The War on the West, by Douglas Murray

The West should be celebrated, not condemned.
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The War on the West by Douglas Murray is not necessarily a history book, but it is one of the most important books that any historian should read this year. Historians (and students of history) are well placed to show that the story of the West is not just a litany of shame. There is plenty in the traditions of the West that should be celebrated rather than condemned.

The War on the West may be described as a call to arms. “The anti-Western revisionists have been out in force in recent years. It is high time that we revise them in turn.” Although not without instances of anger at various injustices and wrongheadedness, Murray is much more concerned with the purpose of enlightenment. Enlightening the reader as to the original causes and authors of anti-Western revisionism. Enlightening the reader in relation to the intellectual feet of clay of their arguments and accusations. Resentment, rather than reason, often shapes the warped, anti-Western mindset. Enlightening the reader to the scenario that if certain self-appointed guardians come for the likes of Jane Austen, David Hume and William Shakespeare, our society will be the poorer for it.

Murray levels his sights at a variety of topics and figures, including alleged racism, slavery (and reparations), cancel culture, Edward Said, Michel Foucault and Karl Marx. The list may be long, but Murray’s aim is always true.

One of the main aims of the book is to address and denude Critical Race Theory (CRT). At best CRT may be considered conceited, at worst it is pernicious. Antiracism can morph into racism – and talk of justice begins to sound more like vindictiveness and revenge. Anti-Westernism and racism (for some they are one in the same) should not be the prism with which one should wholly view the world – and world history. Even mathematics has entered into the purview of the adherents of CRT. That 2 + 2 = 4 need no longer be the case. For Murray, and others, this doesn’t add up.

Murray quotes well, throughout the book. This from Chinua Achebe: “The legacy of colonialism is not a simple one but one of great complexity, with contradictions – good things as well as bad.” Murray also shares quotes from Damon Albarn and June Sarpong, unfortunately for them. The author is eminently quotable himself as well. Murray’s writing is cogent, pithy and not without a wry sense of humour. The book entertains, as well as enlightens. Although Murray will doubtless be condemned by some for his supposed heretical thinking, he should be celebrated.

When one peers behind the curtain, to reveal those who would have us blindly follow an anti-Western mindset, one will encounter an old and familiar enemy. “Marxist thought” may be deemed an oxymoron and “Marxist hypocrisy” a tautology.

There may be much that will be new to the reader in this fine book. Murray sometimes asks uncomfortable questions – questions which Damon Albarn and June Sarpong do not have the answers to. But the book is also a call to remembrance. Do not forget about your roots. The values and virtues of the West may be the solution to, rather than cause of, certain problems. So say it loud, say it proud: 2 + 2 = 4.

The War on the West: How to Prevail in the Age of Unreason by Douglas Murray is out now. You can hear an interview with Douglas on the Aspects of History Podcast.

Richard Foreman is a writer and publisher, and the author of Turpin’s Assassin