Kill All Normies: Online culture wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the alt-right

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Kill All Normies: Online culture wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the alt-right

Kill All Normies: Online culture wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the alt-right

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This is what cultural criticism should be: it draws on academic theory while remaining readable, is capable of impassioned polemic and clear partisanship while remaining relentlessly fair regarding matters of fact, and in general, it knows its stuff. (Like Nagle, I am perhaps overly familiar with the forms of online discourse she describes; and that she was able to do so so accurately makes me trust her on everything else - for instance, on the fascinating history of how representations of "the mainstream" have been gendered.) As Trump marched into the White House, terrified liberals scrambled to learn about a demonic new political force known as the alt-right. While the term is applied loosely in the media to cover a broad right-wing movement, strictly speaking it refers to the Internet’s white segregationist, white-nationalist subcultures. The alt-light, on the other hand, denotes a more amorphous, often nihilistic, anti-PC and anti-feminist movement, which includes the /b/tards and trolls of 4chan. The movement as a whole has already had a seismic impact on mainstream culture: Trump probably would not have won without alt-right and alt-light agitation. Nagle brings a lot of valuable research and firsthand reporting to helping people make sense of the various facets of the alt-right, but it wasn't nearly as compelling as I was expecting from a book about the internet communities that have emerged in the past decade. The best parts are the really detailed outlines of the various factions of the right's anti-feminist and white supremacist groups, as well as the philosophical explanations of the anti-moral subversive nature of 4chan. Nagle draws a line through history from the 'culture wars' of the 1960s to those of today, arguing that the transgressive, countercultural spirit historically embodied by the anti-establishment left has been sublimated much more effectively by the modern right. She also undertakes an in-depth (though concise) review of the many, many factions of what is often sweepingly referred to as the alt-right, from 'chan culture' to the alternately pathetic and terrifying 'manosphere'. Not only is this pretty fascinating in itself, it also brings to light the serious theoretical and academic roots of certain strands of this movement – something often ignored by liberal pundits who concentrate instead on clutching their pearls at the outrageous antics of high-profile figures like Milo and Alex Jones. The idea of a handful of demagogues and professional trolls riling up people who essentially don't understand politics has been a common theme (deployed with varying levels of sensitivity) in analysis of the Trump and Brexit victories; Nagle's study shows this to be dangerously reductive.

I also recommend these two podcasts where Ms. Nagle (and Ms. Frost in the 2nd one) discuss the book and related themes in the context of socialism. Really disappointed by this. I'm fascinated by internet subcultures and the seedy underbelly of the web. I'm deeply interested in politics. This book seemed like a slam-dunk. It’s unsurprising that many of the left on both sides of the Atlantic were excited at the publication of Kill All Normies, Angela Nagle’s new book examining the internet-based neo-fascist movement widely known as the ‘alt-right’. We have waited a long time for a leftist author to provide a lucid materialist analysis of the roots, current makeup and political trajectory of this movement. Having now read the book, I fear we’ll be waiting a while longer.They have developed a surprisingly high profile. Mainstream columnists use their terminology when they discuss “Social Justice Warriors” and “Generation Snowflake.”

A shield of sentimentality, not emotional honesty, apology or genuine exchange, summoned to excuse sadism.One issue arises in that the prevailing theory of gender in psychology is more consistent with Tumblr’s many genders than it is with a strict binary. The medical profession has been at the forefront of recognizing gender fluidity and the naturally occurring variations in gender and sexuality. The first thing listed in a recent paper on transgender healthcare, for example, talking about things that transgender people needed, was, “These individuals need their identities to be recognized as authentic.” [7] This is essentially the exact same thing that the culture which Nagel is criticizing is attempting to do — to recognize different identities as no less authentic. In a similar way to the alt-right, any challenge to the new cult of identity politics, concentrated once on Tumblr but now spilling out into what Nagle calls ‘campus wars’, leads to a mob baying for the heretics’ blood.

I don't really know who Nagle is, but my guess is that she falls into the same dirtbag left camp as like Anna Kachiyan and Aimee Terese etc. I guessed this because she name drops the same people like Lasch and Paglia and the like, who I haven't read but I barely even gained any insight into here because it seemed like more of a name drop as an in-group signifier rather than any real engagement. But anyway, I'm guessing since it's published by zero books and she talks about Mark Fisher a bunch that she's a leftist but there is no class analysis or discussion of material conditions anywhere in this book. Online is important and online and real life impact eachother, but you would never know that from reading this. While you could treat Trump's victory as the big win, she didn't spend too much time analyzing the ways in which the Alt Right aided his election and I think stuff like Charlottesville might not have happened at this point. Nagle argues that the pain, suffering and victimhood-affirming culture of Tumblr-liberalism is one of these reasons for the failure and I think she is right. “Kony 2012” videos among others comes to mind in this rush to collect “virtue points” in this scarcity of virtue market on the Web. Also, the intra-left purge and exclusion of the critics of this self-pleasing activities is another example (Nagle gives the example of Mark Fisher who sadly committed suicide this year). Both exist as differing camps in what Nagle frames as today’s most brutal online ‘culture wars’, but they certainly share cultural practices and unfailingly need one another as ludicrous misshapen enemy. Did Nagle use Schwartz's article as a source of information in this part of the book? Is this plagiarism? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The event that made many of them more explicitly political and brought them mainstream attention was Gamergate in 2014 where, Nagle explains, “feminist [video] games creators and critics [like Anita Sarkeesian] became the target of abuse because they were seen as trying to destroy video games with left-wing propaganda.Published by Zero Books, Kill All Normies uses as its title a slogan promoted on 4Chan’s politics board that essentially derides anyone who has ever been in a relationship or had a job as a ‘normal fag’. Unless still living in your mother’s house you’re not truly qualified sanctimonious loser troll material.

It seems to me that the book could have been an important and momentous document of the internet „wars“ of recent times, but that it got rushed and a little hamfistedly thrown into publication before reaching a decent level of finishedness. Worse still is the fact that Nagel also refers to some on the right as “anti-free speech,” (p. 66) when talking about the conservative culture wars that led up to the current political climate, but the context is completely different. Nagel describes those people correctly as anti-free speech because these people did, in fact, want to institute federal law restricting certain forms of speech, something that, to my knowledge, has not occurred in any meaningful way among those she characterizes as the “anti-free speech” left. The inconsistent framing of what it means to be anti-free speech that Nagel adopts ultimately serves to draw a false equivalence between the right and the left in this regard. Where the actions of one (the right) are explicitly and obviously anti-free speech (they wanted to censor pornography, e.g.), but the actions of the other are at best arguably so (seeing safe-spaces and campus deplatforming as actual violations of someone’s free speech is questionable). (Opens in new window) • Top 1000 • The Gloss (Opens in new window) • Recruit Ireland (Opens in new window) • Irish Times Training (Opens in new window)Men’s liberation later grew apart from the feminist movement as second-wave feminism became increasingly antagonistic towards men, criticizing men as a whole in its rhetoric around rape and domestic violence.” A lot of these guys are saying 'How come my grandfather was able to have a house and a car on a one-income household?' This book was so weirdly organized that I really could not figure out who her audience was. I assumed it was someone like me who is addicted to the internet and already knows who all these people are, because she was dropping names with no explanations. This was fine as I said, but then she did explain them later so I was like ??? The book was not aimed at converting anyone and I think it would honestly just offend both 4channers and Tumblr users. And there was no class/material analysis so that turns off a bunch of the left. Anyone who is a "normie" would probably not be interested in the topics at hand especially since as I said they are talked about with the assumption that the reader already knows. The only thing I can think of is maybe Red Scare types who think that culture is the only force worth looking at. Culture is very important and I think the topics in this book are really important to talk about, but I can't say it enough: this was going too shallow on too many angles. Anyway 3/10 bc I suppose I don't have vehement disagreements on the surface but the argument is so shallow and messy that I was not entirely sure what to take away in the end, and I think she was overly sympathetic to the AltRight without extending the same nuance to the denizens of Tumblr. The discussion of transgression for transgression’s sake is great. When one considers the inter-war and post-WWII origins of the proliferation of “transgressive” politics or what I call “Nietzschean left”, the turn of events become even more remarkable. A remnant of the transgressive left politics of 1960s, actually 1968, how transgression and cynicism is weaponized by the extreme-right vanguard (in the base, only a fierce anti-PC sentiment is prevalent) seems more contingent than it is a necessary trait of this line of thought. The turn of events looks like it resulted because of numerous failures of the Left. Psychoanalytically, there is more than a small amount of projective identification taking place between them (wherein a projected fantasy of another group or person is so strong it forces them to succumb to it, similar to a self-fulfilling prophecy).

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