Russell Blackford reviews 'Trigger Warnings: Political correctness and the rise of the right' by Jeff Sparrow

Russell Blackford reviews 'Trigger Warnings: Political correctness and the rise of the right' by Jeff Sparrow

Trigger Warnings: Political correctness and the rise of the right

by Jeff Sparrow

Scribe, $29.99 pb, 300 pp, 9781925713183

Whatever benefits it has brought, aggressive globalisation has also dislocated industries, wrecked communities, and fostered social alienation. Large numbers of working-class, blue-collar, and rural voters (these categories overlap) feel abandoned, anxious, and economically insecure, even when they have, as individuals, held on to well-paid jobs. This offers fertile ground to political candidates who claim to be outsiders or anti-élitists. Right-wing populists exploit the situation with a rhetoric of scapegoating. They blame marginalised groups. Their language and their stated policies veer towards nativism, xenophobia, and assorted kinds of bigotry.

Jeff Sparrow’s Trigger Warnings: Political correctness and the rise of the right is published against this background. Sparrow is understandably concerned about right-wing populism, but he views the responses of left-wing and liberal thinkers as largely counterproductive. To some extent, if we follow his reasoning, well-intentioned left-liberal people have inadvertently helped the likes of Donald Trump.

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Published in April 2019, no. 410
Russell Blackford

Russell Blackford

Russell Blackford is a Conjoint Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle. He is the author of Freedom of Religion and the Secular State (2012), Humanity Enhanced: Genetic choice and the challenge for liberal democracies (2014), The Mystery of Moral Authority (2016), Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, minds, ethics (2017), and, most recently, The Tyranny of Opinion: Conformity and the future of Liberalism (2019). His personal website is www.russellblackford.com. In 2014, he was inducted as a Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.

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