is, by the way, I should say I have a tip for that.
I think it's like drinking alcohol. You should drink. You drink a glass of water. Every glass of scotch is to keep the system. Well, for every bullshit book you read, read a good one. You know, at least at least those should be the odds. Yeah. And sometimes I find people to sort of. They don't they get that wrong. Yeah. You know, and I think it's true, you know, unclear writing is usually a sign of unclear thinking.
And insofar as your thoughts are very clear, writing becomes much easier. This is as a as an aside, I think one of the ways in which writing is miss taught. No, I think you just give students a topic to write about that they may or may not care about or be thinking clearly about and say, right.
Well, whereas we should start with the thinking and go through the writing. And by the way, I mean, the other thing is I was always I've been a writer all my life. I was always under the impression that the job of writing in ideas was to try to make. Complex things able to be understood and the great moments in, as you know, is it was a reader. The great moments are when a writer does that for you and you have that you have that feeling, what Aristotle calls anagnorisis, the moment of recognition that you have found truth and that that moment comes when a great writer.
Says something that, you know, to be true and they have managed to distill the thoughts in such a way that you recognize it morally, you recognize it, and intellectually you recognize it.
And you're thrilled that somebody has done this for, you know, the line of your book that that stayed with me and gave me that unpronounceable word. That feeling was about slaying dragons. Yes. And if you want to touch that. But yes, no, I that's it's actually partly lifted from the great Australian philosopher Ken Manoug, who wrote in a book called The Liberal Imagination in the 1970s, described the problem of liberalism. By the way, as always, has the caveat that liberalism is a word that travels on a range of passports.
But in the liberal imagination, he says, one of the problems of liberalism is that. Once it's slain the dragon, it might find itself like St George in retirement. The amount of steam and prestige has been awarded to the Dragonslayer might encourage the Dragon Slayer to stagger around the land looking for other beasts to slay in order to gain all of that admiration again or in larger quantities. Even multiple Dragonslayer Slayer.
And I extend this to say that I think it is the situation in modern liberalism is that everyone wants to have been with Martin Luther King March on Washington. They want to have been the suffragette. You know, they want to have been at the Stonewall Inn in 68, but they missed it. So what do they do? And they stagger around the land, swishing their sword at ever smaller and less intimidating creatures until eventually. And some people say we're not there yet.
Some people say we are. But eventually, George finds is found swinging his sword at thin air. And I do think I'm not being blasé about this. I do think to a great extent that's that's that's where we are.
But just just returned this idea. The problem is that I say is that that was the purpose of writing as I saw it. And the purpose as a reader reading was to be able to get the idea distilled for you by a mind capable of the distillation process. And what we have in the people, the. One is railing against at the moment are people who have done exactly the opposite, they actually have very, very simple idea about people, about societies, about structures much more, and they wrap it in this incredibly complex and convoluted language.
Because there isn't much there. The whole thing is really quite easy to understand. And they make it more complex. Either way, I should mention that you did one which is allergic to you use metanarrative. I was once that something with we've actually Cheminova I just mentioned and and a young friend is an intellectual and I use the term metanarrative repeated. I never, ever forget that Ken had sort of I like eyebrows sort of leapt forward again. I said, you keep saying metanarrative.
Why not just narrative? And it is the case on we've all had this lexicon. Of quite often just slightly more convoluted than they need to be terms, and we've all adopted it to some extent, I do metanarrative as well occasionally, by the way, I'm not a to.
But do we have actually been adopting an unnecessarily complex language even when we're criticizing it?
There isn't that much in Butler. It's quite straightforward. It's a set of assertion.
You know what? When the point you're making struck me hardest recently was reading Ibram Kennedy's book, How to Be an Antiracist. Very good example. So he can. Kennedy, unlike the critical race academics, writes very simply, simple short sentences and so on. And then there gets to be a point in the book where he mentions systemic or structural racism. As an aside, and keep in mind, this is a book whose purpose is to explain anti-racism to the widest possible reach, the widest possible readership.
And what he says is, I'm not going to use the term systemic or structural racism in this book. I'm just going to call it racism, because I found that I can't explain what systemic racism means to normal people. I'm paraphrasing, but that's essentially what I remember.
And I thought that's very interesting because this is a person who who's job and who's essentially his job description is to be the best guy at explaining why systemic racism, this sort of what was once just an academic concept is important, an important lens through which to revise your notion of what you thought racism was. And we thought it was this individual thing. But what we're being told now is systemic racism can be racist without any individuals. I mean, allegedly, this complicated thing you have to understand.
But why can't you explain it to.
Yes. It's such a good example. It's it's such an intellectual fraud, isn't it, to do that? It's as you know, I say, some crowds of these tricks that are being done on us all. One is I would say that this one of you must understand me. You will never understand. Another one is this is glaringly obvious and it's so complicated. I can't explain it. I mean, that's an example. If you ask me to explain it, it's emotional.
Labor shouldn't be asked to. Yes, I'll find it tiring because people of color have been asked for too long to explain ourselves.
Yeah, it's exhausting. It's exhausting. And it's also the most important crusade in the world. Yes. But somehow my exhaustion means I should be exempt of it.
Yeah. I mean, it's like going onto a sports match and saying you're going to play by totally different rules of your own creation, you know, saying do your tennis partner. You may want to play with the net up, but I'm playing with it down. I find it easier that way. Know, this is this is to rig the game from the outset.
And I do think that's what a number of people who've got an extra amount of sway at the moment.
Incredible amount of. Inroads have been doing, they've been setting up a game. That is arranged for their own intellectual comfort. And I think they should be called out. Yeah, I think I want to come back to, though, how attractive this ideology is for people. I think I generally wonder about my audience. What proportion of people understand why it's attractive to people at a gut level and nevertheless resist it, and what percentage of people don't understand the appeal at all?
And I think it helps to combat something to understand exactly why it's so appealing to people, whether that's jihadism or Trotskyism. Yeah, exactly. So this is an incredibly fulfilling and meaningful ideology for people. It's for especially for a person in the West who's doing OK or more than OK and is bored and is bored because. And this gets to part of how I find meaning in life, but the Buddhist observations about psychology are all true. You know that just having more more cranking up the pleasure knob actually doesn't stave away boredom because you just adjust.
You idiotically adapt. So people are bored and looking for meaning, as humans have always done. And if you have one thing about you, you know, you're gay, you're a woman, you're black or some combination of things, all of a sudden this can become. A source of enormous pride for me, like a pride is one part of it, but there's a lot more as well, isn't there?
I mean, it's I, I know this as well. Yes, exactly. That that's the best. That's the one. I always by the way, when I was growing up and I was gay, I, I always had a total revulsion against so-called pride because I always I always thought. If you're not to have shame for it, then you wouldn't have pride either, and I just sort of instinctively felt that.
The other thing I instinctively felt about that was I was always worried, my teenage years about the people who basically advocated that if you were gay. That was then your religion. I remember it because obviously, I mean, for very good reasons, a lot of gay activists and and others were very anti church, but I always thought that it was a category error to think that somebody, for instance, came out. Would inevitably not go to church, not have anything to do with religion, but gay would fill that space.
I always thought it was just a category error.
Even before I knew what a category error was, I knew it was one.
And and I still think that I felt very deeply that. It doesn't replace that. It's not like going down your local Gabala is going to be the replacement for church or something. And and I think this in each of these areas, I think what's more. It is also stultifying and limiting of what we are as human beings. Now that's that's the fundamental you know, if there was a sort of kick as to why I feel so strongly about some of this, it's that at a fundamental level, I think it's reductionist of what we are and what we're capable of as you.
You know, in the same way, if you introduced somebody, you know, I don't know if somebody said, you know, hey, this is my gay friend Douglas. You know, you don't do it, and and I think we all we all feel that, and yet there are these people have come along and said, no, no, no, that should actually be the main thing.
So I think it's reductionist and I also. I also think, by the way, that we are if we're going to get out of some of the bad thinking we're in, it will be by people experiencing in their own lives the flaws of the system they've been encouraged to imbibe. As you know, I believe that one of the absolutely fundamental ones that is coming at everybody who's adopted all system time, one is coming at all of them is the lack of forgive.
And. I'm sure, like me, you have friends who have experienced that first hand, you know, good people or flawed people or people as good or flawed as anyone else who screw up in whatever way once or repeatedly. And a done over publicly or in their peer group. There's no damn way back, as it were, over cance gone. Well, once you've seen that happen to somebody, you know. Let alone if it's happened to you.
You will have doubts about the whole system. And that is that is the great flaw in or you'll just close up all parts of your personality, your close off the experimental and most fun parts of your mind. Yes. And make sure that you never you never end up like that person.
This is again, this is what makes it not just like a religion, but like a cult.
But I do think that a lot of people will see this, that it's not just reductionist, not just limiting. But unforgiving. And once that's happened to you, I mean, give me give an example of this. The unforgiving about people in history is a trait of the young and maybe has been for a long time, the concept, I think, of being young in the way we currently have. It hasn't existed that long. We used to just go from childhood to adulthood and this these years and then became decades of basically get older, you know, but.
In recent decades, in particular, with the idea of, you know, people can judge their forebears as a sort of post 68, I think in particular there is this idea that, you know, you can stand in judgement over everyone who went before you because they must have known what we know now. And it's a very common fallacy, it doesn't survive adulthood for most people because we all know. As we grow older, how limited the range of perception for any of us as human beings actually is?
You know, we don't know what we're going through as we're going through it. We don't know if we're in the first act of the play or the fifth act or what the damn play is. You know, there's an essay by C.S. Lewis, The World's last night that I'm very fond of and analysis of King Lear where Lewis says, you know, we. We don't know where we are in the drama and of course, the conclusion he comes to, the only conclusion you can come to is therefore all we know is that we should play our part well in the time we have.
And then the focus should be, therefore, how do you play your part? Well. And among other things. It is to have an appropriate understanding of your place in the whole drama. And I think that. The appropriate place is to realize that people before us like us. Only knew the lines they were speaking. And they didn't know what was coming or after, you know, it's so easy if one of my favorite quotes is from Milan Kundera, who says In Testament's Betrayed, you know, man operates in a fog and stumbles along the path.
That's not the interesting observation. Interesting observation here, he says, is when we look back, we see the man, we see the path, but we don't see the fog. The whole whole damn thing is foggy. We know this. And the way we're sitting here, you know, we started this year with a pandemic was said the beginning to take vast swathes of us out, didn't we? Not entirely sure why people got different instincts on it.
But you know what?
A thoughtful person could come out of 20/20 and not have some greater sympathy for people in history.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, we love we love to judge the people who messed up Chernobyl or three of these crisis moments, but. Really, we're not doing very much better, and it's for reasons that. Ah, that have to do ultimately with human nature and how this is one of my my contentions with WOAK is that you said people are going to realize how this this proves dysfunctional in their own lives, how they're being hurt by how people close to them are being hurt, by which already, you know, happens all the time.
But the ways in which it's it's destined to collide against reality are always that have to do with human nature. The idea that there is something immutable that we are like as creatures, if you talk about the relationships between men and women. This is one place where I feel. You know, I I feel having imbibed a lot of WOAK rhetoric about what is the proper attitude towards relations between a straight man and a woman, and I've seen that have virtually no reflection in my actual experiences with actual women in terms of what they tell me and show me that, you know, they are like and and it is just two completely non overlap and it's much more interesting.
Yes, the reality is much more interesting.
And also, I, I try to nod to know, knowing the reality of being in touch with what's actually true about human nature and gender differences helps you. I think it can at least help you be more compassionate. Yes. In your relationships with the opposite sex I found because there is this perpetual war between men and women, which is that was being created partly it's been created, but partly it's that men don't always understand women and women don't always understand men and the kinds of conflicts.
Obviously there are exceptions I'm making generally, but the kinds of conflicts that people get into are very similar and sometimes predictable. And if you if you're taught that men and women are exactly the same at birth. Yeah. I think it's possible for men to just treat women exactly as they treat their male friends, naively thinking that, yeah, believing the wog stuff and vice versa, and then get into all of these conflicts that are that would be better understood from a point of view of understanding how how the genders differ.
They differ that they can complement each other. The platonic idea was Peter's idea. Of the fitting into each other is a pretty good. Summary of part of the issue. And that that we are infinitely more complex than we are being presented. You know, I mean. Everything to do with relations between the sexes and indeed relationships and sex and much more in our era pretends that things are infinitely straightforward.
No, if you only follow the rule book that was made up today, this morning hasn't been finished yet.
So well, and that has got to be despite the ink still being wet, it's got to be rolled out across every damn person in society now immediately. Otherwise, catastrophic punishment, beatings will occur.
Relations, this kind of a very good demonstration or a reminder, I would say, of our complexity as human beings, the complexity that, again, everybody could find sources in history to remind them of. I mean, what is it? Some Paul says in one of the letters, I think is the letter Galatians, he says some ways says that I would not that I do that I do that. I would not. It's a good summary of something, isn't it?
I mean, there are things, you know, you should do and you don't. Things, you know, you shouldn't do, that you do and and so on, this is all knowledge we've had. We don't need people to come along and pretend to us that we are things that we're not and we feel we're not. And it goes back to a thing that if there's a purpose, that one of the purposes that people can find is to find their way to truths that they recognize that get around this crap.
To be honest, I mean, that's a really good place to start, to be honest, in your relations with other people, how many relationships go wrong because of a lack of honesty? Just an unwillingness, to be honest. Unless in all sorts of reasons, sexual relations, personal relations, amany relations. No, I think the number of people who just a desperately bitter and twisted up because there's something they believe one of their siblings got and they didn't or their parent.
You know, honesty has an awful lot to be said for it in personal relations, as in ideas and in philosophy and my own view, among other things in this, is that. As you as you stumble along. The advantage is that you find these flare lights on your path in your life. Which give you an idea of where to tread. And sometimes that's from other people that you encounter, they can be counted in any walk of life and sometimes you have that thrilling moment when it happens in a book.
And do you think you know you know, when you find it, you've just been given a flare on the path? That's one of the things worth finding. And the place is worth finding it, other places that have been recognized to have given it to other people before you. With the addition and the additional excitement of the fact that other people in your time will be adding to that path. That's not everything, but it's not nothing either. That's a great note to end on.
Douglas Murray, thank you so much for your time. Well, it's been a great pleasure. So next time. So next time.