A notes file for reading “The Madness of Crowds” by Douglas Murray

1. Notes

1.3. The Royal College of Psychiatrists considers that sexual orientation is determined by a combination of biological and postnatal environment factors.’

‘There is no evidence to go beyond this and impute any kind of choice into the origins of sexual orientation.’

It is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent in a person’s life. Nevertheless, sexual orientation for most people seems to be set around a point that is largely heterosexual or homosexual. Bisexual people may have a degree of choice in terms of sexual expression in which they can focus on their heterosexual or homosexual side. It is also the case that for people who are unhappy about their sexual orientation – whether heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual – there may be grounds for exploring therapeutic options to help them live more comfortably with it, reduce their distress and reach a greater degree of acceptance of their sexual orientation.

1.4. American Psychiatrist Association: kinda same thought: homosexuality is something totally obscure.

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

1.5. Douglas is speaking about the “Hardware vs. Software” issue.

This debate is very close to myself. My life in Edinburgh was incredibly miserable. Why? I am an “industrious man”. I love what I do. I love learning. I love research. I love trying new things and I like trying foreign cultures.

Why did I feel so horrible, miserable and inefficient in Edinburgh? Why is it that I only managed to switch to the production mode in Russia, and even more in China?

Is it hardware or software?

It seems to me that “nurture” and “environment” cannot be classified as purely “hardware” or software. “Firmware” perhaps? I am not sure though.

1.8. All women have something that heterosexual men want. They are

holders, and wielders, of a kind of magic. But here is the thing: gays appear in some way to be in on the secret. That may be liberating for some people. Some women will always enjoy talking with gay men about the problems – including the sexual problems – of men. Just as some straight men will always enjoy having this vaguely bilingual friend who might help them learn the other language. But there are other people for whom it will always be unnerving. Because for them gays will always be the people – especially the men – who know too much.

1.9. The utility of such groups is obvious: their ‘highly diverse struggles:

urban, ecological, anti-authoritarian, anti-institutional, feminist, anti- racist, ethnic, regional or that of sexual minorities’ give purpose and drive to a socialist movement that needs new energy. What is more, unless they cohere together these groups might just pursue their own agendas and their own needs. What is needed is to bring all these movements under one umbrella: the umbrella of the socialist struggle.

1.10. Laclau and Mouffe write of ‘what interests us about these new social

movements’ and explain how it ‘leads us to conceive these movements as an extension of the democratic revolution to a whole new series of social relations. As for their novelty, that is conferred upon them by the fact that they call into question new forms of subordination.’

1.11. An example of a shitty sentence.

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural tonalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

1.13. an example of people deliberately and lazily adopting simplified misrepresentations of

what other people are saying in order to avoid the difficult discussion that would otherwise have to take place

1.14. The confusion that Nicki Minaj acts out here is representative of a

whole host of other things in our culture. It contains an unresolvable challenge and an impossible demand. The demand is that a woman must be able to lap-dance before, drape herself around and wiggle her ass in the face of any man she likes. She can make him drool. But if that man puts even one hand on the woman then she can change the game completely. She can go from stripper to mother superior in a heartbeat. She can go from ‘Look at my butt, waving in front of your face’ to ‘How dare you think you can touch the butt I’ve been waving in front of your face all this time.’ And it is he who must learn that he is in the wrong.

1.16. The survey found that only 9

per cent of British women used the word ‘feminist’ to describe themselves. Only 4 per cent of men did. The vast majority of people surveyed supported gender equality. In fact a larger number of men than women supported equality between the sexes (86 per cent versus 74 per cent). But the vast majority also resisted the ‘feminist’ label.

1.19. Why cannot we still buy some robot that would grow us food at the window?

Like, I do not eat that much stuff. Could I just buy a robot shelf, stock it with fertilisers, connect to a wire, and be done with it? It may even be outside of the city, and would send me food with a drone.

2. Summary

2.1. So far I have found several things that Murray constantly ignores.

  • The unimaginable hardness to fit your own standards in the world where everyone sees everyone. Part of this madness is due to the fact that in the past everyone could carve for himself a place where he could be a “king”. That was a family and a circle of friends. Now you have the whole world to compete with.
  • The hardly imaginable hardness to reach any decent level of proficiency in anything. Too many academics know nothing, but are still academics. And the whole life is not enough to learn what is required for an academic to be an academic. And the competition for the positions in fields that are less complicated is billions per place.
  • The thing with discussing the “trans” issue is that many people don’t care about it. One of the things with “public discussions” is that they do not represent anyone.

<2020-09-13 Sun 22:00> I have finished the book. It left me thinking. I do now really understand whether this book leaves the feeling of optimism or pessimism. It does leave the feeling that learning social sciences, and more importantly, learning how to … be an adult. Learn things that adults do and how real adults make decision by books and by choosing a referential group.

Learning Chinese in a proper way is becoming more and more urgent. Reading Derrida, Foucault, Chomsky and other people who contributed to confusion a lot is also important. And perhaps the opponents deserve more attention than friends. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Gays are dangerous beasts. A couple of gays defeats a heterosexual couple at almost anything easily. (As the swan example indicates vividly.)

I do have a female-ish component that needs to be addressed somehow. Is there a cheap cheaty way out of it? Without much effort? Perhaps just some male beauty services?

I guess, I will not publish a review of this book.

Twitter culture is very, very specific. Be careful about it.

3. Words

  1. dementing :: in political, societal context — forgetting
  2. nicked the tripwire :: to nick mean touch lightly
  3. put yourself beyond the pale :: “beyond the pale” means to be outside the bounds of acceptable behavior, morality, or propriety (originally the Pale was the fence between Ireland under English rule and the rest of Ireland)
  4. shift mores :: “mores” refers to the customs, norms, and behaviors that are accepted as standard or conventional
  5. to strew :: means to scatter or spread things untidily over a surface or area
  6. fraught :: full of tensions, stress, and anxiety, usually about some social situation
  7. avowals :: open and honest statement affirming something (see vow)
  8. volubly :: speaking fluently, quickly, or readily
  9. demeaning :: behavior or treatment that is disrespectful or degrading
  10. unfurl :: unroll or unfold something, like a flag of a scroll
  11. punters :: British English for “customers”
  12. unflustered :: opposite of “flustered”, who is nervous, agitated, and confused
  13. whacky-backy :: British English for marijuana
  14. Jewess :: an outdated, slightly derogatory term for a Jewish lady (Russian жидовка)
  15. tribulations :: severe trials or sufferings; difficulties or troubles.
  16. snigger ::
  17. twitchy ::
  18. wracking ::
  19. scorn ::
  20. confrères ::
  21. forbearance ::
  22. take on ::
  23. kick up ::
  24. opprobrium ::
  25. whiplash ::
  26. hitherto ::
  27. tedium ::
  28. mores of the age ::
  29. left in the wake ::
  30. quibbles ::
  31. dowdy ::
  32. pulpit ::
  33. tout ::
  34. knock-on ::
  35. emblazoned ::
  36. asinine ::
  37. equanimity ::
  38. imbibe ::
  39. assail ::
  40. gobbledygook ::
  41. smattering ::
  42. rife with ::
  43. Slink ::
  44. midriff ::
  45. segue ::
  46. witter ::
  47. racked with confusion ::
  48. umpteenth ::
  49. imbibed ::
  50. lip-service ::
  51. tut-tut ::
  52. mangy-looking ::
  53. let-off ::
  54. risible. ::
  55. ineluctably ::
  56. leg-up ::
  57. heave-some ::
  58. tenuous ::
  59. discern ::
  60. compunction ::
  61. on the cusp ::
  62. pivoted on a dime ::
  63. surreptitiously ::
  64. anti-miscegenation ::
  65. imbroglio ::
  66. peroration ::
  67. regurgitate ::
  68. foment ::
  69. atone ::
  70. lampoon ::
  71. imbibe ::
  72. umpire ::
  73. condescension ::
  74. fad ::
  75. encroaching ::
  76. castigated ::
  77. dalliances ::
  78. ire ::
  79. surmised ::
  80. amped off ::
  81. mushing ::
  82. plaudits ::
  83. indignant ::
  84. porcine ::
  85. ordure ::
  86. slurry ::
  87. to tar ::
  88. crop up ::
  89. abasement ::
  90. schadenfreude ::
  91. quagmire ::
  92. recourse ::
  93. frailty ::
  94. rumbustious ::
  95. sidles ::
  96. qualms ::
  97. transpire ::
  98. aggravation ::
  99. flay ::
  100. opprobrium ::
  101. pugilist ::
  102. flicking ::
  103. pouting ::
  104. childhood haunts ::
  105. stand-in ::
  106. flaunt ::
  107. adumbrate ::
  108. unsnap a onesie ::
  109. doozy ::
  110. cowed by ::
  111. out of line ::
  112. vying ::
  113. derange ::
  114. animosity ::
  115. cuttlefish ::
  116. prelapsarian ::
  117. coy ::
  118. nixed ::
  119. frailties ::
  120. unruffled ::