Kill All Normies

Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right
Narrated by: Mary Sarah
Length: 4 hrs and 5 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (390 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Recent years have seen a revival of the heated culture wars of the 1990s, but this time its battleground is the Internet. On one side the alt-right ranges from the once obscure neo-reactionary and white separatist movements, to geeky subcultures like 4chan, to more mainstream manifestations such as the Trump-supporting gay libertarian Milo Yiannopolous.

On the other side, a culture of struggle sessions and virtue signaling lurks behind a therapeutic language of trigger warnings and safe spaces. The feminist side of the online culture wars has its equally geeky subcultures right through to its mainstream expression.

Kill All Normies explores some of the cultural genealogies and past parallels of these styles and subcultures, drawing from transgressive styles of 60s libertinism and conservative movements, to make the case for a rejection of the perpetual cultural turn.

©2017 Angela Nagle (P)2017 Tantor
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Nuanced and Even-handed, But Still Lacking

A well written and surprisingly deep summary of the culture wars' evolution over the last 20 years. Still, I can't help but feel like the author misses the point at times.

The look into the Right's even harder right-turn was interesting and, from an outsider's perspective, very accurate. But the inaccuracies and distorted presentations of some (certainly not all) of the Left's counter culture participants makes me question how well she represents the Right as well.

Like others, I was startled to hear the author seemingly gloss over the existence of TERFs, which have been active in feminism since the Second Wave and are not by any means a myth or minor issue. Germaine Greer, mentioned by name and a pioneer of the Second Wave, is a notorious anti-trans bigot whose hateful language is readily accessible to anyone with a computer, and the author's dismissal of her criticizers as somehow reactionary or frivolous is baffling, not to mention the implication that the liberal community criticizes her for views she held 20 or 30 years ago - Greer's most recent (honestly, really vile) comments against the idea of trans women being women were made in 2018! Yet the book suggests that to label her a Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist is to hurl invective or insults without merit. To be entirely honest, it makes me wonder what the author's own views on transgenderism are, and whether they color her perspective on the validity of the Left's position.

The book raises several issues vital to the survival of the Left as a political ideology, which I do not dispute. Fascism is indeed in the rise among both the Left and Right, and it's important to the future of humanity as a whole to fight fascism wherever it spreads. However, the book also draws a common false equivalency, suggesting that neo-nazis and anti-fascists (people who are invested in preventing neo-nazism from spreading) are somehow two sides of the same coin. Also, to my point above, I would argue TERFs and other exclusionary/separatist leftists are the main problem we on the Left should be fighting, not college students refusing to listen to Milo Yannopolis. Censorship is an important issue, but so is contributing to a culture where Trans women are murdered with such regularity that there is an annual day set aside to remember them.

All in all, I think this was a valuable read, but one to be considered with a very critical eye.

4 people found this helpful

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Some false equivalences, but otherwise great analysis

It comes off as trying to say the sensitive tumblr crowd is somehow the left’s alt-right, but it’s hard to compare people who just get butthurt easy to those who lionize a mass shooter and are openly Nazi in a lot of cases. Also it seems like the author doesn’t think TERFs are a thing, but it only takes about 10 minutes on twitter to see that they are and they’re active. Lastly, anarchists aren’t progressives. They’re in their own category. Berkeley riots had nothing to do with progressivism. Progressives are too scared to actually meet anyone in the streets lol

12 people found this helpful

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Glad I'm not under 35

When it was over, I realized I was getting the urge to run a warm bath and slit my wrists -- then I remembered I was an old woman and, for the first time, was thankful for that.

14 people found this helpful

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Best book I’ve read this year!!!

A fantastic but harrowing overview of the shitty ways the online cultures that are basically the reason I don’t go on social media any more have shaped the divide we have today.

2 people found this helpful

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distribution, eye-opening

This book illuminates the giant bottomless pit of online horror on the Left and Right

1 person found this helpful

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I as a leftist admire this criticism of leftism

A great and rigorous analysis of current trends, an intellectually honest critique of the identetarian segments of the modern left. Truly worth your time.

1 person found this helpful

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The voice of now

Angela tackles some of the problems with today's troll society. Originally i wanted to read this because my favorite author sited it as one of his favorite reads as of late. I didnt know what I was getting into but I am delighted I got to engage with this informative read. I gained a lot of understanding about the world I am living in, the internet age and how it influences politics and society.

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Really interesting dive into internet culture

Really interesting and in-depth look into the online culture wars. At times the audio can be hard to follow as it seems to jump quickly so you've got to pay close attention. The content can also jump from a simpler breakdown of the culture wars to a high-level academic review with references to any number of content that isn't always explained and can leave you feeling left behind if you don't have that level of background on the content. Lastly, the author does express biases in the book and while I respect the transparency some of the admitted biases seemed unnecessary and distracting as well as somewhat petty. But overall the content is exactly what I was looking for to start learning about different areas of online culture.

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Great! Needs more feminist context though!

Very insightful and informative work on the growth of online, alt-right, transgressive culture. It could benefit from a strong dose of feminist theory to truly show how the actions of the population studied, while transgressive of the modern left-moralist culture, are firmly rooted in our domination-riddled, patriarchalist society. Their transgression is superficial but their conformity runs deep, in the same way that a devout Satan-worshipper must, by definition, also believe in God and Jesus.

For example, when the 4chan posters criticize female vanity represented by a photo of a woman showing a brick, what they are truly criticizing (though completely unaware they are doing so) are the gender roles that incentivize, if not require, a woman to pose herself in such a way. Gender roles and behaviors that are not innate but learned, taught her by a deeply unequal society.

I encourage readers to seek out the rich and enriching works of feminist theory, which, at their root, argue for the restoration of all humans to wholeness. A far cry from the female-chauvinistic, misandric, superficial crap generally peddled as "feminism" in mainstream society, and to which these young unfortunates of 4chan are rightly reacting but in deeply, deeply wrong ways!

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That's it?

There is so much more to this. there was no mention of the mass uncoordinated spontaneous and organic movements from exposing Scientology, the reaction to woke celebrities such as the he will not divide us campaign, memeing Donald trump into the presidency, shutting down corporations websites with DDOS attacks, invading childrens online games and spreading hate with memes, to purity motivated trackdowns of rapists, murderers, and animal abusers. This phenomenon, known as "weaponized autism" and its application to mass movement goals is completely absent.

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  • Doug Segal
  • 04-25-18

Worst narration ever

I’m only 30mins in but I might have to give the book back for refund.
It’s the worst narration I’ve ever heard.
It’s clear that she’s never seen the script before reading it aloud and it’s actually following it.
She stumbles over words, has strange intonation, stresses words in a way that runs counter to the sense of what she’s reading, mispronounces words and there are bits where you can hear that she’s had to record that individual word again because she is struggling with it.

As a result it’s incredibly hard to follow the thrust of the book as the author intended.

It’s SHOCKINGLY bad and very jarring.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Conor O'Sullivan
  • 11-10-17

Excellent summary

A well researched and enjoyably presented look into the sources of the alt right. Looking forward to listening through a second time to pick up on things that I might have missed first time around.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kevin Volf
  • 06-11-18

Objective, scholarly, accessible

In my opinion this book provides the serious and lucid analysis which this subject had been missing. Not a hysterical diatribe or ideological polemic but a thoughtful reaction with scrupulous regard for the facts. Thought provoking

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tony
  • 11-09-17

Very interesting

Found this a fascinating insight into an area I don't really understand and feel I can no longer ignore.
Also narrator's style and cadence really suited the content.

1 person found this helpful

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  • booklover
  • 02-22-20

horrific narration, great content. shame.

hated the narrator and her annoying tone. shame because the topic is so important. didn't finish it.

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  • Ollie M
  • 02-10-20

Good

I'm not sure what another reviewer was talking about re narration style. I thought it was fine.

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  • Conal McIntyre
  • 09-26-19

Short, punchy and to the point

I really enjoyed this audiobook. I have listened to it twice now and enjoyed it as much the second time as I did the first.

It's a concise overview of the online culture wars and the parts of it the bubbled over into the real non-internet analogue world. The pace of the book is quite fast and there is a lot of detail; though books could be written about events and ideas that get brushed past.

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  • Andrew Flint
  • 06-10-19

Interesting

This is an interesting book, quite short for it's medium. Reads more like a collection of articles than a fully crafted book.

it's also a little unbalanced in parts, completely ignoring the moderate elements/people at work that run alongsided some of the more extreme groups and trends. She mentions the author of Iron John briefly and the origin of the Men's Rights movement as one that worked hand in hand with Women's Rights, but doesn't go much further than that.

The book relies to heavily to the lurid details of the extremes to hold the reader/listener's attention.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-12-18

An antidote to political schism

An attempt to crawl from the depressing sludge which is consuming us all. A book to be cited.

1 person found this helpful

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  • 10k
  • 02-26-18

Enjoyable and thought provoking

What made the experience of listening to Kill All Normies the most enjoyable?

Nagle delved into some interesting topics in a way that proved she actually knew what she was talking about. I grew up on 4chan, tumblr and other internet hellholes. She's not writing as many outsiders to the world do.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Kill All Normies?

A few references she made to other texts sent me down rabbit holes; Fisher, Haidt and a few others.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Some moments of the reading were a little jarring - not sure if that was down to the editing or not.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

As someone who I'd assumed to be firmly on the left, she slams the online left. It was good to reflect on some of these ideals held by my peers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Petra Bueskens
  • 01-18-19

Acute analysis

Brilliant analysis of the causes and consequences of the 21st C culture wars. Identifies the deleterious development of identity politics on the Left and it’s even darker shadow on the Right, with new and extreme forms of misogyny and racism (evident in alt-Right figures such as Milo Yianopolis and Richard Spencer). Defines this as a consequence of neoliberalism, isolation, modernity and the rise of the Internet and social media producing new forms of political polarisation and anomie. Examines how alt-Right figures and their legions on 4Chan use irony, cruelty and extreme forms of digital harassment to mock liberal sensibilities and bully Left women and girls in particular (although she defines the killing of Harambe case as paradigmatic of the narrative structure of alt-Right meme culture). Also examines the roots of this in a new culture of victimhood on the Left, especially evident on sites such as Tumblr. Nagle examines how the Left have abandoned the working class and political-economic critique in favour of identity politics and virtue signalling. Examines how increasingly niche gender identities and the cult of victimhood have moved from the margins to the centre of Left discourse thereby alienating most people, especially the working class. Similarly, and brilliantly, identifies the death of classical (Burkean) conservatism in the alt-Right. Calls for a return to political-economic analysis on the Left and a revived moral core.