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

1 Words

  nicked the tripwire  
  notched up to the odd  
  put yourself beyond the pale  
  shift mores  
  to strew  
  take on  
  kick up  
  mores of the age  
  left in the wake  
  rife with  
  racked with confusion  
  on the cusp  
  pivoted on a dime  
  amped off  
  to tar  
  crop up  
  childhood haunts  
  unsnap a onesie  
  cowed by  
  out of line  

2 Notes

2.1 we have been living through a period of more than a quarter of a century in which all our grand narratives have collapsed

2.2 It was inevitable that some pitch would be made for the deserted ground.

2.3 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.

2.4 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.

2.5 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.

2.6 Women want to know what it is that men are after, what they want and what – if anything – they might be feeling during the act of sex. These questions are a staple of conversation between friends and a source of unbelievable private concern and angst at some stage (sometimes all) of most people’s lives from adolescence onwards.

2.7 If there is any one thing in society that gets even close to matching the confusion and angst of women about men, it is of course the list of questions which men have about women. The subject of nearly all dramatic comedy is the inability of men to understand women. What are they thinking? What do they want? Why is it so hard to read their actions? Why does each sex expect the other to be able to decode their words, actions and silences, when no member of the opposite sex has ever been given a decoding manual for the opposite sex?

2.8 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.

2.9 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.

2.10 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.’

2.11 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.

2.12 At which point Peterson explained to him that the purpose of putting on lipstick and rouge is to simulate sexual arousal.

Not the main point though. The main one is to get power.

2.13 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

2.14 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.

2.15 traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression, is undermining men’s well-being’

2.16 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.

2.17 There is little enough recourse when old school journalism tramples across someone’s life. But on the internet there is not even a regulatory body to appeal to if your life has been raked over in this way.

Why would this be such a thing? Did this fired Google guy never find a new job? I believe he did.

2.18 Okay, the “students” protest and do not want to hear from some “figures”. Who cares? Who gives them a right to decide? A university fears losing the money the “students” pay to them? Or what?

2.19 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.

2.20 I need some sort of an agreeableness … testing? Sometimes I am able to argue. Sometimes not. Why?

2.21 Is it really necessary to lie in a mating game? I presume, it should be possible to make an alliance with your wife after you have been together for a while, but at first?

2.22 I need to record, otherwise I will forget it. I had a conversation with Olga Vorobiova (Vorobeika) about the studies of LARP, in Denna’s chat. And I told her an important thought: not everything can be investigated. Many things are just bound to be left unknown forever. Not because people are malevolent, rather because things get … dissolved into the substrate too fast. Because entropy doesn’t stop. Denying it is just not understanding physics.

2.23 highly politicized people are willing to interpret even extreme remarks from their own political tribe in a generous and forgiving light while reading the remarks of those in any opposing camp in as negative and hostile a light as possible

2.24 On his travels in America in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville noticed the significance of assembly in the United States – specifically that face-to-face meetings of the citizenry allowed them to remedy problems often before any other authority was needed.

3 Summary

3.1 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.