Jack Walsh, First Year Mathematics Student.
Douglas Murray’s oeuvre has, until now, focused largely on critics of the Islamic faith and culture, believing it to present a threat to Western democracy. His new title, The Madness of Crowds, however, concerns itself with modern attitudes to gender, race and sexuality; conducted on the premise that in an attempt to compensate for historical inequality, as Murray argues, society has pivoted too far to the other side. In short, “there is a new layer of bias” in Western democracy.
Unfortunately, The Madness of Crowds deviates from Murray’s more considered, factual works in that it is undergirded by anecdotal evidence and a somewhat ironical assumption that he is correct. The Madness of Crowds begins with a recital of Nicki Minaj’s suggestive lyrics from ‘Anaconda’, complemented by a monotone description of its accompanying music video as an example of ‘Fourth Wave feminism’, with which Murray profoundly disagrees. While the opening chapter of the book is rather humorous and entertaining in pointing out the absurdity of modern culture, it fails to highlight Murray’s central point: that there is something wrong with current attitudes towards sexuality.
Murray later pivots to an interesting dialogue on homosexuality, questioning why it is considered politically correct to claim that homosexuality is considered to be a biological trait, rather than a psychological one. The author effectively concludes that if homosexuality is considered to be psychologically enforced, then it can be changed; something to which the LGBT community ostensibly do not take kindly. Murray points out: “If you joined the club, and then decided to leave it, you were never really in the club”. He attempts to solidify this argument with anecdotal evidence, pointing to an interview on Good Morning Britain in which a doctor was shouted down by Piers Morgan for offering therapy for anyone who wishes to live a homosexual life. Conveniently, Murray omits the countless examples of those who wish to live an openly homosexual life, but are unable to do so out of a crippling sense of fear and anxiety. Regardless, Murray’s contention unravels at its premise: while he suggests there is no conclusive evidence as to whether sexuality is biologically or psychologically driven, there is a mounting array of literature in favour of the former.
Possibly the highlight of Murray’s latest work is his criticism of companies’ attempts to ‘balance’ their employee demographics based on gender and race. In an intriguing reversal of the debate, he argues that women and people of colour in positions of power are likely to have originated in privileged environments, and that it is far more unlikely that an individual from a modest background, regardless of gender or ethnicity, will climb the corporate ladder. Rather than disputing the importance of a balanced workforce, Murray asks a far more pertinent question: why are these particular demographics considered the most important ones in which to achieve equity?
Murray’s dissatisfaction with current attitudes reaches its climax when discussing Google. His claim is that the search engine’s algorithms have ‘overcompensated’ for traditional imbalances. The focal evidence of this hypothesis is that while searching ‘white family’, the user receives several pictures of happy white families before instead displaying images of people of colour. This, Murray concludes, amounts to the fact that “People must be given a **** you, all in the interests of fairness of course”. Like the majority of his points in The Madness of Crowds, Murray’s evidence offers little more than humorous and trivial examples, which, it can be easily pointed out, pale in comparison to the scale of historical inequality along gender, ethnic and sexual lines.
The Madness of Crowds is designed not to convince readers who disagree with Douglas Murray, but to provide an echo-chamber for those who are already inclined to support his views. Unfortunately, therefore, his latest work is not driven by logic and careful analysis, but resentment and sense of indignation simmering beneath the book’s supercilious tone.