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Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge. I'm Peter Robinson. We're shooting today in Fiesole, a town in the hills above Florence, Italy. Associate editor of The Spectator, Douglas Murray writes for a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Murray is the author of a number of books, including "The Strange Death of Europe," which appeared in 2017, and "The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity," which will appear this coming September. Douglas Murray, welcome.
Douglas Murray: It's a great pleasure to be with you.
Peter Robinson: "The Strange Death of Europe," I quote, Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide. Whether the European people choose to go along with this is, naturally, another matter. Close quote. We'll come to your argument in a moment, but the book appeared in 2017. For now, what do you make of what the people are willing to put up with two years after you published the book?
Douglas Murray: It's very interesting. In the two years since it came out, has been coming out in, I think it's now out in every European language, so I've been pretty constant, I'm in a different country every week in Europe and elsewhere, and so I get a pretty good sense of where things are. I would say there are several things. The direction of travel hasn't changed, but some of those in positions of power have done things that I was surprised they would be willing to do to slow it down, I'm thinking particularly of the fact that the book centers on the migration crisis of 2015, which I just see as a sped-up version of something that had been happening for decades. But since 2015, the European leaders, among other things, did a deal with President Caliph Erdogan, and he now has a gun to Europe's head that he knows he can fire at any point.
Peter Robinson: Could you just explain that in, I'm going to have to stop you--?
Douglas Murray: Sure.
Peter Robinson: From time to time to make sure that for an American audience we're very explicit. Erdogan is president of Turkey, and the nature of the deal was--
Douglas Murray: We, Europeans, pay him huge sums of money and he stops boats leaving Turkish shores for Greek islands.
Peter Robinson: Right. And it is just as crude and straightforward as that.
Douglas Murray: Sure, he's not doing it out of the kindness of his heart. And things like that have undoubtedly meant that the flow of 2015 has slowed. I mean, the boats are still setting off from the North African coastline, but nothing like the rate of 2015. So there have been some things like that that have surprised me.
Peter Robinson: All right. Let's lay out the basic argument. So, you're not concerned with any kind of temporary European malaise or questions of slow economic growth, which is a lot of what we hear on the other side of the big water, again, I'm quoting you. Europe today has little desire to reproduce itself, fight for itself, or even take its own side in an argument. By the end of the lifespans of most people currently alive in Europe, Europe will not be Europe and the peoples of Europe will have lost the only place in the world we had to call home, close quote. Two years later, you stand, but that's a very dramatic statement, two years later you stand by that.
Douglas Murray: Oh, absolutely. Yes, in the lifespans of, as I say, most people, it'll be a different place. It already is, and I lay some of that out in remorseless detail in "The Strange Death of Europe." Sometimes when things happen relatively slowly, people get used to things, they adapt. I give the example of the census in the UK, the last census in the UK, which showed that in 23 out of 33 London boroughs, people who identify as white British are in the minority in those boroughs. So that, in the lifespan of, I mean you can either, like that, dislike it, or feel fine about it--
So, when John--
But that's a massive change in just one person's lifespan already.
Peter Robinson: John Cleese tweeted, as we tape this, I think it was last week, John Cleese of Monty Python fame, tweeted, London no longer seems to be an English city, if I'm--
Douglas Murray: Yes.
Peter Robinson: I think that's a close paraphrase, if not a quotation. And he was attacked, well, the attack, as attacks are on Twitter. But he was correct.
Douglas Murray: He was correct. And by the way-- Factually correct.
What he said is effectively what is boasted about by politicians, including the mayor of London and the previous mayor of London. They say it's an international city. They're very happy about that. But if somebody says, well, that means it's not an English city anymore, then they attack somebody like, whether it's John Cleese, me, or whoever, for heresy. I mean, it's very interesting, by the way, isn't it? I mean, John Cleese was attacked for the heresy of Life of Bryan, what, 40 years ago? He's attacked by the clerics now, it's just they're the clerics of the far left and the social justice movements and so on. They just happen not to wear frocks like his previous critics. But it's the same phenomenon. I've debated and discussed these issues for years now, and I know every one of the moves that people do, the number of dishonest moves, things like, that's not the case. Okay, that is the case. That is the case, but you shouldn't say it, or that is the case, and it's great, suck it up.
Peter Robinson: Right, so to continue with the basic argument, this has come about, this death of Europe, or the death, this has come about, quote, because of two simultaneous concatenations from which it is now all but impossible to recover. The first is the mass movement of peoples into Europe, close quote, so explain that. Explain 2015 and tell us what that was, what happened in 2015, remind us, and that was a speeded up version of what? Again, you're talking to a largely American audience here, so fill us in.
Douglas Murray: In the aftermath of the Second World War, most Western European countries decided that they wanted to invite migrant labor in to help rebuild. At the beginning, the idea was that they wouldn't stay, they would come, and then they'd go home after doing the job. Unsurprisingly, they did stay, at least large proportions of them did, and gradually, people started to be brought in even if there weren't jobs for them to go to. So, for instance, you imported large numbers of people from the Indian subcontinent to mill towns in the north of England when there were no mills anymore. And then--
Peter Robinson: And the thinking on that was?
Douglas Murray: I'm not sure there was very much thinking. It was what we call the cock-up theory of history, a succession of lazy and cowardly politicians who just found it easier to kick this one down the road and leave it to their successors to deal with. We kept changing the story of what we were doing as we were doing it. I recount in the book, we moved from the guest worker period to the multicultural period where you said, yeah, live in our country and pretty much do what you like to the modern one, which is, become like us. Those are three totally different things, in the course, again, of one person's lifetime. And I blame no migrant for being confused by that, because we were confused. But in 2015, the movement got to its height of total unregulated movement, and this was the year in which, it started off in the beginning of this decade we're in, partly people coming, fleeing Syrian civil war, but then people from all across sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, and I started traveling to the camps in Southern Europe where people were arriving in. I've been to many of the countries they were fleeing from. And it was a veritable United Nations of people. Now, in the eyes of some of the governments and many of the public, it was all people fleeing the Syrian Civil War, but it wasn't, it wasn't. Even by the EU's own figures, at least 60%, six zero percent, of the arrivals in 2015 had no more right to be in Europe than anyone else in the rest of the world.
Peter Robinson: So, when Angela Merkel invited a million refugees, refugees was the term-- Migrants, yeah, migrants.
Douglas Murray: Migrants
Peter Robinson: Let's call them migrants. When she invited a million of them into Germany, this is crude, I'll put it badly, you sharpen up what I'm about to say, because this is the way an American would look at it. The Germans are still acting, in some way or another, out of a sense of war guilt.
Douglas Murray: Sure.
Peter Robinson: That's straightforward.
Douglas Murray: Oh, absolutely straightforward. I mean, I've no doubt about them. This is a job for a psychiatrist, in many ways. Look at the reception at Munich Station. As 10,000 people were arriving every 48 hours or so at the height of the movement in 2015, they were coming up through the Balkans and up through Central Europe, and there were crowds at Munich Train Station high-fiving the arrivals, giving them balloons, teddy bears. What was it? It's perfectly obvious. It was Germans elated at the sight of people breaking into their country rather than trying to break out.
Peter Robinson: Right. But even at that, even if it was a kind of act of German self-indulgence, an act on, acting out of war guilt, the whole argument was that these people were unfortunate, that they were fleeing civil war, and you're saying that 60% of them simply weren't.
Douglas Murray: A lot more than 60%. What you get into, in all of the issues with migration is, and specifically European migration is people find it incredibly hard to know where you salami slice issues. So, for instance, they say, yes, we'll have people coming in who are genuinely fleeing the Syrian Civil War, for instance. Well, there's an argument about that as well. You can look after 100 Syrians in a neighboring country for every one you look after in Europe, so it's not efficient in all sorts of ways, whether or not it's humane. But let's say that yes, okay, people fleeing the Syrian Civil War, then you have the people, including the aid agencies making the point, well, and one Afghan refugee made this to me to my face. He said, "Syrians have only been at war for five years. "We've been at war for 15 years. "Why should they have priority?" Very good question. So you go along that, and then you get to the thing that all of the aid agencies and the NGOs and others have been doing for years, which is you allied and rub out the difference between people fleeing war and people fleeing economic deprivation. Now, one of the reasons why I'm quite tough about this is because I know where that argument leads. Gallup last year did a poll in sub-Saharan Africa. 1/3 of sub-Saharan Africans want to move. They're not going to go to Saudi Arabia. They're not planning to break in to Yemen. They want to come to Europe. Now, in my view, the catastrophe underlying all of this is the presumption that every country in the world is basically a country for the people of that country, apart from Europe, and Europe is a place for the world.
Peter Robinson: All right. A few figures from the book. Even as I was reading the argument, these figures, takes a while to adjust, again, because an American, our notion of what's taking place in Europe lags, I think, but I found every one of these things shocking. I'm taking these from your book. By 2015, more British Muslims were fighting for ISIS than for the British armed forces. By 2016, the most popular boy's name in England and Wales, Mohammed. By the middle of this century, this is a projection, by the middle of this century, a majority of Austrians under the age of 15 will be Muslim. And it is single digit numbers of years ago that every one of those was unthinkable, is that correct?
Douglas Murray: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I smile because, I mean, I find it--
Peter Robinson: You're used to it.
Douglas Murray: I find it, if I didn't laugh I'd cry. I've done the crying. I mean, the point about this is that again, all of these things, you're meant to not notice. You're meant to not say it, either. You're meant to say, yeah, okay, so Mohammed happens to be the most popular boy name. What are you saying, bigot? What's wrong with that? Or they find ways around it. They say, no, no, no, it's just that we counted the Harrys in a different way that year and so on. All of these things, there has been an enormous cost that people have been made to pay if they observe what's in front of their eyes, and so we get used to this sort of just period of lying. And that's what we've been in.
Peter Robinson: What is the Orwell? It takes a great effort to see what is under one's nose?
Peter Robinson: All right, second concatenation, again, I'm quoting you, Douglas. At the same time that we've had this influx, at the same time, Europe has lost faith in its beliefs, traditions, and legitimacy. Europe is now deeply weighed down with guilt for the past, and there is also the problem of an existential tiredness and a feeling that perhaps for Europe, the story has run out and a new story must be allowed to begin. Okay, take us through that a little. Now, the German war guilt, that's clear. Britain seems to me to be a gift. So again, I'm speaking as an American, what was the Churchill movie that was just a big hit last year? We think of Britain--
Douglas Murray: Yeah, Darkest Hour, yeah.
Peter Robinson: Britain has no apologies to make, no reason to feel guilty. Niall Ferguson, other people who have looked at the British colonies, on balance, it's a transfer of human capital. They're not impoverishing the people of India, and it's on the contrary--
Douglas Murray: Much wealth.
Peter Robinson: Right, and so why would you include Britain? Britain's the hard case to understand why Britain should feel guilty or an existential fatigue.
Douglas Murray: There's several things. One is, the phenomenon, if you or I were to sum up all people across, say, Asia, as having responsibility for the same thing, people would say--
That's mad. You're not even picking out the important distinctions. You're being very generalizing. But you can do that with Europe. So, you can say, we did the Holocaust in Europe. You can even get away with that in London. Sorry, sorry, we? And then you take the other one, post-colonialism, which you refer to. Post-colonialism, and post-colonial guilt is suffered in almost equal measure by, for instance, Britain, which undoubtedly ran quite a lot of the world in the past, and Sweden, which did not. So, there's a strange thing that has emerged, which I try to explain in the book, where we end up summing up ourselves by our collectively worst moments. The flip side of that is, we look at everyone else only by their best. So, in recent years, for instance, we've heard an awful lot, certainly since 9-11, about the Islamic neo- Platonists. No one talked very much about the Islamic neo-Platonists until this last 20 years. But the Islamic world is best represented by the Islamic neo-Platonists, whereas Europe is best represented by Auschwitz. Well, here you get to one of the problems of this, is that we are--
Peter Robinson: That's just uninformed.
Douglas Murray: Yeah, of course it's uninformed. All of its’uninformed, and it's also imbibed by vast swathes of the public, and told to them by a huge amount of academics, the media, politicians, and others. I mean, there's several reasons for that, isn't there? I mean, one is that you can do that almost cost free, as a modern politician, can't you? It's like the endless apologies for historical acts. It can gain you something, but it costs you nothing. All you're doing is selling out and misrepresenting the past but you yourself might be able to polish a bit of your halo or burnish your reputation in some way. But this is just one element of this. This thing I describe as the sense of story running out, a couple of people have said, and I'm very glad they've pointed this out, that in some ways, it's the most reasonable part of the argument in my book. The immigration bit is important, and people should know about it, but this second bit, the us bit, what is it about us that would mean this all happened? Not many people have, I think, written about. Now, by the way, I'm very disturbed about this, because almost none of my critics, and there are some, sadly, but almost none of them pick up on this thing. Almost none of them, they go for me over the immigration, but they never pick up on this. I have not, to date, had one critic who said, you're wrong on the existential tiredness. You're wrong on that. Our best days are all ahead of us, any of that. I don't get any of that. And that's a disappointment, because I was rather hoping I would.
Peter Robinson: Well, all right. So, let's take a moment. Help me think it through, layman that I am, that I haven't thought about this in any great detail. So, what's the parallel? What's the parallel? I don't know, fifth century Rome? Collapse of civilizational self-confidence? They could, of course they could have kept the barbarians out of the city, but they permitted the city to be sacked for reasons that don't make any sense all these years later. And we get the same, you can see why Europe would have felt that the First World War was a catastrophe, Second World War is in some ways a reparation, and in all the years since the Second World War, the Germans have made this concerted effort to build a good society. There's been economic recovery of, across, of all kinds, and instead of feeling a sense of pride and accomplishment, it's just exhaustion.
Well-- Why? Why?
Douglas Murray: The why is this. Almost everything is still behind crime scene tape. You mentioned World War I, borders, okay? I was in the Middle East again recently, in the Middle East, most countries recognize borders to be a prerequisite for peace. If you don't have borders, you're in trouble. Europe thinks that borders are the cause of war. Okay, so that's just the beginning of geography problems. Move on. We had wars of religion before we had the wars of nation-states, some people forget that now, but it means that religion also is to the great extent behind crime scene tape. In the 20th century, it was Europe that came up with the two twin nightmares of fascism and communism. So, we're very distrustful of not just politics and political ideas, but the philosophy and possibilities that might lead to them. So, it leaves you in this position where absolutely everything is still a crime scene, and you're trying to work out how it happened, and that's why whenever anyone mentions something like borders, Angela Merkel and everybody else in any position of power hears, but the strong borders would be a reason we go to war again. That's what we did then. Mention, I mean, ideas, this is why European, I mean, this is a terrible thing to say for some philosopher friends, but European ideas, to a great extent, the philosophy has become a game. I'm not saying it hasn't in America as well. There's a lot of hermeneutical game. You can look at the game, but you can't play it because you daren't, because you know what you might go back to. I describe in the book, I had a sort of, just terrible moment of realization about this some years ago at a conference at Heidelberg, and I just realized, every single idea was off the table. Not only the ideas, the words. You couldn't say culture. I was in almost meltdown when I did. You can't use anything, because everything might make us do it all again. Well, it's not surprising, in that situation, that people would have a sense of weariness.
Peter Robinson: Is that a bit, is that something behind, again, you're having to explain all this to an American, but is there some connection between that and the drive toward a European Union?
Douglas Murray: Oh yeah.
Peter Robinson: That somehow other, we can escape our past by reinventing, we can dissolve our identity, we can dissolve our historical identity, we can wash away our historical guilt in this new entity?
Douglas Murray: There is that. There's also, by the way, I mean, I was in Berlin again the other week, and a German audience member pointed this out to me, that there is also the thing of, even in this stage, the Germans want to lead the way. They just want to lead the way in masochism and more. But the German instinct to dominate, even in the new era, is obviously still there. And also, the European Union provides something to do. I mean, I was having this debate a little while ago with a former Polish foreign minister who said, yes, we've got to keep moving. The EU has to keep moving, it's got to have purpose, it's endlessly onwards and onwards. And my view is that, as a skeptic of that particular project, is how about that it moves until the point at which you lose the public, for instance, how about that? But that's, of course, that's a mad, xenophobic British view, of course.
Peter Robinson: All right. You have a new book coming out. The book is entitled, "The Madness of Crowds: "Gender, Race, and Identity," and although you do not, I don't recall reading anything in the book that suggests you were thinking of it or you want readers to think of it as the second in a kind of bookend, one does, in many ways, follow on the other in my judgment. Quote, we are going through a great derangement. People are behaving in ways that are increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like, and simply unpleasant. And you examine the identity politics of gays, women, racial minorities, and trans. And the ways in which they're all mad.
Douglas Murray: Yes.
Peter Robinson: So gays, quote, "The Madness of Crowds." The single factor that has most clearly helped to change public opinion about homosexuality in the West has been the decision that homosexuality is in fact a hardware rather than a software issue, close quote. That's extremely striking when one's reading the book. Explain that.
Douglas Murray: I think this particular thing goes through each of them. Like everyone, I've been trying to work out why people have become so unhinged in recent years. It's not just social media. I go into some of that in the book, but it's, I think it goes something like this. We've tried to make the fruits of a liberal, ethical system into the foundations of one.
Peter Robinson: Okay, yes, yes.
Douglas Murray: So, for instance, gay rights, and which, I'm gay myself, supporter of gay rights, I think it's all good, but it's a great product of liberal rights, it's a hideous foundation for them. Same thing with, for instance, women's rights. Great supporter of women's rights, very glad it's happened, glad we're here rather than 100 years ago. But can it be the basis of a moral system or an ethical system? One of the reasons why I think we've been becoming deranged on this is precisely as you mentioned this hardware, software thing. The problem is something like this. One of the few things we can all agree on is that we shouldn't be mean to people because of something they can't help. It's one of the reasons why we dislike it when, for instance, somebody's rude about somebody who's disabled or taunts them about it. It's a horrible thing to do. Now, things that people can possibly affect we're iffy on. There's a question. Doesn't mean that we should be rude or unpleasant or anything else, but there's a, you're in different terrain. So most rights movements have moved towards this thing of born this way, the Lady Gaga view, as I say. Born this way--
Peter Robinson: Born this way means not my fault.
Douglas Murray: Not my fault. Crucially, a counter to lifestyle choice, and I think that lifestyle choice is something worth countering, in this occasion. But born this way says, nothing I can do about it, so be nice. And this has been adopted recently by the trans movement, which says, we are born trans. From childhood we're trans, so be nice. Now, I explain why this has happened with trans, it's fascinating, I think. But at the same time, we are making things that are undoubtedly hardware issues, gender, sex, into software. So, things we know are fixed--
Peter Robinson: Software meaning malleable, things that can be changed--
Douglas Murray: Malleable, can be changed.
By personal will, by cultural environment and stuff.
It's why the trans issue, by the way, which is such a minority of a minority issue has become so huge, because it's demanding two things simultaneously. It's saying something that we're not sure about is absolutely fixed and one of the very few things we are sure about, sex differences, for instance, is totally a choice. You can be a woman this hour if you'd like. And that sort of thing is deranging for a public, because it's asking us to take part in something we know to be a lie. And it is, among other things, enormously demoralizing to people to be made to lie.
Peter Robinson: And why should it be, why should it be that there is, it's almost as though there's no cultural immune system.
Douglas Murray: Mm, that's right.
Peter Robinson: That what would have been, what would have been scoffed at, laughed at, single digit number of decades ago, certainly would not have been championed by the BBC, now someone makes a claim, Douglas Murray would say, but that's not so, but you don't have any scientific evidence to suggest that at all. And the trans says, no, no, no, I was born this way, and you need to accept it and within 20 seconds, the BBC, that's an official position. Why?
Douglas Murray: Well--
Peter Robinson: What happened, what changed? What eliminated the cultural immune system to craziness? Am I being too overdrawn here?
Douglas Murray: No, no, you're understating it.
Peter Robinson: Oh, forgive me. Go ahead.
Douglas Murray: The first thing is, all the adults left the room. That's a big problem. It became increasingly hard, secondly, to hold concrete ideas up in public. People can sustain the most extraordinary abstract ideas, we see it every day, but they're finding it extremely hard to hold on to concrete ideas because the concrete idea can have a personification right in front of you in the age of social media. So, it's not, you're not talking about people in the abstract, the person is there. You're talking about this person, for instance. So, it's rather like borders. People find it hard to hold on to the hard concepts. But there are a whole set of other things as well. One is, and I think this is absolutely crucial, we shouldn't underestimate the move that has been played by what was a very fringe movement in academia that is now absolutely rampant across America and Europe, which is sometimes called social justice warriorism, sometimes called intersectionalism, and so on. We didn't take this very seriously, but it should be taken seriously in my view because it is probably the single idea, since the Cold War ended, that has made most headway and which makes the largest claims for itself. It is an attempt, this thing of, this is why, the endless thing, women, gays, race, trans, endless injection of these things into every single public discussion, every political discussion. The fact that, well, we had a defense secretary in Britain who had to resign a couple of summers ago because 15 years earlier, he'd been found to have touched a woman's knee and she asked if he would take his hand off her knee and he said, "Yes, of course," and he did. But 15 years later, he has to resign. The woman wasn't bothered at all. She was a journalist, said, "Told him I'd smack him "in the face if he ever did that again." But this stuff is--
Peter Robinson: So, Douglas, what--
Douglas Murray: The point is, it's everywhere, and the other thing, sorry-- No, no, of course.
It's even in, people have been saying to me for years, oh, but it's just, it's a bit of academia and you over-focus on that. It's just some West Coast liberal loopiness. No. Almost every multinational, every corporate, every government--
Peter Robinson: That's right.
Douglas Murray: They are all committed to this now, the commitment to being diverse, being absolutely woke, as we call it, on all of these issues, and the problem about it is, I think it's going to undo all the good that was done. And there are some very clear examples of that.
Peter Robinson: A building resentment?
Douglas Murray: Yes.
Peter Robinson: All right.
Douglas Murray: Take the obvious one, which I mention in the race chapter. It's taken, what, 50 years to move from Martin Luther King's central moral insight about the nature of somebody's character being the way you judge them not some characteristic like skin color--
Peter Robinson: Skin color does not matter. Character is all.
Douglas Murray: Exactly.
Peter Robinson: That's Martin Luther King, Jr.
Douglas Murray: Well, today, not so. There was a lecture given the other week at Boston University from an academic who is a George Washington University, I think, yeah, no, Washington State University. She gave a lecture in which she said, "People who judge people by the content of their character rather than their skin color are dangerous." Skin color is meant to be everything. And my God, we are hurtling there.
Peter Robinson: It's a total inversion. Total inversion.
Peter Robinson: All right, question. I'm about a generation older than you are, as best I can work it out. As I was coming up, the general feeling among sensible people, among conservatives, of whom I am one, but sensible people generally, I think, the general feeling was, young people go to university for four years, and yes, yes, yes, of course the universities are dominated by liberals, but the kids are smart enough to figure that out, and the moment they leave university, they get jobs, they start paying taxes, they go through what people have gone through for, the struggles of forming families and so forth. They become quite sensible. And you're saying, maybe yes, at one point, maybe not, but for sure, now, the universities are actually acting as transmission belts for lunatic ideas across the rest of the culture from universities to major corporations to the media.
And how did that happen? Again, universities really did used to be, sort of the crazy uncle. You'd send your children there because they could avoid the nonsense, and you humored them. Now they're dangerous.
Douglas Murray: Well, it goes back to, I think there's an extraordinary lack of courage in our cultures at the moment, and the simple courage to say what's true. And this has an extraordinary effect, because of course it means that if you're weighing up whether or not you should go with a mob mentality, a crowd mentality or something or not, if there's basically no benefit to telling the truth but there could be a huge personal cost to it, you just weigh it up. I mean, is it worth doing or not? Is it, if you saw what happened to Bret Weinstein at Evergreen College, who refused to take part in a racist endeavor that the college wanted everyone to take part in, which was to make all white people leave campus for the day. If you saw that he and his family ended up being drummed out not just of the university, but of town, and you were another academic who thought, I'm not sure I want to go in with this new era of race baiting that's disguised as anti-racism. And you saw what happened to Bret Weinstein, would you do what he did or not? Almost certainly not. And this isn't just because most academics are cowards, it's just that most people are. Most people aren't in a position in their lives, in their jobs, in their mortgage, or anything--
Peter Robinson: If you have a mortgage to pay or children to raise, right. And so that's--
You can't take risks.
Douglas Murray: Right, and that's why I mentioned somewhere in "The Madness of Crowds" that I discovered when I was writing it, from a friend in the British army that there's a British Army device called the Great Viper, which the American military also has, but it's a device, you pull on the back of a truck to a minefield, and you fire this missile, and it's got a long, long rope at the back filled with explosives, and it falls across the minefield very beautifully, and then explodes. And it can't clear the minefield, as a whole, but it can clear enough room for trucks to cross. And I said that the point of me writing "The Madness of Crowds" was to be this Great Viper. I want to try to clear a path for other people to be allowed to cross. Now, of course, the problem is, I don't know, my agent points out, we don't know if you survive that or not. The analogy made may be unwise, but I think that's what people need to do at the moment. We need to open up a path for sensible people to be able to say things about sex, the relations between the sexes and much more, that we all knew until yesterday.
Peter Robinson: All right. From "The Madness of Crowds," back to "The Strange Death of Europe." I have a question that I want to ask, but I'm afraid to ask it because I'm sure that it's so hugely politically incorrect.
Douglas Murray: Fire away.
Peter Robinson: All right. All right, I will. But this is just between the two of us.
Douglas Murray: Sure.
Peter Robinson: The madness that you just described, what do Muslims make of this when they watch all this? Their population is growing in Africa or the Middle East. I mean, what comes across to us every so often, videos and so forth, there will be some imam denouncing the West as decadent. But if decadence, if cultural decadence means anything, it means something pretty close to what you were describing.
Douglas Murray: Yeah, experimenting on children and--
Peter Robinson: Yes.
Douglas Murray: Yeah. And like making everything sexual, and yeah, yeah, of course. Of course, I mean, what I always think that--
Peter Robinson: But what I'm worried about is that conservatives find themselves edging toward the position of saying, well, you know those Muslims have a point.
Douglas Murray: Oh yeah, you can hear that already in Europe. You can hear people--
Peter Robinson: Oh, you can do it?
Douglas Murray: Oh yeah.
But they're very-- You can hear a little bit of it in America as well. Yes, it's not an attractive route to go down.
Peter Robinson: It is not.
Douglas Murray: And I would warn people--
Peter Robinson: It is not.
Douglas Murray: Against it, but my gosh, you can see people doing it. There was a school in Birmingham in England earlier this year, where lots of the parents protested outside the school because they didn't want their children to be taught about being gay in classes to teach children about sex education. And I know quite a lot of people, including social conservatives, who said, I don't know, which side should we be on? And look, if a culture pretends, this is a consistent thing in "The Strange Death of Europe" and "The Madness of Crowds." If a culture pretends that it is this cheap, ridiculous, highly sexualized, race-obsessed, totally evidently self-contradictory thing, then it's hardly surprising if it doesn't survive, and it doesn't particularly deserve to. My own view has always been that it's just absurd to think that this is the sum of what we've had, and that's the obscenity of this, really. And that's why I also, I say at the end of "The Madness of Crowds," that I want young people, in particular to get fast ways out of this, shortcuts out of this madness. And how to just get that out of your brain and get on to the life you need to live. And one of the things I keep coming back to is that we should have been asking this question much more all along these years of saying, compared to what? So, if there is a Muslim protest outside the kid's primary school, because they don't want them to learn anything about gay, find out what it is they do want, what it is that they do want, and if it is that they want Saudi mores on these sorts of things and punishments of, then that's as well to have that out, because then we can make a clear decision. But this is the case on all of them. When people tell us what a patriarchal and bigoted society we live in, and how terrible, and how there's a war on women and a war on gays and a war on trans and a war on blacks and a war on everybody and against everybody else, compared to when? Compared to what? Where's your place? Where's your nirvana? Because if you can't point to something that's at least semi-nirvana like, then I see no reason why we should try this wholly new experiment. In reality, what the people do if you say, compared to what, they tend to, in your country, as in mine, sort of reveal the foundations and say, you know, Cuban healthcare is particularly good, and so on. Actually, literacy standards in communist Russia were very, very impressive. So they give away what they really want, but that's the point is if we keep saying, compared to what, we know what we're running against and we know what they're trying to do, and at the moment, we're just in this fog of not realizing the seriousness and the specific nature of the attempts that are being made to totally undermine, rewrite, and destroy everything that I think people of any political direction in our countries would have thought of, until recently, as at least a pretty good deal.
Peter Robinson: I'm happy to say, but sorry to say that you've given me just another very powerful image that, okay, Douglas. Back to "The Strange Death of Europe," again, it's been two years since you published the book. Couple of questions on the way things have been going since. I quote the book though, to begin with. From the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 up to the late 20th century, the nation state had generally been regarded not only as the best guarantor of the constitutional order and liberal rights but the ultimate guarantor of peace. Yet this certainty has also ended. Central European figures like Chancellor Kohl of Germany in 1996 insisted, as long ago as 1996, insisted that, and here you quote Kohl, "The nation state cannot solve the great problems "of the 21st century," close quote. Okay, but Brexit and the recent European elections, discuss.
Douglas Murray: Well, Brexit was an attempt by the British public, a majority of the British public, to reassert their belief in the nation state. I voted Brexit, like most of my fellow countrymen, and I did so, I think, for the same reasons as most of them, which is that I thought we'd lost, we'd lost our understanding of how we were governed and that this was absolutely central. It's one of the reasons why we've had a pretty peaceful country, Britain, for some hundreds of years. Parliament was elected by the people, was accountable to the people, and if they let you down, you chucked them out. And this wasn't so with the European Union, we felt. And I know lots of people who think very differently to that, but most of us in Britain felt we didn't know how we were governed, we didn't know how to get rid of them, we didn't know who they were once they were put there, and we didn't know who put them there. So, the Brexit vote--
Peter Robinson: So, you'd say this is a, from the point of view of the argument in "The Strange Death of Europe," this is a hopeful sign. The British public, at least, are not remaining entirely supine.
Douglas Murray: Well, except that, immigration was a huge part of the Brexit vote because losing control of our borders was one part of the wider loss of control people were clearly objecting to. But I say, in the book, in advance of the Brexit vote that just because you have national autonomy does not mean that you might not make the same ludicrous decisions. I mean, we were perfectly able, under the Blair government, to have an appallingly lax immigration policy where 50,000 people were coming in every six weeks, which was the same number of Huguenots as came in in the 1680s. So, the numbers went up, thanks to the Labor government, and if you've got a Labor government like that again, then the numbers would go up like that again. And even a Conservative government's basically not been able to restrict the immigration very much in the UK. But yes, the Brexit vote was some kind, it was a shout of reassertion that we would like to be governed in the way that we thought we were governed.
Peter Robinson: Douglas, the last question, actually let me give you a quotation, and then a little vignette, let me tell you a little story and then hand it to you, and the quotation, again, is you, again, from "The Strange Death of Europe." Promised throughout their lifetimes that the changes were temporary, that the changes were not real, or that the changes did not signify anything, Europeans discovered that in the lifespan of people now alive, they would become minorities in their own countries, close quote. Now here's the little story I'll tell you. Ages and ages ago, when I was at Oxford myself, I knew Malcolm Muggeridge, the great British journalist. And Malcolm Muggeridge used to say that he often, used to say, surveying what he, even then saw as the decline of the West, used to say that he felt himself in the same position as a Roman in the fifth century. And he had a particular affection for Augustine, in North Africa, looking across the Mediterranean at the decline of the culture that he loved, and hearing about the sack of Rome. And yet, Augustine led a good life, as witnessed that he comes down to us as St. Augustine. So, the question is, you've said this is almost impossible to reverse, you've said that even this, the political movement, the populist movement of the recent years, it's very complicated, unlikely to get it quite right. So, if it's over, Douglas, if it's over, if in your lifetime it's over, how does Douglas Murray lead a good life? What is the definition, what components of fighting back, of resignation do right minded Europeans somehow or other reestablish some kind of analog to the Benedictine monasteries where they try to keep the culture alive? What will constitute a good life, if, as you argue, it all just winds down.
Douglas Murray: My own view is that it should, it should partly be done by living the life that we thought to be a good life until yesterday. We're very unlikely to come up with an entirely new definition or invention, very unlikely that we're going to invent new gods, very unlikely we're going to come up with new religions, very unlikely we're going to, we're sitting here in Florence, very unlikely we're going to be able to do anything this good again, so why don't we have the recognition of what a good life was that was very recognizable until yesterday? Now, that can't be done, Roger Scruton and I were talking about this recently, this can't--
Peter Robinson: Roger Scruton, the great conservative philosopher.
Douglas Murray: Yeah, this can't be done by a government diktat. It can't be done because the president of the United States or the prime minister of Great Britain says that it should be so. There are certain things they could not do that might make it easier, but this just comes from people. It comes from individuals and people leading by example. When I discussed many of the things that came up in "The Strange Death of Europe," sometimes people say to me, you seem, well, some people say, but you know, you don't seem as het up about it, and that must mean that you know that it's over, because otherwise you would be more--
Peter Robinson: Yes, there's a difference--
Douglas Murray: It would be fighting.
Peter Robinson: Between fight and resignation. There's a difference between those two.
Douglas Murray: And you work out, don't you, as an adult, what it's worth wasting yourself on, and at what points you should keep making and when you've made them enough, and when you've hit your head against that wall enough, and you just have to work it out. And I've said everything I can to try to warn my fellow countrymen and Europeans and Americans and others who've taken the book to heart, of what I think is happening. But I don't intend, I've done my best shot at it. And my own view is that after that, you have to live the life that you ought to live in the civilization you enjoy, and you see, it's more than enjoyment, obviously, isn't it? One of the problems, one of the things I wish one could communicate better to people is that all the things that they think are excluding people are not, they're offering people the best chance they'll ever have in their lives to get to civilization, or civilization to get to them. And when people rail against things like this city we're sitting in, think that it epitomizes capitalism and patriarchy and racism and more and more, I just think, I wish more people could take the attitude that I've taken throughout my life to these things, which is, you don't have to be tub-thumping, you don't have to be a wild flag raving patriot or anything like that. But your attitude should be gratitude. I mean, it's not as if this is nothing. The city we're sitting in is enough for a whole lifetime, and a very, very well-lived lifetime. And it's all there. All of the literature, the books, the art, the thought, the music, everything, it's there, and all you have to do is to reach out and take it and be part of it, and that seems to me, in this culture of hatred and this thing I go into in "The Madness of Crowds" of this just endless zero-sum hatred and bitterness and blame, it's just to turn that around and say, how about feeling grateful? Because what we have is a blip in human history to have the right to have, and we would be so damn stupid to give it away for nothing.
Peter Robinson: Douglas Murray, author of "The Strange Death of Europe," and "The Madness of Crowds," thank you.
Douglas Murray: Thank you.
Peter Robinson: For Uncommon Knowledge, through Hoover Institution and Fox Nation, I'm Peter Robinson.