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

Douglas Murray is almost always worth reading – mostly because he has an ability to cut through the nonsense that prevails all around us. He did this in ‘The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity’ where he touched upon three subjects that were suffocating rational discussion in the West at the same time as leading a fissure of society along the lines drawn by a politics of identity.

‘The War on the West’ is neither better nor worse. It is better, in that it forms a more coherent whole from start to finish, following a single thread that brings the subjects of race, history, religion and culture together in a way that his earlier book felt more fractured. ‘The Madness of Crowds’ had a more original argument, engages in the three issues of gender, race and identity in more depth and is a precursor to Murray’s latest outing.

In some respects, he goes over old ground and engages less in an examination of the separate subjects, instead bringing them together as examples to demonstrate how the ‘West’ is being existentially attacked from within and how in order to preserve a society and way of life that supports such insider hari-kari, that it has to fight back to save itself from itself. So to speak.

Murray is aware that there is no other society today or in history that actively supports what is essentially social and cultural treason. There is no society that tolerates such a thing, let alone actively creates space for it to happen, and when it does, also amplifies it. This freedom and tolerance is at risk from within – not from the values of the West but from the dissenters who only exist because of those values.  The West is in danger of eating itself and sitting around the table are the dinner guests dining on a menu of race, culture, religion and history.  Murray notes how “I have come to think of racial issues in the west as being like a pendulum that has swung past the point of correction and into overcorrection … race is now an issue in all Western countries in a way that it has not been for decades. In the place of colour blindness, we have been pushed into racial ultra-awareness. A deeply warped picture has now been painted”

Murray also goes to lengths to highlight the intellectual dishonesty, as well as the moral flexibility of ‘the Left’ when it comes to excusing behaviour in their fellow travellers that is far worse than they would see a conservative strung up for. He comments on one of these heroes, Foucault, a man studied and celebrated in universities today. Fellow philosopher, Guy Sorman in 2021, revealed – or confirmed – what had been long rumoured about Foucault: that he used to pay young boys in colonial Tunis for sex in the late 1960s. This news informs why Foucault along with other French leftist intellectuals signed a letter seeking the age of consent be lowered to 12 in France.

“Like the double standards of Marx’s racism, this fact is suggestive. For it would surely be different if it had worked the other way around. If one of the twentieth century’s great conservative thinkers had been revealed to have travelled to the developing world in order to rape young boys on a tombstone in a graveyard at night, it might be considered suggestive. The political Left would likely be unwilling to let the issue slide by completely. Nor would they be willing to pass up the opportunity to extrapolate some extra lessons. They might say that this habit was revealing of a wider conservative mindset. That it revealed the pedophilic, rapist, racist tendencies at the heart of traditional Western thought. They might even try to point out that a while cultural movement or social tendency was tarred by association with this nocturnal and noxious habit. But with Foucault, no such thing happened.”

As happens in Ireland in relation to the religious, to the past, Murray sees the same irrational position being taken up around the world: “Raking over the past, and judging it as harshly as possible, seems to be so much easier than doing anything practical about problems that face us today”.


“With any and all other grand narratives collapsed, the religion of antiracism fills people with purpose and a sense of meaning. It gives them the drive and allows them to see where they are going. It allows them to imagine a perfectible upland toward which they and everyone else on earth might strive. It imbues them with confidence, and consolation, dividing the society they are in between saints and sinner in a way that gives them the illusion of great perception. Perhaps, most crucially, it allows them to war on what were their own origins. They appeal of this conflict should not be underestimated. It is a very deep-seated instinct, the instinct to destroy, to burn, and to spit on everything that has produced you. And of course, there is one final appeal. The opportunity to treat other people badly beneath the guise of doing good.”


Murray may be talking about the wider problem of the West coming under attack from itself, but it is still the specifics rather than the general that is most interesting – and concerning. Whether it is about cultural or historical revisionism, the narrative of decolonisation or anti-racism, it is impossible to side with the past without being subject to the same accusations. Murray’s perceptions help understand why there is such virulence toward the religious in Ireland, why the National Maternity Hospital ‘debate’ has been allowed to degenerate into such farce yet be given a prominent platform on television and print media; fuelling baseless claims and some disgraceful anti-Catholic hate bating from people who should really know better.

“This is the process by which everything from the past can be endlessly picked over, picked apart, and eventually destroyed. It can find no way of building. It can only find a way of endlessly pulling apart. So, a novel by Jane Austen is taken apart until a delicate work of fiction is turned instead into nothing more than another piece of guilty residue from a discredited civilisation”.

This tearing down, whether of culture, religion, or race, is the only means of building the new empire and new religion. Like communism, it has to continue to find new enemies in order to avoid looking at itself. Liberal journalists who dared to stand against their fellow travellers regarding the National Maternity Hospital, become just another enemy for the same group of people to tear down to further themselves or avoid looking at the house of cards they have built.

If there is a weakness, it is that Murray is deconstructing the deconstruction without offering a way out. But the way out is self-evident. It is to stand up for the past; to recognise that the past is what brought us to the present; to celebrate rather than tearing down; to stand up to the parasitic dishonesty that is taking over and ultimately destroying the civilisation on which it depends for its own existence.

The War on the West: How to Prevail in the age of Reason

  • Author: Douglas Murray
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins (28 April 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0008492492
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0008492496
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.9 x 3.1 x 24 cm


Dualta Roughneen

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