BY ANDREW MOODY
Journalist and photographer, based in Tokyo, Sam White of the Spectator, Quillette and this magazine is ambivalent about Twitter:
“After all, what kind of way to communicate are skeletal 280 character statements, stark of nuance, caveat or context?”
In his new book I Wish I Hadn’t Written This: An Archive of Being Too Online in the Culture Wars 2016-2019, the eminently sensible author dissects and deconstructs political discourse since the dramatic double whammy of Brexit and Trump’s election victory, all the way up to the comprehensive Conservative victory in 2019.
An ex-pat based in Tokyo, White has covered the Left/Right, Remain/Leave, Hilary/Trump media spectacle in weekly articles and blogs from 2016 onwards and the result is an easy to read, often despairing, always passionate polemic in favour of Conservative values and the abyss of regressive left identity politics.
We see familiar topics (and targets) emerge: cancel culture, anti antisemitism, radical Islam, ANTIFA, being forced to swallow the premise that men can be women and women can be men just because Owen Jones and Laurie Penny say so. For anybody with a smidgen of common sense, the trans movement is wide open for criticism in the book. At the heart of the Culture Wars is the authoritarian left and its embrace of post modern double speak, which forces an opponent into silence, even if they’re right. In the new normal, as soon as you turn out to be white, male and heterosexual, you just need to read Teen Vogue and check your privilege, while pumping your kids full of puberty blockers.
“According to PC/SJW ideology, an obscenely privileged hack like me is at the bottom of the hierarchy. I have zero chips to cash in, and no cards to throw down, because I am white, male, straight, gender normative, and non-Muslim. I am consigned to roam unloved at the base of the regressive left’s mercilessly rigid caste system. Of course I don’t say that with any sense of self pity- their algorithm is deranged.”
The essays featured in the book are concise and well written, and their cumulative effect is useful to take into our uncertain future. The street violence that frazzled the Western world after the murder of black criminal George Floyd follows a timeline covered in White’s book, violent revolt against a fictional enemy, the removal of statues, it’s all been anticipated, and White understands the motivations of ANTIFA if believing them utterly contemptible:
“ANTIFA is the black clad, masked up, sucker punching, ten on one, car burning, window smashing, free speech hating, flag immolating, veteran abusing, piss throwing, brain dead, shit head, Guardian eulogised, progressive terrorist militia wing.”
It’s refreshing to have your worst fears confirmed about the censorious, celebrity endorsed left, if only because while the carnage builds up, it’s looking harder and harder for the socialists to win any elections. This book should be valued for its careful, nuanced take on modern politics, and blanket dismissal of the grim, Guardian reading, celebrity remoaners, high in their towers insulting the intelligence of the Working Class and then wondering why the Deplorables won’t vote the “correct” way.
“What did Jeremy Corbyn and his closest allies represent at the polls? Marxism, authoritarian leanings, expansion of the state, economic vandalism, a history of support for terrorists, military incompetence, the undermining of domestic security, national self hatred, extreme and divisive identity politics, dragging out Brexit indefinitely…mob politics, spite, hatred, abuse…and antisemitism…I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the working class just saved Britain by not voting Labour.”
Closing the proceedings with a short article on the huge Tory majority at the polls, I Wish I Hadn’t Written This is a great journalistic achievement for anyone wondering just exactly what has been going on since the UK voted to leave the E.U. Whilst the author is sometimes exasperated by the political spectrum, with lean, athletic prose he makes sense of it, all the while questioning his obsession with Twitter. The more books like this that get published the better, until Twitter becomes just another way of giving yourself away.
Follow Andrew Moody on Twitter @Voguishfiction
Photograph by Sam White