Douglas Murray on Why You Shouldn’t Find Meaning Through Politics
Douglas Murray has a way with words. Whether it is written or oratory, Murray always finds the most succinct and creative way to convey a point. It is no different in his new book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity.
At the end of the book, he lamented on the increasing habit of people trying to find meaning in their lives through politics. While he acknowledges the important role politics play in our lives, he warns of the problems of using it to find meaning. Here's what he said.
But of all the ways in which people can find meaning in their lives, politics - let alone politics on such a scale - is one of the unhappiest. Politics may be an important aspect of our lives, but as a source of personal meaning, it is disastrous. Not just because the ambitions it strives after nearly always go unachieved, but because finding purpose in politics laces politics with a passion - including a rage - that perverts the whole enterprise. If two people are in disagreement about something important, they may disagree as amicably as they like if it is just a matter of getting to the truth or the most amenable option. But if one party finds their whole purpose in life to reside in some aspect of that disagreement, then the chances of amicability fade vast and the likelihood of reaching any truth recedes.
One of the ways to distance ourselves from the madnesses of our times is to retain an interest in politics but not to rely on it as a source of meaning. The call should be for people to simplify their lives and not to mislead themselves by devoting their lives to a theory that answers no questions, make no predictions and is easily falsifiable. Meaning can be found in all sorts of places. For most individuals it is found in the love of the people and places around them: in friends, family and loved ones, in culture, place and wonder. A sense of purpose is found in working out what is meaningful in our lives and then orientating ourselves over time as closely as possible to those centres of meaning.