Culture Warlords is the story of how Lavin, a frequent target of extremist trolls (including those at Fox News), dove into a byzantine online culture of hate and learned the intricacies of how white supremacy proliferates online.
Culture Warlords isn’t one of those books in which an intrepid author journeys behind enemy lines in order to write plaintively of our shared humanity ... one of the marvels of this furious book is how insolent and funny Lavin is; she refuses to soft-pedal the monstrous views she encounters, and she clearly takes pleasure in cutting them down to size ... Culture Warlords expressly melds reportage with activism.
... in keeping with being published for mainstream audiences, largely serves as a tour guide to the world of the far right on the assumption that it is not well known to most readers ... At least as far as what’s presented in Culture Warlords, Lavin doesn’t get especially far in her efforts to dox fascists. In fact, she goes so far as to protect the identity of one she discusses extensively ... Lavin does not lack sympathy for the loneliness of incels, for instance. But she does more than most anti-extremists to connect the present fascist right to its predecessors as part of long histories of racism, antisemitism, misogyny, and fascist organizing in this country ... Though Lavin’s book may lack policy recommendations, her work contains the truth that the fight against emerging fascism is a mass political struggle, not a technical problem for experts to solve. Not everyone can punch Nazis, or dox them. Indeed, recent events have made clear that many of the upholders of white supremacy will not come to us in the reassuringly exotic form of the neo-Nazi. They will arise from the ranks of quotidian supporters of the structures of white supremacy, such as that of the police. It’s going to take much more than guidance programs for the youth and enhanced surveillance to counter the rising tide of the far right.
... a stark, powerful introduction to the combination of misogyny, anti-Semitism and white supremacy to follow ... Lavin's work...has a raw and deeply understandable anger. That is not to its detriment. All too often, analyses of white nationalism and the far-right have devolved into anodyne stories of 'Nazis buy milk too', or else created false equivalence with counter-protesters. Culture Warlords is a compelling read, combining the historical narratives of the far-right and anti-Semitism with an exploration of the individuals who follow such ideologies ... The more traditionally academic sections...are succinct but punchy ... Though Lavin’s work was published before the last presidential election, the 'Stop the Steal' campaign and the Capitol Hill riots, the lessons it offers are certain to remain relevant in the Biden era.