When I saw the cover to this book, I got the joke immediately. I am not sure everyone will, at least not when they begin reading it. The author of the controversial image is starting to tighten the restrictions on it, as he wants the association to disappear. But just as savvy internet denizens will get the reference, they will also understand that you cannot stop a meme that has gone viral.
Angela Nagle’s Kill all Normies is another book in the tries to understand the current political nightmare that we have found ourselves living in. The particular catalyst she focuses on is online cultures, and how many online communities started going right wing. She argues that there has been a pretty strong cultural change, in that the right is now attracting the counter-culture that the left once did, and she brings up some pretty interesting examples to show why she thinks that is the case. The author also nominates the ways in which terrible online behavior on the part of the internet left (not to be confused with the regular left) has been forcing centrists further and further to the right, and how right wing figures are adapting their stances so as to be more appealing to those now marginalized figures. In other words, the book seems to support the notion that Trump’s victory was cemented first and foremost via online groups, a point that I tend to believe.
All books of non-fiction suffer from the problem of falling down the epistemological rabbit hole. Any argument you want to create necessitates that you cite all your sources, and for the most part this is done without a problem in most serious books. But at some point you hit a snag in the process, and everything kind of falls apart. This book has the problem of not citing its sources all that frequently. I might not have noticed, as the author never said anything to controversial. However, at some point this book proposes an analysis of a particularly famous Internet Proverb, and the author interprets it in a pretty misogynistic light. I would have made the same interpretation of the statement had I not previously encountered another book that interpreted the statement in a different way. Both books are written by women,and both women (from the little research I did) are feminists. Moments like that make you start having doubts. The interpretation the author used likely seemed so obvious as to not merit thought, but that is exactly where one needs more academic rigor.
Did all this really change my mind about the book? No, or at least not in any strong way. I still thought it was a pretty convincing argument, and it still matches some of what I saw happening over the past few years politically.