Minorities Dream of Being the Normies
I also have to say, I've started reading "Kill All Normies", and ironically my first impression is that Nagle is possibly suffering a bit from her own mild leftist reactionary attitudes to the alt-right and the dopier libtard culture. I note this because one critical thing her writing lacks is a decent account of the statistics involved with online trolling and liberal sanctimonious BS versus alt-right reactionary BS. My suspicion would be that the world is far more in danger of memes spread by "libtards" than the memes spread by alt-right trolls, just based on statistics. The alt-right have a disproportionate online presence perhaps, but statistically are demographically an incredibly pathetic, albeit vocal, minority. This fact means they will never win the real culture wars, at least not based on current statistics, because by definition a culture war cannot be won by violence and force but can only be won by moral persuasion proven in the forms of concrete social actions (not just intellectualized essentialism). Maybe it's not wrong to play-up the threat of the alt-right, but they are a dying breed, a subculture devoid of real solutions. They pose an immediate threat only to people exposed directly to them. Unfortunately that exposure happens to include the entire US population at present, thanks to the Twitter troll residing in the Whitehouse, but that particular insanity will not last. The longer term real threat to society is from naive ill-informed occasionally well-intentioned but ultimately class unconscious self-interested neoliberalism, and the finance and tech sector worship the associated libtard culture it produces inspires. Again, based on statistics, I would suspect die-hard neoliberals are a demographic minority, and the working class citizens we need as a bedrock for a decent society out-number all these dangerous reactionaries and lunatic anti-reactionaries combined.
If you cannot be bothered to read the book then you can read a decent review of Kill All Normies which differs from my take, here:
But I also recommend listening to Nagle in person:
If we examine the long arc of history, minority cultures only ever become the normies when they have justice and "the good" on their side. This is why Nagle's exploration, although engrossing and frightening, does not really scare me. That's because I am perhaps too old and cynical and pessimistic to care about myself anymore, there are no threats or violence that any altright reactionary can launch at me that would scare me or even cause a drop of sweat. I am far more scared of my own depression and self-imposed anxiety. I care far more about the planet and the society my children will have to grow up and work within than I do for my own bodily integrity.
Also, I firmly believe neither the hateful alt-right nor the lunatic christian conservatives, nor the ethically challenged neolibs will irreversibly ruin our planet. They will just ruin it enough to make it a hell of a nasty battle for the rest of us to repair. Ordinary human decency is too strong. Sure, it is less visible, and is suppressed by current power structures and mainstream neoliberal propaganda, but the call-out culture and more sanctimonious SJW stuff in the Internet is just a gross misshapen tip of a much deeper warmth and humane sensibility that resides in the heart of most working class folks. Statistically most people are just plain nice, altruistic and socially minded. We just need to get to work faster on building social and political structures which allow the best human sentiments and actions to thrive.
Just a few extra notes here, as I get through Nagle's chapters, before editing expires on this steemit post.
Another thing Nagle overstates IMHO is her description of the way the left-cyberutopians lament the fact that it was the right wing leaderless cyberbullies who first used the social network to seize political power in the USA. This is wrong on two counts. First, one can argue that it was first Howard Dean in 2004 (wildly successfully at first) and then Barak Obama in 2008 who successfully used online networks to gain power (even if in Dean's case he had an infamous media moment implosion) who both managed defeats over the establishment elite (before later betraying their supporters and becoming part of the elite). Secondly, the alt-right did arguably effectively channel the chaotic Trump 2016campaign to install a largely uncontrollable and volatile Kremlin puppet into the Whitehouse, hardly a victory for their cyberbully altright, but that "win" has given them some licence, as has been well documented on the real space rise of white supremacy in the USA, and which has spread in influence to Sweden, Austria, Germany, Britain and France.
So the alt-right have had success in the end, but it is not as controlled and organized as I think Kill All Normies portrays. And it is not sustainable. It is also fair to say that altright online social networks have still not swept away the far more destructive forces of centrist neoliberalism. And in this respect the left-cyberutopians did not achieve a true victory in 2008, because Obama turned out to be a class traitor and an arch neoliberal, albeit perhaps of the unaware kind (he merely took advice from the circle of educated elites who were his virtual "classmates" at university, at least this seems to be the case if we read Thomas Franks, Obama may have originally wanted to champion the working class, but he was either not intelligent or courageous or steeped enough in history to realize he was being a traitor).
The online extremism and reactionary libertarian individualism and resentment is also all a potent powder-keg still awaiting a bigger explosion than the Trump debacle. That is because the neoliberals are still in power, and despite Trump the neoliberal "deep state" is still, for now, effectively taming the more virulent white supremacy and absurdist accelerationist forces of market capitalism and modern oligarchy. On the other side the progressives and social democratic movements have gained massive popular support despite having virtually no real political power in federal government at all (other than a small single hand countable number of rebel Democrat congressional reps, and maybe two senators, if we are generous).
This is quite remarkable. Think about it. The alt-right will probably never again have as many vile Republicans who deeply support the alt-right principles, than they have right now in US Congress and Senate. They are actually squandering their moment in history. Thank god! With Trump in the Whitehouse, folks like Sessions, Pompeo, and Wilbur Ross running key departments either into the ground or towards the far right, (that includes former EPA head Scott Pruit and his replacement Andrew Wheeler a former coal industry lobbyist now running the EPA!) and a whole host of right wingnut neoliberals in the GOP Congress and Senate, the whole US top tier of government is a shit show of corruption and crony capitalism. Arguably, for ordinary working class Americans, the show would be no better under a Democrat controlled Congress and Senate, the misery for wage workers would only be different in kind, not much different in substance. You can be economically raped by polite politically correct oligarchs or by mean-spirited racist oligarchs, the end result is the same in material terms provided you stay off the destructive mental drugs of Twitter and reality TV and cable news (those entertainment drugs will only make you sicker) .
Anyway, my point is a note of optimism. Without any political representation in either the surface elected state or the unelected deep state, the progressive left in the USA (and in Britain) are still a major force in general terms and their causes have massive majority support. So the propaganda (manufactured consent) forces of the neoliberal left and right and centre have not been successful entirely in suppressing popular leftist sentiments in the majority population.
And as the historical embers of the cold war freeze to death the number of young people who equate Soviet communism with "socialism" will also become corrected and die off, and the saner correct acknowledgement of socialism as "a pretty good thing overall" will eventually replace cold war fossil mentality.
Aside: There are still old military folks who think Russians are communists! Seriously. I've heard them recently on CSPAN call-ins. It's hilarious if it was not so pathetic. Absurdist is maybe the correct word, because modern Russia is the diametric opposite of communism, it is almost a fascist capitalist sate. And the old manufactured consent propaganda that Soviet communism was "socialism" is also slowly being recognised as an historical lie. The Soviets were nothing close to socialism, they were state run form of fascism, a form of central control despotism, and this has very few elements of true socialism. Socialism is not central government control. Socialism is central government funding of basic "big ticket" human right social services (electric power, water, clean air, Internet(?), health, security, education, housing). Socialism is compatible with commercial free markets for nonessential or commodified human needs (bread, milk, jeans, iphones, music, etc).
Furthermore, what we see in alt-right and far left accelerationism and aggressive unhinged-to-reality libertarianism online is a vocal minority. The more their extremist voices are heard the greater will be the left back-reaction Which will favour massive general societal support for gentler social democracy. The long term question will not be whether far right conservatism will rule for long, but it will be whether capitalism itself can be saved by bills like the Elizabeth Warren anti-corruption suite of proposals, or whether the USA and other large nations will take a catastrophe theoretic jump to a post-capitalist hybrid economy.
It is of course far too early to be making any predictions about what post-capitalism would look like in any country. But in the USA my bet would be that it will look very hybrid: capitalism in commercial private industry but in the form of more egalitarian worker cooperatives, while in the public sectors such as education, health, police, military, hopefully also housing and public banking, there will be government funded semi-autonomous (but publicly accountable) enterprises ensuring justice in these traditional and natural socialist domains. The legislation needed will have to ensure equity among the "rain forest" hybrid ecosystem in such an economy, to, for example, ensure private housing and private healthcare is not subsidized by tax payers, and that the quality of public housing and healthcare and education is on a par with the private sector. But minutiae details aside, the ultimate goal of post-capitalism has to be zero corruption, zero cronyism, total transparency, an end to cold war practices like deep state intelligence gathering (since, what will be the need?), and efficient use of automation to relieve people from endless hours of wage slavery, combined with some form of universal citizen income to allow people to work and be productive on their own terms which will likely result in a great boost in human productivity.
An individual can still become ultra-wealthy in a social democracy, but the principles, if implemented correctly, will mean that people who become wealthy will have done so on merits and ethically, unlike the case under a correctly implemented free market capitalism which correctly and principally (by ideology) allows for unethical hoarding of wealth and criminality driven by the profit motive.
So while Angela Nagle has documented a sordid contemporary history of human misery and depravity, the bleak landscape of online altright and 4chan/b/ Clockwork Orange scale madness is not really all that depressing. Once these extremists, these ultra-libertarians and the aggrieved self-loathing white supremacists, see that social democracy makes for a pretty decent and fair society, without massive extremes of wealth and poverty, their resistance will be futile. A true democracy will of course allow their resistance and petty grievances to flourish, and even to be defended, protected and upheld whenever their case is just.