Book Summary “Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches From the Wrong Side of History By Nellie Bowles”

Overview

“Morning After the Revolution” is a firsthand account by journalist Nellie Bowles of the excesses and absurdities she witnessed within the progressive movement in the United States in the early 2020s. As a self-described Hillary Clinton supporter working at The New York Times, Bowles initially embraced the prevailing liberal orthodoxy. However, she grew increasingly skeptical as the movement became more extreme and detached from reality.

The book provides an inside look at various manifestations of this “progressive psychosis” through Bowles’ immersive reporting. Her experiences attending events like a multi-day seminar on “The Toxic Trends of Whiteness” and following activist groups like “Abolitionist Entertainment LLC” lay bare the cultish and farcical aspects of this ideology in brutally honest detail.

Morning After the Revolution: A Contrarian’s Perspective on Modern American Unrest

Nellie Bowles’ book “Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches From the Wrong Side of History” offers a provocative and often sardonic look at the progressive movements and ideological upheavals that have gripped American society in recent years. Positioning herself as a contrarian voice, Bowles challenges what she perceives as the excesses and sanctimony of the “New Progressive” moment through a series of vividly reported essays and personal anecdotes.

The central premise of the book is that American politics underwent a seismic shift around 2020, with progressive ideologies and activism reaching a fever pitch in the wake of events like the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, and the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle. Bowles, who at the time was a reporter for The New York Times, found herself increasingly at odds with the prevailing orthodoxies of her liberal colleagues and the media establishment.

The Hollowness of Progressive Ideologies

One of the book’s strengths lies in Bowles’ ability to expose the hollowness and absurdities of certain progressive ideologies through her vivid storytelling and sharp observations. She recounts attending a multiday course called “The Toxic Trends of Whiteness,” where participants were encouraged to criticize each other for unintentional racist remarks and engage in bizarre exercises like massaging their feet to “physically feel the whiteness infecting each toe.

Bowles also takes aim at the excesses of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) industry, describing a four-day workshop where participants fiercely denounced their whiteness and engaged in exercises like repeatedly slapping the soles of their feet while confessing to their privilege. The workshop featured speakers like Resmaa Menakem, a “somatic abolitionist” who has appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show.

Critiquing Movements and Ideological Extremes

While some critics have accused Bowles of cherry-picking isolated incidents to paint a distorted picture of progressive movements, the book does offer insightful critiques of various ideological extremes and their potential threats to individual rights and freedoms.

For instance, Bowles delves into the controversy surrounding the handling of funds donated to Black Lives Matter in the early 2000s, as well as the grim details of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, a self-proclaimed police-free utopia that emerged in 2020 and was initially embraced by city leaders like then-mayor Jenny Durkan.
Bowles also explores the anti-homelessness movement in Los Angeles, where she encountered activists who viewed homelessness not as a problem to be solved but as an opportunity to showcase a community operating outside the capitalist system. She expresses frustration at the impact of homeless encampments on her neighborhood and the lack of practical solutions offered by the activists.

A Contrarian Voice in the Media Landscape

Throughout the book, Bowles positions herself as a contrarian voice in the media landscape, challenging the perceived groupthink and ideological monoculture that she believes has taken hold in many newsrooms and cultural institutions.

She recounts her experience at The New York Times, where she felt her curiosity and willingness to ask probing questions about progressive orthodoxies were increasingly unwelcome. Her relationship with fellow dissenter Bari Weiss, whom she later married, further solidified her status as an outsider within the liberal establishment.

In 2021, Bowles and Weiss left The New York Times to found The Free Press, a media outlet that prides itself on fierce independence and critiques of progressivism. “Morning After the Revolution” serves as a manifesto of sorts for their contrarian worldview, offering a counterpoint to what they perceive as the excesses and inanities of the “New Progressive” moment.

Criticism and Reception

While the book has been praised by some for its entertaining and insightful critiques of progressive ideologies, it has also faced criticism from various quarters.

In a scathing review for The Washington Post, one critic accused Bowles of irresponsible reporting and cherry-picking incidents to support her narrative. The reviewer argued that Bowles failed to acknowledge studies that contradict her claims about the relationship between criminal justice reform efforts and the recent crime wave, and that she misrepresented the context and impact of certain academic papers and movements.

Others have criticized Bowles’ writing style as flat and lacking the wit and sophistication of the New Journalism masters she seeks to emulate, like Tom Wolfe and Joan Didion. The New York Times review, while acknowledging the book’s entertainment value, described Bowles’ approach as “more akin to a blunt instrument, poking fun at her former colleagues by attributing them with ludicrous thoughts and aspirations.”

Conclusion

Regardless of one’s ideological leanings, “Morning After the Revolution” offers a thought-provoking and often entertaining exploration of the complexities and contradictions of modern American politics and the role of progressive ideologies in shaping our society.

While some may find Bowles’ contrarian stance refreshing and her critiques insightful, others may view her work as a reactionary screed that misrepresents and oversimplifies the nuances of the movements and ideologies she examines.

Ultimately, the book serves as a reminder of the importance of free speech and the need for diverse perspectives in the public discourse, even – or perhaps especially – when those perspectives challenge prevailing orthodoxies and make us uncomfortable.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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