Review: Against the Web by Michael Brooks

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Against The Web, the first book by YouTube host Michael Brooks, is a nimble polemic in critique of the “Intellectual Dark Web” — an assortment of intellectuals of various persuasions who rose to fame in 2018 as against the excesses of the “social justice” left — and a rejoinder to online reactionary sentiment more broadly.

In a brisk 82 pages, Brooks provides a thoughtfully scathing analysis of IDW members from a historical-materialist perspective. He follows with his own vision of cultural cosmopolitanism and international socialism as a comprehensive response to the rise of the New Right.

Against the Web is sliced into five compact chapters that makes digesting its message and inhaling its critiques into a pleasant afternoon’s work. In the first bit, Brooks lays out the central contradiction of the IDW brand and puts a spotlight on its underlying rhetorical sleight of hand. As Voltaire once said of the Holy Roman Empire, it’s not Holy, not Roman, and not an Empire; in Brooks’s telling, the Intellectual Dark Web is neither particularly intellectual nor particularly dark. The idea that it is moving against the grain of mainstream opinion is thrown into sharp relief by its glowing profiles in major outlets like The New York Times or appearances on colossal platforms like Joe Rogan’s podcast. The trick of this group is to promote itself as both counter-cultural and innovative when it is no more than a reiteration of right-wing tropes that are recycled every generation or so. …

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Samuel Kronen

Professional Human. Twitter me timbers @SalmonKromeDome

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