Progressive Reads: These Books Will Provoke You To Think More Openly

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Books exist to open up doors to new frontiers, and to show us that some things work differently from what we thought before. Now, this list should provoke you to think a bit more openly than you previously thought possible. Enjoy!

Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right by Angela Nagle

Recently we have seen a return of the culture wars of the 1990s, yet this time the battle ground seems to be the web. One side is “alt right”, covering the spectrum from the strangely neo-reactionary to subcultures such as 4chan, to more standard manifestations. The women’s activist side of the wars exhibits similarly quirky subcultures through to its expression. The book investigates some of the parallel features of these styles and subcultures, drawing from the transgressive styles of ‘60s libertinism, to state the case for rejecting the never-ending social turn.

“The pop culture cliché of the American High School movie, which adapted old archetypes, depicted a social world in which the worst sexists were always the all brawn no brains sports jock. But now that the online world has given us a glimpse into the inner lives of others, one of the surprising revelations is that it is the nerdish self-identifying nice guy who could never get the girl who has been exposed as the much more hate-filled, racist, misogynist who is insanely jealous of the happiness of others.” 

Angela Nagle writes impartially and with a reasonable understanding of the latest cycles of problematic political groupings on both the left and the right. On one side is the now-infamous alt-right, divided into the ‘alt-light’, epitomized by using 4chan, and some of even fascistic inclinations covered by alt-light charaters such as Milo Yiannopoulos. On the other side of the divide is the thing that Nagle now and again alludes to as ‘Tumblr-progressivism’, the greatly performative culture of victimhood and focused personality, governmental issues that appear to be driven by scholastic dogmas and the need to be a part of the crowd.

“As Lasch understood, for progressive politics anti-moral transgression has always been a bargain with the devil, because the case for equality is essentially a moral one. Equally.” 

Her historical account of what happened over the last 10 years is remarkable. Once a place of the “progressive boosters” of the first-generation users of 4-chan, the transgressive and cynical culture of the website has become a fecund terrain for rape and death threats, organized bullying that leads to suicide and depression, and complete annihilation of lives of regular teenagers and famous scientists alike.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” 

Gladwell acquaints us with the specific identities of new thoughts and patterns, and the general population who are influenced by almost any information they hear. He examines trends, habits such as smoking, youngsters’ TV, standard mail, and the beginning of the American Revolution, and visits religious communities, a fruitful innovation organization, and one of the world’s most prominent sales representatives.

“When people are overwhelmed with information and develop immunity to traditional forms of communication, they turn instead for advice and information to the people in their lives whom they respect, admire, and trust. The cure for immunity is finding Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen.” 

These sorts of individuals are communicators (individuals who know basically everybody), experts (individuals who know basically everything), and business people. Now and again, we believe that when we want to spread a thought far and wide we should figure out how to get it to as many individuals as we can – much like spam. Gladwell changes our perspective on this, proving that the process of selling is much simpler than its complexities suggest. You don’t need to prove to everyone how perfect your product or service is. The trick is not in the quantity but in the quality.

“If you want to bring a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior…you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.” 

Just Babies: the Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom

Cognitive scientists contend that an awareness of evil and good is deep in our bones.

From historical figures such as John Locke all the way to Sigmund Freud, people have believed that we start life as clean slates. A large number of us underestimate that infants also have egos, and that they are also a part of society just as much as their guardians, who can change their babies from little sociopaths into acculturated creatures. In Just Babies, Paul Bloom contends that babies judge their surroundings and others’ activities; feel sympathy and empathy; act to help those in trouble; and have a sense of justice.

Marsh recounts an anecdote about a psychopath who was being tested with a series of pictures and who failed over and over again to recognize fearful expressions, until finally she figured it out: “That’s the look people get right before I stab them.”

Still, the natural quality is constrained, at times tragically. We normally feel hostile towards outsiders, inclined to bigotry. Uniting bits of knowledge from psychological research, behavioral economy, and philosophy, the author investigates how we have come to outperform these constraints. Bloom analyzes vicious maniacs, religious radicals, and Ivy League teachers, and investigates our frequently perplexing positive sentiments about sex, religion, governmental issues, and race.

“For instance, most everyone agrees that a just society promotes equality among its citizens, but blood is spilled over what sort of equality is morally preferable: equality of opportunity or equality of outcome.” 

In his examination of the ethical quality of youngsters and grown-ups, Bloom rejects the view that our ethical choices are driven principally by premonitions. Similarly, as reason has driven our morality, he contends, it is reason that makes decisions with respect to our ethical revelations.

Eventually, it is through our creative ability, our empathy, and our human limited capacity to discern that we can rise above the primitive feeling of ethical awareness we were conceived with, ending up as something other than babies.

Photo: Shutterstock

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