BY JAMES BEMBRIDGE
Konstantin Kisin is a comedian, political commentator and co-host of the widely celebrated show TRIGGERnometry. His first book, An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the West, serves as a warning siren to those who take for granted the freedoms that Western Civilisation affords; freedoms of which Kisin’s grandparents – under the oppressions of Soviet Russia – could have only dreamed.
Britain’s middle-class commentariat often regards free speech with suspicion and considers Communism to be a rather exciting and inspiring concept. Thankfully, through his knowledge of Soviet Russia, Kisin is attuned to identify and reject such Micawberism:
‘It’s as if we (the West) subconsciously want to flirt with danger because we know we’re so incredibly safe under the awning of liberalism.’
How true, and how chilling an echo of what Orwell wrote 80 years before him:
‘So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.’
The book slips back and forth between today’s calls for egalitarianism and the history of Kisin’s family who experienced it in its most potent and grotesque form: his great grandfather was subjected to the state slavery of the gulags, and his grandfather, for the crime of possessing an illicit wireless radio (illicit because it was thought capable of picking up BBC airwaves) found himself ostracised from society. When pairing – as the book does with its mention of the large and loathsome figure of Michael Moore – solid examples such as these with the airy idealism of progressive celebrities, the case against socialism hardly needs to be made.
Kisin’s writing on Communist Russia – the spying, snitching and statist paranoia – are disturbing not because they describe an authoritarian state, but because they describe a one not so detached from our own. Let’s not forget that during the pandemic British citizens were paid to spy and report on their neighbours to the state under the sinister authority of ‘Covid Marshals’. And when Kisin tells the story of a 12-year-old boy canonised by the Russian state for informing them of his father’s ‘anti-statist’ views, one has to remember that Scotland recently tried to pass a bill allowing – no, urging – its children to do the very same thing.
During his various media circuit appearances to promote this book, Kisin has made clear that he is not a culture warrior. And it’s true; he writes as a bonding force, not a reactionary one. Like a Samaritans liaison officer, he’s calmly urging us to reconsider committing culturicide. But my only criticism is that his appeals to nuance somewhat dilute the threat posed to Western society. Its enemies are repeatedly described as ‘well-meaning’ and ‘useful idiots’, but that leaves us with the lingering question: useful to whom?
A book like this could have easily descended into cheap mockery against ‘the woke’. And though Kisin’s book has inevitably been informed by much of the anti-woke discussions held on TRIGGERnometry, its politics, philosophy and history – punctured with the kind of irreverent humour for which Kisin is known – give a fresh and illuminating perspective to the pro-free speech argument.
It’s a shame that An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the West will likely be ignored by the contemptibly naïve liberals who most need to read it. But Kisin is no fool; with his title’s clever pairing of ‘immigrant’ and ‘love letter’, some spinsterish Guardian readers might well be hoodwinked into buying it. One lives in hope.
You can purchase An Immigrant’s Love Letter to the West at Waterstones.com