It is considered obligatory when reflecting on the subject of political discourse to mention George Orwell. I would like to embrace this duty at the outset with the observation that Orwell’s argument in his celebrated essay ‘Politics and the English Language’ is a little more intricate than is sometimes assumed. The essay is remembered for its attack on euphemism and obscurantism. Political language, runs one of its famous lines, ‘is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind’. The proposed antidote to this deceptiveness is language that is direct and concrete. Anyone who wishes to see through the ideological fog is advised to adopt a plainspoken idiom that shuns clichés, jargon, abstractions and pretentious diction. The interesting thing about this prescription is the anxiety it betrays. For Orwell, the danger is not simply that we will be fooled by official lies. His concern is that the disconnect between word and world compromises the intimate relationship between language and thought. His argument, in other words, has a psychological dimension: it proposes that political language is ultimately self-deceiving. Prefabricated phrases should be avoided because they will ‘construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important function of concealing your meaning even from yourself’.
This is the great fear that haunts Orwell’s late work, in which a capacity for independent thought is presented as the last line of defence against totalitarianism. He is disturbed by the possibility that the human mind may prove to be incapable of withstanding onslaughts propaganda and disinformation, that increasingly sophisticated forms of manipulation might destroy our ability to discern reality once and for all. ‘We create human nature,’ boasts O’Brien, the creepy apparatchik who tortures Winston Smith into submission in Nineteen Eighty-four. ‘Men are infinitely malleable.’ If this is indeed the case, then what is at stake in arguments about language and truth is not only our ability to think and dissent, but our very humanity, since the man who surrenders his mind has also surrendered his autonomy and his dignity. In ‘Politics and the English Language’, Orwell invites us to consider the partisan hack who parrots the official line. The formulaic language, he observes, requires a suspension of rational and ethical judgement. The partisan dissolves his will in the will of the organisation, hollows himself out, becomes a ‘kind of dummy’. He has, writes Orwell, ‘gone some distance towards turning himself into a machine’.
Near the end of The Death of Truth, Michiko Kakutani quotes Neil Postman’s decades-old observation that Orwell, who worried about facts being effaced by an all-powerful state, was less prescient than Aldous Huxley, whose Brave New World envisioned a society in which facts are not suppressed but have simply ceased to matter. Kakutani goes on to suggest that Postman may have spoken too soon. The erosion of democratic standards in the United States under Donald Trump, she argues, has been so drastic that the totalitarian nightmare Orwell depicted in Nineteen Eighty-four has become ‘newly relevant’.
I think it is fair to say that the United States still has a way to go before it resembles Oceania. But it is easy to sympathise with the alarmed tone of The Death of Truth, in which Kakutani expresses her dismay at Trump’s ‘lies, his efforts to redefine reality, his violations of norms and rules and traditions, his mainstreaming of hate speech, his attacks on the press, the judiciary, the electoral system’. She is far from the only person searching for insights in dystopian fiction and dusting off her copy of Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. Even if one takes a sanguine view of the durability of the nation’s democratic institutions, it is hard to ignore the corrosive effect of the daily outrages and absurdities. At very least, it does appear that we are witnessing what David Bromwich recently characterised as ‘the near autistic breakdown of political speech in America’. Though the situation in the United States can be regarded as sui generis in many respects, similar trends are evident in other western democracies, which have also found themselves grappling with the fragmentation of the public sphere and a degraded political discourse that has become as volatile as it is polarising. ‘It is not just that the left and right consider each other repellent,’ observes Jeff Sparrow in Trigger Warnings: Political Correctness and the Rise of the Right. ‘It’s also that they find each other almost incomprehensible.’
Trigger Warnings and The Death of Truth are notable contributions to what has become a deluge of books and articles trying to explain how we arrived at this point. They offer different diagnoses, but share some basic assumptions. Both propose that the peculiarity of contemporary discourse is, to a significant extent, a product of the culture wars. Both cite Andrew Hartman’s definitive history A War for the Soul of America, which argues that the culture wars began with the social revolution of the 1960s and flared up again in the 1980s when the neoconservative counter-revolution began to push back in earnest. And both recognise that one of the curious effects of half a century of ideological skirmishes over language, art, censorship, religion, history and education has been a striking reversal of rhetorical poles. ‘The Trump campaign,’ writes Kakutani, ‘depicted itself as an insurgent, revolutionary force, battling on behalf of its marginalized community and disingenuously using language which strangely echoed that used by radicals in the 1960s.’ Sparrow notes the same phenomenon: ‘Almost everywhere, the right claimed the language of radicalism, a vocabulary weaponised against a left accused of representing a loathed status quo.’
Sparrow proposes that one way to grasp the nature of this inversion is to consider the spectacular success of the cant phrase ‘political correctness’, though his account of its origins is somewhat awry. He claims it was coined in the late 1960s by radicals of the American left ‘as a joke’ — a way to mock over-zealous comrades. But as Geoffrey Hughes establishes in Political Correctness: A History of Semantics and Culture, the concept can be traced back to the twentieth century’s other radical decade the 1930s, when the Chinese Communist Party — not an organisation known for its sense of humour — began referring to the ‘correct political line’. A Soviet investigation into schools from the same period disapproved of ‘politically incorrect information in civics and social sciences’. The phrase ‘politically correct’ can be found in Czesław Miłosz’s critique of East European intellectuals The Captive Mind (1955), and ‘politically incorrect’ appears in Vladimir Nabokov’s satire of totalitarianism Bend Sinister (1947). American leftists most likely picked up the concept from Maoist rhetoric and, as Hughes argues, the fact that they were inclined to give it an ironic twist reflected a significant difference in context.
The right’s subsequent co-option of political correctness as a term of abuse has exploited the echo of authoritarian rhetoric for all it is worth. Sparrow notes that the endless media beat-ups about political correctness — which began in the 1980s, reached a frenzied peak in the 1990s, and have since become one of the most tedious clichés of tabloid journalism — are invariably hyperbolic and in some cases fraudulent. This has not prevented them from being hugely influential. By the mid-1980s, the phrase had already become so familiar that it could be abbreviated to ‘PC’. It came to be widely accepted that political correctness was an exclusively left-wing phenomenon, which manifested itself in language that was artificial, euphemistic and ostentatiously deferential. Invariably, it had ‘gone mad’. Though the motivation behind much so-called politically correct language was in fact eminently sane — for the most part, it consisted of attempts to treat people with respect — everyone was invited to ridicule it as an affront to common sense and deplore it as an insidious form of semantic social engineering. Constant reinforcement of this idea has now convinced many people that (brace yourselves, irony fans) having new linguistic concepts imposed upon them is an intolerable form of Orwellian mind control. A recent survey found that 80 per cent of Americans believe ‘political correctness is a problem in our country’.
Political correctness is, in this sense, the emblematic concept of the culture wars: it is perhaps the purest distillation of their distorting and ultimately poisonous logic. Its convenience as a pejorative label is that it is at once blunt enough to be used as a cudgel and elastic enough to stigmatise a broad range of behaviour; its rhetorical potency lies in the way it collapses the distinction between the trivial and the serious, treating even innocuous examples as evidence of intellectual tyranny. It is the slippery-slope fallacy in the guise of a witless slogan. That the conservative side of politics, having discovered such an intoxicating formula, should have embraced it with all the fervency of a raging crack addiction is hardly surprising. Nor is it surprising that the results have been every bit as dignifying and healthful as one would expect from a forty-year binge. The moral and intellectual rot that is all-too evident in contemporary conservatism, which has spent decades slouching towards its squalid entente with racist politics, cannot be attributed solely to the corrupting influence of a single canting phrase. But as any diligent student of Orwell will tell you, once you start repeating a euphemistic ideological formula — not least one whose very essence is the abandonment of meaningful distinctions and a sense of proportion — you will turn yourself into a dummy.
There is a broad-brush interpretation of post-1960s politics which proposes that, as Angela Nagle put it in her recent book Kill All Normies, ‘the right won the economic war and the left won the culture war’. This is not quite accurate — and not only because such conflicts can never be regarded as having been ‘won’ in any decisive sense. It is perhaps more apposite to say that both sides discovered that a central component of their worldview had become untenable. The rise of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and the collapse of communism created a political economy that was effectively unipolar. Even moderate forms of democratic socialism were dealt out of mainstream debate. At the same time, the right faced the ticklish problem that its transformative economic policies were kryptonite to the kinds of traditional values and hierarchies it cherished: the cosmopolitanism, pluralism and individualism it was fostering actually encouraged social liberalisation and demands for recognition that conservatives were apt to find distasteful.
All of which is to say, the identities and rationales of left and right, as they had been traditionally constituted, were scrambled. Both sides found themselves implicated in ideological positions they notionally opposed in ways that were hard for them to admit. In this context, it makes a certain sense that they would enter into a tacit agreement to shift the debate onto the abstracted plane of ‘values’. The right has taken to fighting endless culture wars to paper over the fissure that has opened up between its economic liberalism and its social conservatism, and to distract from the glaring material inequalities that have resulted from decades of unchecked neoliberal policies. As Sparrow points out, culture wars function as a convenient form of misdirection: ‘a deflection of social and class tensions into a different realm’. The situation on the left, as Sparrow and Kakutani acknowledge in contrasting ways, is bound up with a philosophical turn that placed a primary emphasis on issues of language and representation, one of the consequences of which was that the class-based rhetoric and stolid universalism of the old left was superseded by the new left’s focus on what has come to be called identity politics.
Though they position themselves as partisans of the left, Sparrow and Kakutani both detect an element of folie à deux in these developments. For Kakutani, the corruption of public debate in the US can be attributed to a familiar litany of lamentable cultural symptoms — distraction, narcissism, the preferencing of emotion over reason, partisan media, degradations of language, the confirmation bias and balkanisation of opinion encouraged by social media, the negative influence of trolls and disinformation campaigns — all of which have created a situation where appeals to truth and objectivity no longer have any standing. But she also incriminates that philosophical turn taken by the left, which she brings under the general heading ‘postmodernism’.
Kakutani argues that, ‘very broadly speaking, postmodernist arguments deny an objective reality existing independently from human perception, contending that knowledge is filtered through the prisms of class, race, gender, and other variables’. Her representative postmodern concept is deconstruction — a rarefied close-reading technique developed by the French poststructuralist Jacques Derrida, which became fashionable in American literary studies departments in the 1970s and 1980s. This practice and the linguistic theories that underpinned it ‘promulgated an extreme relativism that was ultimately nihilistic in its implications: anything could mean anything; an author’s intent did not matter, could not in fact be discerned; there was no such thing as an obvious or commonsense reading, because everything had an infinitude of meanings’. Kakutani thus proposes that the notion of objective truth was initially abandoned by the left, only for the nihilistic implications of the epistemic free-for-all to be embraced with glee by the unscrupulous right, which has taken to ‘using postmodernist arguments in bad faith’.
Now, I too prefer nihilism to be in good faith. But if Kakutani knows where we might enjoy the view from nowhere, then I’m sure everyone would love to see the map. The limitations of her polemic start to become apparent when one considers the ambiguity that clings to the baggy and contentious concept of ‘postmodernism’, which has long hovered uneasily between its status as an aesthetic category, a philosophical position, and a neutral term to describe a set of cultural factors that have come to obtain in first-world societies. When Jean-François Lyotard defined the postmodern condition (emphasis added) as ‘incredulity towards metanarratives’, he was not suggesting that people should become incredulous; he was pointing out that they already were. This is why diagnosing a cultural malaise can be a tricky business: it can be difficult to assess the relative significance of material and philosophical factors. Specific examples can always be interpreted as both cause and effect, disease and symptom, and how you choose to disambiguate them will define your argument and political stance.
The Death of Truth makes little effort to disambiguate in this way, so it doesn’t really have much of an argument and its political stance takes the form of catastrophising. To the extent that it builds a case, it does so by noting sinister historical parallels. Kakutani is certainly not reticent when it comes to reaching for terrifying comparisons. Trump’s mendacity is compared, with reference to Hannah Arendt and Victor Klemperer, to the tactics used by the Nazis in the 1930s. His language is characterised as a version of Orwell’s ‘Newspeak’. His barefaced dishonesty is likened to the propaganda techniques of Vladimir Putin. There is a passage noting that his former advisor Steve Bannon, who has made no secret of his desire to smash the system, has expressed his admiration for Lenin and the ruthless methods of the Bolsheviks.
On this level, The Death of Truth is less a work of cultural analysis than an air-raid siren. To the extent that it can be taken as representative of the horrified reaction of American liberals to Trump’s ascendancy, it is revealing for its frame of reference and its underlying assumptions. Kakutani’s argument ultimately rests on an appeal to the notions of truth and objectivity, which remain undefined. She seeks answers in cultural and intellectual history, but displays little interest in the more immediate question of why almost 63 million of her fellow citizens might have cast their votes for Trump, leaving one to infer that they must be either fools or knaves. She is inclined to view the right’s co-option of the language of radicalism as a historical irony. But no less ironic is the extent to which The Death of Truth adopts the language of conservatism in its plea to respect ‘norms and rules and traditions’. Kakutani repudiates postmodern relativism, identifies the 1960s as the moment ‘when society began fragmenting’, and generally deplores our dumbed-down, technologically mediated culture. You could take out the contemporary references, send The Death of Truth back to the late-1980s in a time machine, and it would slot neatly into the cultural debate as a conservative jeremiad.
In granting abstruse postmodern theorising a role in her account of present woes, Kakutani identifies a peculiar and arguably definitive feature of post-1960s politics. This was summed up in a sardonic quip by the old-left cultural historian Todd Gitlin, who observed that the left ‘marched on the English department while the right took the White House’. A good deal of what now passes for radical left-wing politics is indeed a product of the seminar room. And when it comes to the tenor of that notionally progressive politics, the influence of Derrida (who is perhaps a little passé these days) is almost certainly less significant than that of Michel Foucault.
According to Foucault, we are culturally constructed from the ground up. He proposed that human nature is not essential or fixed but historically determined, that power and knowledge are fatally entwined — that power is in fact all-pervasive, reaching into every aspect of our existence. Foucault, in other words, affirmed the very things that Orwell most feared. He took aim at the foundations of liberal humanism, dismantled the rickety three-legged epistemology that would find its notion of truth at the point of intersection between verifiable facts, autonomy of mind, and clarity of expression. His enormous influence, which continues to flow through literary and cultural studies, is such that a generation of humanities graduates has more or less internalised his philosophical assumptions. Perhaps more than any of those various agents of Gallic subversion who became bêtes noir to conservative culture warriors in the 1980s and 1990s, Foucault is the thinker who lurks behind the contemporary tendency to view social ills like sexism and racism as structural problems — structural not simply in the sense that they persist in the form of entrenched material and institutional disadvantage, but in the blanketing and far more insidious sense that prejudicial assumptions are encoded in certain modes of language and representation, which are thus to be regarded as forms of oppression in themselves.
This institutional influence on progressive politics is central to the argument Sparrow develops in Trigger Warnings. He proposes that to understand the impact of the culture wars, it is necessary to see them in the context of certain unwelcome developments on the left and not just on the right. His argument is based around a distinction between what he calls ‘direct’ and ‘delegated’ politics. The former refers to grassroots activism that works to build broad alliances and mobilise people on a mass scale; the latter seeks to effect change from within existing institutional settings. Sparrow contends that the post-1960s era has seen the left move away from its traditional commitment to direct politics in favour of the delegated variety.
Trigger Warnings would appear to have been written in accordance with Samuel Johnson’s maxim ‘he who would know himself should consult his enemies’. Sparrow suggests that the right-wing caricature of progressives as a coterie of condescending inner-urban elites, more interested in policing pronoun usage than addressing the kinds of material issues that effect ordinary people, is not entirely fanciful. In fact, he identifies a prevalent sub-category of delegated politics that he gives the self-explanatory label ‘smug politics’. For many on the left, he observes at several points, ‘the notion that the population couldn’t be mobilised became the conviction that the population was the problem … arguments against oppression [have] become entwined with a hostility to ordinary people’.
This change in progressive politics, he argues, came about as a result of the activists of the 1960s being absorbed into institutional power structures they had initially set out to challenge — the universities, in particular. The right’s campaign against political correctness was thus able to target a ‘style of activism’. The ‘top-down character of delegated politics’, which reflected its institutional basis in its embrace of regulatory reforms that did not seek to fundamentally alter the structures of the universities or society more broadly, gave anti-PC rhetoric its teeth. At the same time, the cultural theorising that came to emphasise the fundamental importance of language and representation (it is perhaps of some significance to Sparrow’s argument that some of this theorising was the work of those failed revolutionaries the soixante-huitards, though that is a rabbit-hole he is probably wise to avoid), encouraged the pursuit of symbolic victories that became, for many activists, ends in themselves.
Sparrow’s allegiance is to the old left. He is the biographer of the American singer and activist Paul Robeson, and the author of several histories of radicalism in Australia. He is himself an activist. His arguments, which draw on examples from Australia and the US, are invariably measured and qualified, but running through Trigger Warnings is a sustained critique of the identity politics that has ‘emerged out of the transition from direct to delegated politics’. Sparrow works his way through a list of modish concepts that have come to define contemporary left-wing activism: privilege checking, cultural appropriation, trigger warnings, intersectionality, microaggressions. In each case, he finds that the intended purposes and, in some instances, the original meanings of these concepts have been bent out of shape. The notion of cultural appropriation, he observes, was first developed by theorists of the Birmingham School ‘to convey precisely the opposite of what the term signifies today. They wanted to celebrate the cultural borrowings through which subaltern groups subverted oppression, the different ways in which (mostly) young people repurposed traditions not their own.’ The concept of a ‘trigger warning’ he traces back to the clinical definition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which was originally observed in war veterans, later applied to victims of violent crime, and eventually made its way into the classroom as a demand that literature students should be warned in case they find the poetry of Ovid or Donne emotionally distressing.
Sparrow is sympathetic to the motivations behind such concepts, alert to the injustices and sensitivities they seek to address. But he is critical of their practical consequences. What they have in common is that they are invariably deployed as rhetorical leverage in ways that undermine solidarity. They function as forms of one-upmanship, whereby the obverse principles of structural oppression and personal victimhood — both of which are assumed to override the redeeming possibility of good will on the part whoever happens to be on the wrong side of the equation — are reverse-engineered to assert moral authority over another person.
One of the key points Sparrow makes in Trigger Warnings is that the way in which the left has come to understand the concepts of privilege and identity is ultimately paralysing. It has come to hold individuals responsible for structural oppressions, to focus on victimhood instead of agency. The effect of this is to turn progressives against each other. The concept of intersectionality, which Sparrow points out was originally conceived as a critique of the essentialising tendencies of certain forms of identity politics, has merely served to reinterpret identity in what he regards as ‘an even more paralysing fashion’, multiplying the number of structural oppressions that a person might be subjected to and the number of privileges that might need to be checked. But the most damaging aspect of all this is that it has manifested itself in the top-down style of delegated politics, the form of which is more or less calculated to alienate anyone who does not already share its perspective. As Sparrow observes at one point, people of good will who lack the necessary background in cultural theory might not be all that keen to admit their complicity in structural oppression.
Susan Jacoby has argued that in the US the historical view of the 1960s as a transformative decade has come to function as a convenient myth for both sides of politics. For the right, it has become a simple lapsarian tale about a wholesome society seized by a collective fit of irresponsibility. According to this interpretation, the political unrest and the social liberalisations of that era were little more than a destructive tantrum. As Jacoby points out, this is a view that is sustainable only if one accepts the premise that there was nothing drastically wrong with the society that preceded it . For the left, the myth of the 1960s has become entangled with a romanticised view of the counterculture, a view that makes the ‘serious historical error’ of conflating consequential political movements (civil rights, antiwar, second-wave feminism) with frivolous manifestations of youth culture.
This romanticised view has encouraged the potent idea that unconventional or transgressive behaviour is liberating, personally and politically. If a law is intolerable, you defy it; the simplest way to demonstrate that you are not bound by propriety is to violate propriety. That is the anti-PC impulse in a nutshell. The tension is evident in the model of political integrity Orwell has bequeathed us. His stance ultimately rests on the ideal of the honest and clear-sighted individual, who is courageous enough to resist the pressure to conform, to remain true to the facts as he sees them. But if one wanted to take a slightly more sympathetic view of Orwell’s mechanical hack intoning the party line, one could observe that his prefabricated language performs an important social function. In a sense, the hollowness of his words is beside the point: he is demonstrating his loyalty. Mindless allegiance is dangerous, yet the need to belong is fundamental. And it is precisely this conflict between the need for social acceptance and the desire to individuate ourselves that has been hypercharged by the technologically mediated reality we have come to inhabit. In Kill All Normies, Angela Nagle wades into the open sewer of 4chan and reddit culture, from which emerged the ‘gamergate’ controversy (analysed by Sparrow in a chapter on the alt-right) and which has become a recruiting ground for extremists. She makes two related points about these kinds of online subcultures, which are perhaps obvious, but important nevertheless. The first is that, as subcultures, they operate according the principle of insider knowledge: they have their own slang and obscure codes of behaviour, which are used to distinguish genuine members from mere interlopers — in other words, they persist because they reconcile a basic conflict, which is particularly acute in the young, allowing them to flaunt their difference (i.e. their specialness), while enjoying the security of a tribal identification. The second point is that the rancid tone of these subcultures is encouraged by the undue significance that modern culture has come to place on the idea of transgression.
The internet has mechanised thought in a way that, as Andrew O’Hagan recently observed, makes it not just ‘a cultural front … but a psychological one’. But as Sparrow and Kakutani both recognise, the cultural forces that contributed to the rise of nativist sentiments and the polarisation of mainstream discourse began to take shape well before the advent of the digital age. One of the books I reread in preparation for writing this essay was Robert Hughes’s jeremiad from the early 1990s Culture of Complaint. I had the idea it would allow me to take the temperature of the debate back then, gain a little perspective on how the cultural terrain might have shifted. It turns out that things have barely changed at all. The specific controversies Hughes discusses are dated, but the arguments are basically the same. The culture wars really are like the western front, with everyone dug in, going nowhere, persisting in their folly but refusing to become wise.
Culture wars persist for the same reason they are toxic: they are a tactic to make all battles symbolic, turn everything into a test of allegiance. They are inimical to debate. They operate on the assumption that reasoning is redundant, since all the arguments are known in advance — all you have to do is pick a side. Since the 1980s, the culture wars have played themselves out in mainstream political debate as a right-wing confection. But the left is guilty of its own form of complicity and, as Sparrow argues, the fractiousness it has built into its worldview has rendered it ill-equipped to counter the rise of ‘populist provocateurs and charlatans’, whose appearance has prompted progressives to react in a way that ‘not only fails to combat them, but often leaves them stronger’. On a philosophical level, the left has come to embrace a paradoxical form of essentialist anti-essentialism, which has devolved into counterproductive notions of cultural authenticity and ended up casting progressives as so many Emily Posts, enforcing violations of social mores with ‘spectacular, performative call-outs [that] were not designed to persuade. They were designed to punish, to make public examples of wrongdoers, in the context of an activism that understood itself as policing the left against the backwardness of the masses.’
Sparrow’s distinction between direct and delegated politics is an admirable attempt to think his way beyond the impasse. It is only through a return to a direct politics, he argues, that we might rediscover something that has been conspicuously absent from political discourse of late: the language of persuasion. This is in no sense a straightforward matter, and not simply because the technological environment has changed. In an interview he gave shortly before he died in 2010, the historian Tony Judt observed that the intellectual challenge of our time is ‘how to be a consistent universalist. It is not just a simple matter of saying: I believe in rights, freedoms or this or that norm. Because if you believe in people’s freedom to choose, but you also believe that you know better than others what is good for them, then you face a potential contradiction’. A good deal what passes for progressive politics has responded to this challenge by insisting on the irreducible nature of difference and walking away from an inclusive universalising rhetoric, or at very least keeping it at arm’s length. Trigger Warnings suggests that Sparrow does not think this is a good idea. I think it is a serious mistake.
David Bromwich, ‘What are we allowed to say?’ London Review of Books (22 September 2016).
Andrew Hartman, The War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars (Chicago University Press, 2015).
Geoffrey Hughes, Political Correctness: A History of Semantics and Culture (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).
Susan Jacoby, The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies (Vintage, 2018).
Tony Judt with Timothy Snyder, Thinking the Twentieth Century (Penguin, 2012).
Yascha Mounk, ‘Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture.’ The Atlantic (10 October 2018).
Angela Nagle, Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumbler to Trump and the Alt-Right (Zero Books, 2017).
Andrew O’Hagan, The Secret Life: Three True Stories (Faber, 2017).
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four (Penguin, 2000).
— ‘Politics and the English Language,’ Orwell and Politics, edited by Peter Davison (Penguin, 2001).