Dystopian fiction and radical politics
Monday, July 4, 2016
New Article, New Blog
For some time now, I've been fascinated by the convergence of dystopian fiction -- one of the most popular genres in the world -- and radical politics.
I have been circling this subject in my writing for quite a while. Recently, my interest has grown more focused and defined, so I wanted to create an online space to house my short-form thoughts and link to my long-form work on the subject.
My most recent work, published Sunday, looks at the violent spectacle in dystopian fiction, and how it does and does not reflect the new realities of shared violence online, in the context of ISIS but also the next wave of participatory violence:
One of the most popular tropes in dystopian fiction is the “violent spectacle.” Immortalized in recent years by The Hunger Gamesseries, the concept is simple: A corrupt society uses some public display or broadcast of violence to manipulate the masses.
But it’s never been purely fiction. The concept of providing the masses with an experience of intentionally shared violence has, from time to time, also surfaced in the real world. In its heyday, the Roman Colosseum hosted mock battles and public executions that drew massive crowds. And during France’s Reign of Terror, tens of thousands were executed, many in public, with the clear intent to intimidate.The full article is here.
Here are some of my earlier writings on dystopia and radicalism:
I will be writing more on this subject in the weeks and months ahead, and I will use this space to discuss some of my thoughts as they develop. I will also share short reviews and comments on the dystopian genre that seem to be interesting. Eventually, I will also compile some thematic reading lists that may be of interest. But for now, welcome to the blog, and stay tuned for further developments.
THE TURNER LEGACY
The Turner Diaries, the infamous racist dystopian novel by neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce, has inspired more than 200 murders since its publication in 1978, including the single deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, the Oklahoma City bombing.
The book is arguably the most important single work of white nationalist propaganda in the English language, but it is not a singular artifact. The Turner Diaries is part of a genre of racist dystopian propaganda dating back to the U.S. Civil War. A new paper from J.M. Berger documents the books that directly and indirectly inspired Turner and examine the extensive violence that the novel has inspired.
RECENT J.M. BERGER VIDEO
ABOUTJ.M. Berger is an author, consultant and analyst studying extremism. He is an associate fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism -- The Hague and a fellow with George Washington University's Program on Extremism. For more about Berger, click here.
BOOKS BY J.M. BERGER
"...smart, granular analysis..."ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post
More on ISIS: The State of Terror
"...a timely warning..."Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times
More on Jihad Joe