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November 19, 2017
Inroads Journal
Book review

Angela Nagle, Kill All Normies: The Online Culture Wars from Tumblr and 4chan to the alt-right and Trump. Alresford, England: Zero Books, 2017. 120 pages.

It is easy to have dark, foreboding intuitions about what apocalyptic movements might be developing on the internet and social media. It is far harder to observe the birth processes of those rough beasts slouching towards Twitter to be born.

Of course, this is the nature of the development of extremist movements. To any outside observer, the 1903 Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party would have presented nothing more than serious men in beards arguing incomprehensibly over party organization and dialectical materialism. Nor would watching angry veterans get drunk in Bavarian beer halls in 1921 have been much more enlightening about the threat to civilization steeping there.

It would have been helpful, when 20th-century totalitarianism was developing, to have someone like Irish journalist Angela Nagle around. The author of Kill All Normies: The Online Culture Wars from Tumblr and 4chan to the alt-right and Trump is a sensitive and critical observer with the stamina to wade through enormous quantities of dreck. She has studied the tiresome and combative worlds of the online alt-right and identitarian left, managing to balance empathy, analysis and common sense. With the election of Donald Trump, her Marxisant publisher Zero Books recognized that this research was onto something big, and rushed to get this book out. In some places, the hurry shows: names are misspelled, minor errors abound and some chapters seem more finished than others. But overall this is an indispensable work of reporting and analysis.

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