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October 26, 2005

Neoconservatism: why we need it - a talk to the Manhattan Institute by Douglas Murray

Posted by Douglas Murray

In 2000 Douglas Murray's biography of Lord Alfred Douglas - Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas - was published to critical acclaim. The Social Affairs Unit is soon to publish Douglas Murray's new book, Neoconservatism: Why We Need It. Today he addressed a lunch at the Manhattan Institute in New York on the subject of his forthcoming book. The views expressed in Douglas Murray's talk are his own, not those of the Social Affairs Unit, its Trustees, Advisors or Director.

I haven't been in New York since the fall of 2000, when I was visiting this city to promote my first book. On the last day I was here, I visited a friend at her office on the top-most floors of the World Trade Center and looked out in awe over this great city.

The assault on those towers proved the first in a now long line of attacks leveled against the free world. From Bali to Istanbul, from Madrid to my home city of London, the last four years have woken the West to a monumental threat to us and our future. At least they woke some of us up.

Because we have a two-pronged problem here. One prong (obviously enough to my mind) is the creed of Islamic fascism - a malignant fundamentalism, woken from the dark ages to assault us here and now. But the other prong is entirely here - at home - among otherwise pleasant-enough people who pretend we don't have a problem, or pretend that problem is other than it is.

Thankfully we have, in Britain and America, professional and highly-trained armies who can wage a war which has so far, in Iraq and Afghanistan, lost us not a single face-to face exchange with the enemy. The enemy cannot win in such a war it knows that. And it has made a calculation. What it knows is that if it is to win, it will win not on the field of battle, but on the field of ideas, within our cities, inside our culture.

And this is our problem. For we live, as Saul Bellow put it, in a thought culture but it is one in which the thought has gone bad. The thought has gone so bad that in vast swathes of the West, in much of Europe, and to a lesser though growing extent in this country, there are people who are losing us this war. They are the product of a uniquely destructive strand of Western thought: that thought is relativism.

In his homily to the College of Cardinals before being elected Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger fingered this rot at the core of western thought when he identified what he termed the "dictatorship of relativism", a theory and a mode of thought which as he said:

recognizes nothing definite and leaves only one's own ego and one's own desires as the final measure.
The West is now swamped by this notion. In our domestic politics it is epitomised by the nightmares of moral equivalence and political correctness. It is also of course at the root of the barren and - as thinkers as diverse as Fukuyama and Huntington have put it - innately anti-Western creed of multiculturalism. It holds that all things are equal which would of course be fine if they were: but they are not. The good cannot be equated or judged equal to the bad, nor should the sublime be leveled alongside, or tarred by, the ridiculous.

The practice of equivalence in our national politics leads governments not to listen to, but to fear minority opinion, concerned lest anyone get the impression that the government knows what's right for the majority who have elected it. Not only does it make politics a glorified (though not glorious) pursuit of the personal it makes the notion of fixed or natural right a nonsense. Because of course if everything is equal then everything is right: which means nothing is good or true.

I said earlier that much of this bad thought is committed and permitted by perfectly pleasant people. This is true. The impetus to follow relativistic arguments is perfectly understandable. In Europe we are afraid that to note difference is to make moral judgement, and Europeans are still wary enough of their recent past to fear the consequences of asserting any moral or cultural right. America too suffers this creeping distrust of natural right, and the elevation of nihilistic philosophies into permissible and comparable moral choices. So what people do when they accumulate this mode of thought, is to think that they are doing the good, being nice, or tending toward the generous.

What they are actually doing is magnifying the bad within our society, continually undermining our right to assert ourselves as more than individuals, eroding our right to act for the good and right by saying that the good and the right are at best - in the eye of the beholder. We know, I trust, where this element leads. It leads to otherwise nice enough populations in the West pondering for instance that perhaps the millions of people across the Arab and Muslim worlds just don't want democracy, or that dictators and tyrants are perhaps misunderstood men who receive a bad press. It leads, that is, to a tolerance of totalitarianism, and benevolence towards the malignant.

Which if we faced no external threat, might not be a problem. But it is a problem because we now face a profound and targeted threat to our way of life. As I say and remember this the enemy cannot defeat us on the battlefield. Defeat in Iraq or anywhere else is impossible if we have the will. Defeat will come if it comes from within.

And the number of people who will help that come about is striking. Not everyone aids the enemy tangibly in fact relatively few do. It's always disappointing though at this stage shouldn't surprise us when second and third generation Muslim immigrants graduate from Western universities, play cricket or are nice to their moms, yet still go off to execute reporters in Pakistan, murder our soldiers in Iraq or walk onto a London bus with a wired rucksack.

But these people even were they ten times their already worrying number are a fringe problem who we can hunt-down and expel if we have the will. Nor is the worst problem the demagogic and fascistic Galloway-like figures who always prop up dictators and save their venom for democracies. The problem isn't even the John Pilgers and Tariq Alis and Arundhati Roys who spend their days justifying or openly backing the terrorists and their evenings pretending to feel pity for the mothers of the soldiers their cowardly heroes just murdered.

Our central and most common problem comes from the people of the West who perfectly understandably don't want a fight and so pretend there isn't a fight, or who don't want there to be a problem, and so pretend there isn't one. In other words, our central problem comes from those whose good instincts are ridden over and used against them by people who wish them monumental ill. The problem (as in Spain) are the swathes of people who believe that the enemy can be appeased or wished away, who think inaction is not itself a form and mode of action, and who even when they don't talk weak, think weak.

In the face of popular misunderstanding and widespread incomprehension of the cultural and actual wars which we are now in, neoconservatism is, I believe, the only philosophy which can stand up against these threats the moral and practical threats. For in both domestic and foreign policy, neoconservatism centres on natural right, moral clarity and the defense of - and exporting of - what is good in our culture.

Neoconservatives have been famously described by their godfather, Irving Kristol, as:

liberals who've been mugged by reality.
Nowadays I would say that we are certainly more liberal in the classical sense of the term, than many old-style conservatives, but we are also more likely to look at the world with a realpolitik honesty which many conservatives not to mention leftists look on with suspicion. I would say therefore, that though we are classically liberal-minded, we look at the world through realist spectacles, seeing the world as it is, but all the time acting in the world to fashion it as we would like it to be.

The ideal neoconservative moments are therefore those moments when our moral desires coincide with our realpolitik needs. Which is of course what makes Iraq the perfect neoconservative cause: the liberation of that country not only being a desirable thing in and of itself, but a vital if continually challenging - project for regional and I believe - global security.

I argue am indeed the first to argue sustainedly for the implementation of neoconservative policy in Britain and Europe. I still don't know (though I'll keep you posted) just how badly this is going to go down at home. Europe is hostile to a degree beyond description not only to American foreign policy, but to any remotely conservative ideals. No scrap that Europe is hostile to ideals, period. Not of course the ideals which sound nice peace, integration, sharing, sunshine and so on. But tangible ideals, ideals which require more than verbal support - such as security, democracy or freedom.

Europe has used up its peace dividend. The holiday from reality it had for half a century during which it spent money on welfare whilst America protected its security, is now over comprehensively so. Europe not only has unsustainable demographic issues which if un-addressed - will eradicate the continent as we know it within three or four generations. It also has security issues, not least those associated with its unameliorated populations and its increasingly inefficient armies. And then there are the democratic issues centered around the European Union (which, in spite of the populace, every European government supports) which is dedicated to keeping decisions from the people, removing the tiresome populace from the complexities of governance.

In Britain we have a conservative party which seems incapable of standing up for conservatism, and a left-wing party of government which pretends to be conservative even whilst systematically undermining every imaginable conservative cause. What we need is a neoconservative explosion of freedom at home as much as abroad.

At home the people of Britain and Europe need freeing from their restrictive and ever-increasing tax-burden. The idea of the inevitable rise of taxes in Europe is that the government knows best how to spend your money. In my opinion, government is almost uniquely bad at this task, and I for one would rather hand my money to a child with attention deficit disorder than a European government with good intentions. And the few things which it is government's job to provide like security go so notably unprovided by current European governments, that any citizen should feel entitled to request a full and complete rebate on any taxes paid.

New laws are created in Brussels on a daily basis which consign the innocent as much as the criminal to a petty tyranny of degrading state interference. The benefits system which costs us so much requires a degree in bureaucracy from the poor who are actually in need of its benefits, whilst people who desire or deserve no boon are given hand-outs from the state which they paid for in the first-place, and which have been returned to them only in the most diminishing of senses.

It is unsurprising - given their political leftist stagnation at home - that many Europeans don't quite understand what all the fuss is about regarding freedom abroad. If you were brought up to think European welfare culture is freedom, no wonder you wouldn't want to inflict it on other nations. Giscard d'Estaing-ism never had quite the riff or whiff of freedom about it.

As I see it, there are two opposing stands which exist in our culture with fundamentally opposing visions of the human spirit. First there is the vision which now holds sway in my country that we are beings who should have lip-service paid to our nobility but who are actually treated with suspicion and wariness. Our instincts as an electorate are suppressed by ruling elites who distrust what the voice of the people might say if ever asked something.

On the other hand are those of us who believe that the human story and the human heart dictate their own eternally messy and divergent course and need guidance in this course. We recognize that we are less than kings, yet more than conquerors, and that the call of our time, as much as it was for our forefathers, is to allow others both here and abroad to begin treading the same ever-imperfect path.

Freedom without security certainly makes tyranny and demagogy appealing. This has always been the case. Neoconservatism at least favours the placing of our imperfect natures onto the right track. And this project which is only partially underway is not an experiment, and certainly not a frivolous experiment. We believe that the human spirit is called to freedom like a magnet drawn towards its home. We are not only right but noble in assisting others to find their way home.

In the West we are in a dangerous even perilous impasse, though. Our culture is being assailed at the very point at which it is expressing itself at its weakest. It is the job of neoconservatives to fight new and perhaps even more bitter culture wars than those which they have fought before. But with knowledge of what we have behind us, we will not lose. The people who will lose this war are those who think the West should be defended not on the good, but on the crass - on cultural waste, and nihilistic detritus.

Much is made, at the moment, of the exporting of democracy and this is more than right. But if we export democracy and sell ourselves short with a message of "see what you can have: MTV and rap music" - then we should not expect to have our message listened to. Our message should be listened to because what we have to offer to our own people in the West and to those on other shores is a message of liberation. As such, our message should be adapted and expressed with greater confidence and forcefulness than it has so far been. For we must accept and express the fact that democracy is the means by which the soul is freed, but only the beginning of the means by which the soul can be fulfilled.

In Britain and Europe, our political position is at such a low ebb that the only way is up. In America you have, I believe for the first time in political philosophy, shown the way to the continent from which you hail. They say that prophets are not recognised in their own land. That may be true to an extent with neoconservatives in America, though I guess they can deal with that. But it's a pleasant task to be able to say to you today, that even if they're not appreciated in their own land, America's political revolutionaries are recognised and are the subject of loud thanks, abroad in lands in which freedom already reigns and in lands in which the cry has only just gone up.

Douglas Murray is a bestselling author and freelance journalist. His book - Neoconservatism: Why We Need It - will shortly be published by the Social Affairs Unit.

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So this is the Douglas Murray who famously published his first book, Bosie while he was still a 20 year-old student at Magdalen, Oxford. I always wondered what happened to you if you were such a wunderkind. You move from writing a biography of Oscar Wilde's gay lover amd being a darling of the litterati to being a book which seems almost designed to drive these self-same people to an apopleptic rage. What a shift, what fun!
What I want to know is, is Douglas Murray for real, or is itall a tease to upset literary London.

Posted by: Jane at October 26, 2005 11:03 PM

After some quick googling I discovered that Douglas Murray was voted in 2003 - by Scotland on Sunday - one of Scotland's most eligible bachelors. The other four in the top five spots were Big Brother star, Cameron Stout,
actor James McAvoy, pop star Darius Danesh, and Prince William. The words "think tank" and "hunk" do not normally go together. As for "hunk" and "neoconservative", the mind boggles. Are there any photos available? Can any girls who have seen Douglas Murray furnish reports - is there really such a thing as a conservative wunderkind who is a dish?

Posted by: Toni at October 27, 2005 03:58 PM

I fear that Douglas Murray's analysis of our state is only too true. But I would like to ask two questions:

(1) Am I being misled by the media, in associating neo-conservatism with the present Republican ascendancy? This seems to be led by a man, a bit short on the broccoli perhaps, whose thinking is done for him by thugs, slugs, and cronies. (Not that I at all favour the other side, which seems to be hell-bent on inflicting the problems of Hollywood on the whole of the USA).

(2) If neo-conservatism is a philosphy, does that not a priori spell failure? I am now part way through reading Calculus Gems, whose author shows with devastating clarity how philosophy dragged down the true brilliance of the Ancient Greek mind, seen at its best in their mathematics. Moreover Paul of Tarsus had to warn his Colossian readers:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

It took well over a thousand years before Martin Luther released religion from the clutches of Aristotle, and physics escaped from his philosopical speculations through the efforts of Galileo. And all too soon, Kant and Ko. raise their ugly heads, and we're out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at October 28, 2005 09:05 PM

Am I the only who suspects the two comments thus far posted to be by friends of Mr Murray or even, dare I say it, the man himself?

Posted by: jim mcqueen at October 29, 2005 02:47 AM

I sympathize deeply with Mr. Murray's stance but totally disagree with his statement that:

"In Britain and Europe, our political position is at such a low ebb that the only way is up."

My bet is that such optimism stems from his and other neocons' basically optimistic liberal outlook created through their intellectual environment. It's entirely logical for him to move from the Bosie book to neoconservatism as he was confronted by 911. Another liberal mugged by reality.

Another outlook, one shaped by a serious study of human history might lead one to a more pessimistic outlook. Things can actually get worse in Europe and the US, and they are likely to do so as people will not turn to Mr. Murray's policy solutions. Remember that 99% of human history was barbarism and of the remaining 1% most was conformism (as the Bosie book shows). I think conformism has a tendency to decline into barbarism, but we'll see.

That said, Mr. Murray's stance is heroic and against conformity. I admire him for that.

Posted by: Marc at October 30, 2005 08:33 AM

I think Mr Murray's text was pretty good. He seems to exhibit a lot of courage of conviction in his own personal history by his remarks on cultural relativism vis a vis his first book. In relation to Islam, individual conscience appears to be non-existent. For example, as I understand it, you must convert to Islam if you want to adopt an Islamic child. Later on, years later, if you have a change of heart and renounce this faith a mullah can issue a fatwah against you and the faithful may execute you for the sin of apostasy. I believe this to be correct unless someone with more knowledge can enlighten me. So much for individual conscience.

Posted by: Alan Wald at October 30, 2005 10:13 AM

It is said that the Ancient Persians discussed every question twice, once when they were drunk and once when they were sober. You've had the drunk version, now for the sober one:

I've asked several times on this site for someone on the neoconservative side to explain - simply - what neoconservatism actually is. That is probably too difficult a question, so I will simplify matters. Could Douglas Murray please tell me enough to persuade me that it might be worthwhile directing some of my limited book money towards his forthcoming book?

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at October 31, 2005 07:12 PM

After watching the spending patterns, military strategy, domestic security strategy and rhetoric of Mssrs Bush and Blair, would Dr Murray kindly tell us in which way this is not National Socialism?

Posted by: s masty at November 1, 2005 02:06 PM

The US neo-conservatives - sadly with British help - have destabilised Iraq just as the Russians established Afghanistan and we will all be worse off because of it. How can this help fight the fanatics? Well, it wont, it will make more of them as any sensible person can see. I am not a yellow bellied liberal - I cite various British Generals in my support.

Murray thinks the US cannot fail but win the military battle but I would argue he's wrong there too because the US has lost both the military battle and - importantly - the battle for hearts and minds. A few lightly armed men in Iraq have revealed US weakness by tying down their army and making most of the country a no-go area. American soldiers now realise that they are not wanted in Iraq - despite what they were told - and their moral is at rock bottom. Even the US goverment can't wait to get out. Is this the military victory Murray talks about? And why has the US lost the battle of ideas? If he doesn't know then someone should tell him.

Luckily Mr Murray is only a writer who yields little political influence. Or is a cynic and wants to make a few bob out of the Americans who are the only ones who will read his book. I don't buy his ghastly ideas and wont buy his book.

Posted by: D Boulding at November 15, 2005 12:08 AM

Mr Olley, you ask what is neo-conservatism. Well you should beware equating it with true conservatism or paleo-conservatism as it is now called - it is nothing of the sort. They are basically a bunch of ex-Trotskyites who moved to the Republican Party in the 80s and 90s. Their founding father was the German-Jewish classicist and philosopher Leo Strauss, who established the founding principles of this new creed as unending support for Israel, immigration and big government - all anathema to true conservatives. And in the 70s and 80s it stayed a largely fringe Jewish movement with its magazine being the Commentary, the magazine of the American Jewish Commitee. Even today its main philosophers and practictioners are Jewish for example in Government Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Lewis Libby, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, Douglas Wurmser etc. and in the media Charles Krauthammer, Irving and Bill Kristol, Norman Podhoretz - need I labour this point any further. And that is probably why many of its main principles like opposition to a Palestinian state and support for immmigration are typically jewish ones. And no this is not anti-semitic as evidenced by the fact that many Jews actively recognize this and celebrate it like Murray Friedman in his new book 'Neoconservatism: How Jewish intellectuals changed the course of US foreign policy'.

Posted by: j smith at November 15, 2005 01:15 PM

Leo Strauss was not a neo-conservative, he did however indirectly provide neo-conservatism with impeccable intellectual artillery against the prevailing dogma of historicism and relativism. It is true that Strauss supported Israel's existence, but he did not ever give it a blank cheque of support, let alone unending support. He never talked about immigration nor gave his approval of big government. Strauss is useful for destroying relativism and historicism, this usefulness is not confined to those who support neoconservatism.

Posted by: David McBryde at December 15, 2005 07:22 AM

Mr. Murray, it is clear that you are exceedingly intelligent, but nevertheless unwise. As a practical matter, it would seem that Saddam Hussein's methods were vastly more successful at holding radical Islam in check than has been any Western attempt. What is the evidence therefore that suggests the moralists of the West can succeed in defeating radical Islam by repetitious use of tactics that, to date, have utterly failed? Or to paraphrase Einstein, why should one not be suspicious of claims for a new result to be won by repeating tactics that have failed in the past.

Posted by: Newt Fawcett at September 4, 2006 07:49 PM

I saw Murray on Qustion Time BBC 1, I have seen so many Bull Shitters on TV I was overjoyed, lets see and here more of him I will buy every book he writes. he made the rest look small town commitee members. GO FOR IT MURRAY you are MINT

Posted by: Phill Dougan at April 26, 2007 11:24 PM

Douglas Murray is a man of little common sense enveloped in his own little fascist minded world. Not a man of words more a man of rants. A laughable cartoon like character of the old public schoolboy days, ("Lets put some wickets to rest, have some tea then we will give those damn ruskies (Muslims) something to think about!"). I find it laughable that people with such low brain activity find themselves in the public eye. I rate Jordan to be more mentally challenging than this public schoolboy baffoon !

Posted by: joe fagan at April 27, 2007 12:08 AM

I also saw Douglas Murrey on Question
Time and thought what an arrogant fool.
He interrupted others consistently while having had an opportunity to express own his views. Some dissent is expected but we want to here all arguments not just his. I googled him to see what bottom of the barrel they had scraped him up from and I immediately understood his arrogance. He is a Neo-Con who thinks they know better than the rest of us and try to impose their views by shouting louder. Thank God they are on their way out here and in the US.

Posted by: S Ramanathan at April 29, 2007 07:49 AM

Having seen Douglas Murray on Question Time too, I would say his 'arrogant' performance was well worth watching. Douglas Hurd shouldn't show his face in public again considering what the Bush/Major governments did to the Shiite/Kurdish uprising in 1991 and what they failed to do in Bosnia. Lib Dem David Laws and the joker from Plyd Cymru offered nothing in the Iraq debate other than glib sarcasm, irony and a policy for continued sectarian violence and surrender.
I've also read Murray's book and watched him humiliate the terrorist apologist Ken Livingstone, in a debate in London. Unfortunately for Murray's critics, it is they who seem to lack 'common sense' and have 'low brain activity'.
Perhaps if they actually read his book (instead of judging it by a TV appearance) or listened to opposing viewpoints (rather than using ignorant labels like 'fascist'), they might actually learn something and make a worthwhile contribution to the debate.
As for 'a Neo-Con who thinks they know better than the rest of us'. How is this so? Because he advocates a strong policy against Islamic irredentists and totalitarian dictatorships? As oppossed to the liberal/left in Britain, who have capitulated to anti-American hatred and moral relativism?
I'm not part of your 'us'. I might not agree with Murray's domestic policies, but as a liberal, I certainly agree with an anti-totalitarian and morally clear foreign policy which promotes democracy and defends civilized values.
And as for the neoconservatives being 'on their way out', people have been predicting that for decades. Bush, Cheney, Rice etc aren't even neoconservatives anyway. (It's amazing what garbage some people will believe from the Guardian or the hateful mouth of Mr Galloway.)
Neoconservatism isn't a group, movement, cabal or administration. It's a persuasion. Or rather, a way of looking at the world. And as long as regimes like N. Korea, Iran, Syria or totalitarian fascists like Hezbollah, Hamas and Al-Qaeda exist, then so will the neocons.

Posted by: N Murdoch at May 5, 2007 11:48 AM

j smith, your understanding of neo-conservatism is deeply flawed. Big government is anathema to neo-cons: the idea emphasises the role of the individual and the importance of free markets. This may lead to conflict with orthodox conservatism, which sees the nation state as the dominant unit (and hence may reject immigration). Neo conservatives believe that all sides benefit from free and fair trade, and hence industries should not be protected.

Neo-Conservatives also believe that these values apply universally and so efforts should be made to spread them, either through funding pro-democracy movements or through military intervention (as in Iraq). In this way, it differs from most traditional foreign polices, which attempt to install men in government who can be dealt with, regardless of the effects on their own population. Traditional conservatives put Saddam Hussein in power, neo-conservatives removed him from power.

How is it relevant that Jewish (both practicing and non-practicing) academics were influential in the development and implementation of neo-conservatism? Jewish scientists were instrumental in the field of particle physics: should we do as Hitler did and ignore this 'Jewish science' because Jews were important in developing it? I think most people would agree that the racial and religious identity of an idea's proponents should have nothing to do with whether the ideology should be accepted or rejected.

Yes, most neo-conservatives support Israel. This is not because neo- conservatism is some right wing pro Israel conspiracy, but because Israel is the only demcracy in the region and hence should be reported according to neo-conservative principles. In Israel,free and fair elections are regularly held, and the results are respected. This is a sorry contrast to most Arab states, including Palestine (where Hamas have launched a coup in order to attempt the removal of a constitutional check on their power).

Posted by: Michael Slater at July 6, 2007 12:02 AM

at last some one who isant afraid to speek the truth i couldent agree more the way i see it the left wing idiots are going to kill real freedom and all it stands for infact they realy are the new nazis by the way they force there misguided opinions `its time people woke up

Posted by: paul shirley at July 6, 2007 12:16 AM

s ramathan or whatever your name is again as always if you canot think of anything to discredit the man you resort to name calling and your version of events on question time where fare away from the realaty of what i was watching

Posted by: paul shirley at July 6, 2007 12:34 AM

Saw Douglas on BBC1's Question Time (again) last night and he wass amazing, if a tiny bit too intense. Where can I get the t-shirt?!

Posted by: keeley lund at July 6, 2007 09:36 AM

Mr. Murray made all the important points on last night's Question Time (BBC1). Despite the zoo noises from sections of the audience I detected strong support for Mr. Murray's take on the nature of Hamas and Islamic terror.

It is a shame the panel overall was so poor, and the Mr. Murray was not given a greater share of the time to answer as his insights are surely more important on any matter than those of Ms. McCall.

Posted by: Adam at July 6, 2007 10:51 AM

Saw Douglas on QT last night and it was like discovering a kindred, if (only slightly) more intelligent spirit.

Stongly agree with his elitist stance on university education. Have yet to find anyone who can explain to me how loading 50% of each new generation with huge debts and mickey mouse degrees does anything to increase social mobilitiy.

Posted by: Jonathan at July 6, 2007 12:39 PM

Mr Murray is very selective when he talks about terror, no mention of the atrocities carried out by Stern,Irgun and Haganah the Zionist terror gangs.

Posted by: Brian at July 6, 2007 01:15 PM

I also watched the Question Time last night and found Mr. Murray to be a pompous, right wing fool. He was outwitted by an 18 year old soon to be medical student who had won a competition to be there and someone who presented a reality TV show!

I have not read his book, nor do I have any intention of doing so, as what I saw of him last night has confirmed my worst fears about neo-cons.

The anger and downright rudeness he displayed to his fellow panelists and audience, his hectoring tone and above all his superior attitude put me in mind of the worst kind of old fashioned toff.

If this is the best that the neo-con (far) right can come up with then I think their time is up.

Posted by: Andy Cairns at July 6, 2007 01:54 PM

I too saw Douglas Murray on Newsnight last night - but what he had to say was not really on my mind. Why can't they have guys looking like him more often on Question Time? I might even become a regular viewer - and who knows my understanding of politics might even improve.

Posted by: Joanna at July 6, 2007 03:14 PM

@Andy Cairns - Seriously? Maybe I needed to press the red button on my remote to see the part where Davina outwitted Mr Murray. The woman could not outwit an amoeba.

Posted by: Jonathan at July 6, 2007 04:18 PM

Douglas Murray needs to express his ideas using less offensive language - I believe many were offended by his phrase that "university is for the gifted" - maybe "university is for the more academically-oriented" would have come across better.

If he thinks the war on Iraq has been good for the Iraqis then he is kidding himself. He should walk the streets of Baghdad and see for himself the devastation, poverty, starving families and the regular street-side bombings every Iraqi has to endure now. How many bombs went off in Baghdad everyday under Saddam Hussein?

I for one have absolutely no intention of wasting my hard-earned wages on his ghastly book. Thank God that apart from within the American and the rich right-wing communities, Mr. Murray holds little if any influence.

Posted by: Moe at July 6, 2007 06:00 PM

The previous contributor who referred to neoconservatives as 'far right' and 'right wing fools' should probably do himself a favour and read some books (including Mr Murray's).

Neocons, at first, were liberals who became dissilusioned with extreme leftism of the McGovern era and abandoned the Democratic Party. They joined the Republican's and have transformed American conservatism over the last 30 years. They are anti-totalitarian in foreign policy, classically liberal pro free-market in economics and moralists in domestic policy. Describing them as 'far right' demonstrates more about the ignorance of contributor, than it does the persuasion of the neoconservative.

If Douglas Murray was 'outwitted by an 18 year old' and Davina McCall, then I guess I was watching another programme.

I seem to remember the student saying that even though Israel didn't ACTUALLY occupy Gaza, it still OCCUPIED it by surrounding it, having military superiority and having an economic embargo on it. Utterly ridiculous and bizzare statement which (as you would expect) got a round of applause from the ignorant leftie students in the audience.

Miss McCall's appearance was an insult to viewers who take their politics seriously, and her contribution was embarrassing (especially on the terrorism questions). She should stick to twirling her hair.

Sayeeda Warsi's self-pitying attempt to attack Murray for 'inflammatory language' was pathetic for a conservative. Douglas Murray's comments and debating-style isn't the 'root cause' of community tension. Bad education, failed multiculturalism, lack of jobs and Islamic suicide bombers are the 'root cause' of bad community relations.

As for his debating style and attitude, I suppose it WAS angry, superior, pompous and rude. I would be too if I was sitting on a panel with an ignorant student and an empty headed celebrity moron like Davina McCall. And the animal noises coming from the George Galloway Left and pro-Hamas crowd deserved the opprobrium and contempt they got.

He did actually get loud applause for all the comments he made, so I guess, at least, NOT ALL of our students today anti-American pro-jihad lefties or complete moral relativist idiots.

Posted by: N Murdoch at July 6, 2007 08:42 PM

douglas murray was easily the best panellist on QT; his answers were reasoned and rational. davina maccall??? talk about dumbing down! why was a zoo-keeper on the show?

the only criticism i'd make of douglas was his intensity could be construed as "venom" which detracted from his arguments. he allowed the (idiot and obviously partisan) audience and panel to goad him into losing his cool. if people regard him as arrogant and "rabid" his opponents will use that to attack his personality and thus deflect attention from his undeniable arguments. hopefully he will learn, and learn fast, that presentation/spin, unfortunately, is as important in getting his point across to the general public as the actual content and cogency of his arguments.

Posted by: pam at July 6, 2007 08:45 PM

After seeing Douglas on Question Time last week and reading this, I will definitely get his books and may I say, after the death of my hero, Pim Fortuyn in The Netherlands, once the most liberated country in the world and now silenced by islamic groups, I have a new hero: Douglas Murray!!! (for PM)(or the first European president!)

Posted by: Andy at July 7, 2007 04:35 PM

Murray sits in the same Attack Dog Section as Melanie Phillips and Richard Littlejohn.

Their handlers are the Israeli far right and their contempt for international law, objectivity and anybody who voices the slightest criticism of Israel is total.

Unlike other militant groups, this Section does not wear a uniform. Instead, it cloaks itself in traditional British colours, presenting radical views as if they are born of British society, not foisted upon it.

But the more the Section appears on the BBC, the more clearly the rest of us can see the ruthless arrogance of the Neocon / Israeli agenda in its true colours.

The only people who support them on Question Time and elsewhere are Jews. Everyone else just feels uncomfortable.

Posted by: PATRICIA at July 9, 2007 12:02 PM

After seeing Douglas Murray on question time I am now hunting down a copy of his book.
He told it like he saw it & shyed away from the modern attitude of political correctness that some of the earlier posters seem to pay lip service to. University is for the "gifted", why shouldnt they be called that. His arguments were filled with force & personally I thought he was brilliant, a razor like voice of reason in a sea of liberal shilley shallying.

Hopefully he will stage a coup against Cameron and lead the Tories. Then become (PM! I live in hope)

Posted by: Dominic at July 10, 2007 07:55 PM

Not exactly too difficult to hunt down a copy of Douglas Murray's book. Try amazon - the link at the top of the piece should get you there

Posted by: Jemma at July 11, 2007 03:44 PM

Brian: Yes, Mr. Murray did not mention Jewish terrorist groups. This is because it was irrelevant: he was asked about whether Britain should negotiate with Hamas. His answer was no, and I suspect if he had been asked if we should negotiate with Jewish terrorists,his answer would have been the same.

Posted by: Michael Slater at July 13, 2007 01:42 AM

I agree with the above comment about Murray being an attack dog for the Neoconservative / Israeli Right.

Thanks to his overbearing NeoCon arrogance and its appaling and corrupt legacy, Cheney and his front man Bush are firmly in the descendant. Brown recognises this and plays instead to the Democratic Congress. How on earth do Murray and Phillips hope to affect the wider public with their unadulturated hysteria and bile?

It is only Murray, Phillips, Littlejohn and the grey cut outs who provide them with platforms - BBC London's David Robey via Vanessa Feltz, Mentorn's commissioning editors, David Coombs et all on Moral Maze to name a few, who seem happy to remain stuck in time.

Fortunately, however, the world has moved on, and Murray, Phillips and all their closet zealots and backers have had their day - and we all know how that day played out in the Middle East let alone the streets of London....

Posted by: peter watkins at July 13, 2007 01:38 PM

I also saw him on question time. I wouldn't say arrogant - probably more frustrated - as anyone with more than half a brain would have been sitting on that panel. One comment he made re: Irag & oil 'we could have made a deal with them, if it was oil we were after' - not quite true. My feeling is that Iraq was about keeping the balance of oil trade in Dollars to keep the US capital account supplemented, which in turn allows the us deficit to run at such extreemes. Yes of course there are all the moral reasons for war, but I think this was at least a part of it.

Posted by: james at July 13, 2007 01:46 PM

The comments above are the typical leftist smears and ignorant conspiracy theory tripe. It seems Noam Chomsky's books and George Galloway's gutter mouth is still being taken seriously by some people.

The only 'hysteria' and 'bile' today comes from the anti-semitic Left who believe in Jewish conspiracy theories and seem to think Zionist 'handlers' and 'backers' are behind US foreign policy and neconservative ideology. It is just childish and embarrassing.

To use words like 'attack dogs' or 'militants' is pathetic. 'Hysterical attack dog militants' sounds more like Galloway, Moore, Pilger, Ali, Finkelstein and the rest of those far-Left anti-American crackpots.

And by the way, so-called 'contempt for international law' can only be used as an argument if you believe Saddam wasn't in breach of 17 UN resolutions, the genocide convention and every other 'international law' covering human rights, respect for neighbouring borders and international terrorism. Resolution 1441 was passed unanimously and included the vote of Syria. All the legality was in resolution 678, 687 (ceasfire resolutions) and 1441. (They only tried for the 2nd Resolution to help Blair domestically). Kofi Annan's comments on the UN charter might be more relevant if he wasn't an unelected bureaucrat in charge of a useless oraganization which has complicity in genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Richard Littlejohn is an idiot but made a very good documentary on anti-semitism in Britain. Melanie Phillips, although I disagree with many of her views, writes honest and defensible articles on Israel, Islamic terrorism and its liberal apologists here in Britain. Douglas Murray may be aggressive, but I can't blame him considering the lies, slander, ignorance and outright bias of our beloved liberal press. The BBC relentlessly pumps out anti-Israel, anti-American, pro-Islamist filth on our TV screens and it's about time people spoke up against this propaganda.

It is not only 'Jews who support them' - another disgusting anti-semitic smear - there are many British people who are disgusted with Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and their leftie apologists. And there are many decent liberals who see the Iranian threat aswell, who aren't 'Neocons' or 'Jews' or 'Zionists'.

Again the above comments just go to show the cesspit of moral relativism this country has descended into. These people clearly know nothing about neoconservatism or the Middle East crisis. They would much rather throw muck, promote conspiracy theories and display their Guardian style ignorance.

Posted by: N Murdoch at July 18, 2007 07:33 AM

It just sounds like the old Conservatism disguised behind a thin patina of learning. 'EU laws? Welfare over security? tut tut tut'.... Indeed.. just add a bit of disingenuous humbug about 'freedom' and 'democracy' and you don't have to alter your beliefs at all. This isn't non conformity, its the most pernicous cop out I've encountered for ages. Without Murray's temper tantrums it wouldn't even be funny. When Boris Johnson comes up with this mush everyone assumes he's an imbecile, when Doug Murray does it- wow! He doesn't even have the guts to imitate Niall Ferguson and call for a new 'paternalistic' Empire with just a touch of theft and genocide to remind investors that, yes, Empires can be profitable.

Posted by: Andy at November 9, 2007 08:44 PM

is this the guy that was on question time
he was excellent certainly made me sit up in my seat and was well received by the audience

Posted by: derek wilkinson at November 10, 2007 11:06 AM
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