Saturday 14 October 2023

Book Beginnings: The War on the West

 Linking up with Rose City Reader's weekly Book Beginnings

The War on the West: How to Prevail in the Age of Unreason by Douglas Murray (2022)

"In recent years it has become clear that there is a war going on: a war on the West. This is not like earlier wars, where armies clash and victors are declared. It is a cultural war, and it is being waged remorselessly against all the roots of the Western tradition and against everything good that the Western tradition has produced.''

Murray, a British author and journalist, describes “Western” societies as European countries or countries descended from European civilization. He wrote this book to address the one-sided view of the West that has come from ‘politicians, academics, historians, and activists who are saying things that are not simply incorrect or injudicious but flat-out false.’

''In order to be able to judge the West, you would have to know at least some of the history of the rest. The only thing modern western populations are more ignorant about than their own history is the history of other people outside the West. Yet such knowledge is surely a prerequisite to being able to arrive at any moral judgements.”

The author sites a poll of young British people carried out in 2016 that found that 50% had never heard of Lenin and 70% had no idea who Mao was. 41% of 16- to 24-year-olds who had grown up after the fall of the Berlin Wall had positive feelings about socialism, while 28% felt the same sentiments about capitalism:

“One possible reason for this is that 68 percent said they had never learned anything in school about the Russian Revolution.’’

From the back cover:

“If the history of humankind is one of slavery, conquest, prejudice, genocide and exploitation, why are only Western nations taking the blame for it?’’

I'm about a third of the way through this book and although the subject matter is heavy at times, the author is articulate and thoughtful. His thoughts on the dearth of historical knowledge, although not surprising, is alarming.