The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity
Author: Douglas Murray
Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum, USA
Douglas Murray is an author and journalist who has written several books on identity politics, including on immigration issues.
We like to claim that we are colour-blind, but in reality, we are obsessed with it. So how can I, as a white person, understand myself and my own role towards people of colour if I also claim that there is no difference between us?
Douglas Murray writes that God is dead and on the struggles we must fight in a post-religious society. The author writes that we are now fighting a constant battle against everyone we believe is on the «wrong side» of the new truths we have built up in the shadow of God’s death.
The truth has become human, far too human. This means that you can quickly end up on the wrong side of the moral divide between good and evil when you begin to question the prevailing politically correct moral worldview: «Are you in opposition to social justice? What do you want? Social injustice?»
Modern identity politics
The European consciousness does not like to be confronted with its past. Historic figures on pedestals in the form of large, towering statues now fall in the age of identity politics, rebellion, and anti-racism. But the problem with being declared anti-racist is that anti-racism has become a totalitarian ideology. In the age of identity politics, you do not escape the accusations of racism if you are white, no matter how you formulate yourself. If you are not consciously racist, then you are unconscious. Suppose you claim that you are not a racist. In that case, you will probably be told that you are either a racist without knowing it or that you are trying to hide your anti-racist attitudes behind a veil of privileged superiority, only mixed with a suitable dose of shame. And how do we understand our identity in the light of modern identity politics? These are some of the key issues Murray addresses in his book.
«Third worldism» is the ideology that the third world is morally superior to the first since the oppressors are morally inferior to the oppressed, an ideological view that Douglas Murray warns against: «The victim is not always right, deserves no praise, and may not even be a victim.»
In light of this, we can understand why large parts of the cultural struggle are about appearing as a victim of the abuse of others. For if one manages to give an impression of oneself as a victim, one has won the public’s sympathy, and thus the struggle over who has the right to define himself as the morally good party in a conflict. But, of course: Anyone who is a victim in one position may well be an abuser in another. No one is just a victim or just an abuser.
We try to nail each other to the cross of shame and guilt.
The author spices up the book with several examples of identity-political and gender-political problems. In the age of feminism, post-Marxism, and transsexuals, it is the concept of floating gender that is on the agenda. The great paradox is that we try to nail each other to fixed identities simultaneously as the postmodern concept of gender has become more and more fluid. A man who has committed abuse against a woman and then changes gender before he is convicted of the abuse, should he be sent to a men’s or women’s prison?
Why can lesbian women freely engage in sexual cultivation with each other in public, while a heterosexual man could never do the same to a woman without being exposed as a sexual abuser?
Some of these issues, the author writes, have to do with the development of social media. «Public shaming», as it is called in English, has dissolved the public and private barriers. But, as he recalls, we lack mechanisms that can get us out of the situation we have ended up in. For example, regarding public shaming. Contextual collapse is when a statement on social media is attacked from all sides, and its author is hung out for public ridicule and contempt when those who inflict shame do not know the original context.
The ability to forgive
Murray also constructs amusing issues such as: Who enjoys sex most, the woman or the man? And who will be able to decide this question? Murray claims that only a gay man, who «has both sexes built into his sexuality», is the right person to decide such a question. However, he also believes that the sexual play between two of the opposite sex contains many enigmatic elements and that the rules for this game can not fully explain with politically correct concepts.
Precisely at a time when identity has become a fluid concept, the great paradox is that we try to nail each other to the cross of shame and guilt, placing each other in categories and dichotomies such as black, white, woman, man, victim, abuser; we expose people who question our concepts to shame, instead of developing a greater degree of forgiveness.
The author calls for generosity in the age of identity politics. But then, we must avoid falling into the trap of believing that differences do not exist. It is, as he writes, ridiculous to think that phenomena such as colour and gender do not exist, but it would also be fatal to think that it means absolutely everything.