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Can Britain survive the woke wave? Conflicts over national identity have the potential to tear the fabric of civil society

The median British voter in 2050. Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images

The median British voter in 2050. Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images


July 12, 2021   6 mins

Back in 1963 a landmark study by academics Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba called, The Civic Culture, looked into why the British did not follow the Germans and the Italians into the abyss of fascism, and why communism has similarly failed to take root here. They concluded that the country’s political culture made it inhospitable to radical ideologies. The British didn’t do ideology.

Decades later, and Britain seems a more hospitable place for foreign ideologies, importing America-style culture wars over “wokeism”. Or at least, this is the finding of a major study released this week by American pollster Frank Luntz. Based on three nationwide surveys and two focus groups, Luntz argues that post-Brexit Britain is rapidly following America into the abyss of highly-polarised culture wars over populism and wokeism.

“It’s not what the British public want”, Luntz told historian Niall Ferguson at one event this week, “but it’s coming anyway”. The research has already attracted a storm of criticism, mostly from British pollsters and academics who, as Nate Silver can testify, have always taken issue with American analysts daring to intervene in Britain’s domestic debate.

The case against Luntz’s thesis is not a hard one to make. The first and most obvious point to make is that most British people do not even know what “woke” or “wokeism” mean.

Recent polling by YouGov finds that while nearly 60% of British adults have heard of the term “woke” they have no idea what it refers to. Luntz himself found that not even 40% of Britain is familiar with the term and only 15% feel “proud to be woke”.

The second argument against Luntz is that, contrary to what many liberal progressives would have you believe, Britain is not America. We live in a society where debates about class are more important than debates about race. While the British continue to debate the legacy of Empire they have not had to contend with the dark legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation. The parameters of our debate about race are completely different from the ones in America.

Our political culture, as Almond and Verba argued, is defined by our history. Unlike the highly-charged, emotional, divisive and resentful politics that took root across the Channel, Britain’s civic culture was long hailed for prioritising the critical importance of tradition, consensus, moderation, tolerance, compromise and pluralism.

From one generation to the next, this civic culture left the British hard-wired to feel proud of their institutions and traditions, to instinctively see the best in their country and to be sceptical of radicals whose shrill, dogmatic, messianic and angry politics were seen to threaten this precious inheritance.

Much of this was reinforced by a significant barrier, which is that Left and Right offered broad and unifying narratives of belonging that transcended appeals to individual groups. Throughout the 20th century, Labour and the Conservatives certainly appealed along class lines but they also stressed national citizenship, a moderate patriotism and a sense of obligation to the wider (national) community. On both Left and Right, politicians were not afraid to celebrate Britain’s distinctive identity, its achievements and contributions to the world. Being born in Britain was not a marker of shame; it was the greatest privilege of all.

But how much of this is true today, after four decades in which academia has gone from leaning Left to being overwhelmingly progressive? Wokeism might not yet be a term used by the masses but it is rapidly going mainstream. Take last week as an example. Excluding references to Luntz’s study, the terms “woke” or “wokeism” appeared in a large number of articles across a diverse array of UK media, from debates about sustainable investing, employee training, William Shakespeare and television advertisements to debates about local councils, Alien, Love Island, university reading lists, the England team and trigger warnings for university students, to name only a few.

As training sessions inspired by critical race theory continue to cascade out of universities and into corporations, government departments, councils, media, schools and religious institutions, as British people continue to debate football players taking the knee, the role of white privilege and the causes of racial disparities – all of which originated in America – the salience of these debates will only increase, pushed on by striking generational divides. The idea, popular on the Left, that wokeism is merely a fringe obsession among right-wing culture warriors appears increasingly absurd.

Britons who argue that wokeism is exaggerated ignore the generational tides shaping the country’s future. While YouGov found that “only” 41% of British adults had ‘heard of the term woke and know what it means’, this spirals to 63% among 18-24-year-old Zoomers. This group are also more than three times as likely as older Baby boomers to say they are woke and three times more likely to say that this is a “good thing”.

Anybody who has spent any time on Britain’s university campuses knows that wokeism and its associated ideas – white privilege, decolonisation, unconscious bias – are already part of everyday vocabulary (and not only among students). Academics are frequently asked to decolonise their reading lists and participate in unconscious bias training, even though the methodology for the latter has been shown to be flawed. Unsurprisingly, recent surveys suggest that one in four university students are self-censoring in class, feeling unable to express their views.

The sharp political divide that Luntz finds, whereby Labour voters are more than twice as likely as Conservative voters to describe themselves as woke, is magnified in Britain’s higher education institutions where Labour supporters outnumber their conservative counterparts by a ratio of about 8 to 1 among academics.

The idea that Britain’s traditional class divide will act as a buffer to the importation of these debates is also for the birds. One big lesson from the last decade of British politics is that class no longer has anywhere near as much explanatory power as it once had. The reason why education and age, not class and income, have become the main drivers of politics is because of the much greater influence that people’s cultural values are wielding over their decisions at the ballot box: immigration, multiculturalism, diversity, Europe, Britishness, Englishness, Islam, teachers in hiding and competing interpretations of our history have all become far more central.

A large pile of research supports Luntz’s core argument, namely that these values-based conflicts over culture, identity and belonging are wielding far more power over politics. They are the vessel in which more specific debates over statuecide, Empire, anti-racism, Englishness, Black Lives Matter and academic freedom are carried. Detailed studies at Kings, the University of Manchester and elsewhere chart how Britain is now on the same road as America, albeit a few miles behind, heading into polarised debates about “who we are”. Luntz is not the first to make this argument and will not be the last.

“Woke versus Not Woke” increasingly looks set to become the latest proxy of this deeper fault line, much like Remainers versus Leavers became a more recent proxy of the older divide between social liberals and cultural conservatives. You can already see this in the data, which points to how these groups are oceans apart not simply on Brexit but many of the debates that hang off wokeism: anti-racism, free speech, diversity and equality.

Even today, five years after Brexit, while 52% of Remainers think that immigration has been good for Britain, only 9% of Leavers agree; while 63% of Leavers think that people are ‘less free to say what they think’, only 37% of Remainers agree; while 65% of Remainers support the Black Lives Matter protests only 22% of Leavers do, a similar figure for whether footballers should take the knee before kick-off. Britain might have moved on from Brexit but it has not moved on from the underlying divide that could easily restructure itself around Woke-Not Woke.

This transformation looks set to be encouraged by something else that has changed from the old era: the inability of our leaders, especially those on the left, to offer the broad, unifying narratives that once held earlier generations of Britons together. The British like to joke that they are haunted by the 52:48 divide which delivered Brexit, so here is another 52:48 divide to consider: while 52% of Labour voters believe that Britain is ‘an institutionally racist and discriminatory nation’, only 48% see it as ‘a nation of equality and freedom’. Conservative voters, unsurprisingly, opt overwhelming for the latter.

For the first time in our history, one of Britain’s mainstream parties has become a vessel for an ideology which encourages people to, put simply, dislike their own country. Labour has increasingly turned in on itself and away from the wider country, indulging in narrow appeals focused on the holy trinity of gender, sexual and racial diversity while failing to offer the broad and unifying appeals that used to actually win elections.

This is entrenching the new divide, separating people who are on balance more willing to see the good than the bad in their country from those who see only the bad. It is also quickly becoming a huge problem for the Left, further severing its link with more culturally conservative workers and leaving it even more dependent on progressives who congregate in the cities but are simply too small in number to deliver election victories.

It is indeed no coincidence that as this ideology as moved from the margins to the mainstream, the centre-left has suffered some of its most dramatic electoral losses. As Ronald Reagan once reminded Jimmy Carter, people do not warm to movements that appear to despise their own nation. If Luntz is right and wokeism is going mainstream, then the ultimate loser won’t be white privilege or the patriarchy but the Labour Party.

 


Matthew Goodwin is Professor of Politics at the University of Kent. His new book, Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics, is out on March 30.

GoodwinMJ

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Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Woke = Self Hate

It really is that easy. Hate of ones Nation, People, Culture, History, and society – and thus ultimately of One’s Self, to complete the pathology of this twisted Ideology.

But it is an odd hate in how complete it is. The Woke individual is trained to self hate so completely that they then turn it outwards, and so hate all who will not join in the hatred of all which is Western. They hate the West, they hate themselves, and they hate all who do not hate the West.

Ouroboros like, it engenders such self loathing that it causes one to destroy yourself and Nation in a perpetual self destructive loop – like the old days when ‘The Record’s stuck’ and all it could play was the same line, again and again and again.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I think you’re definitely onto something there – you’ve helped crystallize my evolving thoughts on the matter, in fact. The self loathing really is the defining feature, but it’s so self conscious… is it in any way genuine? Hard to say. Toxic though: on that I think we can all agree. It reminds me of an algal bloom, reproducing out of control in an unnaturally favorable environment, before finally dying off and taking everything else in its ecosystem with it. Selfish and stupid, an ideology for our time.

Last edited 2 years ago by Richard Parker
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

Self-loathing is a recognised feature of human psychology and it peaks in periods of crisis and decline. The “woke” are the flagellants of our day. Yes, the self-loathing is genuine in many cases; when it doesn’t emerge as anger, it takes the form of depression – the “woke” love depressed people; saying one is depressed is the only thing which calms them down. They are in the grip of myths, of course – “unmasking” being among the most potent, revealing the wicked monster who lurks in the mild mannered Aunt or grandfather – like the wolf posing as granny in red riding hood. And myths like these lead to bloodshed sooner or later. The official right seems to think appeasement the answer, but it is not; mildness, reason, care and evidence just enrage the metro-left even more – as the honeyed words of the wicked wolf. In a way, like many hysterics, they are in fact crying out for a massive slap in the face and an angry declaration of their parents’ self-belief. Then, by miracle, they would be reduced to obedience and sanity; but – tragically – there is nobody prepared to wrestle them to the ground; no-one prepared to expose their wickedness. Even Socrates resorted to force when confronted with Callicles. And we have Johnson.

Last edited 2 years ago by Simon Denis
Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Your analysis was cogent and depressing enough, but when it culminated with “and we have Johnson” I was suddenly overcome with a sense of despair.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

My dear sir, I had no wish to provoke despair although, heaven knows, it is a strong temptation in our current plight. I suppose I count myself one among the many thorns in the side of today’s complacent Tory party, hoping to spur the fat lump into some sort of action. And if that doesn’t work, we’ll have to turn – wearily – to somebody like Farage – who, for all his marmite qualities, has shoved our allegedly centre right party back to where it belongs on the spectrum time and time again.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Again, thought provoking: I hadn’t considered the flagellanti – an apt parallel.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Their wickedness ?

More that of their elders, or at least the liberals and leftists among their elders.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

The self loathing really is the defining feature, but it’s so self conscious
 is it in any way genuine?

They see it as a virtue – they assume ‘others’ see it as a virtue too, and not as the pathology it really looks like.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

H

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Good Point James, I was just being provocative for fun – the troll in me is something I must always try to keep restrained.

The truth is Woke is Post-Modernism, a terrible philosophy of solipsistic despair and :
“it can be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning.”
“For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually.”

“Postmodernism is “post” because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth”

Postmodernism is a social pathology from Nietzsche, Existentialism, Solipsism, Marxism. Freud, Nihilism, Secular-Humanism, Marx, and likely Satan.

It teaches to despise all which is good, and give credence to all which is bad, in human history and society. It is the new religion that Soros would have take all humanity. It is what the entire Education Industry holds as the correct way to see the world, it holds morality must be relative and ethics situational. Post-Modernism is a concept everyone needs to read on, it is the rot which is eating away at the foundations of civilization.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

P

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’m not convinced it is self hate. Hating the last, hating the country you are born in, hating “whites” doesn’t mean you hate yourself.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

It does actually. Love of Country, Which I hold as absolute – (I would die for UK or USA if needed) is as love of family. To hate ones nation is to hate ones family, and so by extension, ones self. Patriotism is one of the noblest emotions. Despising ones Nation if it treats the citizens justly (as does all the West – I have seen the non-West) is one of the basest emotions. It is being ungrateful of all the blessings society has bestowed on you. All the good one gets from one’s Nation is from those who died and strived to make the Nation better, and to fail to honour them is despicable.

M P Griffiths
M P Griffiths
2 years ago

Yes, I would agree.
“Wokeness” is, I think, a manifestation of Dunning-Kruger syndrome following in the slipstream of deconstructionism etc.. It’s a simplistic and childish reaction which involves attacking and overturning concepts, structures etc. which the woke imagine to be totemic in the misguided belief that they have somehow collectively arrived at a new way of perceiving the Western world. Its most extreme manifestation is “antifa”, where a bunch of violent bellends act like totalitarian thugs because, duh, “right wingers”.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

If woke = self hate, what is generating the self hate – what is it that is inherent to nation, culture, history and society that provides the motivation for hatred?
Or does hatred precede nation, culture etc.? In other words, is it a personality trait or an emergent feature of development?

Chelcie Morris
Chelcie Morris
2 years ago

As humans we have evolved to fight and survive, but when you take away the need to fight and all of your survival instincts have been catered for, what do you do? You find a new opponent to fight, no matter how small, and your survival instincts turn into neuroticism; going into overdrive to see monsters in the dark where there are none. Also take into consideration that family, relationships and community have also broken down which has accelerated this stage because people have no sense of belonging anymore so they go out searching for it in other places; this is why identity politics is so prevalent.
It’s a mix of self-loathing, narcissism and arrogance. They’re arrogant because they believe everything that they believe is absolute and true. They’re narcissistic because they’re inward looking and feeling, what they feel is all that matters to them, they are the centre of the universe, and everyone else is collateral damage to their goals (narcissists are the most insecure people you will ever meet). Finally, they’re self-loathing because they’re deeply insecure and they’re punishing themselves by self-flaggelating, manifesting itself as altruism, and everyone else be damned. They haven’t been brought up with a sense of identity and belonging so they wrongly assume that the very foundation of the country they reside in is at fault.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

Comments on these pages often decry inequality of opportunity and income disparity as the two main evils that are fracturing society. But I’d suggest this Woke / Identity politics agenda is a far more pernicious way to separate us.
Woke ideology is the very antithesis of the principles of universalism – this fixation with identity politics suggests what differentiates us is more important than what we have in common.
Surely we should treasure more what we share as members of a diverse community rather than seek to silo people and segregate that community into ghettos based on our racial identities, sexual orientation, age, gender or creed?
How many people ever preface a statement with – “Speaking as a 

 

” unless they believe that belonging to that specific, arbitrary group confers on them special insight, or a ‘right’ to speak, that is denied to those outside the group?
Identity politics means I can’t “really” understand you, I can’t really empathise with you, I’m not allowed to because I am not a woman, or I am not black, I am not gay, I am not a Muslim. If I think I do understand you, or if I volunteer an opinion, then I’m mansplaining, I’m arrogantly assuming that my opinion is valid even though I don’t have the ‘lived experience’ of suffering abuse by belonging to the right victim group.
That woke “intersectional pyramid” is a hierarchy of victim status. In fact the entire concept of identity politics – which purports to be about inclusivity and equality – is in reality divisive and intolerant. It silos people and silences people. Identity Politics tells us what groups we belong to and that our whole identity is defined by that group and dependent on that group, this drives a wedge between people who would previously have felt kinship with one another. It is hard to retain solidarity with your community when parts of that community are being taught that it is ‘right’ to mistrust the motives of another.
Such are the grisly politics of grievance. God help the young. I consider myself supremely fortunate to have grown up before Woke ideologies, “Social justice” activism and Social Media.
What will eventually defeat this pernicious ideology is that its ideas are manifestly contradictory. To fully support one facet of woke-dom puts you on the wrong side of another facet. If you stand up to support feminist rights you fall foul of trans-rights etc etc
Given the propensity of id-pol adherents to try and cancel any who dare to challenge their precepts, the whole movement becomes an Ouroboros – the mythical serpent that eats its own tail – though in the case of Guardianistas it would possibly be better to describe a variant on the Ouroboros – as a monster that disappears up its own backside.
Frankly, for the good of society, it cannot come soon enough.

tim williams
tim williams
2 years ago

The only thing missing from this typically helpful piece by Dr Goodwin is that the crisis of values comes at a time when that other thing holding the UK together over centuries, a sovereign and essentially unitary parliament, has been undermined by devolution to the Celtic nations. Two constitutional devices once made the UK, as was said a ‘parliamentary nation’: a first past the post election system which forced extremists and those of separate cultures into one of two UK wide parties – proportional representation enables extremists to make progress without compromising by staying in separate ideologically pure parties – and a centralised political system. Despite taking back control from Brussels, power ceded to Edinburgh and Cardiff (NI is a difficult anomaly) has not been taken back and won’t be. I add: this has been missed but Woke is the Remainer revenge; they have taken back the country from the Gammons via it. How to wrest it back?

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

A couple of thoughts: the 18-24 generation is too influenced by the internet and yet to make important life decisions which affect other people (such as raising a family). I have also read that that age group is more easily scammed due to too much trust of the internet.
There is a huge swathe of Britain who put their trust in practical common sense and who can smell ideology when it tries to inveigle its way into decisions. That’s why these ideological proponents have to resort to threats to livelihoods and social media pile-ons to enforce their dogmas. They are the new aristocratic toffs.
Land of Hope and Glorious mickey-taking!

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I’m always sceptical that poll results for the 18-24 age brackets give an insight into the future because it’s only the most politically active who answer them. The majority are not interested in politics till they’re in their 30’s and then tend to be more motivated by economic issues, rather than tearing down statues.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago

The pollster is right, not because the public want “Woke” nonsense but because the elite does; and the elite controls media, administration and academe. In short, they are foisting it on the majority, much as they tried to foist continued membership of the EU. Interesting that nearly forty per cent of Remainers realise we’re less free to speak. I’ll bet that’s an underestimate. So we’re looking at around thirty per cent of the voting population which backs the “woke” programme. Among these will be a number of liberal cowards too intimidated to voice their scepticism. And what is the right up to, meanwhile? Too little. I know the argument – the very convenient, Baldwinian argument on which Johnson and his cronies rely: say nothing and they’ll shut up; react and they’ll go on screaming. But fanatics don’t go away just because you continue to blunder about your business like Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond at the end of Carry on up the Khyber. The fact is, Johnson is terrified; so he hunkers down and sprays money everywhere instead of governing. What a “Carrie” on…

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Generally agree, but the Tories can surely see the electoral value in letting Labour (and Lib Dem) wokeness keep surfacing – which further alienates them both from the majority non-woke electorate.
Why kill the golden goose – when you can just manage it to your advantage 
. ?

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

True but it’s a short term policy, for while the goose is laying golden eggs of left-wing division today, he’s gobbling down the seed-corn of the future – a stable, self confident, property owning society with established loyalties. After the last golden egg comes popping out of his back end, Conservativism will face a bleak future of short commons and permanent opposition.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

🙂

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

Excellent writing. Worth the subscription.

Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
2 years ago

One statistic I don’t see is what proportion of woke progressives want to have children and what percentage of woke progressives are in a mixed race relationship. My own limited observation indicate its low on both counts.

Leon Wivlow
Leon Wivlow
2 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Rose

I would be interested to know how many men, (who insist that men are women if they say so) have had sexual relationships with these self declared women. A miniscule percentage?

Last edited 2 years ago by Leon Wivlow
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

It is a facet of globalisation that not only are there huge flows of people across national boundaries, there are concomitant huge flows of ideas too. And the facilitator of this flow is technology – because it is heedless of human scale notions, not just human superpositions, constructs if you like, such as nation states and national boundaries, but also the ‘constructs’ of nature like physical geography. But there’s something more – technology is shining searchlights on aspects our nature which we never knew existed and would have remained hidden otherwise.

What I’m trying to convey is that not all of these ideas swirling around about the nature of humanity, that now appears to be influencing humanity, have directly human origins: some of these are generated by the blind watchmaker that is the algorithmic ecosystem. I’m not anthropomorphising, it is not doing so consciously because it is no more conscious than a hurricane or a supernova, and moreover we created it (although it is a moot point how much choice we had in its creation), but nevertheless it is changing us.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Interesting and very true. This whole wretched business has a quality of “momentum”… But whilst there are gales, there are also such things as wind breaks – and the one conservative force in a position to assemble such a useful device, the government, does nothing. Nor does it do very much to address the lack of conservative voices across society. indeed, it continually sells the pass, as if stuck in Cameron / Osborne appeasement mode, when the circumstances which justified it have vanished. Appeasement itself worked very nicely when Germany was led by Gustav Stresemann. But then another chap pitched up. The Tories are no longer “triangulating” with Blair or his heirs; they are dealing with fanatics – and their triangle is positively isosceles…

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

‘Momentum has a very interesting Trotsky past – it is reformed from ‘Militant Tendencies’, the Marxist/Trot group of radical Black-shirts of the Labour Party which M Foot crushed as going too far. That they are not on radical watch lists shows how much a free pass is given to the extreme left, although they are 1000X more destructive than the non-existent Far Right.

And yes, they all go back to The Frankfurt School of Marxist/Nihilistic ‘Critical Theory’.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

One of the most interesting comments I’ve read on Unherd.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Thank you for the kind words

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

“huge flows of people across national boundaries, there are concomitant huge flows of ideas too.”

Prashant, this is true, but needs the addition that these flows of Ideas are almost entirely from the West. The West basically created Philosophy and Psychology and individualism and Marx, existentialism, Feminism, and on and on..

Also that the destructive ideas are funded and pushed by very evil forces, Soros being the one all know of. (he is evil personified, he made his Billions by attacking National Currencies and betting against them, walking off with the difference of the money before he caused it to devalue, and the devalued condition he left it in. And those devalued monies were essentially stolen from every citizen of that nation, poor were stolen from the worst of any. He raided the poor box to accumulate obscene wealth.)

(Soros ‘Broke the Bank of England’, read about it – he crashed the British Pound in the 1960s and walked off with Billions wile leaving the British Pound 25% devalued – and so every poor and Middle Class was 25% poorer overnight, and it all in his pocket.) (he played the Pound against the Mark – wild story) (What he did to Hungry is Obscene – and a score of other nations! Google it, if the algorithms allow) – (he buys the campaign finance of every American DA who will let criminals go, and charge the solid citizen.)

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago

Thanks to Prof. Goodwin for a well-researched article on this charged subject. Woke ideology is becoming endemic because the elite running the mega corporations love Woke. Woke achieves what all elites seek: divide et impera. Woke is perfect for this because it entails permanent finger-wagging at the white community, with no obvious end-point. Woke will be around as a divisive issue for some time, without ever becoming a dominant ideology. In the unlikely event that is does start to become dominant, the elite will end their love-affair with Woke, as it will have ceased to serve its purpose.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

In my lifetime there have been enormous changes. At school we got the cane and sang hymns in the morning. Whether you believed in God or not it was unwise to say it out loud. The vicar, the policeman, the bank manager, the headmaster, a dying out member ‘the Squire’, were gods. Gays were everywhere but they were careful. Age softens the view and the multivirate are diminished now. Then we had the Beatles, Stones, Easy Rider, Vietnam, Flower Power, 18-30 clubs, Monty Python’s Life of Brian. The horrified older generation shaved every day, went to church, wore a tie. I don’t have to describe today but the lucky ones cast a jaundiced eye and skirmish in and out of it all. This wokeness is a form of pedantic prudish priggishness found in Cromwell’s day. There used to be respect, born of fear or fear of upsetting dominant convention. I think the freedom of speech issue is that before we wouldn’t say things even if we thought them but now some children say we can’t. Do either.

Last edited 2 years ago by Zorro Tomorrow
mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago

Instead of calling bigots, racists, thugs and thieves “woke” call them what they are. Then a lot more than 60% of Britons will know who people talk about when they use the euphemism “woke”

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Call them “woke bigots”, “woke racists”, “woke thugs”, and “woke thieves”.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago

Typically insightful article, Matthew. But while we’re on the definition of “woke”, can you please define “progressive”? The status quo ante of the two main parties united in an underlying attachment to their country’s institutions and achievements has morphed into a situation in which Labour (and of course the LibDems and Greens) despise what was once common ground, leaving our communal social fabric in tatters. Only in Newspeak can something so retrograde be labelled “progressive”.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

Agreed. This is why I define wokeness as the pseudo-progressive authoritarian usurpation of liberalism.

William Hickey
William Hickey
2 years ago

The author writes: “ For the first time in our history, one of Britain’s mainstream parties has become a vessel for an ideology which encourages people to, put simply, dislike their own country.”

Are you starting to realize that importing new people by the millions to be “British” was not a good idea?

Are you starting to understand that English traditions cannot and will not be maintained by the children of other peoples?

Are you starting to understand that the unprecedented, top-down mandated experiment in population demographics called massive immigration was not a good idea? That such a utopian scheme was doomed to fail, as all the historical evidence indicated?

Are you starting to understand, too late, that Enoch Powell was right?

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
2 years ago

I’m interested in the institutional drivers of this phenomenon; during the English Reformation, the ‘glue’ ultimately was the dissolution of the monasteries and subsequent redistribution of wealth. This included those dispossessed, monks and the like; they were pensioned-off generously.

So with ‘wokism’, where would a ‘follow the money’ question lead?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Diggins

Soros, and the Global Elites are out to destroy the Middle Class as they are wealthy enough to be free from government buying their votes, and moral enough to vote for the Country instead of self, so they are to be replaced by migrants of opposing values, and by underclass trapped in government handouts and paid to have children – to divide and conquer the Western Democracies – and thus create Globalism where they will live as virtual Gods. The Global Elites own 80% of the money/debt, they own the MSM, they own the Social Media, they own all the main Political Parties, (thus why they are called the ‘Donor Class, as they finance all campaigns to move their people into power, and to own the political debt on the rest)

Woke is their tool, they created it to destroy the West Christian Middle Class and let the bought voters chose the leaders who will destroy the West.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

I am unsure which is chicken and which is egg, but we seem to be seeing, to borrow from linguistics, is a change from a high density society to a low density society. High density societies are those in which people are known to each other through a multiplicity of groups: work, church, clubs etc. These could maintain some links between classes. Low density societies have fewer of these links. High density societies maintain links in spite of different interests and beliefs; individuals in low density societies sever links with those of differing opinions and beliefs.
It used to be said of Boston (Mass) that the Lodges spoke only to Cabots, and the Cabots spoke only to God. Now, here, the woke speak only to wokes; and the Daily Mail readers speak only to similar folks.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago

As it says in the article, the majority of adults do jot know what “woke”. There are plenty of studies around that look at what we believed at 18 – 24 and how that changes when we “grow up”, find a partner, decide on children and settle into a career. Most change their politics snd their opinions. That is why Britain is the way it is. And will probably remain the way it is for many many years to come

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Absolutely wrong. The destruction of having of a conventional family is at the very Core of Lefty/Liberal thinking. Families are for disfunctional, single parents on benefits. Middle class who make society succeed are taught that having family is to destroy their choice, their freedon, a very attack on their personhood – that being single and free is the only way to behave properly.

SJW, single justice warier is the highest work lifestyle.

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Can’t see that happening to the UK’s burgeoning critical theory graduates. They won’t work with their hands and with Labour the way it is i can’t see a boom in non-jobs in the public sector keeping these parasites fed. If they do marry and procreate God help their kids. Indira Gandhi would know what to do with them.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago

Do British footballers “take a knee” before their games? I thought that was a uniquely American idiocy.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  L Walker

Alas, they do.

And a culture war has exploded around it.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

I urge anyone attending a football match and anyone watching football in the pub to boo loudly when the millionaire morons “take the knee”.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  L Walker

Nice to see you quarantining “take a knee” inside quote marks where this ridiculous and toxic phrase belongs.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

With half of school leavers going off to uni – the articulate, well-educated half – woke is likely to have a powerful future for some while.

Especially as they really are the young, and the conservative elderly generation really are dying off.

An alliance between university towns and the progressives and degenerates of the Big Cities isn’t enough to win elections – but that’s forgetting racial minorities, many among whom are embittered people eager to bash the white folks and with an interest in high public spending and a large public sector.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

I’m loudly and proudly anti-woke. Woke people are racist scum who should be treated like the BNP.

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago

The reason why education and age, not class and income, have become the main drivers of politics is because of the much greater influence that people’s cultural values are wielding over their decisions at the ballot box
This is Mathew’s core theme, but I am unconvinced. I think bread and butter issues remain central but that the young (and hence better educated) lack the opportunities that older people enjoyed. Peter Turchin calls this “elite overproduction”” – too many people failing to get the jobs they though they were entitled to.
Luntz finds the greates thingh dividing people in UK is rich v. poor. Cultural issues don’t really have the salience that Mathew’s piece would suggest except for the tradiotnal Tory dislike of immigrants.
Finally, an interesting question in Luntz finds that young people say their work is more “heart” than “head” despite their education. As you move though the age range “head” gets more dominant. As Charles Goodhart has argued at length “heart” jobs are the worst paid. The present discontents are economically rooted and will only be defused by economic opportunkties for young people.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago

C

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

“I always saw so many Brexiteers as actually profoundly un-patriotic.”
I have not noticed that. Are you sure that you are not indulging in wishful thinking?

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

M

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

In the case of the US, they seem to put up a flag and worship it as an idol.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

We do tend to love our country. Love it when it’s right, fix it when it’s wrong. Aye, there’s the rub.

Antonino Ioviero
Antonino Ioviero
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Projection is confession.