A timely examination of progressive politics in the era of radical populism.
Since 2016, western democracies have experienced a series of political earthquakes, spectacularly upending conventional political wisdom. Everywhere, outsider politicians rail against ‘the elite’.
Yet, with a few notable exceptions, the populist mood has benefited reactionaries rather than reformers. The status quo might be in crisis, but the emerging voices are those of hate and violence. Where is the progressive alternative?
In Trigger Warnings, Jeff Sparrow sympathetically but critically examines key progressive ideas. How does a billionaire position himself as anti-elitist? Are the culture wars worth fighting? What's at stake in the battles over political correctness? Should progressives defend it — and, if so, how?
Sparrow traces the evolution of the Left and Right to explain the origins of this strange evolution, untangling some of the thorniest controversies of our time and arguing that the future needn't only belong to nihilists and bigots.
‘Standing on the front line of the culture war it’s clear the right are winning. In this new book, Jeff Sparrow draws lessons from contemporary debates and historical struggles to argue for an alternative to the seemingly oppositional binary of class or identity that dominates liberal discourse. Instead, Sparrow calls for a return to a “direct politics” approach that doesn’t rely on mainstream leaders but argues that a rebuilding of an activist left that sees strength in solidarity and strives for liberation is the only answer. In a time that increasingly feels like it’s now or never, this book is an urgently needed intervention. Don’t just read it, do it.’
Roz Ward, co-founder of Safe Schools Coalition
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‘A crisp, elegant and timely analysis of exactly how the world and everything in it turned to wallaby poop, also whose fault it is and how we might actually be able to do something about it.’
First Dog On The Moon, political cartoonist for the Guardian
‘Sparrow writes with a unique combination of dignified sensitivity and a concrete commitment to solidarity and movement building.’
Sam Wallman, political cartoonist
‘He’s one of Australia’s most crucial political thinkers … Trigger Warnings is perhaps his most polemic [book] yet, written with clear activist goals in mind: to intervene in the present, he insists we must understand the complex history that led us here.’
The Saturday Paper
‘Australian writer Jeff Sparrow succinctly explains in Trigger Warnings how Trump cleverly skewered his political enemies by appealing to their anger at the elite political and media classes (despite being a member of the elite himself) … Trigger Warnings is a rare book that takes a necessary scalpel to the leftist political persuasion of its author as much as, if not more than, the right-wing agenda he opposes.’
Antony Loewenstein, Weekend Australian
‘Sparrow’s book is a provocative reading of the culture wars that develops a distinction between ‘direct’ and ‘delegated’ politics.’
James Ley, ‘ABR’s Books of the Year 2018’
‘It’s a highly interesting polemic, dense with information, but well written and full of provocative and challenging views.’
Graeme Barrow, Horowhenua Chronicle
‘Trigger Warnings is a brave book, best read as a call for the left to re-examine its strategies during a period of immense danger, to take stock of its key resources and to align itself with the experience of ordinary people without lessening its focus on sexism, racism or homophobia.’
Gary Pearce, Overland