Imagine going to a doctor with a serious complaint. The doctor looks you over and eloquently describes your symptoms in minute detail.
“Yes, doctor,” you say. This is exactly how I feel. What is it? What caused it? And most importantly, what treatment do I need?”
“Well, I already told you what’s wrong with you,” says the doctor. “Do you want me to describe it again? As for what caused it, I guess it’s simply that you got tired of being healthy and decided to be sick.”
“But what should I do, doctor?” you beg. “It hurts real bad.”
“I’ll tell you exactly what to do,” the doctor responds, beaming. “It’s easy, really. Just stop being sick. You’ll feel better immediately. Do you need me to describe how good it will feel not to be sick?”
Murray’s book is very much like this. Murray narrates the self-destructive recent lunacies of the Left eloquently and in great detail. The BLM riots, the statue-toppling, the decolonization of the curricula, the cancellation of scientists and artists for imaginary offenses, the 2+2 controversy. It’s all recent enough for all of us but those suffering from short-term amnesia to remember vividly. You keep waiting for an explanation of why this is happening or a suggestion as to what to do. But none ever comes.
It’s wrong to cancel a 19th-century philosopher for a politically incorrect footnote. It’s wrong to police harpsichords for signs of white supremacy in their color scheme. It’s wrong to discuss the Western Civilization with endless venom and seething contempt. It’s wrong to use the word ‘white’ as a synonym for ‘despicable.’ A point comes, though, when this litany of well-known offenses against intelligence, decency and the West becomes frustrating. Yes, it’s bad but is our only response to serve as a mirror to the reality we don’t like? Other than that and some pouting about the double standard (“why aren’t Marx and Foucault held to the same standard as Kant and Hume?”), the books offers nothing of note.
Analysis and description are two different things. You do need to record the symptoms to come up with a diagnosis but at some point repeating the same symptoms stops making sense. In the end, Murray comes to imitate the very thing he denounces. He accuses but doesn’t propose any remedy that could solve the problem. I expected a lot more from this book and ended up disappointed.