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The problem with anti-woke liberals They are foot soldiers for the status quo

You can't untangle politics and religion. Credit: In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

You can't untangle politics and religion. Credit: In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images


February 18, 2022   7 mins

In the summer of 2005, hundreds of recent college graduates gathered in a giant auditorium in Houston for a lesson in “diversity, community and leadership”. At 20 years old, I was the youngest of the bunch. The organisation Teach for America — the US equivalent of Teach First — was about to parachute us into classrooms set in the nation’s poorest inner-city and rural areas. But not before immersing us in a bath of race and gender theory.

The training began with a corny short film, featuring a number of justly forgotten D-list actors. The central action revolved around a middle-aged white guy with a moustache struggling to come to terms with diversity. At work and in his neighbourhood, vexing new identity-based demands confronted him. He figured it sufficed to treat everyone fairly and without prejudice. He didn’t hate anyone, but neither did he think he owed anything on account of his own identity.

The middle-age white guy just didn’t get it. Luckily, his United Colors of Benetton cast of colleagues were prepared to gently guide him to the truth: that behind his “colourblind” assumptions lurked his enormous “privilege”; and that fairness and old-fashioned decency just weren’t enough, not with all the racial abuses marring Western history and still racking society.

At first, he resisted, spluttering angrily about “affirmative action” and “reverse racism”. But gradually, our protagonist came to recognise how much hurt his words inflicted on his minority (and female) colleagues. He resolved to do better, starting by acknowledging his privileges and consciously checking them. In short, he learned a new ethic for a new America.

This was the first time I ran into the tangle of ideas now known as “woke”. And back then, I dismissed them as a silly sort of therapy-cum-spirituality for young adults, much as the Columbia University linguist John McWhorter does in his best-selling and hotly debated new book, Woke Racism. I was wrong then — as McWhorter is now.

All the elements of wokeness McWhorter identifies were present, in embryonic form, in that Houston auditorium 17 years ago: the grievance-mongering; the reduction of complex problems to an obsession with language; the denial of agency to victim groups; the corollary duty of whites to pursue social change, mainly by seeking individual self-improvement; the thrill of a higher gnosis.

It was useful for elite, mostly white grads to give some thought to how their backgrounds might help or hinder them in “majority-minority” school districts, such as the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas, where I was headed. But the sessions went far beyond that, staging by-now-familiar confessional routines (“for each privilege point the chart gives you, please take one step forward from the line….”) and ultimately seeking to mould a new type of person.

I found the whole thing contemptible, partly because I saw in the proto-woke worldview a bowdlerised version of the critical theories I had studied — indeed, adored — in college. And partly because I fell into the interstices of the official oppressor-oppressed categories. I could have brought home an Intersectional Olympics medal, as a Muslim-born immigrant in post-9/11 America. But I wasn’t, in fact, besieged by prejudice, and it would have been risible for a son of Iran — literally, “land of the Aryans” — to claim “POC” victimhood.

Others were enthusiastic. There were transports of tears, ecstatic hugs after heated exchanges, tedious self-criticisms. It all seemed to give them solace, of a kind that I, then a proud atheist, didn’t think I needed. Today, judging by social media, more than a few of my fellow Teach for America alumni are zealots who force everyone around them “to spend endless amounts of time listening to nonsense presented as wisdom, and pretend to like it”, to quote McWhorter.

They’re everywhere, of course, not just in Teach for America. In a very few years, public life in the Anglosphere has devolved into one giant diversity session. McWhorter, who is black, is justly alarmed by this. He doesn’t want his daughter to grow up thinking of herself as a permanent victim, nor to believe that she carries some immutable racial essence that defines who she is more than anything else about her.

More immediately, McWhorter has had it with progressive inanities, which he dissects with great wit and gusto. A table supplied early in the book shows how the woke — whom McWhorter labels “the Elect”; more on that shortly — demand that white people simultaneously believe pairs of diametrically opposed propositions. “Silence about racism is violence,” we are told, but also: “Elevate the voices of the oppressed over your own.” Heads they win, tails we lose.

McWhorter addresses persuadable New York Times readers, who sense that such rhetoric is sinister but are cowed by progressive bullying, which is often backed by corporate power. The hope is that such sceptical liberals will finally “stop being afraid of these people” and “stand up” to them. Amen. But such calls to courage have been issuing from anti-woke liberals like McWhorter (and Bari Weiss, Douglas Murray, Bill Maher and James Lindsay) for some time. Why isn’t it working?

For McWhorter, “the Elect” win by duping well-intentioned modern people into adopting a malignant worldview. Wokeness, in this telling, is just a set of bad ideas. Bad religious ideas, to be precise, which assail the rational, individualistic pillars of the “post-Enlightenment society we hold dear”. If that’s the case, the “solution” is for the rest of us to double down on secular individualism. We, the non-Elect, should simply recognise that we’re dealing with faith-based fanatics, people who can’t be reasoned with, and “work around them”.

The author is less than clear on what this might mean in practice, other than answering progressive claims with a resounding “No”: No, we won’t apologise. No, we won’t recant. No, we won’t mouth your inanities.

There is much that is sensible here. It’s especially commendable for a black, liberal intellectual, for example, to warn that the quest to extirpate all racist thoughts, once for all, is quixotic and dangerous.

But I’m afraid his diagnosis, and the treatment that follows from it, are woefully lacking. For one thing, the anti-woke liberals, who trend heavily toward Christopher Hitchens-style New Atheism, badly misunderstand religion, McWhorter especially so.

In fact, he admits early on that the book is likely to get pilloried for “disrespect[ing] religion.” But the problem isn’t so much his mean caricatures of traditional faiths as his sloppy definitions and the unaccountably sharp divisions he draws between religious and “secular” reason. These lead him to lose sight of the liturgical character of all political society, even the ardently godless.

Certainly, it’s hard to deny the religious characteristics of wokeness. The woke have their own liturgies (like the ones I witnessed in Houston). They believe in original sin (slavery, colonialism) and exalt themselves as a sort of secular Elect and excommunicate heretics (cancel culture). They’ve built a hieratic structure, composed of high priests (the UCLA critical theorist KimberlĂ© Crenshaw, say), popular preachers (Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo) and ordinary pastors (your workplace diversity consultants). And because theirs is a messianic faith, they are hellbent on imposing it on the rest of us.

So far, so familiar. After all, it isn’t exactly ground-breaking to notice the religious dimensions of secular ideologies. The classic of the genre remains Raymond Aron’s Opium of the Intellectuals (1955), which exposed the messianic dimensions of Communist ideology. But where Aron was nuanced and sophisticated, and obviously learned when it came to a Christian faith that wasn’t his own, McWhorter is too often downright crude. Straight-faced references to The Da Vinci Code as a guide to understanding how believers think? Check. Blanket assertions that the Bible “makes no sense”? Check. Constant evocations of “the medieval” as shorthand for superstition and barbarism? Check.

Three millennia of Jewish, Christian and Muslim theology and philosophy? Poof! — all demolished by McWhorter’s equation of “reason” with Enlightenment empiricism.

Through it all, McWhorter never pauses to define precisely what a religion is. It’s a shocking lapse for a professional linguist. We owe “religion” to the Latin religio — “to bind”. And who was bound to whom, thanks to religion’s marriage of ritual and belief? In the classical world, religion didn’t just involve binding the human creature to God or the gods — but also the political subject to his earthly rulers. Politics and piety, in other words, were bound together, a fact made especially manifest in the Roman worship of the god-emperor.

As a matter of substance, religious experience could and did vary; some religious beliefs are more reasonable than others. But as a matter of form, religion was about orienting the community, rulers as well as the ruled, toward the highest goods of human life. And in that sense religion was — and remains — unavoidable. Hence, ancient writers’ insistence that man is among other things a religious animal, always seeking to erect his altars in public squares.

Today, our altar looks unquestionably progressive. Anti-woke liberals see themselves as the brave few who refuse to genuflect — rather like Roman elites who, following Constantine’s conversion, griped that worship of a would-be Jewish king had ruined the empire. Only, unlike the Roman religious dissidents, who were proud pagans, the anti-woke liberals refuse to recognise the religious character of their own beliefs.

They insist that their ideology is merely a gossamer framework for upholding pluralistic societies. Yet liberalism, too, offers a definite account of what should bind the individual to society, with its own pieties and liturgical practices. From French revolutionaries’ shrines to the goddesses of Reason and Liberty to today’s pantheon of civic saints, liberals render worship. And from the arch-liberal philosopher John Rawls’s infamous footnote excluding from the realm of “public reason” any “comprehensive doctrine that denied this right [abortion],” to the anti-woke liberals’ increasingly unvarnished hostility to those further to their Right, liberals excommunicate.

Meanwhile, their shoddy account of religion leads anti-woke liberals to separate the woke religio from material reality. McWhorter & Co. rightly mock and denounce the bad religio of the woke, but they give little thought to how the ideology might be legitimating a class structure.

McWhorter’s book is replete with hints, but he never connects the dots. Nearly all of the persecutors he profiles, and many of their victims, belong to the professional classes. He writes of teachers, professors, columnists, pollsters, corporate executives — people who, in one way or another, service the dominant classes under his cherished liberal order.

I’ve argued, in these pages and elsewhere, that wokeness might be the latest legitimating ideology for neoliberal capitalism: a way to bind its subjects, to motivate them and to discipline the wayward. If it were otherwise, if wokeness truly undermined the material interests of today’s corporate ruling class, it would be extinguished this very day. And the Walton family and every other mega-foundation wouldn’t be lining up to fund woke outfits, not least Teach for America.

Teach for America (and Teach First) are premised on the idea that the achievement gap between poor kids and their affluent peers could be closed if only a committed corps of teachers mounted heroic, McKinsey-consultant-style hard work. Now, it’s absolutely true that we could use higher expectations and more diligent teachers in low-income classrooms. But these organisations would deny larger, structural causes for the achievement gap: the white teacher, for instance, mustn’t dare judge illegitimacy rates and absentee black fathers. A ferocious focus on race, sexuality and gender, meanwhile, helps to suppress the question of class.

Rolling back wokeness, then, requires paying attention to the intersection of ideology and class conflict in liberal society. Anti-woke liberals aren’t prepared to do so, because finally they’re loyal to our current material order, however annoying or discomfiting they might find its cultural symptoms. Their critique doesn’t give rise to any political response. You rarely find them at the forefront of legislative efforts to limit race-and-gender theory in classrooms. Indeed, they often oppose such efforts, lest they threaten higher liberal idols, such as the “marketplace of ideas”.

A deeper critique would call into question the anti-woke liberals’ own deepest commitments, their own religio.


Sohrab Ahmari is a founder and editor of Compact and author of the forthcoming Tyranny, Inc: How Private Power Crushed American Liberty — and What To Do About It

SohrabAhmari

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Great essay that begins to touch on what we can do to combat wokeness:
Rolling back wokeness, then, requires paying attention to the intersection of ideology and class conflict in liberal society. Anti-woke liberals aren’t prepared to do so, because finally they’re loyal to our current material order,…
Young people are faced with a world devoid of spiritual meaning and where they have little chance of a good job or owning a home where they can raise a family. We saw the beginning of a rebellion in the remarkable popularity of the old, grumpy, rumpled Bernie Sanders with the under-30s. A sort of cult formed around him and I’m not sure the press ever fully reported the fact that so many young Americans were fervent supporters of what amounted to socialism.
But Bernie-ism ultimately went nowhere, just as the anti-Wall Street movement went nowhere a decade ago, probably because both threatened the corporate elite.
Now there’s the woke ideology and it’s sticking. The young have a cause or, as the author notes, a religion, and they’re creating change, not least the creation of all those diversity commissar jobs in HR which employ otherwise unemployable liberal arts graduates. Nationally there are initiatives to enact rent control, raise taxes, forgive student debt. For the first time in their lives these young people are not just being told “tough luck if you’re buried in student debt and are stuck in a dead end job. Go and retrain. That’s how the market works.” They believe they’ve found a way out of their limited lives.
It seems one way to counteract wokeness is to give young people a brighter future with good-paying jobs. But those types of policies are Republican policies and the young are dead against that party so maybe we’re stuck in a world where all these graduates go into the diversity, HR and tech censorship business while big corporations sell them overpriced, ideologically sound “green” products, and slowly but surely run their lives for them.
I have the uncomfortable feeling the only way forward is a true social revolution of those who value personal freedom versus the rest. I would love for the author to write a follow-up article explaining his vision for getting out of this mess.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I found it rambling and once again conflating every issue as religion – the poor thinker’s go-to analogy to everything political.

How about the easy thing of just judging by their works? Is George Floyd really something other than what he was? Are students in a LA school district where most fail at getting an education and crime and gangs are the social backbone the same as a school in the Suburbs where almost all are above average?

Woke is the system of saying rocks weigh less than air, but fail to float away because biased belief systems are holding them down. Just stop all this false Religion equivalent stuff and get real about what is what, which is just falsehoods pretending to be truths.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

This is a topic I have regularly argued with Bari Weiss on her substack. (It’s worth paying for — even if you don’t agree with her, she’s honest.)

Only a religion can fight another religion, and liberal secular democracy’s gods (reason, tolerance, etc…) are too weak to do it.

Wokeness will only be defeated by a rival faith. It could be the rejuvenated Christianity that Catholic integralists hope for. (Although all the serious Catholic Integralists in America would fit into a single Starbucks right now.) Michel Houllebecq suggests in Submission that wokeness will surrender to Islam. Jean Raspail has an even more gruesome answer in Camp of the Saints. But one way or another, the secular liberal order is dead. Bari and Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald may be kicking its corpse around for years, but they will increasingly be seen as nutters.

The Enlightenment dream of a society with a state devoted only to protecting maximal individual autonomy (my rights end at your nose) turns out to be highly unstable. It worked for a few centuries on 2000 years of shared cultural inertia, but it was undermining its own foundation the whole time. Liberalism has given us great material prosperity at the expense of spiritual impoverishment, but it has now run its course. We are once again returning to a time of strong Gods, and strong Gods can tolerate no dissent.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brian Villanueva
William Murphy
William Murphy
2 years ago

There was a meeting of Catholic Integralists in 2021 in a room above a coffee shop in Steubenville, Ohio. Despite the smallness of the gathering, those present reportedly split into two factions. And there are at least three more faultlines within the movement.

It reminds me of a Marxist group in Reading around the late 1980s – I can’t remember if it was before or after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They had a membership of around twenty, but this did not stop them dividing into two grouplets of 13 and 7.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Those damn Trosky-ites always pollute the workers revolution. 🙂 I think your absolutely correct. The integralists are amusing themselves to irrelevance.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago

I think the cause of individual liberty is a pretty strong God – certainly the convoy protests all across Canada pulled together people from all kinds of backgrounds under the general banner of freedom. Woke politics are enforced, not embraced, and there are many people on the sidelines who could be organized. Where I work I am often vocal about challenging BS – but I have noticed that when I do the majority in the room often follow with opposition of their own.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

“I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the father except through Me.”

“There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger”

“I should be free to do whatever I want until I hurt someone else.”

As they said on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others. Compared to the strong gods of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam, the Enlightenment’s God of individual freedom is a pale shadow.

Is isn’t that freedom is bad or not worth fighting for. It’s that it’s too abstract to organize a society around. Such a society must vigorously defend not only the rights of parents to raise and educate their own children and the rights of churches to worship God on their own terms, but must equally defend the right of Satanists to lead public prayers at City Council meetings and the right of Drag Queen Story Hour in public libraries. (And no, I didn’t make up either of those.)

Society is built on a shared culture. Enlightenment liberalism is an anti-cultural acid. The very freedom it champions dissolves the shared values of the society which embraces it. That’s why I call it a “weak God”.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brian Villanueva
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

Only a religion can fight another religion. Perfectly expressed

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Alan B
Alan B
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“Clear your mind of cant!”

Quite simply, these canards about “unemployable liberal arts grads” and “tough luck…that’s how the market works” are simply the mirror image of “wokeness”. As Mark Lilla observed a few years ago, wokeness is “Reaganism for lefties”.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Why and when did ‘race’ get dropped from critical race theory? ‘Critical theory’ it certainly isn’t.
I thought it was McWhorter who suggested that wokeness is a religion or cult to the followers, therefore there is little point in trying to convert a wokester.
I found the article very wordy and battled to maintain concentration. Oh well. Team McWhorter I remain for now.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago

I also remain on Team McWhorter. The author can’t blame McWhorter or the new atheists for the decline of religion – it was in steep decline long before they appeared. He also criticises McWhorter et al. for not being political. But they’re intellectuals, they analyse and critique, they appear in the mainstream media and all over social media, they write best-selling books. I would say that they are being political – you don’t have to march down 5th Avenue with a banner saying ‘join my political party’ to be political. McWhorter uges people to say No to woke ideology, which also means Vote No to it when you vote. Before they vote, he is trying to change hearts and minds.

There are interesting ideas touched on in this article but it would have been better if the author had fleshed out his own ideas re alternatives to being ‘loyal to our current material order’.

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago

Unfortunately, most Unherd articles are verbose and soporific. Are the writers paid by the word?

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Yes, it’s too hard to read. Being uninitiated, I was hoping to learn about the different points of view

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

I found the same. It’s a world I do not know. I know that all are equal but there is a kind of permanent chip on the shoulder against white people regardless of the benefits the haters have in the west. I didn’t do anything. I was not priveleged. My life started in an orphanage. I did not get the chance to go to University or even college. I had to work to earn money to live straight away. It is not automatic privelege for white people. Many are living on the streets on drugs and begging. Yes our civilisation has been blessed compared to other cultures but there are reasons for that which we are now in danger of losing. We are now witnessing a reverse of the culture in the west slowly but surely. Will they be satisfied when that happens?

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Maybe we just need to do better at providing equal opportunities for everyone

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

I think the point the writer is making is that classical liberals won’t stop the woke tide. They will complain about it, but they don’t have a compelling counter-culture, or a religion of their own to compete, being themselves opposed to older (non-woke) religions.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Yes – and they get extra if they can make two unrelated points in a sentence, and extra if they can use vague references to things we never heard of to push their position, straw men are worth a few bucks, and calling every thing which motivates humans a ‘Religion’ adds 10% to the total pay.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

It is a very unfortunate term – because ‘critical thinking’ – a very good discipline which includes holding your own beliefs up to genuine challenge – means almost the polar opposite of this dogma!
The reason the word ‘race’ is excluded is I presume because ‘critical theory’ is also applied to gender (women’s / LBTQ+ etc) and disability, including neurological.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

please do a search on ‘Critical Theory’ – it is the Frankfurt School’ mumbo-jumbo way of making all social issues caused by whom ever you wish to tear down. Critical theory is pure BS and nothing to do with reason. It is philosophical vu-du. (hint – White Classic Liberalism is always the bad guy)

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago

Critical theory is the overarching term. Within it are a whole series of sub categories of which critical race theory is only one.

Cynical Theory by Pluckrose and Lindsay is worth a read to understand the grotesque depth and complexity of this nonsense.

Probably quite similar to the different factions in the early Christian church!

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Excellent book, love Helen Pluckrose.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Doing good till you had to gratuitously make your jab at ancient Christianity. You just won 5 points from the Critical Theory ideologues for that.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Read part of it. Love it.

Sam Brown
Sam Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Fundamentally, EVERYTHING is problematic ….

Tony Loorparg
Tony Loorparg
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I found P & L s Cynical Theories very useful clarifier for all the Mumbo Jumbo

Sarah H
Sarah H
2 years ago

Isn’t one of his main points that McWhorter et al merely dismiss religion, wokeism being merely one among many silly fairy stories. Instead they should take the religious impulse (or secularly, the search for meaning) seriously. It is not going to disappear through some triumph of empiricism; squeezed in one place it merely comes out somewhere else. Solutions have to put wokeism back in its place, one among many. The more militant atheists deny religion as a real force, allowing the religion of wokeism to spread as if it were merely more secular empiricism to be debated in the senior common room, giving it an intellectual passport by their own conceit. They contradict themselves, saying Wokeism is a religion but religions aren’t valid evidentially and should vanish. (As a godless empiricist myself, man’s search for meaning, religious or otherwise, seems empirically to exist in humanity, complementing our rationality.)

Last edited 2 years ago by Sarah H
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Sarah H

Hm. I mostly agree with the substance of your comment. But who are the “et al” in “Isn’t one of his main points that McWhorter et al merely dismiss religion, …”. Ahmari mentions, along with McWhorter, James Lindsay, in the group labelled “anti woke liberals”. “But such calls to courage have been issuing from anti-woke liberals like McWhorter (and Bari Weiss, Douglas Murray, Bill Maher and James Lindsay) for some time.”
Lindsay is, in my view, probably the leading expert on Critical Social Justice. Lindsay, IIRC, was one of the 1st to identify the similarities of ‘wokeism’ with religious structure and function. For example, from his Postmodern Religion and the Faith of Social Justice essay;
https://newdiscourses.com/2020/06/postmodern-religion-faith-social-justice/
“Of important note, here’s what’s not being said: that religion is bad and therefore Social Justice is bad because it’s so much like a religion. That is not my argument. My argument is neutral in this regard. It is merely that Social Justice takes on many of the qualities of a religion and should be recognized and treated as such, at least culturally. This means applying the social architecture of secularism to the phenomenon.”
Hence he has described ‘wokeism’ as ‘quasi religious’.
Another relevant essay is (albeit from an American perspective);
https://newdiscourses.com/2020/09/first-amendment-case-freedom-from-woke-religion/
And I would recommend most highly Lindsay’s website
https://newdiscourses.com

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago

Yes.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago

The authors point isn’t that McWhorter is wrong to characterize wokeness as a religion, but that secular liberals are blind to how religious their own ideology is. I believe he’s wrong about that. I agree with Patrick Deenen does: secular liberalism is an extension of Judeo-Christian philosophy, but unconsciously undermines its own foundations. However, the author certainly presents a valid case.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago

I think that there was entirely too much emphasis on McWhorter. Others were mentioned in passing, but received no analysis except for that one quote from Rawlins. If you’re talking about a social movement, focusing on one individual in it simply won’t suffice.

Douglas H
Douglas H
2 years ago

Critical Theory preceded CRT — the latter is a mutated variant of the former

dave fookes
dave fookes
2 years ago

I found the article very wordy and battled to maintain concentration.”
As did I – and I imagine, many others.
For a long time I’ve believed racism is a natural human instinct, present in all humans; primarily for the purpose of self-preservation. IMO, sexual desire bares similar traits to racism in that they’re both natural instincts presenting themselves in varying degrees in the vast majority of individuals.
Additionally, and similarly, they require strong, disciplined self-management to be kept in check. It’s legally and morally wrong to satisfy your sexual desires on anyone who takes your fancy. Similarly, it’s morally wrong to vilify people because they’re visually and audibly different – causing feelings of discomfort and aggression. Have you ever stopped to contemplate the logic behind racist feelings?
We’re taught to self-manage our sexual thoughts, so why not our racist thoughts? Preferably at an early age via school curriculums. “It’s okay to have the feelings; we all have them and know why they’re there, but clever, strong people know how to control them.”
And for any of you who believe I’m way off the mark: I challenge you to state with complete honestly, that you’ve never had a racist thought in your life.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

I agree with practically every word of this. The link between capitalism’s need to reinvent itself and woke is priceless insight.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Not an insight actually, many others have already said it.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

The WEF, our current Elite Masters are harnessing ‘Woke’ as it is a social pathology, and thus make all Western Institutions more dis-unified, weak, and better able to be captured in their drive for one world – Corporatism Oligarchy, government..

Sam Brown
Sam Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

They are doing it for money …simply money. To the corporate world WOKE is just another marketing opportunity. They don’t believe a word of it.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Sam Brown

As everyone else’s spending levels out corporate consumer capitalism needs fresh meat that will max out new credit cards and new personal loans to buy new junk because it can.

Nick Wright
Nick Wright
2 years ago

Like many others, I agree with much of this great essay. However, on the point of what constitutes a religion, an important distinction should be made between those that are inclusive and those that are exclusive. The Ten Commandments, despite the name, aren’t particularly prescriptive when you compare them to what’s demanded of believers of wokism. In many major religions, people born of a certain creed or colour aren’t inherently favoured. Wokism asks us to spend a lot of time going through a process of enlightment on subjective grounds for a very specific purpose while acknowledging that it would be near-impossible to be accepted into the inner sanctum. Simply treating everyone as equals seems far more effective and egalitarian.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

I think what you’re describing is the difference between the world’s major religions and gnosticism. It was gnosticism which upheld the idea of an Elect and a process of subjective enlightenment, the higher echelons of which were exclusive. A modern version is Scientology.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Exactly. In Gnosticism there is also the most plain description of the abolition of the ‘sexes’ (one reason being that some Gnostics saw the physical world as a falling away into a fatal fissure destroying an original ideal state, and they held that the first ‘man’ (‘Adam’) was ‘in the beginning’ hermaphrodite by nature, and that their task was to restore the human being to its original, monotypic state). Cf. the trans movement.
Christianity in general has always been highly ambivalent about ‘sexuality’ (cf. the frequent requirement of celibacy of the Catholic priesthood, which according to G. K. Chesterton was not actually part of ‘orthodoxy’ – I am myself not knowledgeable enough to comment on that claim).

Last edited 2 years ago by Arnold Grutt
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Celibacy was an attempt to prevent the ‘Priesthood” becoming hereditary.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Gnosticism? … how about Agnosticism?…

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
2 years ago

Knowledge and no knowledge.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Agreed. Wokeness is simply Gnosticism brought forward to the 20th century. N.S. Lyons on substack has a great piece on this just a few days ago.

William Murphy
William Murphy
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Gnosticism has been around under one name or another down all the Christian centuries. The modern example I always quote is the Mariavite cult, one of the few heresies to ever come out of Poland. That started in the early 1900s and still survives today. It is worth hunting down “The Third Adam” which is now dated, but offers an enthralling, if very incomplete, account of the movement.

Two of the wacky Dominicans behind Jean Vanier of the L’Arche movement also look as if they were running a tiny Gnostic sect. When Jean took a lady in his arms and told her that “this is really Jesus and Mary”, you can tell he had been getting theology which mixed sex and religion in a truly bizarre manner.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

Good insight, Nick. I think universality is an important aspect of codified religion, and it is clearly lacking from the Woke Religion.
But for me, it is not the only thing lacking. Wokeism is best described as a quasi-religion, like Covidism. It has religious features, as McWhorter describes. But as the author of this excellent essay is at pains to point out, a religion is more than a set of beliefs. It is the codification of ritual practices, ethics and beliefs into a system. For traditional religions, these systems are based on central texts (sort of like constitutions) and a theological acquis built up over centuries.
Quasi-religions on the other hand are new, naĂŻve, raw and chaotic. They are diffuse and uncertain, full of internal contradictions and – worst of all – they are often negatively oriented (i.e. not ‘pro-humanist’ rather ‘anti-racist’).
The other great point made in this essay is that secular liberalism is also a set of beliefs. It is just that the secularists are not honest about or even aware of the fact that theirs is a faith just as much as Christianity.
Indeed, I go back to what I have always said: it is only really possible to call yourself an atheist if you hide your own gods in the closet and only listen to them at night.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Well said and a useful addition to the article.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

You beat me to it. Yes, quasi religion. James Lindsay newdiscourses.com has written extensively on this topic.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

IT IS NOT A RELIGION in any reasonable way as Religion as we have it is thousand years of philosophy, intellectualism, A BOOK of the rules concepts universally recognized, a hierarchy recognized, practices, structures, and so on.

These are just Brown-Shirts making up their fas* ist cra* as they go along. All they agree on is their hate and wish to tear down what has made society great.

William Murphy
William Murphy
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Indeed, the Nazis (or a few of the mystically minded looneytunes like Himmler) lost no time in creating a whole mythology behind the Master Race. One writer noted that Hitler himself was not a Nazi in the Himmler sense, as even he did not believe the semi-religious shite.

Sam Brown
Sam Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

There is no god. But the sheep, being terrified of this reality, must always find a shepherd. If only they were conscious.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Sam Brown

If God had wished for us to be atheists, He would have made us with a much better capacity for rational thought.

Shane Emanuelle
Shane Emanuelle
2 years ago

Appreciated this article. I’d agree that it’s a cover to avoid talking about class.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

Not only does it avoid talking about class, but it pits black. white, brown (and every other colour) working-class people against each other, and this can only benefit those in power.

Sean Meister
Sean Meister
2 years ago

Look no further than Amazon’s (private) admission that stoking inter-ethnic, inter-racial and inter-sex strife directly prevented its workforce from unionising. It’s quite the statement and shows a brutal acknowledgment of the realpolitik that is modern capitalism.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Sean Meister

I didn’t know about this, but it wouldn’t suprise me. Do you have a link for this infomation?

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago

The culture war is just another front in the class war. College educated professionals spending endless hours discussing others racial and sexual “privilege” is just a cover to avoid talking about their own obvious class privilege.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
2 years ago

My difficulty with woke is the question of why it is precisely now that questions of sexual identity (LGBT+ and so on) have assumed central importance in human life. Why is that the ‘solution’? What is the ‘problem’?

Esther Kim
Esther Kim
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

I’ve also wondered about the centrality of sexual identity in our culture. I think the problem is the search for meaning and significance which we with our religious nature cannot live without. Sexual identity is an appealing and available solution to this problem because it grants the freedom of self-definition, and our culture celebrates those who claim it as marginalized victims and brave heroes. A growing number of young women slap the vague label of ‘queer’ on themselves to gain status among their peers.

I think there’s also something deeper and more complex about our sexual nature that always makes itself central. We seem always to be wrestling with whether we are in control of our sexual nature or it is in control of us. I haven’t delved into this subject enough to say more.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

I believe it has to do with the most basic question of truth there can be. God made man and woman. If we can turn that extremely basic human institution upside down, then anything is possible.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

Well said. Gender ideology is a perversion. It is both anti-God and anti-science.

Last edited 2 years ago by Julian Farrows
AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

I’ve always been reluctant to call Wokeism a religion. There are many commonalities, but there are also commonalities with political ideologies too.
Perhaps they all arise out of a common foundation? My suggestion is that Wokeism is a fashion. I’d suggest that it is a new generation of the would-be Elite seeking status to make a place in the existing Elite Establishment, and finding it hard going. To make a place they have to signal their virtue and demonise the lower orders. It is class war, not a religion, not politics.
I’ve suggested before that the young would-be Elite perform the latest fashionable dance before the throne of the Establishment ‘Emperor’ trying to secure patronage (whilst the Rude mechanicals look on through the ballroom windows). The current version of the dance is Wokeism, and it is also a version of musical chairs. The not-sufficiently-woke dance hard but at each turn a chair is removed and they are ‘cancelled’ – by their own dance colleagues.
Which suggests to me a strategy do undo the damage of Wokeism…
Firstly all fashions are susceptible to mockery. So mock them and lampoon them. Point out the hypocrisy of the virtue signallers.
Secondly all fashions can be exhausted by making them innovate faster and faster. Make the application process for jobs and placements so cumbersome, requiring examples and statements about diversity, that the striving young realise the cost to themselves.
Thirdly make it plain through articles and blogs in the right places that the patronage of the senior Elites is waning – there will not be enough to go around as societies change. The Elite are already reforming themselves to face new social conditions and Wokeism will not be welcomed on that journey. The rise and fall of the Elite class follows a pattern of several decades and Wokeism is a last gasp effort of the fall, not the rise.

Richard Riheed
Richard Riheed
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Good post. Let’s treat it as a fashion. If we get hung up on if it is or isn’t a religion we’ll go around chasing our tails

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Riheed

Yeah. Have better things to do.

Rosemary Throssell
Rosemary Throssell
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Thank you. The only section of this thread and the essay itself that I agree with.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I hope you’re right but am not convinced. As Linda Hutchison points out above, wokism weakens the proletariat and is therefore hugely in the interests of those with, particularly commercial, power.

This is not necessarily a diminishing elite and it wields enormous patronage.

There’s a case for thinking that the extent to which the demos has genuinely mattered to the powerful has been an historical anomaly over the last 100 years or so (and only in the West). Normal service is in the process of being resumed.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Bollis
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

“Firstly all fashions are susceptible to mockery. So mock them and lampoon them.”
Quite so. Hence my heroic couplet satire The Wokeiad – see above.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Well done. I’d recommend Dominic Frisby’s song 17 Million f**k-Offs as an example of satire and lampooning. It made me laugh and I expect it made a few others wince.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I know it well. It’s hilarious isn’t it!

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I actually disagree with you in that I believe wokeism is absolutely a religion, filling the same role that Christianity has vacated. Regardless of the semantics though, your strategies are good ones. However, expect major pushback. Think how militant Muslims react when you lampoon Mohammed; that’s how the woke will react to you lampooning their virtue signaling. They won’t fight with bombs, but they will fight back.

Look at what’s going on in Canada right now. Whether you agree or disagree with the truckers, the govt response has been nuclear: threaten to deny banking services to anyone who supported them. That’s militant wokeness. Are you prepared to be debanked to fight it?

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

I’ll agree that Wokeism is held with fervour, like a religion, or a political ideology, but to identify it as a religion just blunts any resistance by splitting it into into so many side issues that are not directly relevant.
And I’d argue that what is going on in Canada right now is that the consequences of ‘all must be jabbed’ is thrown back directly into the faces of the Elite. I begin to hope that the lunacy of continued social control of the population is becoming exhausted (an example of my second suggestion perhaps). And when the tax collectors cannot be paid because peoples’ accounts have been frozen, that will be another unintended consequence. I expect banks will be increasingly reluctant to freeze accounts, especially if their customers choose to bank elsewhere.
The response of the Canadian Government is too disproportionate, it smacks of desperation. People will form their own views about the worthiness of the current Elite to govern.
Step back a bit and squint at recent history. The result of the Brexit referendum, the Trump election, the latest Conservative majority, the Yellow Vest movement… all blamed as ‘just’ populism, but all anti-Elite. Times are changing, slowly.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I hope you’re correct. I really do. My perspective is American, not British, so when I step back, I see the god of “individual autonomy” getting released in the Enlightenment, growing quietly through the 19th century, then putting on serious pounds with the help of postmodernism and the sexual revolution and gay rights movements (“free love”, “love is love”, “my body my choice” are all just different words for “individual autonomy”), before finally starting to reign fire and brimstone down on the existing order somewhere around 2003.

As pleased as I am about recent events, Brexit, and populism in general, a 250 year march of secular liberalism gradually overturning the Judeo-Christian cultural order does not end because angry Americans elected a blowhard who did little and angry Parisians screamed and wore yellow vests for a year.

As I said, I hope you’re right, I’m just less optimistic.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Or to quote from a 1980 song of David Bowie’s? As a guide?

“There’s a brand new talk but it’s not very clear
The people from good homes are talking this year
It’s loud and it’s tasteless and I’ve heard it before
You shout it all out on the u-uh dance floor
Oo-ah
Fashion!”

But before that:

“There’s a brand new dance but I don’t know it’s name
The people from bad homes do again and again
It’s big and it’s bland full of tension and fear
They do it over there but we don’t do it here”

So is acting woke a mere style of behaviour? But very fashionable? Well, the rockers back in the day who pushed over the scooters belonging to the mods in English seaside resorts must be, for example, akin to the truckers in Canada hearing talk of getting knocked down by being denied access to their bank accounts. When the mods strike back.

To pontificate is to preen and pose from the pulpit and act showily, I suppose.
By ascending to the pulpit is to take things to another level.

But we are talking about a deconsecrated building, taken over as they tend to be by the rules of the club now occupying the former house of God. Anybody and everybody is running up to the pulpit now.

You’d think the old Muppet Show is just a figment of everybody’s imagination, when you see the damnation of the West cast by the woke mind.

A religion is always ripe for mocking. But a fashion is hard to pin down properly. Perhaps that’s why the woke agenda is so hard to push back against. It’s a mass of energy. Hence its infectious fashionability. The people from good homes gravitate towards the woke bandwagon. Religion has been supplanted by a fashion, a craze, by a very strong affiliation. It’s as if pondering the universe is verboten. That’s not spiritual. But to make up for that, a moral code comes into play.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

An excerpt from Book 4 of my heroic couplet satire, The Wokeiad by Richard Craven:-
Behold the monstrous regiment of woke,
Science’s nemesis and but of joke.
First waddle past the squads of scowling smurfs,
With cardboard signs excoriating TERFs.
The sunlight bounces off each azure scalp
And dandruff glitters like a Switzer alp.
Above white knee socks, fat and dimpled thighs
Betray the sacrifice of untold pies.
Hotpants which emphasise the camel toe,
As Adam’s apple does the beard’s shadow. 1210
O’er each fraying belt tremulous blubber juts,
On porcine face the lipsticked gob tut-tuts.
The cheesecloth working shirt with rolled-up sleeves!
The animosity! The petty peeves!
With pond’rous tread they stamp upon the ground.
Buildings collapse, and light aircraft are downed.
The birds fall silent and the dead revive,
It isn’t bliss that dawn to be alive.
Next marches Antifa’s Sturmabteilung,
From lamp posts effigies of Jooz are hung. 1220
Black shirts they wear, and black shorts underneath.
Black are their souls, and equally their teeth.
P1ssant pathetic parliament of fools,
The stinking sewage of the public schools,
Tarquin and Henrietta on the slum,
All trust-funded and terminally dumb.
Each wears a skateboard strapped across their chest,
Razors embedded, and a kevlar vest.
With lowered standards dragged through guttered muck,
They show the world how they don’t give a fvck: 1230
Portraits of Molotov with Ribbentrop,
The Red Flag with the Swastika on top,
Sayings of Mao, diktats of Xi Jin Ping,
The vanguard does its genocidal thing.
Behind on tumbrils prisoners are drawn,
The lumpen proles, objects of Twitter scorn.
The hipsters at their whiteness take the pea,
Joke about rickets and Vitamin D.
Now Black Lives Matter flaunt their camouflage,
And fling their epithets at Nigel F’rage, 1240
And Jon Snow fainting falls upon the floor;
So many white people he never saw.
They pull down statues and they “take the knee”,
Dismantle whiteness and the family.
On surfaces four-lettered filth they spray
And chase the po-po and the Jooz away.

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper
2 years ago

If liberalism is predicated on the pursuit of individual self interest ( not moral Gladstonian liberalism) then the common good is secondary and there is no real moral leverage against the woke cult. Is that why the liberal.left have climbed into bed with global capitalism on immigration and betrayed the white working class? I think of England mostly.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Cooper

You make an exceedingly good point here. I have tried to understand why the liberal left have embraced global capitalism, and your suggestion about their becoming just self-interested individuals does make sense.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
2 years ago

I think it’s simpler than that. It’s pragmatism versus dogmatism and yes, class.
PS How long do we whites have to bear resentment for unsavoury acts committed hundreds of years ago (by most empires), when life was more precarious altogether? Most of us have no ancestors who were involved in slavery – the actual numbers were tiny by today’s standards.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

Google “My Great-Grandfather, The Nigerian Slave Trader.” Can’t find a way to include the link here, but it comes up. From The New Yorker.
Addresses your point!

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

The genuine question I have is, do we have no responsibility at all?

What some of our ancestors did was a long time ago, and I don’t want to live my life apologising.

On the other hand, if what they did has negative ramifications for some people today, to our benefit, should we be taking more steps to undo what they did?

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

What were your direct family line doing 200-400 years ago. Mine were fishermen and sailors (Mercantile and military.) Their lives were hard (and often short.) Given the laws of that time they were treated only a little better than slaves. Some may have been taken by Black African Slavers (O Yes, Yes, Yes! Fact). Yours might have been similar, on land or sea. Slavery wasn’t a White European invention – it was endemic. I don’t owe anyone anything for what happened before 19 June 1943..

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Didn’t Britain undo it in banning slavery in all their dominions early on? America also later on shed blood in a bloody civil war to ban slavery. Who knows whether Lincoln’s assasination was connected to that? Slavery went on well after this in other civilisations in the world and even still in Northern Sudan and other places. Britons were taken as slaves during the Barbary Islamic raids and in other places in Europe from the Netherlands to Italy and Ireland and even as far as Iceland. This went on from the 1500 to 1800 some three thousand years or more by North African Islamic States. From what I can read this was far worse than the slavery in America and West Indies.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

Britain banned slavery quite early on and Americans shed blood later to end slavery but the resentment persists on it would appear.

Mark Silbert
Mark Silbert
2 years ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

In the US it’s complicated by the “Jim Crow” era which was only eliminated by law about 60 years ago and in practice only 40 years ago. It was arguably even more insidious than slavery.

Kiat Huang
Kiat Huang
2 years ago

Is the primary aim of this essay an alternate spotlight on wokeness or a critique of McWhorter’s book?

Whatever the intention, the author spends too much time on shallow literary critique – it came across as an obsession.

On wokeness why did he talk of religion as if that was a given fact? From my English view it seems obvious that wokedom (obsession with colourism, intimidation of women sticking up for their rights and customs, rabid cancel culture, racist and oppressive mantra on who, we must all believe, the oppressors are) is far more CULT than religion.

Cults do not benefit wider society, not even their supporters. A cult MO is to break down an inductee’s beliefs and substitute then with the cult’s own. They also tend to enrich the self-appointed human deities that run them.

Sohrab, I think you insult religions (and possibly our intelligence!) by insinuating your premise woke culture is similar to a religion, when it has much more in common with a cult.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

An excellent essay.

V Solar
V Solar
2 years ago

Great essay, I could not agree more.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
2 years ago

Identifying ‘woke’ as a religion just confuses the issue. Woke is an ideology, which, in common with religions, starts with a ‘truth’ and selects, slants, and suppresses the evidence to fit. ‘Anti-woke’ is a manifestation of reason and intelligence, which starts with the facts, and takes its theories, ideas, conclusions etc from them. As the evidence changes, so do the rest. And reason, unlike ideology, always leaves room for doubt. However they start out, religions and other ideologies always cease to be about some sort of ‘common good’, and become simply powerbases, intent on preserving or building their powerbases at all costs.

natalie mckenna
natalie mckenna
2 years ago

I’m not entirely sure who the anti-woke liberals are (a couple of north American academics?) but I take it as given that ‘woke’ identity politics is driven by class and represents a misdirection from class privilege – in both the structural and personal dimensions – that serves to maintain the socioeconomic status quo.
Where do we go with that? The left has been defanged and deranged by this individualist nonsense.

Jeff Carr
Jeff Carr
2 years ago

It strikes me that there is not a large gap between theorising about a ‘religious’ dimension and suggesting that this preaching is part of a cult.
In fact, the formative years for the followers has been the time spent in tertiary education where the key elements of the religious cult are espoused with no critical consideration and adherence is key to community acceptance.

MICHAEL MCGREGOR
MICHAEL MCGREGOR
2 years ago

I love listening to McWhorter. So much of what he says is spot on. An interesting and erudite commentator.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

There is certainly something in this argument, especially when it comes to the (deliberately?) hidden class aspects of ‘woke’ ideology. However there are criticisms one can make of it. Firstly, ‘religion’ itself in its modern use is an explicitly Western concept, arising from the Church / State division which developed in medieval western Christianity. You can’t simply apply this understanding to very different societies, which include those of Ancient Rome, India or indeed Islam, where this distinction between the secular and religious does not really apply. Tom Holland argues – I think quite convincingly – that ‘wokeism’ is a successor owing a lot, if unconsciously, to (western) Christian assumptions. That religion was also for much of its history extremely intolerant of other beliefs, unlike say the religions (the plural is important!) of Ancient Rome.
Then we have “Their critique doesn’t give rise to any political response. You rarely find them at the forefront of legislative efforts to limit race-and-gender theory in classrooms. Indeed, they often oppose such efforts, lest they threaten higher liberal idols, such as the “marketplace of ideas”.
This is not accurate when there have been at least floundering (and I agree thinly founded) political attempts to do just this in both the US and UK. Are the people pushing back ‘liberals’? We can argue about definitions, as if the the people are divided into pure tribes of ‘liberals’ or ‘people further to the Right’ (a vague and ill-defined term). Is Boris Johnson a liberal? Or for that matter Donald Trump? They do share some liberal assumptions. Infamously the term ‘liberal’ itself has a different connotation in the US context from that in Europe.
Is ‘liberalism’ really a religion in any meaningful way comparable to western Christianity or ‘wokedom’ as the author appears to argue? Of course, it is difficult to imagine almost any body of thought which does not have some core assumptions – that definition would make almost any body of thought a ‘religion’. Regarding the example of abortion – that is not a subject on which liberalism as such should have any fundamental position on. However, again, practical philosophical and political positions have never been particularly consistent, and are often are adopted in contrast with those of adversaries. This is why the opposite political tribes in the US tend to have polar opposite positions on abortion and capital punishment (are we against killing ‘human beings’, or not?). The liberal position ‘should’ depends on whether a foetus is considered as a human being, or not, but that is not a subject liberalism itself can answer. (Arguably only scientific understanding could make a start on this – can the foetus feel and experience pain, for example). In practice almost everyone (notably, including anti-abortionists) tends to think there is a difference between killing the born and unborn, as can be seen by the penalties imposed for the crime.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 years ago

Lack of religion in our young leads to a vacuum of the soul. The “wokeness” of this modern era is simply something that rushes in with great violence to fill that terrible vacuum, that cold empty space of the heart. This is why the “wokists” cling with great desperation to their worldview and espouse it with great certitude. Like a drowning man clinging to straws, they dare not let go.

Art Johnston
Art Johnston
2 years ago

“The problem with anti-woke liberalsThey are foot soldiers for the status quo”
This essay is really missing the point, not to mention too wordy and convoluted. He is literally saying the problem is McWhorter and Weiss. What planet is he from? Most people would say that the woke liberals are the problems.
Thanks goodness we have journalist like McWhorter and Weiss. Ahmari is out in left field and is not contributing at all to fixing the problems.

Last edited 2 years ago by Art Johnston
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  Art Johnston

I agree that Ahmari and his ilk are nothing but a debating society; Catholic Integralists aren’t going to forge the new order of the Western world. However what are Weiss and her ilk actually doing to defeat wokeness? From reading and arguing with Bari on her substack, I believe she wants a return to the “tolerant liberalism of the 80’s and 90’s or so”. But I lived through that liberalism, and it wasn’t tolerant. It accused conservatives of wanting black people in chains, wanting women in the kitchen, trying to kill Grandma, and instituting a theocracy. And these are the people who are going to push back on wokeness? Sorry, but I don’t want them back in power. Wokeness is a natural outgrowth of secular liberalism; putting the same secular liberals back in charge won’t solve anything.

John Hicks
John Hicks
2 years ago

In common with Lesley, I too found the essay “wordy”, and somewhat confusing. That only writers able to quickly turn wokeness in its head are worthy writers, seems more a reflection of the author’s sense of impotence in a troubled wokey world. Maybe understandable living in Manhattan. Douglas Murray, Weiss and other intellectuals are hugely influential in pushing the pendulum of reason. Inspired Families respond and do the heavy lifting. And they are.
There also appears some confusion about the influence of religion. Germany’s 1230AD fundamental law book – Sachenspiegel in recording traditions and customs, provides a useful definition. The Saxon MIRROR is recorded to REFLECT back to citizens those aspirational values and ideals they seek best in and for themselves. Push back against the basket of woke is merely exposing the withered lives found along the woke road. We need more of Douglas Murray and somewhat less confusion about action and inspiration.

Dick Illyes
Dick Illyes
2 years ago

How did a religion based on directives to love one another, forgive seventy times seven, love your enemies, etc. etc., create an inquisition?
This is obviously happening again, driven by the same lack of a logical rule that even small children can understand. I submit the non-aggression principle as the best simple rule ever proclaimed.
My preferred version of the NAP says: To have the best possible human society no one should initiate force against another, or deceive them so they do something they would not otherwise do. Government exists to prevent force and fraud, and when it goes beyond this government itself becomes the problem.
A simpler version says don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff.
Unfortunately it is more fun to join with others to force the unwashed to do or stop doing something. The personal responsibility involved in finding your own way is difficult, and the lure of the cult is always present.

Mark Silbert
Mark Silbert
2 years ago

Thanks for this insightful essay.
For some time now I’ve had issues with McWhorter’s take on the “Elect” and dismissal of everyone that’s not one of his NPR listening, New York Times reading latte sipping brethren. You capture my thoughts perfectly.
In countering woke ideology, one Chris Rufo is worth a thousand John McWhorters.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
2 years ago

I found much of this article baffling. My problem is the notion this is about ‘capitalism’ makes little sense. But then terms like ‘capitalism’ and ‘liberalism’ mean different things to different people. That wokism as a justification for capitalism seems a non-sequitur really, but the semantics are so fuzzy it is hard to know what is really intended.
Certainly large corporation tend to be hostile to free markets (as Conze observed in 1934 ” Fascism is the organised attempt to introduce socialist planning with the consent of big business”), so does that mean free marketeers are not ‘capitalists’ but big businesses favoured by a regulatory state are? The term capitalism is a Marxist “boo phrase” that only makes sense of you actually debate within a Marxist paradigm, a bit like expecting ‘left’ and ‘right’ to make sense when *not* discussing the politics of late 1700s France.

Last edited 2 years ago by Perry de Havilland
James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago

Being aware is a basic natural response to a recognised threat, obviously.
As a middle class white person living in the UK I cannot attempt to understand the implications for the victims of Slavery and Segregation in the US, the Trauma affecting so many people. I cannot criticise those who experience/recall white supremacism and are ever-vigilant just as I cannot criticise educated middle class black people who resent being seen as ‘victims’.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Yes you can. You can think and say any damn thing you like.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I would alter only : ‘I cannot attempt to understand…’ to ‘I can attempt to understand but I could never feel fully the implications…’
(The disingenuous ‘free-speech’ jibe is cheap.)

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

It all comes from slavery. One doesn’t experience this constant rhetoric from Indian or Chinese people for instance. Is it a kind of revenge for something that doesn’t exist now?

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Seems a bit thoughtless.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

I seem to be in the minority here, but I’m not a huge fan of this essay. It started out promising, but then when it shifted to John McWhorter–whom I don’t like–it lost me.
Story about Teach for America. I knew a girl from the gym who aspired to join. She went to a middling public university–and of course TFA caters to the woke elite, but she got it. The girl did not come from $ and had worked part time and took many courses, more than required, to pay for a 4 year degree in 3 years.
She was selected by TFA. After I think 2, maybe 3 days of training, she was sent to an inner city school in the American South in llate August. I saw her again around Thanksgiving–late November in the US–and she was thinking of leaving. She was completely traumatized, and couldn’t figure out how things went so badly so quickly.
She was white, her entire class of second or third graders were black, from poor families who did not care much about education, and she was thinking of leaving TFA. Within 90 days. The classes had broken her. As an aspiring teacher wearing to “do good,” help people, all that woke nonsense, she had been assaulted by her kids–I remember something about someone, maybe a kid, maybe a parent, throwing a chair at her. Her charges were -maybe 7, 8, 9 years of age, and she was afraid of them and their parents, with good reason. They continually called her a “white b*tch” and worse. Last I heard that she somehow got out.
Teach for America is another woke scam! And JM–he’s just a creature of privilege who has easily made his way in the extremely woke unis, where a man of his pigment can do no wrong. He’s with the woke, just slightly not as bad. He’s not on side with people like me who judge people as individuals, not solely as representatives of some real or imagined group.
I wish UnHerd readers and commentators would stop gushing over John McWhorter, Glenn Loury, previously Barrack Hussein Obama, et al. Just because they may not be as bad as others (though the FKM certainly was) does not mean they are on side. They are still very, very bad people. It’s a bit like normal white people suddenly putting up BLM signs because–well, of course, Black Lives Matter, w/o realizing that BLM wants to destroy the West, destroy the family, and is avowedly and proudly Marxist. Such was the pressure to show how much they “cared,” how sympathetic they were to COWs (Citizens of Wakanda), that the signs went up and stayed up advocating something that they were not really on side with–Marxism, destroying the family–because the pressure was just too great.

Kiat Huang
Kiat Huang
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

No, you lost me with your scathing assessment of Lowry and McWhorter. These are two guys who speak out against black racism, pro black responsibility in life, the scourge of black on black crime, the scam that is BLM. They suffer massive abuse from the majority of black “voices” for their views. That’s brave. Not many of us here go that far.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Kiat Huang

Oh, well. They may look reasonable, but only in the context of people even more left than they are. They are advocating racism against white people, just a little less than the completely woke.
GL was defending so-called “affirmative action” on UnHerd, just arguing that it be a little less than it is now. This position is indefensible. Oh, wait, maybe a little defensible because some others are far worse.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Kiat Huang

Bill Cosby did the same thing, and that doesn’t make him a great person.

Mark Silbert
Mark Silbert
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I agree with you completely about McWhorter but not about Glenn Loury. Glenn’s a more critical thinker and careful researcher. I thought his interview on UnHerd was very good and one of the reasons I subscribed. He’s pretty solidly against perpetuating affirmative action but was being pragmatic when discussing the difference between applying it to the Supreme Court as opposed to college admissions.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Silbert

Fair play. I’ll give GL another look, BUT I stand behind my general view that the non-woke pretend that previously woke people who were cancelled–Julie Bindel, the poet lady Freddie talked to, the philosophy professor who resigned–they are not on side, and I will not embrace their woke views.
Many have been cancelled by a single issue, usually trans. Their other woke opinions remain, and without apology, I stridently disagree.

Mark Silbert
Mark Silbert
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Agreed. Bari Weiss and her wife Nellie as well.
Glenn’s more complex than the others though and rates a further look. I would be interested in your views after you do.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Silbert

I know people like Bari Weiss well, I grew up with them, competed with them, went to law school with them. They were, at the time, very “liberal,” when liberal was not necessarily a good thing–had more extremist connotations. In law school, Bari (not literally Bari) and her clones were the wokest of the woke, sensitive to micro-aggressions before they were a thing, leading all anti-racism demonstrations, end apartheid, etc. UNTIL some black dude or dudette stood up and said! End Apartheid. Like in Israel! That they didn’t like.
At the time, that was their only break with extreme woke-ism, and Bari sounds somewhat reasonable, but only by comparison to the completely lunatic and even nutters out there.
As I have mentioned before, being on side with Bari, and GL, and JM, but it’s a bit like the French resistance being on side with the communists in 1944–they had real, unresolvable differences, but were only on side temporarily because there was a greater evil out there.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 years ago

The article makes a good point about liberals not understanding that their beliefs are also religious in form. But then it advances a solution based on economic structure and class without recognizing that it is just as religious as wokeism or liberalism. I don’t know how far we go down this rabbit hole
 but at some point these competing religions have to explore their own respective theologies and then enter discussion and argument with each other.

Until that happens, and it may never, we are in Foucault’s world of power being all that matters.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

Whether the woke movement is a religion or not is immaterial to me. The underlying motivation is to seize total power over neighbors, cities, states and countries. The woke have the power to cancel anything or anyone that transgresses even one of their many, and constantly evolving, rules of discourse, with very few exceptions. There’s no statute of limitations, and no protection against after the fact rule changes. The woke try to control all speech, all online content and all political contributions, using cancelation and job firings.

If you’re woke, you have instant access to an online mob that can destroy any enemy’s liberty and livelihood. This power corrupts almost absolutely.

Oligarchs support woke censorship in exchange for government protection of their monopolies. Marxists generally hate capitalists and capitalism, but suspiciously love both when they provide cesnsorship that the government can’t do itself.

The way to get rid of the woke is to remove their power. The problem with anti-woke liberals is that they won’t admit, even to themselves, that Republicans are the only alternative, even if that means the return of rude tweets and bad manners. There is no 3rd party alternative. Ask yourself which would you rather have, woke censorship or some rude social media commenters?

Last edited 2 years ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

The religious zeal with which the crusades against alcohol were carried out, by numerous parties, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, may be reflected in the current malaise in America.
Prohibition came into force, legally, in January of 1920. The Volstead Act had been passed the previous year and signed into law. Americans rushed out with prams to stock up on liquor before the midnight deadline on the law banning the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol.

So folk supped their beer for a while quietly at home in the same way some folk today watch Tootsie on tape or disc, at home, alone. You know, that old comedy from 1982 that delighted audiences worldwide. America was, to the world of 1982, buzzing. (I wonder if any of those souls stepping out into the world, from that Houston auditorium back in 2005 have ever watched Tootsie with beer in hand? Ever watched Tootsie? So crass, so crass, I know. But with freedom comes crassness. Does not a little tenderness, too?).

Such was America’s hangover from all the angry tirades against the demon drink that Prohibition ran for a whole thirteen long years before it was finally repealed. You see, the temperance unions and what not had got the people that matter by the baals. (Rather like that scene in the busy Russian Tea Rooms in Tootsie, when Dorothy Michaels, aka Tootsie, pinned her, oops his, agent down to 
 um, her way of thinking). The 19th Amendment anyone?

What the woke brigades want essentially from Americans is that they become 



.. CHEERLESS.

Like the bigoted, rural-minded, Protestant evangelisers of Old America, who instigated Prohibition, the woke brigades want to knock the stuffing out of America. You can see that in the schools where the stuffing is being knocked out of childhood with woke this and check-your-privilege that, anytime a class is in progress. Progress, eh?

In the end, jazz saved the speakeasy which in turn, for many a desperado, made up for the dis-enlightenment years of Americans looking over their shoulder, wondering if they’ll ever be able to twist and shout and let it all out – while a wee bit tipsy, you know. (Nobody wants to get drunk on pronouns). You see, America had been judged by Prohibition when it came in. America was a debased society. Neglectful. An abhorrence to the world and a bad example. That’s what the crusaders against drink believed, and shoved down America’s throat. Even in those days, in the very early 1900s, the “drys” we’re fully cognisant of the righteousness of foreign lands where prohibition against alcohol had also been happening, such as in Tsarist Russia, Sweden and in the Moslem world.

America will show ‘em all what Righteousness is!!!!!!

So maybe America’s current malaise might take another decade or so to pass before people come out swinging their gin and trombones on the streets, giving the woke merry hell, paying them short shrift, making THEM duck, as they recapture the spirit of the good old days. The good old days? Pre-pandemic of the naughties and Trump? Or of 1982? Reagan was the man then. Reagan was the man.

The anti-woke liberals: will they be at the speakeasy tonight?

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustshoe Richinrut
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

I read this article as a serious critique of ‘anti-woke liberals’, which I think most Unherd readers would describe themselves as – and slagging them off as dogmatically following their own ‘religion’ in order to preserve the status quo.
So a real kick in the nuts for Unherd readers following which I was expecting to see a slew of negative comments taking umbrage at such slander.
But the comments are backing the writer. Have I misunderstood the gist of the article?

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
2 years ago

Good article; I slightly sensed that he was straining a bit too hard to find reasons to criticise McWhorter. I look forward to reading the latter, which is just making its way across the pond.

Worth reading on the religious, indeed Christian, mind-set, even in an allegedly post-Christian era, is Tom Holland.

Robert Eagle
Robert Eagle
2 years ago

Can anyone please tell me what the word “liberal” now means? As I recall, it used to signify magnanimity, largesse, breadth of vision; it now seems to be commonly used as a kind of passive-aggressive sneer.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

It’s not a culture war, its a class war and always was. Great piece by my Catholic brother Sohrab Ahmari. I’ve lost patience with the likes of Weiss, Maher, Murray et al. Liberalism is a dead ideology, the things it claims to defend – freedom of expression etc are meaningless, absent an overarching moral and ideological framework. People need a pro social religion, Catholicism, they need a relationship with the transcendent.

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Michael Friedman
Michael Friedman
2 years ago

Powerful piece

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago

Depends which individual white person you’re having a go at! Some white folk were being horribly treated, with starvation, heavy labour, under dank, bullying bosses.

The whole “lets create narratives with all whites having had a good time, all the time, and the rest needing huge benefits!

Your attack is horribly unfair.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ann Ceely
Michael Joseph
Michael Joseph
2 years ago

Ahmari is a crank and a theocrat and should just be ignored. I mean Catholic integralism? Really? Lunacy. It’s a shame that Patrick Deneen has also fallen down this rabbit hole, but at least he’s not as creepy as a lot of these guys who think the Catholic Church should be in charge of everything. As someone recently said about the Iranian-born Ahmari, you can take the boy out of the theocratic state but you can’t take the theocratic state out of the boy…

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

As I keep asking.. let us have the definition of ” racism”?.. I am still waiting…

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Simple–anything that promotes equity (equal outcomes) and/or does not celebrate the achievements and inherent goodness of COWs (Citizens of Wakanda), with the darkest skin tones the best, the lighter shades a little bit less good, etc., and recognizes and shouts from the rooftops the inherent evil of ALL white devils that will continue in perpetuity.
Fun fact: did you know that Websters dictionary changed overnight the definition of racism. It used to be racism was an irrational fear or dislike of some group. This definition was changed overnight because a teenage COW (maybe 20) girl sent them an email objecting to the definition. So they changed it.
1984.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Joyce
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

McWhorter & Co. rightly mock and denounce the bad religio of the woke, but they give little thought to how the ideology might be legitimating a class structure.

Perhaps because such an analysis would be a bit too close to Marxism for many to be wholly comfortable.
Which does not, of course, stop it being the best analysis.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
2 years ago

Sohrab, I was with you until religion entered your picture. Was this a book review, a cultured rant against woke, a call to arms of any sort or, most entertaining of all, the old canard of insisting that atheism is a religion? To raise the 3 Abrahamic religions in the context of an assertion that religion drives us towards the highest goods of life had me heading for the hills. Do you discount the Old Testament, genital mutilation, Limbo only recently dropped by the Vatican, the role of women, gays, apostasy etc etc? You necessarily dismiss the idea that morality can come from within as opposed to being imposed from above. And the tired attempt to say Atheism is a religion always mystifies – it to say passive non belief is as good or as bad as a positive belief in god? How can a condition of passive disbelief, or, at the very least, heavy scepticism, be comparable to the discipline and rigour of positive worship? As I say I found your commentary on woke interesting and useful until you showed your hand and shoehorned in religion. Then you were all over the place. But thanks, anyway.

Last edited 2 years ago by Adrian Maxwell
Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin
2 years ago

What if it is? What if it isn’t? It has to go regardless.
Surely the simple way to combat wokeness and all of its ills is to continue to educate, openly debate, contest and expose the thinking and its ulitimate design and intent.
McWhorter, like the other anti-woke liberals has most importantly, as a black intellect, attacked the very ideology designed to serve, promote and elevate his culture within western democracies.
Wokeness offers nothing but virtue signalling hypocricy at every level and has a sinister undercurrent that divides and destroys communities in its wake.
The obvious paradox for me being it claims to be the apex of critical thinking and in reality is anything but.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

“Comrade, we have information you discreetly consume old-fashioned American entertainment! Is this true?”

“No, I only consume the old Marx brothers.
Marx!
Brothers? Comrades!
C’mon lads.
I study Marx. Comrades.
And, maybe I once watched Tootsie. I mean Trootsky. Ah, old Trotsky.
Bold, bold Trotsky!
You gotta watch him!
He deceived everybody. His ways are long time out of fashion. And I’m glad that his show, comrades, got the axe. Ha! Comrades, laugh!
And, okay, I glimpsed Jack Lemmon.
in, The Apartment.
Jack? Ha! Joseph, I meant.
Joseph Stellin’?
Joseph Stalin!
In the apartments?
The allotments!
I got a glimpse of him there. Through the eyes of a few crusty old folk, old workers, who now only tend to a few vegetables down there. In the allotments. To a few crusty old socialists down there, he meant a lot. But you see, I’m not a crusty old man. And as for crusty old entertainment? Who would dig up that? I ask you!
Ah, you’ve heard it said I rave about, 
The Muppet Show?
Well, pigs in space!
It was, you heard, the Muppolov Show.
I mean the Molotov Show Trial.
It was no show! I know!
Not even a trial.
I know, I know, it wasn’t funny.
Not funny at all.
Summarily chopped.
Removed. Dropped.
Ha!
A good warning to us all.
A good morning to you all.
You don’t see anymore such creatures on the stage.
I, you, and you, my dear comrades, did our bit to aid our great country in turning a new page.
May I be on my way?
That’s all, folks?
Is there something else I must say?
Oh thank you. I’m stoked.
Shake my hand.
You know I’m good and bland.”

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

Woke/Anti-woke are both methods to distract from the fact that humanity is accelerating its own extinction with its obsession with money. Escalating inflation levels are a direct result of the fact that all money originates from natural resources, which we have been extracting beyond the biocapacity of our planet for decades. Ecological collapse is now ensure the collapse of monetary value.
Learn more Cultural Causes of Climate Injustice | LinkedIn

Last edited 2 years ago by Barbara Williams
P.J. van den Broeke
P.J. van den Broeke
2 years ago

Rolling back wokeness, then, requires paying attention to the intersection of ideology and class conflict in liberal society. I wonder what this formula in a neighborhood of unprivileged holds? Is it a revolutionary voice crying out for a social revolution like Bernie Saunders? Or do we need to return to the basics of what a capitalist system will require us to do, for capitalism everyone is equal, (including me as an outsider of a white superfluous neighborhood)

jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
2 years ago

Life is a competition for resources and CRT is an excellent strategy for improving the ranking of those that feel they are not winning enough. It has been successful in biasing applications to every institution/job and gaining more wealth for those that could not gain it for themselves. It is even capable of converting members of the “opposition” to its ranks. However, as it is not actually honest, and all but a few recognise it is fraught with illogicality, so it will crumble in due course. Everyone is in the fight for resources and the liberal elite are due a comeuppance.

Troy MacKenzie
Troy MacKenzie
2 years ago

When I read this:
“If it were otherwise, if wokeness truly undermined the material interests of today’s corporate ruling class, it would be extinguished this very day. And the Walton family and every other mega-foundation wouldn’t be lining up to fund woke outfits, not least Teach for America.”
I thought of this:
They [capitalists] will furnish credits which will serve us for the support of the Communist Party in their countries and, by supplying us materials and technical equipment which we lack, will restore our military industry necessary for our future attacks against our suppliers. To put it in other words, they will work on the preparation of their own suicide.” – Vladimir Lenin
All these companies are simply trying to target the most coveted market, under 25s. This woke ideology is a nightmare for their interests, but they aren’t thinking past the next quarterly earnings report. I am very pessimistic about the future.

Mike Hind
Mike Hind
2 years ago

What finally convinced me that liberalism is as much a religion as Wokeness was the confusion it manifested between understanding the responsibility of scientists and the responsibility of policy makers, in the context of Covid-19, with certain scientists portrayed as high priests.

Strangely, the ‘real’ left and its focus on class is now only echoed by conservative intellectuals. This is the most curious aspect of these times.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
2 years ago

Why is it bad that liberals apologise for the worst parts of the British Empire? Surely they are merely realising that their political top-down creed has, for all the good it did, also indulged in in the destruction of Persian in India, and the creation of a past that excluded Indian elites from positions of responsibility.

It would be better to get Liberals to realise that this chimes with their current behaviour towards the West. Far from telling them to stop apologising, get them to factor their top-down, well-meaning marxism into the equation. Make them realise that their putting ropes around the necks of white schoolchildren (to make them feel shame for slavery), mass importation of migration, and destruction of the Church of England and spread of extreme atheism, is in turn a form of imperialism and colonialism. I voted for Brexit because the remainers wanted us ensconced in a European Empire. I go to church because I am tired of atheists telling me that it has no use and only a tiny minority go (“Persian is spoken by a tiny elite, let it go!”). It’s my culture, I don’t want to lose it!

Once you connect those dots, you then realise that liberals are perpetuating the very mistakes they claim to abhor. You see the continuity between the Robspierre-loving liberals of the 1790s, and the Islamist-loving liberals of now. A universalising, endlessly changing (and thus unmoving) movement that has slowly turned against all European and Asian tradition. The Liberals of now are similar to the Liberals of then. “The Past is a Different Country” only goes so far.

Thus, if you get them to stop all this, when they find a new fad, you are better equipped to see them repeating the same old mistakes (the more someone stands for “radical” change, the less change they accomplish), and you can nip it in the bud.

Let them apologise for their imperialism…. so long as they apologise to us for the imperialism they have perpetuated in turn upon the West.

Last edited 2 years ago by Geoffrey Simon Hicking