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The woke have no vision of the future Like medieval millenarians, today's SJWs believe all that needs to be done to bring about a new world is to destroy the old one

I can't wait until these people are in charge. Photo: JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images

I can't wait until these people are in charge. Photo: JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images


June 17, 2020   7 mins

As some conservative commentators have observed, there are striking similarities between woke militants and the Bolsheviks who seized power in 1917. But what is unfolding, in the US and to a lesser extent in other countries, is at once more archaic and more futuristic than a twentieth century revolutionary coup. The current convulsion is an outbreak more closely akin to the anarchical millenarians movements that raged across Europe in the late Middle Ages, whose vision of redemption from history was shared by America’s founders, who carried it with them to the New World.

Nevertheless, Bolsheviks and woke militants do have some things in common. In late nineteenth century Russia, under the influence of their progressive parents, a generation of educated young people was convinced of the illegitimacy of the Tsarist regime. Dostoevsky’s Demons (1871) is a vivid chronicle of the tragic and farcical process by which progressive liberals discredited traditional institutions and unleashed a wave of revolutionary terror. Not only Tsarism but any form of government came to be seen as repressive. As one of Dostoevsky’s characters put it, “I got entangled in my data
Starting from unlimited freedom, I conclude with unlimited despotism.”

The woke generation have learned a similar lesson from their elders, this time about the failings of American democracy. Rejecting old-fashioned liberal values as complicit in oppression and essentially fraudulent, they extend their power not by persuasion but by socially marginalising and economically ruining their critics. As in the show trials orchestrated by Lenin’s disciple Stalin and Mao’s “struggle sessions”, woke activists demand public confession and repentance from their victims. Like the communist elites, woke insurgents aim to enforce a single worldview by the pedagogic use of fear. The rejection of liberal freedoms concludes with the tyranny of the righteous mob.

Yet the impulses that animate the woke uprising are different from those that energised Lenin or even Mao. For the Bolshevik leader — an authentic disciple of the Jacobin Enlightenment, or so he always insisted — violence was a tool, not an end in itself. In woke movements such as Antifa, on the other hand, violence seems to be mainly therapeutic in its role.

One may abhor the type of society Lenin aimed to construct as much as the methods he adopted to achieve it, as I do myself. Tens of millions were enslaved in forced labour camps, executed or starved to death in pursuit of a repellent fantasy. Even so, Lenin attempted to fashion a future that in his view was an improvement on the past.

Woke activists, in contrast, have no vision of the future. In Leninist terms they are infantile leftists, acting out a revolutionary performance with no strategy or plan for what they would do in power. Yet their difference from Lenin goes deeper. Rather than aiming for a better future, woke militants seek a cathartic present. Cleansing themselves and others of sin is their goal. Amidst vast inequalities of power and wealth, the woke generation bask in the eternal sunshine of their spotless virtue.

The key scenes in the woke uprising that followed the killing of George Floyd are rituals of purification in which public officials have washed the feet of insurgents, and acts of iconoclasm in which public monuments have been destroyed or defaced. These are symbolic actions aiming to sever the present from the past, not policies designed to fashion a different future.

The only concrete measure proposed has been to defund and disband the police. As some of the insurrectionaries’ placards have proclaimed, there will be no more police violence when there are no more police. Once repressive institutions have been methodically dismantled, a peaceful anarchy will prevail. As could have been foreseen by anyone with a smattering of history, outbreaks of mass looting in Chicago and other cities have not borne out this confidence.

New, ‘transformative’ systems of law enforcement will confront problems not unlike those faced by the police forces that have been dissolved.  ‘Autonomous zones’ of the kind that have been announced in Seattle, Portland and Minneapolis will need to resolve disputes and enforce their decisions. Local warlords and prophets — some of them no doubt armed — will become arbiters of public safety. When they overreach themselves and fail to protect even minimal levels of security, vigilantes and organised crime will fill the void. Where this proves costly or unstable, federal government may step in and impose order. In other cases, cities may be abandoned to become zones of anarchy.

The history of the medieval millenarians illustrates this process. They were antinomians, heretical believers who anathematised the Church and considered themselves released by divine grace from any moral restraints. While asserting their superior virtue, their signature practice was self-flagellation. Forgiveness — whether of themselves other others — was notably absent.

As Norman Cohn writes in his seminal study The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages (1957), “in Germany and southern Europe alike flagellant groups continued to exist for more than two centuries.” Probably originating in Italy in the mid-thirteenth century, the flagellant movement reached a peak in Germany in 1348-9 when it was inflamed by the Black Death. There, as in other parts of Europe, the flagellants turned on sections of the population they accused of conjuring up the pestilence, particularly Jews, many of whose communities were wiped out.

Two hundred years later, the Anabaptist prophet Jan Bockelson seized control of the city of Munster, turning it briefly into a communist theocracy in which forcible baptisms and public executions became daily spectacles. Bockelson’s rule ended when, after a long siege, the city fell to armies acting for the Church. He was tortured to death in the town square.

For Cohn, the study of medieval millenarians was an essential part of understanding modern totalitarianism. It is also useful in understanding the woke movement. Medieval flagellants and woke militants combine a sense of their own moral infallibility with a passion for masochistic self-abasement. Medieval millenarians believed the world would be remade by God when Jesus returned after a millennium of injustice (millenarians are also known as chiliasts, chiliad being a thousand years), while the woke faithful believe divine intervention is no longer necessary: their own virtue will be sufficient. In both cases, nothing needs to be done to bring about a new world apart from destroying the old one.

There are some differences between the two movements. Mediaeval millenarians attracted much of their support from illiterate peasants and poor urban workers. The woke movement, on the other hand, is mostly composed of the offspring of middle class families schooled in institutions of higher learning. Like their medieval predecessors, woke activists believe themselves to be emancipated from established values. But, possibly uniquely in history, their antinomian rebellion emanates from an antinomian establishment.

The rise of the woke movement has not occurred as a result of a takeover of American institutions by a dictatorial government. Key American institutions have overthrown themselves, while Trump’s attempts to assert dictatorial power have so far been ineffectual. It may be that the scenes of anarchy that are part of the uprising will work in Trump’s favour in November. At least a third of the American population is opposed to woke values, a number that could increase substantially the more the uprising involves public disorder. Equally, Biden may prevail by promising a more peaceful future and find himself compelled to rein in the insurgency in order to preserve some degree of public order. Either way America will remain more or less ungovernable.

The foundational crimes of the American regime — black slavery and the seizure of indigenous groups’ lands that followed the War of Independence—are real enough. But so, in its continuing formative influence, is the mythology from which America was born. A Lockean fusion of Protestant religiosity with an Enlightenment faith in reason was the founding American religion.

Throughout most of American history Lockean liberalism has reflected the realities of power. Locke himself helped draft constitutions for Carolina that legitimated slavery, and argued that indigenous peoples could be suppressed on the ground that they had not cleared the wilderness and made their land productive. On occasion — as in the Rooseveltian settlement that followed the Second World War and made possible the civil rights movement in the Fifties and Sixties — America’s divisions were partly transcended. For the most part a redemptive myth has gone hand in hand with repression. The record suggests this will continue. Icons will be smashed and antinomian passions ventilated, while social and racial antagonisms remain brutal and intractable.

More than the faux-Marxian musings of postmodern thinkers, it is the singular American faith in national redemption that drives the woke insurgency. The self-imposed inquisitorial regime in universities and newspapers — where editors and journalists, professors and students are encouraged to sniff out and report heresy so it can be exposed and exorcised — smacks of Salem more than Leningrad. Saturated with Christian theology, Locke’s Enlightenment liberalism is reverting to a more primordial version of the founding faith. America is changing, radically and irreversibly, but it is also staying the same.

America’s ungovernability is morphing into a distinctive pattern of governance, with power shifting to institutions that are dismantling their traditional structures. Universities have become seminaries of woke religion, while newspapers are turning into sermonising agitprop sheets. At the same time mass unemployment and accelerating automation are stripping workers of what remained of the bargaining power they exercised before the neoliberal era.

The system that seems to be emerging is a high-tech variation on feudalism, with wealth creation concentrated around new industries and most of the population disenfranchised and dispossessed. While this metamorphosis gathers speed, the American media are manufacturing fictional narratives of national redemption.

America is on the way to becoming a semi-failed state. Its soft power has collapsed, probably irrecoverably. Yet it does not follow that it will cease to be a globally powerful actor. In a competition with totalitarian China, an American regime that mixes authoritarian control with zones of anarchy may have a comparative advantage. Classical totalitarianism is as obsolete as classical liberalism, and American mercantilism may be more resilient and innovative than Chinese state capitalism. A ruling elite shaped by figures like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk may prove more capable of deploying new technologies than a communist emperor who has put China into a deep freeze. One of the most surreal moments during the insurrection occurred when Musk’s SpaceX, almost unnoticed, launched astronauts into space.

As the woke movement spills over into parts of Europe and the UK, it should be clear that this is no passing storm. Here, as in the US, woke militants have few, if any, definite policies. What they want is simply the end of the old order. The paroxysm we are witnessing may be remembered as a defining moment in the decline of the liberal west. Perhaps it is time to consider how to strengthen the enclaves of free thought and expression that still remain, so they have a chance of surviving in the blank and pitiless world that is being born.


John Gray is a political philosopher and author. His books include Seven Types of Atheism, False Dawn: the Delusions of Global Capitalism, and Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and The Death of Utopia.


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Matt K
Matt K
4 years ago

Without meaning to sound pithy Jordan Peterson and others have been warning about this for many years and he’s been shamefully demonised for it and ignored because he was portrayed as some sort of right wing lunatic. I don’t believe this is as grave problem. For a start, you can fight it, stop supporting the corporations that endorse these causes. Secondly, the vast vast majority of people have seen how utterly ridiculous it is now particularly in the U.K. and the black community will come off worse in the long run. This is not a threat in the same way the Russian revolution was unless the entire working class group together, which they won’t as the true working class couldn’t care less about identity politics and have also been demonised as racist and far right.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
4 years ago
Reply to  Matt K

A great shame that Dr Peterson is still (presumably, given his silence) not well enough to comment during these dark days. We need him.

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
4 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

He is back !!! See blog for a right on piece on academic mobbing and denunciation….https://http://www.jordanbpeterson.com/pol...

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Martin

Many thanks 🙂

David George
David George
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Martin

I was greatly heartened to see Dr Peterson returning to the fray; all the more so to see he has lost none of his passion and perspicacity.
Quite a lovely piece of writing even if the subject is deeply worrying.

authorjf
authorjf
3 years ago
Reply to  David George

Highly gratified to hear he’s back. Really missed Uncle Jordan! In the meantime, I’ve discovered Joseph Campbell, another truly brilliant Jungian. I don’t know if anyone’s ever compared their work, but Peterson is still a true giant, and not just in a mere intellectual sense, but in a profoundly human way.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

not well enough to comment during these dark days.

Probably due to his insane meat-only diet, which is enough alone to badly damage one’s health.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

Mad isn’t it.
Yet eskimos do it (not much veg in the arctic)

Rocky Rhode
Rocky Rhode
4 years ago
Reply to  Matt K

The idea that the working class in Russia grouped together to bring about the Russian Revolution is a common misconception.

The Russian proletariat (serfs) were small-c conservative by nature. It was a small cadre of metropolitan intellectuals who managed to topple a ruling class that was exhausted, demoralised and unsure of itself.

I sense a warning from history in these facts…

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
4 years ago
Reply to  Matt K

This is not a threat in the same way the Russian revolution was unless the entire working class group together

The Russian Revolution hardly involved the entire working class. And it was certainly not led by the working class.

I’m not sure how grave the rise of wokeism is, to be honest. It’s a minority pursuit (though Bolshevism was too) and I’d have thought it’s particularly vulnerable to ridicule, which ought to deflate it.

Another obvious difference with early 20th century Russia is that the USA is a democracy, with an election due in a few months’ time.

David FĂŒlöp
David FĂŒlöp
4 years ago
Reply to  Pete Kreff

Yes there is an election coming but because of the way the distribution of authority is structured in the USA it doesn’t matter who wins anymore. The country will remain largely ungovernable.

M Blanc
M Blanc
4 years ago
Reply to  Pete Kreff

It’s a minority pursuit, but it has the backing of the majority political party and the almost complete support of the most influential institutions of American society.

Jurek Molnar
Jurek Molnar
4 years ago
Reply to  Matt K

Also: John Grays assumption in his otherwise brilliant analysis that for Leninists “violence was a tool, not an end in itself” is utterly false. If violence was a tool, then it was the only one and Lenin himself declared on more than one occasion that terror represented for him the most important option of revolutionary struggle.

Peter Coomber
Peter Coomber
4 years ago

This is simply sublime. The author distils the meaning of our travails in a manner that few our others can manage. ‘Amidst vast inequalities of power and wealth, the woke generation bask in the eternal sunshine of their spotless virtue. ‘I am minded to steal this phrase and use it as my own. I will, of course, not do so out of respect for the author who is surely one of the foremost intellectuals of our time.

Auberon Linx
Auberon Linx
4 years ago

A thoughtful analysis by John Gray as usual, and readers of his book “Seven Types of Atheism” will not be in any way surprised by the events currently unfolding, nor will they have missed the chiliastic elements in the woke movement. It is too early to say what the long-term effects of the protests currently convulsing the US will be – while the moment appears to be a triumph of the left post-modernism, it is more likely to be its swan song. After all, the universities, where the ideology of the hour was born, are among the institutions hardest hit by the Coronavirus epidemic. That, with the long-brewing realisation that university degrees no longer provide a financially secure future, will ensure seminaries where woke teachings are spread gradually disappear. After all, it does not make sense to accrue hundreds of thousands dollars/pounds of debt for a paper that offers zero employability, and younger generations are becoming aware of the fact.

Another disturbing possibility is that the woke movement will provoke a violent response from racist/nationalist groups which have grievances of their own. While the left has been crying about the white nationalist wolf for a long time, in a country with a strong tradition of belief in self-governance, and a population armed to their teeth, this is no empty alarmism. Further divisions along urban/rural areas and coast/flyover countries as to which violent thugs are in charge are likely.

Finally, while America is likely to keep its inventiveness and dynamism, it should be noted that for decades now, these have been uniquely of a decadent sort. As impressive as Google, Facebook and Amazon are, they hardly represent any kind of real breakthrough – they just do better, faster and cheaper what others had already done before (a skill in which, incidentally, China excells). And Tesla’s achievement of launching astronauts into space, while no mean feat technically, is just repeating something done over half a century ago.

Anyway, while both America and China are bound to remain powerful actors, their competition may become a moot point. America has lost appetite for foreign intervention and running the global order, and after initial inertia due to neoliberals still filling the relevant government departments, this is now surely on the wane. China seems to have made a conscious decision not to aspire to global leadership of any kind – while the Chinese had excellent opportunities to charm their way to a position of a reliable partner, they chose not to. Instead, they doubled down on issues of Sino-Indian border, Hong Kong and South China sea, with little concern for the sense of alarm this caused worldwide. It is hard to resist the conclusion that China is absolutely fine with being a regional power, albeit one with a strong grip on the immediate neighbourhood.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
4 years ago
Reply to  Auberon Linx

The “ideology of the hour does not really “emerge from universities”. Much more than anything that happens on campus, it is a surely a symptom of the workings of social media, in which people publicly expressing dissident opinions can be visibly slapped down, un-friended and so forth. In the past fifteen years, people have been accultured to police their own thoughts and to shape themselves into ideological conformity. Andrew Sullivan’s remark, “We are all on campus now”, could be more accurately rephrased as “We are all on Twitter now”. This diagnosis, by the way, explains why the sea change has taken place within the last ten years, although far-left perspectives have been disproportionately represented in academia for decades. The generation that has undergone this dramatic shift is the generation that started using social media in late childhood or in adolescence (those of us who were already adults were a bit less vulnerable). If you think of how traumatic it can be, at the age of 13 or 14, to be “cancelled” by a friend – it always occasionally happened in real life, as it does now often online – then it scarcely seems surprising how anxious to conform the generation born in the late 1990s, who started to access Facebook as it became a phenomenon around 2010, have become. The problem has been exacerbated as people have become more aware that there is a permanent, searchable record of things one may have thought or said, years ago, and that therefore it is not only what one says today that is held against us, but what one said in the past. With this in mind, the present and recent generation of students have become used to monitoring their comments not only in conformity with present social mores, but in anticipation of hypothetical future ones (always naively assumed, of course, to be more progressive than those of the present).

R Malarkey
R Malarkey
4 years ago

Hence why absolutely everybody should use a pseudonym, as people who used the early internet did as standard.

David Simpson
David Simpson
4 years ago
Reply to  R Malarkey

Wouldn’t that just make the whole process even more savage / disconnected from any consequences in the “real”world? Far better to insist that everyone can be identified and called out for their bullying and oppression when it happens

thewesbrown
thewesbrown
4 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Hiding behind personas is part of what creates such toxic troll environments online. Far better to have to transparency and accountability of a site like this

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

David Simpson – So you presumably don’t place any value on whistleblowers, who need anonymity, and also the huge importance of people feeling safe to say what they honestly think, ditto.
I myself regularly talk with people in quiet spaces offline, because there there is the high value of honest thoughts unvarnishedly expressed. So-called “bullying and oppression” of or by an anonymous person does not amount to a bean. The solution is for people to recognise that pseudonymous accusations carry no credibility unless supported otherwise, and if they are merely insults, well, it is overtime that children were taught again that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. For instance I could here say that you are a @#£!!ing %#*$-bag, but so what? Are you seriously going to start crying about it?! (lol) (Sorry if you just have!)

Auberon Linx
Auberon Linx
4 years ago

It is certainly true that social media played an important part in the escalation of race-related protests worldwide, and partly explain the woke movement going mainstream and global. But this downplays the history of multiculturist ideas which are much older and can be traced to the beginning of the 20th century. I maintain that decades of cultivating the post-modernist left worldview at the institutions of higher learning were critical in creating the pre-conditions for the current moment. Ideas ranging from contentious (to put it charitably) to completely absurd were allowed to thrive in what are still establishment institutions, in deference to practices of independence and freedom of thought.

Anyone with the least familiarity with academic environments knows that freedom of thought there is an illusion – scholars, lacking in independent means and unemployable outside of academia, are completely dependent on their peers when seeking even a short-term contract, let alone a tenure. That makes them extremely susceptible to peer pressure, and absolutely terrified of voicing an opinion which might potentially land them on the street. Once marginal views have thus become dogma, and generations of students have been receiving them as undisputed truth for the past few decades.

As you note, this alone does not explain the sea change happening at the moment. Rather than blaming it on social media (which do play a part), I think the culprit is a massive expansion of higher education (with subsequent indoctrination in post-modern left ideas), and the resulting over-production of graduates who will never find jobs of a kind they’d been led to expect. These young and not-so-young people have received a worldview of an elite they will never be allowed to join in a meaningful sense. Without ever being able to own a home, without stability that would give them confidence to start families of their own, with the ties to their communities of origin mostly erased, they are bored, lonely and insecure. Without any prior faith of their own, they grasp at the dominant religion on offer, which happens to be wokeism in the circles they frequent.

bob_bank
bob_bank
4 years ago

I completely agree that the polarisation in attitudes towards censorship is as much about age as it is traditional sides of the political spectrum. As someone in their 40s, I think, possibly, I straddle the generational divide. There was a discussion about this on the radio earlier. Isnt it the habit of human beings for one generation to reject the sensibilities of the one that went before? But it’s certainly very interesting to consider how post 1990s technological changes have shaped the ideas of those who have entered adulthood during this period. The only ‘overtly’ social media account I have is Twitter, but I don’t engage. I just spy and get annoyed ðƾ˜not to old gor emojis. Are they allowed on here?

Auberon Linx
Auberon Linx
4 years ago

It is certainly true that social media played an important part in
the escalation of race-related protests worldwide, and partly explain
the woke movement going mainstream and global. But this downplays the
history of multiculturist ideas which are much older and can be traced
to the beginning of the 20th century. I maintain that decades of
cultivating the post-modernist left worldview at the institutions of
higher learning were critical in creating the pre-conditions for the
current moment. Ideas ranging from contentious (to put it charitably) to
completely absurd were allowed to thrive in what are still
establishment institutions, in deference to practices of independence
and freedom of thought.

Anyone with the least familiarity with academic environments knows that freedom of thought there is an illusion – scholars, lacking in independent means and unemployable outside of academia, are completely dependent on their peers when seeking even a short-term contract, let alone a tenure. That makes them extremely susceptible to peer pressure, and absolutely terrified of voicing an opinion which might potentially land them on the street. Once-marginal views have thus become dogma, and generations of students have been receiving them as undisputed truth for the past few decades.

As you note, this alone does not explain the sea change happening at the
moment. Rather than blaming it on social media (which do play a part), I
think the culprit is a massive expansion of higher education (with
subsequent indoctrination in post-modern left ideas), and the resulting
over-production of graduates who will never find jobs of a kind they’d
been led to expect. These young and not-so-young people have received a worldview of an elite they will never be allowed to join in a meaningful
sense. Without ever being able to own a home, without stability that
would give them confidence to start families of their own, with the ties
to their communities of origin mostly erased, they are bored, lonely
and insecure. Without any prior faith of their own, they grasp at the
dominant religion on offer, which happens to be wokeism in the circles
they frequent.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  Auberon Linx

A better essay than the one at the top here. And less time-consuming too! Cheers.

angersbeagle
angersbeagle
4 years ago

You make some good points.
This desire for this social media generation to conform as a result of conditioning explains a good deal.
Towards the end you talk about monitoring comments made in the past. This is “Offence Archaeology” as one journalist put it and nobody is safe. Here in the UK that doyen of the Left , the Guardian newspaper is now under threat…..you could not make it up..

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  angersbeagle

Any more details on the Guardian’s offences? Cheers.

angersbeagle
angersbeagle
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

Yes, apparently it had links back in the early days to the Confederacy ……..it is our latest industry, Offence Archaeology……

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  angersbeagle

Thanks, and If we’re going back that far, I bet there were also plenty articles enthusing about eugenics.

George Parr
George Parr
4 years ago

Correct. University was the igniter, social media was the accelerant.

bob_bank
bob_bank
4 years ago
Reply to  Auberon Linx

The woke movement is already facilitating the (un) righteous indignation of nationalism, racism and general intolerance to difference.

Frederick B
Frederick B
4 years ago
Reply to  bob_bank

hope so.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Auberon Linx

China is ” fine with being a regional power”.
For how long? Why are they building nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN)? Currently their SSBNs are small and noisy. You can hear the latest one press the ‘start’ button in Yulin, as far away as Pearl Harbour, but this won’t last. Unless we act soon, our children will face a war, the like of which has not been seen since the Punic Wars.
Prevention is better than cure.

.

alantylershow
alantylershow
4 years ago

It’s a bit of an overstatement that SJWs have “no vision of the future, no policies”. Yanis Varoufakis; What comes after capitalism? on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/wat… provides one such vision (a fairly prevalent one, I’d say) where the proceeds of increasingly monopoly tech giants like Google are progressively appropriated to provide for the people, who will increasingly stay at home (much as they are doing now) to have “philosophical discussions”, or whatever else it is they choose to do.
It’s a profoundly depressing vision, but a vision it is. The fun is over, kids…

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
4 years ago
Reply to  alantylershow

If that is a truly representative summary of what he said, it’s depressing mainly due too it’s banality.

Staying home to have ‘philosophical discussions’! As if.

Steve Moxon
Steve Moxon
4 years ago

John Gray’s book, ‘Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia’ is the seminal contemporary philosophical work (albeit a few things he gets wrong). It’s possibly the best book I’ve ever read.
My own take: THE ORIGIN OF ‘IDENTITY POLITICS’ & ‘POLITICAL CORRECTNESS’: Not Consideration for Minorities but Hatred Towards the Mass of Ordinary People; Specifically ‘the Workers’ ” Tracing the Roots of Why and How it Arose and Developed Reveals the Greatest Political Fraud in History.
SUMMARY
‘Identity politics’ (often or even usually dubbed ‘political correctness’) is the result of a
political-Left major backlash against the mass of ordinary people (in Europe and ‘the West’), beginning in the 1920s, in the wake of the persistent failure of Marxist theory to be realised in European ‘revolution’ or any real change through democracy. In shifting the blame away from Marxist theory and its adherents, and on to those the theory had prescribed and predicted would have been the beneficiaries ” the workers (if only they had responded accordingly) ” then the cognitive-dissonance within the political-left mindset caused by this crisis to an extent was salved. [It is NOT at all the same as what the Left mistakenly term ‘the politics of identity’ to tag the new movements against the elite, on the false assumption that they are essentially nationalistic and ‘white backlash’. Trump and Brexit triumphed because the general populace have come to realise that the
government-media-education elite has an unwarranted profound contempt for if not hatred towards them; and, therefore hardly is liable to act in their interests.]
The intellectual rationalisation was to build on false notions of Engels (co-author with Marx of The Communist Manifesto) that ‘capitalism’ created the family and ‘false consciousness’, by theorising mechanisms of how ‘the workers’ were somehow prevented from revolting. This was by invoking Freud’s now comprehensively discredited notion of ‘repression’, first to attempt to explain a supposed impact on ‘the workers’ of ‘capitalism’ acting within the context of the family. With most workers (the group considered the principal ‘agents of social change’ in a ‘revolution’) being male, then the theoreticians had in mind the male as ‘head’ of the family. It was a simple extension in political-Left imagination for ‘the worker’ to change from being the putative conduit of the impact of ‘capitalism’ to its embodiment, leaving by default women to be deemed a replacement supposed ‘oppressed’ and ‘disadvantaged’ ‘group’. The false notion of ‘repression’ was also considered in a wider sense to produce ‘false consciousness’ in the ‘proletariat’, supposedly obscuring what was in their own best interests.
This implausible and unfalsifiable non-scientific nonsense mainly festered within academia until circa 1968 the New Left in the USA, spurred by, indeed aping the Chinese ‘cultural
revolution’, co-opted a movement which, though having nothing do do with the Left, appeared to be akin to the revolutionary activity predicted by Marxism: US ‘civil rights’. This added to the ‘new oppressed’ another category, which like that of women could be envisaged as an inversion of a retrospective stereotype of ‘the worker’. In the wake of the similarly seeming revolutionary Stonewall riots of 1969, the ‘gay rights’ lobby also was co-opted (again, despite having had nothing to do with the Left) to further add by inversion to the abstract demonised aspects of ‘the worker’, thereafter retrospectively stereotyped as male plus ‘white’ plus heterosexual.
This prizing into the role of being emblematic of Marxist struggle naturally rendered the specific conflicts more generalisable, allowing expansion into more widely encompassing
categories. US Afro-Americans, in being championed as the ‘ethnic minority’ supposed warriors of the Left thereby meant anyone generically of an ‘ethnic minority’ was deemed to belong to the club. Likewise, ‘gays’ became generic ‘homosexuals’. The problem thereby arose of false identification. The category non-white / ethnic minority includes such as migrant Indians and Chinese, who by no criteria are ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘oppressed’. Likewise lesbians drawn into the category homosexual. As for women, by
objective, non-ideological analysis, women are privileged, as they are bound to be with the female being the limiting factor in reproduction. As has been regularly pointed out, Western middle-class women are the most privileged large ‘group’ in history. The ‘groups’ are far too heterogeneous to be in reality ‘oppressed’ or ‘disadvantaged’, providing a window on the sophistry and origin of this politics as other than it purports.
The strands of the ‘new oppressed’ naturally combined as a new (neo-Marxist) conceptualisation to account for these political shifts after the fact, which came to be termed identity politics (or more pejoratively though actually more accurately, cultural Marxism). The deemed ‘groups’ replacing ‘the workers’ subsequently were not only
expanded in their scope but added to ” by the disabled, the elderly, trans-sexuals, the obese “Š . Again, all are abstractions rather than groups per se. This relentless expansion and then the use and abuse of these mis-identifications of under-privilege by educated individuals belonging to one or more of the categories, has been dubbed ‘the oppression olympics’, making ‘identity politics’ a gravy train for the already privileged, serving actually to substantially increase inequality. Worse still, it is an instrument of oppression against the very ‘group’ perennially disadvantaged and the victim of prejudice, which formerly had been identified as worthy of the liberation Marxism promised: the vast majority of (necessarily lower-status) men ” ‘the workers’. This was the whole point of the political development, of course.
The pretence to egalitarianism is perfect cover for what actually is ‘identity politics’: the very perennial and ubiquitous elitist-separatism (status-grabbing) the political-Left ethos (supposedly) is to attack, and which Left zealots vehemently deny exists in themselves. Leftist bigotry betrays either unusually high status-seeking motivation or particularly deep
frustration in the quest for status, which is ‘projected’ on to everyone else, who actually have normal levels of motivation to achieve status and manage to ride the ups and downs of life without requiring such dysfunctional ideation. The Left’s egalitarianism is a feint for
selfishly pursuing the very opposite. If everyone else is held at a uniformly low status, Leftists thereby become ‘the chosen few’. Transparently, this is an ideology in the wake ” a residue ” of Christianity. A quasi-religion of supposed inevitable progress towards
‘the promised land’, rendered a utopia of equality-of-outcome. The high priests of this faith ” the social justice warriors ” are the ‘saved’ striving to convert the rest of us on the promise of entry to ‘heaven’. This represents a continuation of secularisation: a shift in religiosity from envisaging a ‘god’ as being in man’s image, through the humanist
deification of mankind, to worship of a supposed dynamic of teleological social change (Marxism). ‘Identity politics’, in being profoundly not what it pretends to be and so deeply entrenched across the whole and every facet of the establishment in Anglophone nations especially and to a large extent in ‘the West’ generally, can properly be regarded as the
greatest political fraud in history.

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
4 years ago

I think the author is wrong to compare wokeism to Leninism, which was led by a clear and tightly-led Marxist party. A more obvious comparison would have been with the Chinese cultural revolution, where out of control thinking set off a self-devouring process.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

Yes, for some time now I have seen the Cultural Revolution as being the closest analogy to the Woke movement and its methods.

David Simpson
David Simpson
4 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

But who’s the Mao now?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
4 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

….Saint Greta maybe?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

No, this time it’s a Hydra. Cut off one head and two new ones grow to replace it.
As before, we shall need a Hercules.

authorjf
authorjf
3 years ago
Reply to  David Simpson

A lot of candidates! Oleaginous Owen, Death Tax Abby, Jihadi Jez, Chairman Seumas, Comrade O’Donnell, Muggletonian Monroe…

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

How many did the Cultural Revolution purge/kill, three million was it?
So, we still have that to look forward to.

Paul Reidinger
Paul Reidinger
4 years ago

“Blank and pitiless” — well, that is slightly on the chilly side, and I’m afraid all too true. I listen to Schubert’s piano sonatas as I write these words.

repper
repper
4 years ago

This atrocity occurred in Melbourne at the weekend as part of the BLM hysteria sweeping Western democracies. It is truly horrifying. Please do not watch the video if you are easily upset by graphic violence:

https://www.youtube.com/wat

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
4 years ago
Reply to  repper

That is truly shocking and even more shocking is the lack of police action. It would surely be easy to identify the gang, it is probably not the first time they have acted together. To chose a defenceless girl is the ultimate in cowardice.
It also makes me think that, if the establishment continues to placate the rabble and accede to their every demand, this is something we might all have to face in the future.

angersbeagle
angersbeagle
4 years ago
Reply to  repper

I did watch it and Iam shocked that not one person had the stomach to wade in and help the girl……somebody must have seen what was going on…..
I only hope that in Melbourne there are certain bystanders feeling ashamed…………
Mind you if you look at the images from the weekend here in London it was mob violence against the few as well…..

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  repper

Australia has form here. Anyone remember Lieutenant General Henry Gordon Bennett?

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
4 years ago

Excellent article.
IMO, the Woke generation doesn’t have a vision for the future because they don’t have any frame of reference.
They’ve never experienced anything bad in their lifetimes.
They have to channel ‘bad’ from a time in the past that they couldn’t possibly relate to.
Oh well, this too shall pass.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
4 years ago

Just shut down social media. Once the keyboard warriors are silenced maybe we can return to civilised reasoned oral debate.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
4 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Yes, absolutely.

George Parr
George Parr
4 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Correct. It’s like being stuck in a lift with tens of thousands of people all screaming for attention.

hgppevans
hgppevans
4 years ago

The analogy drawn by the writer with millenarianism is fascinating, but why is the Reformation, arguably the greatest iconoclasm of all, not mentioned once? What is it about liberalism itself, the tradition the author advocates, that makes it liable to degenerate into the very thing it most deplores?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  hgppevans

What about the Anabaptists of Munster that John Gray mentioned. How is that not part of the ‘Reformation’? Or did you not get that far?

delchriscrean
delchriscrean
4 years ago

Interesting! As I read through a thought kept returning.. could this lead to war? Not a civil war but an international conflict? Is the incumbent at the White House just crazy enough to believe the best way to suppress the angry minority and unite the country under his glorious leadership is by giving the population a deadly enemy to fight?
There are strong feelings and arguments on each side, but there is also a large number of people, including me, in the middle – wanting our views to be represented. We are largely colour-blind, believe in equality of opportunity, understand that success is not always merit based, have seen vast improvements in living standards, want a better future for our children (probably for the first time in decades we will not be delivering that). Who will come forward to represent us? Does anyone have the courage and ability to defuse the unrest and possibly save the world?

angersbeagle
angersbeagle
4 years ago
Reply to  delchriscrean

For me it is far less about Trump giving the “silent majority” an enemy to fight and more about the Cultural / Media / Political institutions trying to appease the mob.
As the writer has said, this BLM movement is really about dragging in all these differing “minority” groups under one banner and doing their best to dismantle society.
That they are angry is obvious, that all their grievances are just is not. Just go online and listen to the CHAZ loudmouths and what they want………

Howard Medwell
Howard Medwell
4 years ago

An exciting read – John Gray’s view of the future is probably accurate enough; if anything, he underestimates the horror – the inequality which he mentions in passing will make life even bleaker for our grandchildren.
But Gray is less impressive on the political significance significance of wokeness at the present juncture of politics: why is it all happening now? And why is it supported by important sections of the establishment, when the establishment itself, allegedly, is the target of the protests?
Could it be that the establishment (define it as you will) hopes to use wokeness, indeed to manage it, as a way of heading off other forms of protest, such as economically-focussed protest, which might offer a more existential threat to the existing system?

Dr Irene Lancaster
Dr Irene Lancaster
4 years ago

Truly excellent article, covering all bases.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
4 years ago

Maybe I’m an irrational optimist, but the revolution that John Gray fears can only come about if either the current system is widely seen as so irredeemably rotten that anything would be better, or if a radical alternative is presented that is widely seen as preferable to the status quo. Despite its faults, the current system is not that bad. And the woke cause is, as Dr Gray notes, devoid of any specific alternative – it’s not just that it does not have anything that I find convincing, but it really has almost no specific positive agenda at all. Where there are specific ideas, like de-policing, they are liable to appal the great majority of people.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
4 years ago

The ‘Blooming yoof” is characterised by Reverse discrimination All Black,Marxist blm, is Good, modern West bad….. You dont need to be ‘Right’ or ‘left” to have the Screaming Twitterati or Faceless book WarriorsTelling Me I cant ‘Think’ that even with Proof ..ie ”Climate Change” .Corruption of EU commissioners,Lord Mandelson, Christine Lagarde,Ursula van derleyden..etc…The Current Mainstream media merely echo Sound bytes and drivel….Which is why most discerning people turn it off!…

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

The problem is social media culture is being made manifest in the real world by journalists, academicians and politicians. BLM are a physical manifestation of a Twitter cancel mob.

Jill Armstead
Jill Armstead
4 years ago

Absolutely brilliant article.

Blatancy Rose
Blatancy Rose
4 years ago

An excellent comment. Let us be honest in this, BLM has no other objective in the UK than to preach the Left’s woke ideology.

whatinsamnation
whatinsamnation
4 years ago

A couple of things: 1. It’s not a democracy…I really get sick of people feeling (obviously not thinking) our form of government is a mob-rule democracy. it’s a representative republic. 2. I don’t understand the need to go “woke” (retarded) three fifths of the way through with the old “and the seizure of indigenous groups’ lands” tripe. Tell me, precisely, where is it that people live that has not been conquered at some point in time? Whining about the past is counter-productive (a point you thoroughly make in the piece) and doesn’t solve the problems of today. No black people alive today have been slaves (unless they were slaves somewhere else and moved here) and there are no slave owners today. It might be informative to know there were many black slave owners back in the time of slavery but that’s long past. It might be good to know that the Christian influence helped end slavery and that over 600K people died fighting a war to end slavery (the vast majority of them were white, thank you very much). Apparently, you aren’t very well read on 20th century marxist regimes because the children were taught to turn in their parents for the “heresy” of having “wrong think” in every marxist dictatorial regime (it’s one of the 1st tenets of marxism – get control of the kids minds). Your constant negative connotations of Christianity tell of someone closed-minded and not considering the entire story of it’s impact on our country. My money is on truth winning out and when these people learn what it truly is that they’re trying to implement, it will fall flat on it’s face.
Now for the good. You definitely nailed the causes of this angst. We have federal totalitarian marxist indoctrination centers masquerading as an educational system. They aren’t teaching our kids how to think, they’re teaching them what to think. Lest you think “I live in a small town with traditional values, this sort of thing isn’t going on at our school” I would say to you – don’t be a naive imbecile. Where do you think your teachers come from? Spoiler alert “Woke U” is where. It’s a cancer on our society and the only cure is massive arrests, trials, convictions and very long prison sentences for all involved in the cultural marxist conspiracy to destroy our country. We have to not only gut the entire in-doctrinal system, get the gov’t out of the education business and shut down the department of education, we literally have to create an entire new educational system, from the ground up and keep local control of it. It’s going to be a daunting task but the emphasis has to be teaching kids how to think and teaching them marketable skills. Women’s & minority studies degrees are useless outside of DC.
I look forward to your next article and hopefully, you’ll learn some history from a non “woke” perspective.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
4 years ago

Good article. I do wonder just how much of a threat the woke movement is? To me at least, it seems a prime candidate for different factions to evolve and turn against each other. When you have a vacuum (And we have all been told how much nature abhors a vacuum) where a vision should be, something or someone is going to try and fill it. Then the fun begins.

Colin Sandford
Colin Sandford
4 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

Thought provoking article. The world will return to tribal warfare. Not that it has totally gone away in places like the Middle East and African continent.

Dan Vesty
Dan Vesty
4 years ago
Reply to  Colin Sandford

I’m not sure the world has ever ‘left’ tribal warfare – the tribes just became psychological/spiritual/political and therefore less obvious.

R Malarkey
R Malarkey
4 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

Soon find out. Elections in the US soon, then we’ll see if it’s just a noisy few or an actual movement.

Rocky Rhode
Rocky Rhode
4 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

It is already somewhat fracturing into Pythonesque territory – People’s Front of Judea vs Judean People’s Front type of thing.

More worrying to me less the infantile iconoclasm of the protestors than the way in which so many institutions and organisations which should know better have capitulated almost completely.

From police officers kneeling and running away to elected officials egging on the vandalism and violence; from corporations rushing to mouth the virtue-signalling platitudes du jour to bishops condoning this all-too-modern form of racism, the grown ups have vacated the field.

Clive Mitchell
Clive Mitchell
4 years ago
Reply to  Rocky Rhode

Yes that annoys me as well . I switched on the TV a few days ago, changed to one of the Discovery channels and got blasted with a piece of self publicity from Discovery ending with the statement that they support BLM!

As you say the grown ups have indeed vacated the field.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
4 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

Indeed. I consider BLM a terrorist group and am gravely concerned that it is receiving millions of dollars from corporations. Most of their money goes to the US Democrat party too, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is just a sneaky way of appropriating campaign funds.

Helen Wood
Helen Wood
4 years ago
Reply to  Clive Mitchell

I think in the UK part of the woke culture is a phenomenon of investment into the future-Part of the emerging interrogation of Britishness by BAME writers and intellectuals born in the 80s and 90s. Recent waves of Immigrants and those from the Windrush who ve settled here are part of the Whiteshift discussed in Eric Kauffmans research. He identifies a major trend now towards children in UK.being increasingly of mixed heritage..with 50 percent of males of West indian origin partnering with white British women
This mixed and black or Asian generation of 20 and 30 year olds want to redefine their national identity
to include post colonial and post modern theory and extend the historical syllabus around Empire. They envisage an inheritance for themselves in terms of present and future citizenship for themselves and their children ,which to some extent revises the whole notion of Britishness.
While the racialist puritanism of woke culture is threatening to liberal humanist perpectives and traditional concepts of Britishness…it may be that the excesses of this ideology will dissipate over time with some elements incorporated into a new hegemony..as happened with feminism.
Britain will not neccesssrily
have a dominant white majority in the future so BLM is perhaps a movement which reflects the growing pains inherent in these changes.

tjell2010
tjell2010
4 years ago

The persuasive aspects of this essay that surely do identify a short-sightedness among some spokespersons for the current movement are diluted by conflation and generalization. To cite the Bolsheviks and then to extend that to Stalinist trials is to mistake two very different periods of history. To say that universities are all of one type in their cultures at least in the United States is to misunderstand the system of higher education that includes community colleges and far more parochial institutions. Despite media reports, substantial data exists defying attempts to generalize about the student population of higher education. The faculty are a different matter, but this essay would be more significant to me if it had limited itself to what actually exists on the ground.

bensullivanfb
bensullivanfb
4 years ago

This line goes a bit far: “Woke activists, in contrast, have no vision of the future.” Others may not agree with it, but they’ve done little but expound on their vision (how they get there, well that is another story). Highlights seem to include rethinking law enforcement budgets vs social services; health care reform; and giving the environment greater priority. These may not be others’ vision, but it’s what I’ve heard and seen.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
4 years ago
Reply to  bensullivanfb

Destroying statues, firing people for holding dissenting opinions, and setting fire to homes and businesses don’t really represent a future that I want to be part of.

tiensieh
tiensieh
4 years ago

Throwing around terms used by the right such as “woke” and ‘SJW” seems to go against the grain of Unherd’s editorial position / vision. In fact the article comes across very much in the “angry reactionary” part. Quote from Unherd’s about us page below:

“It’s easy and safe to be in one or other of these two camps ““ defensive liberal or angry reactionary – but UnHerd is trying to do something different, and harder.

We want to be bold enough to identify those things that have been lost, as well as gained, by the liberal world order of the past thirty years; but we strive to be always thoughtful rather than divisive.

We are not aligned with any political party, and the writers and ideas we are interested in come from both left and right traditions. But we instinctively believe that the way forward will be found through a shift of emphasis: towards community not just individualism, towards responsibilities as well as Rights, and towards meaning and virtue over shallow materialism.”

barb.anderson1
barb.anderson1
4 years ago

Reading the remarks on this site has led me to a conclusion. Are you all academics who are so far removed from the real world, that your intellectualizing has become sport to keep you entertained? I ask that seriously, and not mean’t as an insult. I am a 70 year old woman who is terrified by what is happening in our country. I believe in the power of our Constitution, which these articles seem to ignore. Is our country ungovernable? And can that be fixed? Do you really believe that we are in the throws of some kind of revolution that will end in some tragic outcome? That the ideals of our Constitution are meaningless? With the current Congress I would have to say, all that is possible, but is that what you all believe?

“Like the communist elites, woke insurgents aim to enforce a single worldview by the pedagogic use of fear. The rejection of liberal freedoms concludes with the tyranny of the righteous mob.”

Did the protests instill fear, and what freedoms are you talking about. The freedom to not have to recognize 400 years of racism, or is that not intellectual enough for you? The request that racism be defined and recognized? Is that too simple a concept?

At the risk of seeming uneducated and stupid, I’m posting this. I simply don’t care any more. My world is falling apart, and to be honest, intellectualizing like this just seems pointless.

Michael R
Michael R
4 years ago
Reply to  barb.anderson1

Hi Barbara,

I don’t want to say this to be pithy, per se, but have you tried looking in the mirror and asking if, maybe, you’ve perhaps been wrong all along? Some self-reflection could go a long way into the intellectual kafkaesque trap you find yourself in (assuming you are indeed a 70 year old white woman).

Is our country ungovernable?

Have you been under a rock for the last 2 months?

Did the protests instill fear, and what freedoms are you talking about.

You cannot be asking this question in good faith.

The freedom to not have to recognize 400 years of racism, or is that not intellectual enough for you?

Literally nobody is doing this. What does “recognize”mean to you? Does, say, 25% of your 401k sound like a fair repentance?

My world is falling apart, and to be honest, intellectualizing like this just seems pointless.

That’s why you can’t be in charge.

Without an intellectual answer, the future is as doomed as you think it is.

George Parr
George Parr
4 years ago

Years ago I used to show my wife clips of woke humanities students chastising their professors and being rewarded for it. Such an inversion of principles was sure to make it into mainstream society sooner or later, to which she disagreed.

Looks like Gramsci’s long walk through the institutions has paid off.

prussian
prussian
4 years ago

I find the tone and conclusions a trifle apocalyptic. There have been and obviously will continue to be protests and demonstrations in the US and UK demanding equality for the black minority. Aggressive attempt to suppress these will just lead to further anger but as they are the protests of a minority and those on the Left who support them they cannot pose a significant threat to government. The Russian Revolution was not enabled by the protests of a minority though I suppose even this can be argued. The trigger for the present protests was white police brutality against the black minority but obviously the causes are deeper. The recession following the bankers financial collapse of 2008 and current pandemic have brought out feelings of inequality and deep insecurity among at present a minority but of course this may spread much wider in the near future. Many of the poorest now out of work relying on welfare and food banks could become angry. As a democratic socialist obviously I would hope that governments would aim to help the poorest and aim for some measure of reasonable wealth redistribution but as the Tories have been recently elected in the UK and Trump may unfortunately be re elected in November on the basis of law and order, though the Pentagon have so far refused him troops, I am not hopeful. Also the ‘woke’ as they are often described by the right do obviously have a motivating vision of the future. It is why they demonstrate while the average Joe stays at home. But as in all processes of reform this is not agree or cohesive in a national political sense although it does feed into that process. In a choice between Repression and Reform in wealthy nations I would advise reform. Even the dictatorial Trump has buckled on this so far and hopefully he will soon depart to allow someone more capable to take office. His continuation could certainly see worse days for the US and I think the World.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

You must know why these atrocities are relatively unknown in comparison to those say of, Adolph? Woke dogma, pure and very, very, simple.
In the ‘Olympic Games of Human Barbarism and Savagery’, Gold goes to Mao, Silver jointly to Lenin and Stalin, and Bronze to Adolph.
However if you were minded to run round
Hyde Park wearing a Hammer and Sickle insignia nothing would be said. If you dared to do the same with a Swastika, you would arrested on sight! A paradox the woke cannot or will not a answer
.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I completely agree, ‘we’ have known about these horrors since at least 1918. I used the words “relatively unknown” to draw attention to the very points you have so appositely annunciated, thank you.
You have also galvanised into me writing more on this grotesque topic, when I get the opportunity, once released from being exercised continuously by my manic Springer Spaniels! (English).
Also many thanks for the link to the Museum of Communist Terror.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Many thanks.

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
4 years ago

Not sure what happened to my comment. Was it as bad as all that?

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
4 years ago

Seems to me more reminiscent of the Weimar Berlin street battles between Goebbels and Ulbricht, …the state forces siding with the fascists. Nor do I see any salvation narrative (eg. BLM, Cancel, Antifa wispy-est fig leaves) or Robespierre righteousness; rather, …except maybe the broadest, “liberation”, just a struggle for power. And as neolib/neocon -ism is collapsing, the state on the defensive, note the abject weakness of state response, the time seems ripe.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
4 years ago
Reply to  robert scheetz

The Robespierre righteousness seems to manifest itself in the more milder form of firings and cancellations.

bob_bank
bob_bank
4 years ago

I always find John Gray’s writings engaging despite having a very low boredom threshold. I do not always agree with him, and when I do, I’m cautious that I do not submit to confirmation bias under the weight of his superior (but inevitably polemic) knowledge of history. I enjoy his ability to notice, and elucidate on, interesting historical patterns. I’ve been looking forward to his commentary on blm and the associated woke insurgency, and I feel this article successfully analyses present social phenomena as if from a historical perspective; of course, with the caveat of acknowledging that he cannot predict how these events will play out in the future.

The comments preceeding mine seem to echo the sentiments associated with those, presently referred to as of ‘the right’, and perhaps Gray too, subtly insinuates such a leaning in his article: he draws some pretty frightening parallels between the Liberal left woke, American Calvinists and the Bolsheviks.

My own, if superficial, predisposition is more in line with left wing thinking. Specifically, in terms of my preoccupation with disparities of power at both a global and local level, in terms of both ecenomic freedoms and also political leverage. I’m also inclined to believe, along with the woke foke, that representation and symbolism does matter. For me, the iconoclastic pulling down of statues that celebrate one version of history and suppresses another is exactly equivalent to putting them up in the first place (except of course, those who want to emphasise an alternative version of imperialism do not yet have the establishment political leverage to raise new symbolic statues, ergo, can only pull them down). On the other hand, I think he is right to point out that the woke mentally is born of a degree of privilege that is only afforded those who have been inculcated by a left leaning, post-modern University system, obsessed with identity power relations. And yes, there is something evangelical, censorous and discomforting about the voice of so much woke culture. As a white, working class woman, I do feel inhibited about expressing my honest opinions for fear af being seen as stupid, or lacking imagination and empathy; or as some sort of alt right sympathiser (I am definitely not this – the alt right annoy me above and beyond any degree of wokishness. Some of them frequently contribute to Unheard)

But censorship, shaming and obsessing over identity is a distraction from thinking constructively about pragmatic solutions to alleviate the extent of local and global inequality.

I’m most curious about Gray’s slightly elliptical comments in the last few paragraphs of his essay, wherein he evokes the tensions between Eastern and Western global powers. Although I’m interested in these matters, I’m unable to form an educated response, but it strikes me that which ever way the wind blows in terms of symbolic ‘representations’ of global power: China or America; true global power lies in the hands of capitilist elites Gray refers to: bezos, musk (and smalmy, do gooder, Gates). And yet, there is so little ‘acceptable or apparently credible’ voices questioning these Kings of capital and the extent of their arguably, ill gotten, financial and political power. I’m no Marxist (well mabey a bit – perhaps a semi-sudo Marxist, since I’ve not read a single work of his but… Well, it’s the age of the Internet), but Liberal opinion on the left and right seem blithely oblivious to the problems inhetant within global capitalism. Rather, the middle and upper, educated classes are (if they have a reasonable standard of consumerist living, or nothing more imminent to worry about) content to revel like pigs in the shit of polarised identity politics: those who hold respect for old institutions and power structures vociferously oppose those who want to strip away engrained identities and replace them with a multiplicity of new ones. Meanwhile, the rich and powerful grow richer and more powerful, and both the left and right admire their political interventions.

I’d love to know more about Gray’s thoughts on economics. I’ve read about four of his recent books (all post, The Silence of Animals – which I have loved for being simultaneously accessible and challenging). He always speaks with literary panache about history, philosophy, anthropology and politics; but I’d be fascinated to know his perspective on economics in relation to the above.

I find ecenomics pretty dry and complex, but would be greatful for any reccomended reading that attempts to analyse ecenomic, specifically, in terms of power and culture. As I seek to understand contemporary global ecenomics better – as unbiased as possible please.

bob_bank
bob_bank
4 years ago

Woe, whilst I was waffling, I see there’s some other epic posts (which might not be so right wing). I’ll have a snoop

airmailpilot
airmailpilot
4 years ago

Power companies across America are beginning the return of cutting off power for non payment and the sjw’s in Washington state will eventually wear out their welcome. Somebody has to pay and that will be the ruler

bob_bank
bob_bank
4 years ago

I always find John Gray’s writings engaging despite having a very low boredom threshold. I do not always agree with him, and when I do, I’m cautious that I do not submit to confirmation bias under the weight of his superior (but inevitably polemic) knowledge of history. I enjoy his ability to notice, and elucidate on, interesting historical patterns. I’ve been looking forward to his commentary on blm and the associated woke insurgency, and I feel this article successfully analyses present social phenomena as if from a historical perspective; of course, with the caveat of acknowledging that he cannot predict how these events will play out in the future.

The comments preceeding mine seem to echo the sentiments associated with those, presently referred to as of ‘the right’, and perhaps Gray too, subtly insinuates such a leaning in his article: he draws some pretty frightening parallels between the Liberal left woke, American Calvinists and the Bolsheviks.

My own, if superficial, predisposition is more in line with left wing thinking. Specifically, in terms of my preoccupation with disparities of power at both a global and local level, in terms of both ecenomic freedoms and also political leverage. I’m also inclined to believe, along with the woke foke, that representation and symbolism does matter. For me, the iconoclastic pulling down of statues that celebrate one version of history and suppresses another is exactly equivalent to putting them up in the first place (except of course, those who want to emphasise an alternative version of imperialism do not yet have the establishment political leverage to raise new symbolic statues, ergo, can only pull them down). On the other hand, I think he is right to point out that the woke mentally is born of a degree of privilege that is only afforded those who have been inculcated by a left leaning, post-modern University system, obsessed with identity power relations. And yes, there is something evangelical, censorous and discomforting about the voice of so much woke culture. As a white, working class woman, I do feel inhibited about expressing my honest opinions for fear af being seen as stupid, or lacking imagination and empathy; or as some sort of alt right sympathiser (I am definitely not this – the alt right annoy me above and beyond any degree of wokishness. Some of them frequently contribute to Unheard)

But censorship, shaming and obsessing over identity is a distraction from thinking constructively about pragmatic solutions to alleviate the extent of local and global inequality.

I’m most curious about Gray’s slightly elliptical comments in the last few paragraphs of his essay, wherein he evokes the tensions between Eastern and Western global powers. Although I’m interested in these matters, I’m unable to form an educated response, but it strikes me that which ever way the wind blows in terms of symbolic ‘representations’ of global power: China or America; true global power lies in the hands of capitilist elites Gray refers to: bezos, musk (and smalmy, do gooder, Gates). And yet, there is so little ‘acceptable or apparently credible’ voices questioning these Kings of capital and the extent of their arguably, ill gotten, financial and political power. I’m no Marxist (well mabey a bit – perhaps a semi-sudo Marxist, since I’ve not read a single work of his but… Well, it’s the age of the Internet), but Liberal opinion on the left and right seem blithely oblivious to the problems inhetant within global capitalism. Rather, the middle and upper, educated classes are (if they have a reasonable standard of consumerist living, or nothing more imminent to worry about) content to revel like pigs in the mud of polarised identity politics: those who hold respect for old institutions and power structures vociferously oppose those who want to strip away engrained identities and replace them with a multiplicity of new ones. Meanwhile, the rich and powerful grow richer and more powerful, and both the left and right admire their political interventions.

I’d love to know more about Gray’s thoughts on economics. I’ve read about four of his recent books (all post, The Silence of Animals – which I have loved for being simultaneously accessible and challenging). He always speaks with literary panache about history, philosophy, anthropology and politics; but I’d be fascinated to know his perspective on economics in relation to the above.

I find ecenomics pretty dry and complex, but would be greatful for any reccomended reading that attempts to analyse ecenomic, specifically, in terms of power and culture. As I seek to understand contemporary global ecenomics better – as unbiased as possible please.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
4 years ago
Reply to  bob_bank

…Bobby, you could do worse than start with “The Theory of Moral sentiments” by Mr A Smith.

bob_bank
bob_bank
4 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

I associate Adam Smith with dry, but I probably need dry, and who knows, I might be surprised with something decidedly more moist. I learn most when I’m least expecting it. Thankyou for reading and responding.

bob_bank
bob_bank
4 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

You couldn’t resist the patronising tone of Mr A Smith, rather than just Adam Smith ðƾ˜

J Reffin
J Reffin
4 years ago

Thank you for an interesting essay. The youth movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the USA and elsewhere seem a much closer fit than the historical antecedents that you evoke. And the incredibly high prevalence of guns in US society seems to many of us who live in otherwise quite similar societies to be the elephant in the room, the root cause of the unholy arms race between your police forces and the poorer communities that they set out to protect and serve.

consultant.craig
consultant.craig
4 years ago

As a software engineer familiar with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, and who has designed user-configurable workflow systems as a service, I’ve had this idea rolling around in my head for a specialist-led “community-in-a-box” app which does the following:
1. Contains pre-defined workflows and tutorials for on-boarding people into key civic roles necessary to run a community, such as farming, energy, etc. These workflows can be modified via proposals similar to how open source projects have “pull requests” on github.
2. Policy discussions are done reddit style, where the most intelligent policy suggestions rise to the top through up-voting. Once a policy gets enough up-votes it is submitted for final approval by the community.
3. In this way, the smartest people at solving problems in each given problem domain (e.g. teachers in teaching, farmers in farming, etc) will have a way of being heard without having to be elected.

The list of features goes on. I wish I had already developed it, I think people could use it right now, but I’m busy surviving on the peanuts salary my current client can afford given the circumstances.

Our civilization is currently run by committees of people who are not qualified to make decisions in the various areas over which they have authority. It’s time to let civilization be led by the best problem solvers, the specialists in each domain, while still allowing any intelligent voice even if it’s some 10 yr old to quickly gain respect and influence via the reddit-style crowdsourced knowledge and conversation. This opens up the field to the best of the best problem solving in each community.

And better still, imagine a global repository where policies and workflows can be submitted, up-voted. Then the most starred methodologies and ideas from anywhere in the world can be downloaded and implemented by the entire global community. No more waiting every 4 yrs to sit in line and hope to god you elect someone with a modicum of intelligence who doesn’t even specialize in the things they’re supposed to make decisions about. No more 200 people having authority over 350 million. Just smart ideas bubbling up from any source and rising quickly to the top to cascade down to all communities.

mzeemartin8
mzeemartin8
4 years ago

No doubt one of these days the doomsayers will prove to be right and America will become a failed state. It has been the standard practice of Brits and other Europeans for over 200 years, so you might as well take your own shot at the moment and hope to be remembered as the Isaiah who saw it all correctly. After all, in some future year one of you will surprise yourself and actually be found correct.

M Blanc
M Blanc
4 years ago

Other than the ridiculous reference to “Trump’s attempts to assert dictatorial power”, this was a good read. I’ll leave it to those with greater knowledge of medieval millennarianism than I possess to determine just how close the parallels are, but it should be apparent to just about everyone that Wokeness plays the role in the lives of its adherents that Christianity played in the lives of its adherents a few generations ago. The author’s view that the US is finished as a serious nation is very likely correct.

tos00n99
tos00n99
3 years ago

Back during the cold war the U.S funded a non serious left to counter Communism. Chasing free love & having abortions were no challenge to Capital. These activists are the modern incarnation of these policies. Look at who is funding these “Radicals”. These people are just system sponsored rebels nothing more. The ruling class will make them disappear when they need them to.

nicholasmacdonald82
nicholasmacdonald82
3 years ago

“More than the faux-Marxian musings of postmodern thinkers, it is the singular American faith in national redemption that drives the woke insurgency. The self-imposed inquisitorial regime in universities and newspapers ” where editors and journalists, professors and students are encouraged to sniff out and report heresy so it can be exposed and exorcised ” smacks of Salem more than Leningrad.”

Has Dr. Gray been reading Mr. Mencius Moldbug? It is, of course, his contention that the modern Western left – and most importantly, it’s American strain – has it’s origins in Protestant Millenarianism (and, to take the argument of Albion’s Seed, the strange fusion of the Puritan and Quaker cultures that characterizes our intellectual life). Indeed, he gets it – contrary to the American right, nothing could be more quintessentially American than what is going on right now!

“Classical totalitarianism is as obsolete as classical liberalism, and American mercantilism may be more resilient and innovative than Chinese state capitalism. A ruling elite shaped by figures like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk may prove more capable of deploying new technologies than a communist emperor who has put China into a deep freeze.”

While he may have been reading Moldbug, he obviously hasn’t been reading anyone who knows anything about what is going on in China in the past few years (I recommend the works of David P. Goldman, Francesco Sisci, Thomas Orlik, George Gilder and Michael Pillsbury – their perspectives jive pretty close to my experience). China is not “classical totalitariaism”, but like our new and modernized authoritarianism, it’s a new and modernized totalitarianism; not the stupid mass line of Mao, or the boot stomping on the face forever of Stalin, but something different, and John Derbyshire put it best: “If you want to see a vision of the [Chinese] future, picture a pair of expensive loafers padding across the deep pile carpets of the Great Hall of the People forever – the boots hidden safely out of sight, except when needed. [for instance, when dealing with a recalcitrant minority in a remote frontier province crucial to a massive economic program – my comment] There’s plenty of room for innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity in Xi’s China – just as long as you keep your nose clean and don’t get in the way of the emperor’s plans. Heck, I’d go as far as to say that Xi allows much more room to maneuver than our woke Robespierres would if they ever seized power here – hence why I keep a bolthole in Shanghai! (As does the neoreactionary philosopher Nick Land, who has been living there full time for the better part of a decade and a half now.)

authorjf
authorjf
3 years ago

Ironically, the left-anarchist Gadarene legions of ‘antifa’ (falsely sogenannte) seem to be converging with the right-anarchist ‘ancaps’ of Metal Gear Solid and Austrian fame they so profess to despise…

Will D. Mann
Will D. Mann
4 years ago

Is there really a ” woke movement” or is this just a label pinned on disparate groups objecting to police brutality, economic injustice and other forms of discrimination, much as people, especially the young, always have?

Millard J Melnyk
Millard J Melnyk
4 years ago
Reply to  Will D. Mann

When straw-manning, it always helps to pin a tail on the donkey and say it stinks back there…

barb.anderson1
barb.anderson1
4 years ago

OK, you focus on the liberal left’s acts of violence in their attempt at social change. Which you compare to Bolshevicks and then say ” progressive liberals discredited traditional institutions and unleashed a wave of revolutionary terror.” You are obviously focused on the neoliberal. Where does the white supremicist fascist movement fit in with all of this. They may not be as powerful a force, but aren’t they just as deliberately suppressive of others ideas as you say the liberals are. Defining the purity of the movement. Or do you think they are the same?

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
4 years ago
Reply to  barb.anderson1

The white supremacist fascist movement has been ‘enlarged’ to encapsulate and ‘criminalize’ those who question current media propaganda. Many have told me I’m a white supremacist because I don’t believe in affirmative action or lowering educational standards for one set of people but not for another based on arbitrary factors like skin coloration.

What makes groups like BLM and Antifa so dangerous is that our cultural institutions have wholesaledly championed their outrage and violence in the hopes of channeling them against those they politically disagree with. In that regard these groups are just the other side of the same coin as the KKK and other supremacist groups.

kara_zugman
kara_zugman
4 years ago

Gregory Bateson once remarked that psychological warfare would be in the future (im paraphrasing here) 1000 times more powerful than all the nuclear bombs put together. I think he said that in 66 or something. CHAZ BLM are being led by a deep state network that has nothing to offer the American people but Joe Biden, (who i just saw a campaign ad of his and he seriously looked like a corpse). How fitting. Social media shapes reality in a much more powerful way than either Hitler or Stalin could have ever imagined. BLM donations ads all over the internet with money going to Dem campaigns. It is the Occupy movement all over again, which was also designed to get Obama reelected and keep the focus off of his failed presidency. Humans have to catch up to technology and we eventually will. Lots of the protesters have good intentions and feel they are doing the right thing. Many of the kneeling cops think they are doing the right thing. However at a higher level mayors and governors who play this game are taking marching orders from above. Keeping your integrity and your emotional and psychic energy intact is what is in order right now. Non linear warfare. I liked the article a lot. We need more sound discussion. Glad to be here. Read Michael Rectenwalds Google Archipelego and Beyond Woke.

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
4 years ago

Unherd should occasionally remind itself of it’s mission statement: “to push back against the herd mentality with new and bold thinking, and to provide a platform for otherwise unheard ideas, people and places”.

Virtually every article in the past two weeks has included a side swipe at ‘woke’ and now we have an article referring to “the woke”. This is done in the same way as in the past when people used to dismiss “the blacks”, “the Jews”, “the Arabs”, “the disabled” etc. It is the process of categorising a whole range of people you don’t like and lumping them all together under one label. It is poor, sloppy journalism that is hardly pushing “back against the herd mentality”. Woke has little or no meaning and the continued use of it undermines the articles you are publishing. If you were a subscription only site, I would cancel it.

nperezm
nperezm
4 years ago

What a mental jerk off

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
3 years ago

“At least a third of the American population is opposed to woke values…” I would love to know where this nugget comes from. If true then it would be reasonable to assume 66.6% DO AGREE.

To read the endless articles like this one would think that the Republicans have never been in charge of the U.S. government, or occupied the presidency and that giant corporations and rich think-tanks/lobbyists don’t own the Senate and Congress lock stock and barrel.

Nobody would think that 95% of terrotist deaths have come from the ultra-right and fascist miitias that are growing hugely in numbers and openly walk the streets of U.S. cities unimpeded by the police and often openly supported by them. Instead ‘violence’ is laid at the door of Antifa in a sleight of mind and an avoidance of objective facts.

It is easy to mock some of the more esoteric fringes of the ‘woke’, but what is the opposite of ‘woke’? It is, surely, asleep. The barbaric nature of policing in the U.S. and its overwhelming focus on oppression of minorities and white as well as black working class people means it does not police by consent but as an invading army.

The death of George Floyd was no more horrific than thousands of other black deaths at the hands of the police, nor lynchings in previous decades. The shock came from its being recorded over many minutes and the stark exposure of the complete nonchalance of the officer committing the murder. Most people I think if they have shered of empathy could not view it for more than 60 seconds without turning away in revulsion.

Caricaturing the call to defund the police as a naive attempt to abolish police entirely is typical of the right-wing in that nobody has said that. What has been said is that it is insane that throughout the U.S. police departments under all political parties have bigger budgets than all other departments, including housing and social services:

“On average, large cities spend about 8% of their general expenditures on policing, 5% on housing, and 3% on parks.[21] Most cities’ police budgets are larger than other public safety departments, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, where other budgets lessened but policing budgets were largely untouched.[1][41]” (Wikipedia)

Or to put it more plainly, there is little attempt to deal with the root causes of crime or civil unrest and the focus is on suppression. Diverting the grosly bloated budgets for the police to housing, education and social services would do a lot more to achieve social justice than endlessly arming the police with ever greater weaponry and racist algorithms.

Those in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s who fought for women’s rights, against racism nationally and apartheid intenationally, and for gay rights received the same abuse and condemnation that is now being reserved for the ‘woke’ (a title invented by the right); treater the abuse the more certain I am they wee correct then and are correct now.

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Clayton

Apologies for the typos, accidentally pressed post before edit…”if they have shred of empathy”

“Diverting the grossly bloated…”

“The greater the abuse the more certain I am they were correct then and are correct now.”

Jonathan da Silva
Jonathan da Silva
4 years ago

Another piece by someone describing a group he has nothing to do with to pander to another group? Not exactly unherd is it? More not my herd.

The issue with all sides: right: not quite so right: centre right aka moderates; centre; social democrats; assorted actual left: is pretty much the same shouting at some other group with labels and smug virtuous superiority and actually suggesting nothing themselves.

Narrative with historical parallels which even if accurate are pointless as the reader most likely will have to accept them as fact – no sources or data offered – a quote in one place from a book.

I agree much of the current protest comes with nebulous demands and only silly specific demands that make easy slogans. The rest is writer’s narrative.

jet2003racer
jet2003racer
4 years ago

It is his narrative, true, but it is based on a critical understanding of history which you do not apparently possess. He’s talking to me. I know the history he’s describing, both the Bolsheviks and the earlier millenarian movements. I’d add a few others that seem akin to this, like the Bailianjiao movement in China and the Circumcellions of late antiquity. Instead of assuming that your moment is entirely unique, and disparaging people who see historical parallels with it, maybe you should just take the time to learn the history. You’re right about one thing: there’s an awful lot of shouting going on. But it’s not this guy who’s doing it.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago

Not exactly unherd is it?

Sshhh!, you’ll frighten the sheep here. The author is an IMPORTANT INTELLECTUAL so his revelations should be accepted at self-evident face value without the sniping of us mere readers.
The essence of the best journalists and academics is that they never express in one sentence what can be more contentiously expressed in a whole article or preferably yet another “You Must read this one!” book.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

The difference between this site and certain others is that dissenting comments are allowed here. This, in a time where NBC and Google are trying to demonetize sites based on the ‘quality’ (i.e. ‘incorrectness’) of their BTL comments.

I don’t agree with all Unherd contributors, but what keeps me coming back here is that we’re not expected to accept what’s written ‘at self-evident face value’. I think that’s the biggest variable separating people these days: those who allow their views to be challenged and those who don’t.

While I dislike the left-right dichotomy, it does seem to me that those who describe themselves as leftists are currently the ‘side’ that brooks no dissent, censors others and preaches violence and vandalism. Me personally: I’m against those who do those things regardless of whether they’re right or left wing.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

I agree with all that. And to be fair to them they are stuck with their presumptious name and are best not weighed down with eternal damnation for it.
Generally-speaking, I would expect that whichever orthodoxy is dominant and most Cash-Endowed at a time will be the one that has the most intolerant fanatical supporters trying to “uphold the truth” against “malevolent liars”. A fine example of this is the persecution of “anti-vaxxers” (of which I am not a fine example as I have published the definitive demonstration that the autism increase was not caused by vaccines. See http://www.pseudoexpertise.com/ch-... and http://www.pseudoexpertise.com/ch-...

Millard J Melnyk
Millard J Melnyk
4 years ago

John, in two sentences you demonstrate an overall very shallow understanding (which means no real understanding at all) of the “woke generation”. The fact that you chose to generalize “woke” to an entire generation underscores my point.

Woke activists, in contrast, have no vision of the future.

Quite true, as far as I can see, but so much for pot calling kettle black. Who does?

And please explain how lack of a vision for the future is worse than the downright, empirically verifiable, black-on-sh*t track we’ve been rolling down ever since millennials and younger were born (and long before, as I can attest.) At least wanting something different and looking for a vision is better than the same-old-but-might-be-different insanity conservatives seem addicted to while they rebuff could-be-better-than-this with but-this-is-better-than-worse.

Since when did you ever thank the waiter for a tough steak because it wasn’t as tough as the last one?

Holy crap dude. You’re a philosopher?

In Leninist terms they are infantile leftists, acting out a revolutionary performance with no strategy or plan for what they would do in power.

What, no rational argument? Just epithets?

And here your inch-deep understanding of what’s really going on is openly displayed. The same kind of “no strategy, no plan, not even specific demands” cluelessness was rife from conservatives during Occupy Wall Street, too.

How can you not notice the hypocrisy of expecting our children to come ready with solutions to problems that we and our forebears created, or else plug our ears and accuse them of infantilism?

I’m confused. I thought that blaming the victim is infantile. I thought adults who can’t focus on the problems and their causes because the kids’ shrieks hurt their ears is infantile.

Was I wrong?

But my bad, I’m pretty sure I’m taking you too seriously. I think you meant to be taken seriously, which just makes it funnier when your “essay” is so long on guilt by association and argument from ignorance. Worse than Leninists, lol. I’m quite sure you never bothered to check with any “woke” kids themselves to see if your impressions of them are even remotely close to true. But why break with your apparently customary disregard for fact as displayed in this quite good piece of sophistry?

One thing is clear, though — the ‘threat’ of people doing WTF they want sends shivers down your spine, doesn’t it? CHAZ, so scary!

No cops?

!!!!

There must be mayhem breaking out there right and left!

But no, dude, there isn’t — is there?

The mayhem LEFT WITH THE COPS. That is what CHAZ is proving.

And I think that fact might be even more terrifying to you conservatives than violence itself.

Conservatives never have a problem with violence, when they want it to happen. They had no problem whatsoever with invading Iraq on the basis of lies (or stupidity — can’t have it neither way) and murdering people there, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the millions this century. Millions. I haven’t seen conservatives shaking in their jackboots over the chaos and immorality of that.

No, but when the kids scream, “THIS F***ING NEEDS TO STOP!” then we’ve got big problems, right?

Can’t let that kind of disrespect go unchecked, no, no, no.

What would the neighbors think?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
4 years ago

…liked you’re bit: “Since when did you ever thank the waiter for a tough steak because it wasn’t as tough as the last one?”. The answer is, probably not since the war, and certainly not by the generations since who’ve been mis-educated to think that the world is actually perfectible by rational thought alone.

Millard J Melnyk
Millard J Melnyk
4 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Thanks man! I call it the OLB — the one less blow fallacy. Daddy beat us only 3 times today, which is one less than yesterday. TODAY WAS A REALLY GOOD DAY! 😀

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago

Holy crap dude. You’re a philosopher?

I concluded some years ago that “philosopher” is a word meaning a person who has nothing useful to say but writes whole important books saying it anyway. Welcome to the club.

Millard J Melnyk
Millard J Melnyk
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

.
ðƾ˜†

I love philosophy. It took me five years to figure out that it’s not what they teach at universities, so I dropped out. Far from love of wisdom, no philosopher I know of ever made any pretensions at all to wisdom. And what ‘philosophers’ do is antithetical to love. If we treated our honeys like they treat truth, we’d get convicted of kidnapping, torture, and rape. I don’t treat the people and things I love like that.

Millard J Melnyk
Millard J Melnyk
4 years ago

It would be nice to see a response from John, but it’s not like I expected one. Still…

hijiki7777
hijiki7777
4 years ago

I am new to this word “woke” which I notice has become fashionable recently. It seems to be that those people who are “woke” are at the extreme end of a broader movement. I think it is understandable having witnessed George Floyd’s brutal death that lots of people get very angry about it. It is not as though it is a one off occurrence as far as black men being killed by white police officers are concerned. Odd then that the words racism, sexism, homophobia and others similar did not come up once in the article.
There has been a change in attitudes over time to these identity issues. Looking back, would we say the US civil rights movement in the 1960s was “woke”? Yet attitudes towards race did change and segregation in the USA came to an end. Surely that was a worthwhile achievement rather some kind of aimless activism? Today the aims are to reduce racism so that everyone has a fair chance in how they are treated buy the police, and in getting employment and education opportunities. The only criticism of that might be that it is hard to know at which point this can be achieved.
I admit I am not into pulling down statues or passing motions of no-platform for speakers in universities. But as Matthew Parris once noted in the campaign for LGBT rights it worked well to have an activist cutting edge to the movement combined with conservative establishment figure like himself who could make a reasonable case to people who found it all a bit too much and not to their taste.
I am also noticing the anti “woke” movement are also struggling at the moment. Grey admits that they probably make up a third of US voters – a minority. On top of that they are also more likely to be older which does not suggest there is much of a long term future for them either. At the time of writing Biden is cruising to victory in the US elections (although with 5 months to go anything can happen) and in the UK it is noticeable that the violence of the far right counter demonstrations is far more aggressive, involving gangs of football hooligans that no popular movement can afford to be associated with if they want to be popular. It is utterly bizarre to see these violent men giving Hitler salutes to Churchill’s statue.
I agree up to a point that there are problems with the “woke” activists. I find as a white middle aged man that as Grey points out there is a purity test applied to the likes of me where I sometimes fall short I get shouted at. The popularity of being against “political correctness” is that you can relax, say what you think and not care who you offend, and feel morally justified at the same time. I do not take that view because I do think that there are genuine reasons to be offended by the anti-PC advocates. But if I nonetheless fail the purity test then that may be an indicator that those who are less interested in politics than me probably won’t bother to try and pass it in the first place.
However if the general change in attitudes continues through time as it has done up to now, then surely it is worth it?

John Newton
John Newton
4 years ago

John Gray seems to have developed his own ‘culture wars’ franchise on this type of article, reproduced with tiresome regularity across a range of publications; articles based on assertion, selective cherry-picking of evidence and events, and playing to one kind of gallery.

His polemical rather than scholarly attacks on ‘liberals’ and ‘wokes’ – itself now a term of abuse, rather than a properly defined identity or category – tend to rely on knocking down shallow straw-men (I was going to say straw-people, but that might reinforce a ‘woke’ sterotype), rather than careful analysis and focused argument, illuminating complexities and contradictions. He is now a grossly over-rated writer, who perhaps should have stuck at his early critiques of Thatcherism.

mzeemartin8
mzeemartin8
4 years ago
Reply to  John Newton

In other words, as long as he was criticizing those whom you thought he should be criticizing his work had value.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
4 years ago

Could John Grey or one of his (seemingly) many admirers in here perhaps take a few minutes to define “Woke” and “SJW”. Assisted by that it might be possible to see if anything of value can be extracted from what seems to be a historical romp which appears to achieve, paradoxically to be both superficial and turgid

naillik48
naillik48
4 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Not sure what your point is mate – apart from perhaps being gratuitously offensive.
At least you could have spelled his name correctly.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
4 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Are you sure you don’t want him to define ‘State’, ‘Marxism’, and ‘Capitalism’, too?

While he’s at it, he could write a ten-volume history of political thought.

But I suspect it’s merely that you disagree with him but can’t be bothered to explain why.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago

But I suspect it’s merely that you disagree with him but can’t be bothered to explain why.

On behalf of Mr Slack here, I get the impression that there is a herd of followers on this page, and that Mr Slack is one of the wrong sheepdogs who has accidentally wandered in. The problem with “explaining why” the author might be wrong is that as J da Silva points out, the author just presents us with unargued revelations and, well, the last two lines of Mr S’s comment are likewise close to the nail. It’s hard to disagree with a case that hasn’t been clearly made out in the first place anyway. Cheers.

d.tjarlz
d.tjarlz
4 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

According to Merriam-Webster, woke means, “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
4 years ago
Reply to  d.tjarlz

That is a very new meaning.
It seems only last week it was the past tense of the verb “to wake”

d.tjarlz
d.tjarlz
4 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

New as in 1962?

d.tjarlz
d.tjarlz
4 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

New as in 1962.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  d.tjarlz

According to my brain, “dictionary” means a thing that may or may not usefully contribute to our understanding of the meaning of a word.

d.tjarlz
d.tjarlz
4 years ago
Reply to  Robin P

Of course, if you insist that words mean just what you want them to, then you’ll have no use for a dictionary.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
4 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

If you haven’t been aware of the Wokerati and SJW over the past couple of years ( very roughly) you must have been asleep.

Robin P
Robin P
4 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

Dear Mr Slack, please give the distinguished author some slack. The purpose of this comments section is to praise the gracious authors, not to enable unsympathetic objections as though they’ve stamped on your toe or something. People who want “definitions” of words need to revisit the first semesters of their Oppression Studies courses.