Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Review of the Aachen Memorandum

I picked this book up at a book fair after having read that it was a satire on bureaucracy and 'political correctness'. Although I am not the kind of person who believes that not being able to use sexist and racist insults is the end of the world and thus unlikely to agree with the author politically I nonetheless thought I might still find this kind of book interesting. I can, for example, read the original Conan novels through to the end without believing myself, as their author did, that all civilisation is corrupt and deserves to be destroyed.

Unfortunately, Robert E. Howard was a master of wit and subtlety compared to Andrew Roberts, and I only made it halfway through the Aachen Memorandum before giving up. Roberts took everything he dislikes - immigration, high taxes on the rich, animal protection, weed, speed limits, feminism, anti-racism, grade inflation, concern for healthy nutrition, and so much more, stuffed it all into one pot and then scrawled 'Europe' onto it.

The results are, unfortunately, not even intellectually coherent. The book has all European nations dissolved into a Euro-superstate, but somehow France is still able to buy the Channel Islands off England. The dominant culture is depicted as a caricature of feminist prudery, while the protagonist is constantly lecherous and voyeuristic, but he also complains that advertisements are all using sex to sell products. Europe is a total dictatorship with complete surveillance of communications, no free press, and continental armies stationed in England to forcefully squash nationalist protests, but (what follows is the only minor spoiler here) somehow the entire edifice collapses the moment somebody finds evidence that a referendum a generation ago was manipulated. The ruling ideology is clearly supposed to be left-wing and cosmopolitan, but at the same time Adolf Hitler is venerated in the schools.

How does that any of that even start to make sense? It seems as if the author believed that everybody who is not part of his own political sect is interchangeable and in cahoots with each other.

Underneath the visceral hatred of everybody outside of Britain oozing from the pages it is just about possible to see the outline of a potentially amusing thriller, but the problem is that I cannot maintain willing suspension of disbelief. Yes, the reader will soon understand that the author despises the European Union in general and Germany and Polish taxi drivers in particular, so well done communicating that, but novels also need an at least somewhat plausible and logically coherent setting, otherwise they don't work. And that is before even mentioning how blatant a wish-fulfillment self-insert the protagonist is.

I assume there was, and still is, a very particular audience for this book in one particular country, but at least in my eyes everybody else would be better served by doing something more entertaining than reading it, such as watching paint dry or counting how many grains there are in one kg of sugar.