John Safran’s easy-reading but hard-hitting expose of Australia’s far-right and extremist movement will inform and alarm general readers, and will surely arouse the ire of those involved amongst the unabashedly diverse community of Australia’s white nationalists, anarchists, ISIS supporters, and others.
Depends What You Mean by Extremist is told in Safran’s inimitable laconic style, which means even the hideous personalities introduced throughout the text are granted moments of levity. So while it’s a frightening book — exposure to some of these people left me truly mortified and uncomfortable — it’s an undeniably entertaining yarn, with genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Safran’s intent isn’t to demonize the extreme alt-right — he can rely on the majority of his readership to do that anyway, without adding his own politics and opinions to the fray — but to relay his experiences and interactions with them. Through his chronicle, we witness the incertitude of their arguments, and at other moments, the unfiltered brashness of their hatred, which is usually founded on misinformation.
We exist in troubled times. Our only way to combat extremism, in all of its forms, is to be as well-educated and as informed as we possibly can be. Depends What You Mean by Extremist is therefore a vital text. It doesn’t offer solutions, rather it paints a portrait of Australia today; or at least, one man’s perspective. We can be aghast at the reality we face, but hopefully readers close the book ready to engage meaningfully rather than add their voice to the chorus of hate. Safran’s new book is an engaging and thought-provoking read. It shouldn’t be missed, nor should it be read in a vacuum. Read it, then read more. Stay informed. Stay relevant.
Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Publish Date: 1-May-2017
Country of Publication: Australia