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hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 months ago

On a slight tangent: I don’t really understand the obsession with calling Churchill a racist.

It seems to be a popular thing to do right now, but is rather meaningless because the definition of racism changes constantly and is quite different now compared to what it once was.

Was Churchill a racist by the conception of his time? I doubt it.
Is he a racist by our current definition? Yes, but, then, who isn’t a racist by the current left’s definition? Since they can’t even agree what it is, and since they call everybody this name every time someone disagrees with them, it has become what Orwell said of Fascism: ‘…no meaning except in so far as it signifies “something not desirable”‘
Ironically, though, many on the left are racists by the original definition of the term, which, I suggest, is one reason they have been so keen to change the meaning of the word.

Last edited 3 months ago by hayden eastwood
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
3 months ago

According to critical race theory if you are white you are automatically racist unless you are actively “anti-racist” in the approved manner, so Churchill and all other dead white persons are automatically racist as they can’t be active anti-racists. His actual views are irrelevant.
Of course, during the early part of his life most white people probably subscribed to the general view that regarded the whites as mor civilised than blacks on the whole so Churchill is likely to have been a racist even by a more sensible definition. But so what. Of course our ancestors had plenty of views that we would regard as odd today.
Complaints about the dead is merely an easy distraction from dealing with the more difficult problems of today.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

More shadow banning…

Last edited 3 months ago by hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The Nazis were racist at their heart because they did not believe it was possible to civilise “the other”, they believed “the other” was fundamentally genetically different, and therefore incapable of ever being functionally German. With this starting premise, eradication was the only logical possibility in the attempt to build new territory in the Teutonic image.
The British believed, in contrast, that other peoples could be made into Englishmen through education. Implicit in this belief is the assumption that all people are fundamentally genetically equivalent. From this starting premise, it is logical not to exterminate the colonised but, rather, to teach them to think and behave like the coloniser.
So, the correct word, in my view, to describe the British of that era is culturalist – they believed their culture was superior, and that other people would come to agree with this position if they were just exposed to it.
In many regards, this has turned out to be true: even those that denounce the empire do so in a way that is, ironically, entirely British in its conception of morality and human rights.
And, as further irony, the woke, who coat-tail on a particular extreme form of “helping the underdog” are similarly culturally supremacist, believing, much as the British of the 1800s did, that noble savage cultures must be educated to a world view that is considered by the woke as the de facto only morally correct way to exist.

Last edited 3 months ago by hayden eastwood
hugh bennett
hugh bennett
3 months ago

Was Shaka Chief of the Zulus an imperialist, was he a racist was he a war criminal, did he commit genocide, were those folk he assimilated against their will slaves? The past 5000 years of the history of Africa (right up to this very day), if ever fully told, would make Western Imperialism but a pale imitation.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 months ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

Very true – why is it that history is so little known and reflected on, and used to inform the present – because it is uncomfortable for those who have psychological and emotional needs to feel that h**o sapiens is merely a misguided creature who just needs the correct ‘guidance’. In fact ALL h**o sapiens are ‘otherist’ and tribalist – whether African, Asian, Caucasian or polynesian – and the sooner that it is addressed as a global issue vs a caucasian issue the better. The caste system in India is vicious, arabs made slaves of blacks who made slaves of other tribes, the Chinese view the rest of the world as inferiors , Maori tribes in NZ killed each other off in big numbers – every country on the planet has its racist/tribal histories of murder and slavery. Caucasians are talking about theirs – what about all the other global tribes ………..

R S Foster
R S Foster
3 months ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

…in every respect but the technological one, which allowed our rather different version to triumph…but then, as demanded…we went home…sometimes in a rather destructive way, but mostly leaving something functional behind…that’s going well in respect of near-endless war pretty much all over Africa, isn’t it..?

Mark Turner
Mark Turner
3 months ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

Aaaah….but you can only be a racist if you are WHITE……

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
3 months ago

Very good analysis. In my view a racist is someone who believes that there are distinct races normally associated skin colour a theory that was developed during the 18th century and is essentially junk science. From that perspective believers in CRT are as racist as any other believer in distinct skin colour based races.
The German National Socialist party certainly believed this junk science and narrowed their concept of the superior race to the Teutonic or Aryan (although not as broad as the 18th century definition of Aryan). However, although whiteness was not enough to qualify you to be part of the master race, as their treatment of the Russians and Poles shows, the Lebensborn program stole Slavic children to be raised as Aryans provided they met the superficial criteria of being healthy blond and blue eyes and looking Aryan, highlighting the superficiality of their race theories.
The test as to whether a country is serious in espousing racist doctrines in this sense is whether they officially ban “interracial” marriages. In the British Empire interracial marriages have never been prohibited however much some might have disapproved. In National Socialist Germany they were banned and in Apartheid South Africa they were and in about 16 States in the United States they were banned until 1967. This is one of the reasons that the US has a poisonous history of racial relations and why we should not be importing their racial beliefs into the UK.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jeremy Bray
David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

In my view a racist is someone who believes that there are distinct races

I think you’d have to add the belief in the innate superiority of some races (usually one’s own) over others for this to be racist. With recent genetic research, the idea that race has some kind of reality is making a comeback.

Frederick B
Frederick B
3 months ago

Not sure I agree. Being old enough to remember the wartime generation when they were only middle aged, and to have had many interesting conversations with colleagues of that generation, I don’t think that they were much inclined to think Jamaicans (for example) were only Englishmen with black skins – or capable of becoming Englishmen.
Some did think like that of course, usually those of a chapel going persuasion. Others, who had been out in the Empire, or in North Africa – usually with the forces – and so had experienced the “coloured races” in their native habitats were quite otherwise in their thinking. Were they wrong?

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
3 months ago

in a nutshell beautifully put…

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The accusations are a means of attacking political opponents by denigrating their icons in a way that denies them the opportunity to defend themselves.
No one is giving air-time or trying to cancel Marx or Foucault because they were racist an misogynists or for that matter Kennedy, Clinton or MLK for being misogynists

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

we all know what game is being played.
This is a quote from a BBC article back in 2006 when it still had some credibility “Describing an incident as racist may say as much about a victim’s mindset as the offender. How else can one explain the British Crime Survey finding that 3,100 car thefts from Asians were deemed to be racially motivated?”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6128466.stm
The article concerned the racist murder of Ross Parker. Who?
These were the platitudes regarding the lack of media coverage and the attempts by police to discount any racial motive:
“The BBC Editorial Standards Committee in 2007 found that “there was no evidence to suggest that the BBC had shown a specific and systemic bias in favour of cases where the victim had been black or Asian”, but accepted it had “underplayed its coverage of the Ross Parker case” and repeated the failings in its coverage of the murder of Kriss Donald.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Kelvin MacKenzie expressed similar sentiments. MacKenzie criticised newspapers including his own employer, The Sun. He stated, “if you believe you’re a victim of an ethnic minority and you’re white there is nowhere to go. Editors are so liberal that they are scared to be seen that they’re moving to the right of their paper”. Parker’s mother, Davinia, expressed similar concerns that white victims of race crime are ignored. She said “because we are white, English, we didn’t get the coverage”, adding “it’s as if we don’t count”.
In 2006, a Sunday Times investigation by Brendan Montague examined British newspaper archives for coverage of racist crimes, finding “an almost total boycott of stories involving the white victims of attacks” whereas “cases involving black and minority ethnic victims are widely reported”.
Others have noted that the lack of coverage is not simply a media issue. Peter Fahy, the spokesman on race issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “A lot of police officers and other professionals feel almost the best thing to do is to try and avoid [discussing such attacks] for fear of being criticised. This is not healthy”. Montague suggests the lack of police appeals in cases involving white victims may be a cause of the lack of media coverage. Evidence of this was seen in the Parker case, with the police initially appearing keen to dismiss the possible racist aspect of the murder, stating “there was no reason to believe that the attack was racially motivated”.”

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
3 months ago

If Churchill were still alive he could successfully sue for defamation anyone who dared to call him racist. He would have the wholehearted support of anyone who was born before 1960 and the damages would be enormous.

Last edited 3 months ago by Malcolm Knott
Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I don’t think it would have been defamatory back then to be considered racist. That’s the point isn’t it?

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
3 months ago

Depends what you mean by ‘back then’. My guess is that attitudes were very different pre-1945 and radically different pre-1900.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
3 months ago

There is a word for the behaviour you identify on the none-woke left: Cowardice.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
3 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Collaborator, or Quisling would also fit.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 months ago

A good article except for ….
”We tend to think this conflict is made up of Right-wing cranks and irate historians (and a group of inexplicable feminists!) against an online-savvy Left”
Authors should not be using terms like “we” because they are inevitably incorrect, as well as deeply patronising.
In this case “I” firmly believe you don’t have to be a crank or historian to hold an opposite view to the “Left” on these issues.

Last edited 3 months ago by Ian Barton
Graham Stull
Graham Stull
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Did you think? I found it badly organised and unclear.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

I agree. I came away with an impression of some observations and assertions drawn from them and that was about it.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

One wonders why the ‘cranks’ are always ‘right-wing’.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
3 months ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Have a glance at Libs of TikTok. Whoo boy, I’ll take being considered a crank any day compared to the mutants that voluntarily boast about their mental illnesses on that digital madhouse.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 months ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

…because cranking was always clockwise.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Protection of freedom of thought requires that no group should be permitted by law to express an opinion. For when a group starts having opinions it inevitably tends to impose them on its members. Intelligence is defeated as soon as the expression of one’s thought is preceded, explicitly or implicitly, by the little word ‘we’’. Simone Weil

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
3 months ago

In addition to the word ‘woke’ and the term SJW, you could also add ‘Gesture Politics’ as what the woke-followers seem to be about is a visible sign of their support. Most of the supporters of woke issues don’t seem to actually do anything proactive about the issue. They just want to post a black square on their social media feed, or add the flag-of-the-day (currently the Ukrainian one) to their profile pic. These gestures seem to be most about self-righteous virtue signalling than anything else.

For example do the people blindly adding a picture of a Ukrainian flag spend even five minutes learning about the history and issues relating to the Ukraine, or do they just have a desire to be seen as kind and compassionate people by their social media contacts?

Likewise do the people who kneel and post a black square on Facebook actually do anything proactive to help disadvantaged black people?

There are of course many good people who genuinely help and are incredibly compassionate, and to those I take my hat off. Some of these people are truly amazing. Sadly, the majority of the rest of the people seem to be part of this gesture politics cult where the need to be seen to be supportive is what is important, and that is as far as it goes.

It has now become completely predictable who will change their profile pic whenever there is a new cause of the day. Ask them to point to Ukraine on a map and they’ll be clueless, or ask them why they didn’t fly a Yemeni flag and they’ll ask “why, what happened in Yemen?”.

Does it not somehow devalue these issues by reducing them to little more than a virtue signal.

Last edited 3 months ago by Paul Smithson
AC Harper
AC Harper
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Regrettably if you use the term ‘virtue signalling’ for the empty display of social piety then you have made any counter argument more difficult. Who can argue against ‘virtue’? It gives the Woke almost a free pass to call people who oppose their views racists or sexists or fascists. A free pass that can be applied without any considered debate.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

More difficult for counter argument? Perhaps.
I tend to focus on the method of reasoning rather than rebutting arguments with counter arguments. If the reasoning in an argument is sound, then I would be inclined to consider it.

Mathieu Bernard
Mathieu Bernard
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I would say “yes” to your last question. However, I think it may go a little deeper, especially when it taps into the racial issues. Critical theories of race are nothing more than repackaged Marxism. Substitute “class” for “race” and voila. It’s not the bourgeois capitalists who have structured society to their advantage, it’s now the white supremacists. So now you have all these white, educated, wealthy elites who are at the top of dominant hierarchy. Obviously, they feel a bit lucky that their privileged economic class has been overlooked, but they feel a tad guilty about being white. The easiest way around this dilemma is to embrace woke, advocate for social and racial justice, support BLM, etc. Not only is it virtue signaling, but it’s also a spiritual panacea – a kind of religious atonement. As Shelby Steele points out in his book “White Guilt,” it’s a convenient way to dissociate yourself from racism publicly, as well as cleanse yourself from perceived or actual psychological guilt.

Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago

“Claiming that certain figures from the past who were racist were not in fact racist is an extreme view” – that’s a considered and rational view. Claiming Churchill was a racist but also a great man is having your cake and eating it. People in history have to be judged by wider parameters than a view which has only recently been adopted. Otherwise you might as well label astronomer Fred Hoyle a luddite because he believed in a steady state formation of the universe and sarcastically called the new idea of a universe from a singularity a Big Bang theory.
Woke is just a religion for people who want to control others and impose their own belief system by oppression and threats. It could only exist with the internet and social media. That’s why those of us who have lived through the tech transitions take the longer and wiser view: we know where we have come from and (having seen communist suppression and read Solzhenitsyn) can see where it’s going. What you are mainly highlighting is cowardice: for without courage oppressive entities will never be overcome.

Last edited 3 months ago by Peter LR
Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

“Woke is just a religion for people who want to control others and impose their own belief system by oppression and threats. It could only exist with the internet and social media.”

Such existed in medieval times when there were no newspapers nor mass literature. The compulsion is always maintained at the personal and institutional level. It doesn’t require to be ‘society’-wide, or instantly applied.

Last edited 3 months ago by Arnold Grutt
Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Arnold, it is the contrast between those who could in the past only impose obedience by force of arms or secret police; and the present twitter enforcement whereby a large number of random nobodies can all email or post to the same organisation en masse and coerce obedience, and also organise this within a few hours.

Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Thanks, UnHerd, for reinstating my comment, but I’m still not sure why it was rejected to begin with!

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 months ago

The title is slightly misleading. The article itself is not about defending wokeness, but about defending the need to use the term ‘woke’ to describe a political world view, two entirely different things.
As for whether or not the term and the war itself are here to stay, I’m not necessarily convinced.
I suspect that fierce discussions around the “aggression” associated with misgendering people, as one example, are only possible in a stable and secure world where there are no real problems to worry about.
The invasion of Ukraine has changed that because it is something real, and it is something worth worrying about.
Most sane people will look at Ukraine and recalibrate their internal sense of proportion so that micro-aggressions and gender-non-conforming bathrooms will be considered with their appropriate weighting versus tanks blowing apartment blocks to pieces and killing children.
And, in the face of this, sane people may well decide that it is more worthwhile to worry about their national defence policy, their national food security and their trade with unstable regimes, than it is to worry about diversity and inclusion quotas at places that are already disproportionately non-white and gender non-binary/queer/trans/[insert fashion statement of the day].
The question I have is how long the woke lobby will have any traction at all in the face of genuine problems afflicting the world. I suspect that this group will scream louder than ever with the full force of their narcissistic rage, but will they be heard?
Even the Guardian has focussed on Ukraine and its implications for Europe over and above its usual niche topics on gender and race.

And after this crisis the mainstream media will likely focus on the inevitable repercussions of this war – runaway food production costs owing to Russia’s role in being a leading provider of agri-fertilisers, commodity price rises from wheat scarcity (Ukraine is one of the largest wheat producers), and many other shocks to the system which will only be felt in weeks and months to come, and which will likely batter a global economy into a deep (er?) recession.
The usual useful idiots have already tried to frame this as a conflict of “toxic masculinity” and as a “racist war” (because allegedly the world prefers white Ukrainian refugees over brown ones from elsewhere), but very little attention is being given to these loud mouths.
My impression is that the woke lobby have been losing ground since Covid, and I think they will continue to do so against the backdrop of genuine threats to the liberal world order.

Last edited 3 months ago by hayden eastwood
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 months ago

I suspect that fierce discussions around the “aggression” associated with misgendering people, as one example, are only possible in a stable and secure world where there are no real problems to worry about.”
Much of this is because we have had a long run of prosperity. We are entering a period of worldwide debt and government overreach nearly everywhere which eventually must get resolved. A worldwide recession causes many reassessments of personal priorities. Some of the woke notion is only possible when we have the time for it. There are more productive activities in life.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
3 months ago

The invasion of Ukraine has changed that because it is something real, and it is something worth worrying about.

Most sane people will look at Ukraine and recalibrate their internal sense of proportion so that micro-aggressions and gender-non-conforming bathrooms will be considered with their appropriate weighting versus tanks blowing apartment blocks to pieces and killing children.

And, in the face of this, sane people may well decide that it is more worthwhile to worry about their national defence policy, their national food security and their trade with unstable regimes, than it is to worry about diversity and inclusion quotas at places that are already disproportionately non-white and gender non-binary/queer/trans/[insert fashion statement of the day].

The question I have is how long the woke lobby will have any traction at all in the face of genuine problems afflicting the world. I suspect that this group will scream louder than ever with the full force of their narcissistic rage, but will they be heard?

Wokedom is pervasive in the US military-industrial complex. The rainbow flag flies above every US embassy across the world during Pride day. How long will it be before it is acceptable for the West to invade a country that refuses to install gender-neutral bathrooms in their schools? I worry that Wokeness is the new religious pretext with which the West will justify attacking other ‘less-enlightened’ countries.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
3 months ago

The invasion of Ukraine has changed that because it is something real, and it is something worth worrying about.”

I don’t know. COVID was pretty real in the first few months, but the woke never stopped pushing their insanity. It makes sense; if there’s real danger in the world, all the more reason to bring your enlightenment to others who are still in darkness. By force if need be. After all, leaving people in darkness would be a sin.

Comically, that’s exactly what the Catholic Inquisition said too. Of course, the woke wouldn’t know that; it’s part of Western civilization, which is all racist anyway and needn’t be studied.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 months ago

“I also think it’s lazy to simply describe wokeness as liberalism. It is often profoundly illiberal.”
Hence my definition of wokeness:-
The authoritarian pseudo-progressive usurpation of liberalism.

Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
3 months ago

“25% of Labour Party voters support defunding the police — one key policy of woke ideology. Even among 18-24 year olds, the wokest demographic, it is only 44%.”
ONLY 44%! Let that sink in – 44% of young LINO voters support defunding the police.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
3 months ago

Many 18-24 year olds are far from asute analysers of social and political actions and their consequences so I tend to be more forgiving of them, I am ashamed of some of the things I thought and believed at that age (and I was still allowed to vote!). It is oly the older age groups that I worry about; if they still believe this when they are in their thirties I despair of them

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago

Agree. What is frightening is the people who aren’t ashamed, or at least embarrassed, about what they thought when they were 18. Because they simply haven’t learned anything.

David McDowell
David McDowell
3 months ago

What has surprised me about ‘defund’ is the absence of right wing support despite their endless whingings about police actions and failures.

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
3 months ago

One minor point: I don’t think it’s necessarily owning property and having children that make people become more conservative as they grow older. I’d say it’s just the additional years of experience, specifically the experience of seeing what does and doesn’t work. Older people also have a better sense of the magnitude of what will be lost if the young revolutionaries have their way.

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago

And perhaps an appreciation that life in the modern west, while imperfect, is not so bad as to be thrown away on an enormous gamble with a one in a billion chance of producing utopia, and a high chance of producing something worse.
There are, of course, lots of more selfish reasons for some to cling to the status quo.

Mark Turner
Mark Turner
3 months ago

It’s very easy to look back through the telescope of history and deride people such as Churchill as racist and doing so completely misses the point that you have to look at these people, their actions and utterances and writings through the same telescope and judge them by the societal mores, opinions and values that were commonly held at the time. We have of course become more “enlightened” and held against pretty much anything nowadays, you could make the case that the whole of English society, law, and moral values from 15 -20 years ago back, were “racist” or backward. Its a pointless way of looking at things, about as pointless as the continuing angst and liberal guilt some people still feel for the triangular slave trade, something that ended nearly 300 years ago and was ended by white Englishmen…. and it’s also forgotten that slavery has existed since the dawn of human civilisation, still exists in many forms and is not simply a thing done by white people to black people……..

Last edited 3 months ago by Mark Turner
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Turner

I think this is partial. The point of rigorous historical analysis – it eschews presentist biases – is to also understand and consider past individuals were human beings with their own agency – they must be considered on their own merits. One must be extremely careful if judgement is required because that judgement, as you point out, is dependent on a complex array of variables.
Presentism and moral presentism are, IMO, a vulgar attempt by an uneducated person to remove any consideration that past individuals had their own agency, so as to force their own contemporary moral considerations onto them and so weaponise them for contemporary moral-political purpsoses.
It is an abuse of history.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 months ago

For many history didn’t begin until 2000. Given that so many refuse to read “chapter books” and have poor attention spans, they lack any understanding that humans have done many things to create the world of excess today. Flush toilets took quite some time to arrive.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 months ago

An extract from Book 4 of my heroic couplet satire, The Wokeiad, by Richard Craven:-
There shuffles hindermost the rotting trunk
Of stale hypocrisy and yellow funk:
The wasted tech bros hooked on hentai pawn
The woke zombies, and children of the quorn. 1360
The fact-checkers tied up in string trip past;
The Twitter mob, offended and aghast;
Millennial with really stupid hair,
Fat smirking public sector pensionnaire.
The tall patrician with the Roman nose
And Baader Meinhof t-shirt from Waitrose.
Air-head with gender studies PhD,
A nose ring, and a gluten allergy.
Th’ eternal verities being thus betrayed,
Poor Conscience compromised, traduced, and flayed, 1370
And Soul of its integrity bereft,
The martinet’s falsetto shrieks “eyes left!”
Now robot peepers swivel on their stalks,
And fork-tongued sophists polish their TedTalks.
In all this vast and suppurating throng,
This biomass of everything gone wrong
This beating heart of evil, bland, banal,
There lurks a rarer breed of animal,
A not unphotogenic school of youth
Brain-washed, foul-tempered, bracingly uncouth: 1380
The Wokeler Jugend, useful idiots,
Woke’s janissaries, eunuchs, clowns, helots.
A kind of uniform marks out the dears:
Cute furry onesies, masks, and rabbit ears,
Mascara whiskers on smooth apple cheeks,
More aggravating than Juvenal’s Greeks.
Rancid compound of winsomeness and bile,
Weird union of gormlessness and guile.
Ovid on acid, Kafka on mushrooms,
Fonda and Hopper in the catacombs. 1390
The Wokeler Jugend’s function is to shriek,
And to coagulate in spiteful cliques,
To form the mortar or the agar base,
To catalyse the mob with the right case,
To infect with Woke Terror every breast.
Now shall the clapter clown anodyne jest
And ghouls laugh bitterly and snap their thumbs,
While gin the faculties of old men numbs.
The jackboot stamping on the human face
is multi-coloured with a rainbow lace. 1400

David McDowell
David McDowell
3 months ago

“These people are Guardian readers. They hate the Tories. They support Black Lives Matter, and are gravely worried about climate change. But they are scared stiff about saying the treatment of J.K. Rowling was terrible, that Clanchy made a mistake in responding to a Goodreads comment on Twitter but her detractors have behaved terribly, and that the use of sensitivity readers is crude and patronising. This is what they believe, but they don’t want to lose their jobs.”
Many if not all of these people occupy their positions by virtue of this having been done to others in their names and sometimes done by them personally. What goes around comes around. Slap it into them.

Last edited 3 months ago by David McDowell
Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 months ago

“Woke also has a sharp Anglo-Saxon sting; it’s a name that sticks.”

Really? To me it’s obviously US black argot, and derived from religious worship e.g. “Sleepers, awake” (being a call to discover the truth of the ‘Jesus movement’).”As you judge, so will you be judged.” also seems relevant. Of course most woke people do not realise that they are in fact ‘Christians’ of a type, even if not nominally. One of the bastions of woke is Ireland.

Last edited 3 months ago by Arnold Grutt
Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
3 months ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Couldn’t keep the snakes out forever.

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago

All of this makes me miss actual old fashioned communists. At least they could see through all of this nonsense for what it is: a tool of wealthy elites to divide and conquer.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

a tool of wealthy elites to divide and conquer
This is what “woke” identity politics is all about – why do you think so many large corporations are on board with it?

Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago

Well my very reasonable comment has been deleted; it would be helpful to know why!

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Mine too, it sounds like the author or editorial team would prefer comments that say one thing but not another.

Last edited 3 months ago by hayden eastwood
Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago

And it took me ages to write on iPhone where it is lost if you come out of the screen to check something out!

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Take a copy of yr text before coming out, usually works!

Claire D
Claire D
3 months ago

Two of your excellent comments have appeared below but for some reason the ability to up or down tick them is unavailable. I would uptick both if I could.

Last edited 3 months ago by Claire D
Neil Cheshire
Neil Cheshire
3 months ago
Reply to  Claire D

Another current anomaly is that when I up-tick a comment often two and sometimes three ticks are recorded. Not sure about down-ticks as I very seldom give them.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
3 months ago
Reply to  Neil Cheshire

I have assumed that this merely updates the upticks so that others very recent approvals are shown as well as mine.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes. In fact I just got there by up-ticking you.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
3 months ago

Having searched for and discovered Unherd’s posting guidelines I discovered they exclude inter alia comment that is “likely to upset, embarrass and alarm any other person”. Clearly wording as wide as this gives carte blanche to a sensitive moderator to exclude any comment they consider upsetting or embarrassing for someone.
I looked for the guidelines which can be found on the website (but not the App) because my posting ability had been suspended as a result of trying to post a comment critical of the general quality of one of their author’s articles in response to specific comments about unsubstantiated assertions contained in the article. In theory the author might have been upset regarding my criticism but in practice I suspect she is of sufficiently robust character and tends to be robustly critical of others and so probably would not have objected – but who knows. I responded politely to the email advising of my suspension asking for further clarification of the guidelines and received an equally polite email back referring the issue to management and restoring my ability to post.
I am not against moderation as unmoderated comment can descend to boring abusive flame wars. However, it does have to be conducted with moderation rather than over-sensitivity. There is clearly a current problem with the way moderation is being conducted recently. Moderation comes down to a matter of opinion and is a cost to any website so I am not sure if some automatic system has been put in place to reduce costs or whether new more sensitive moderators are moderating or whether it is a management decision to moderate more restrictively.
In a publication supposedly dedicated to publishing articles that might not find a publisher in the MSM this is a worrying development and I do think an article from Freddie Sayers on the problems of moderating comment and Unherd’s approach might be timely so we get some idea as to what is going on.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I have suggested that myself to the staff when I emailed them and they had said they had passed the complain onto Freddie himself.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Today I received a further email from Unherd stating: “We’re very keen to ensure that the discussion below the line is as lively as it can be and do our very best to moderate as little as is needed, but when it is flagged we look at it as soon as possible. Our system allows carries out random spot checks, which could be why your comment was picked up. We ensure that a fair and open discussion is allowed between members of the community.”
It would seem that the system responds to posts being flagged and that is reasonable – and it may be that there is a reader or readers who is or are quick to flag up everything they find objectionable. I am not sure how that is dealt with. It clearly gives a woke reader power to disrupt the comment system by excessive flagging until they are prevented from doing so.
it appears that in addition there is an automatic random spot check and certainly I have noticed that some comments of mine that are uncontroversial have been flagged up for moderation before anyone could have had time to read them. So perhaps this is a problem of the random spot check system being set to flag up far more posts than previously by accident or design.
if there is a reader who is engaging in excessive flagging or the system is flagging too many posts randomly this is a problem not only to us as posters but to Unherd as it imposes an extra strain and cost on their moderating staff.
I hope we can receive some further information from Freddie Sayers who I am sure is in favour of as open an exchange as possible.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

To add to my previous posts I have just had a post flagged as awaiting approval which clearly got caught but the automatic system as it occurred before anyone could have read it. I suspect it was caught for referring to National Socialist Germany by its snappier short form since the word appeared with two stars in the middle. It does illustrate the difficulty of operating an automatic system that picks up on words that appear to be mere words of abuse. The result is that the system generates more posts for live moderators to trawl through that are not offensive but clog up the moderation system.
I presume the automatic system is an off-the-shelf system that can’t be fine tuned to discriminate between a purely factual description of a German regime and an insult.
Edit: I see that my post past moderation and was approved about forty minutes after I edited to refer to National Socialist Germany rather than the offending word.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Mike Hill
Mike Hill
3 months ago

See my reply to Peter LR

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I see, the commenting saga continues. It is very annoying indeed.
All I can suggest is to complain en masse to tech support (click on “my account” and you should see “contact us” there somewhere).

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

And now I can see my comment, but there are tell-tale signs that it is shadow-banned (like no viewable thumb or reply).

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
3 months ago

I can’t see it anywhere.
I had a few posts disappear last week (one may have over stepped the line on the sarcasm side, but I’ve no idea on the others), I also can’t uptick comments with any consistency – they really ought to explain what is going on.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I have done so. They had vetter fix or I will cancel my subscription

Matt M
Matt M
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I had one disappear inexplicably last week.

Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Hey, it has now magically reappeared!

Mike Hill
Mike Hill
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Take it as compliment. Not commenting on the essay as I would be sure to be cancelled!

leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
3 months ago

Thanks for the article. The negative consequences of this aren’t just people losing their jobs and the silencing of speech.
Actual women and girls, and actual Black men and women, are being hurt through this movement. There are multiple reports of predatory males using the cover of transactivism to gain access to victims (see websites Women are Human, Transgender Trend, Feminist Current, 4thWaveNow for further detail, since MSM won’t report them). Actual gender critical feminists have been threatened and assaulted simply by trying to have meetings with like-minded people.
“Defund the police” mantra of BLM has led to drastic increases in crime in already crime-ridden urban minority neighborhoods, and the body count is highest among young black people (though plenty of children get shot too in the crossfire). The areas destroyed by the 2020 riots were predominantly in minority and immigrant neighborhoods. Money that might have gone to legitimate causes to help strengthen these communities (and the family) was grifted off by BLM, finally being investigated for the corruption that was plain for the rest of us to see.
Wokeness isn’t victimless.

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
3 months ago

Or maybe woke will melt into air in the warm glow of a Russian bomb.

Walter Morgan
Walter Morgan
3 months ago

It all to me sounds like a debate between people with too much time on their hands. I’ve scrutinised two or three articles about JK Rowling and I can’t see anything to cause an uproar. She seems a daft target anyway and more of a role model than anything else.
Awful as it is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the horrors of war returning to Europe seems I think to have focused sensible minds on what matters and what doesn’t. JK Rowling’s opinions are just that – opinions. We all have them. Invading a peaceful country with a democratic government by a couple of hundred thousand soldiers and their tanks, planes and bonds from a neighbouring dictatorship is not an opinion; it’s a Putin made nightmare. That’s the sort of thing we should get angry and get even about.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
3 months ago

Perhaps you might like to define ” racist” or more correctly ” racialist”?…. Why didn’t Africa colonise the West? … Why do African countries come top of corruption, civil war league tables, and bottom of GNP/GDP, financial, industrial and democratic league tables or… is it ” racist” to ask?

Fred Sculthorp
Fred Sculthorp
3 months ago

‘In another liberal-Left organisation, the Labour Party, the tensions are revealed by a poll last year which found that only 25% of Labour Party voters support defunding the police — one key policy of woke ideology. Even among 18-24 year olds, the wokest demographic, it is only 44%. When asked whether we should view society’s problems through the lens of white privilege, the poll also found that only 29% of Labour voters agreed. More than half think “woke practices” have gone too far.’
This is the essence of it for me. Bizzarelly ‘wokeness’ seems to be more enshrined in global corporations than actual political institutions. It’s a bizarre ideology of people under 40 who live in the world’s global cities and work in media and tech. It doesn’t seem to really have any realistic means of changing society other than to ruin other people’s careers. It’s tied up in a certain nastiness that lends itself to the artificial image one builds for themselves on social media platforms. It’s a political anamoly of a shallow, vain and ulitmately self-serving culture.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
3 months ago

The slightly desperate attempts to include the political Right in all this nonsense only make clear that “wokeness” is not really an issue, or even an interest for the Right.
Oh sure, those on the Right, including me, will make the odd disparaging comment or insult about the “practitioners of woke”. But we do this as onlookers – we’re not participating in the Left’s civil war.
“Anti wokeness”, rather obviously, only came after “wokeness” – and the right has no particular interest in either. They are, as the more honest bits of the article admit, really both practiced by separately distinctive but equally awful tribes of the Left. This is a conflict entirely of the Left. One can hardly blame the Right for just laughing as, yet again, we watch the Left eat its own tail.
Those who started and perpetuate this mindless stupidity are the self-styled intelligentsia and “experts” of our society. That is worrying. But what is more worrying, is that these people both teach our children, and have the vote. They should be allowed to do neither, until they grow up themselves.

Last edited 3 months ago by Albireo Double
Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
3 months ago

I don’t know who is correct, Robert Tombs or Tomiwa Owolade, about whether or not Churchill was a racist. I do however think that Robert Tombs is a better writer. There was so much repetition in this piece and it just didn’t flow.

Robert Tombs
Robert Tombs
3 months ago
Reply to  Keith Merrick

Thank you! Mr Owolade takes me to task for writing in the Telegraph and claiming Churchill was not a racist. I’ve also written in the New Statesman, Prospect and Le Monde, and would happily write for the Guardian if asked. I’ve checked back, and in fact I didn’t say whether Churchill was a racist or not: I simply referred to the accusation of racism. As it happens, I don’t believe that calling him ‘racist’ is meaningful. Andrew Roberts has discussed this point fully, which may be of interest. https://historyreclaimed.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/The-Racial-Consequences-of-Mr-Churchill.pdf

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Tombs

Many thanks for your reference to an excellent article refuting the claim that Churchill was a racist and for your own articles appearing here and elsewhere.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
3 months ago

“These people are Guardian readers. They hate the Tories. They support Black Lives Matter, and are gravely worried about climate change. But they are scared stiff about saying the treatment of J.K. Rowling”

Yet another refusal by a liberal to take responsibility for midwifing the “woke”. Listen to the condescension in the line above: “we’re not like those racists and global warming deniers who watch Sky and Fox.”

They can’t see the connection between the way they look down on the “others” (the Fox News watchers, the Brexit voters, the Trumpists) and the way the “woke” want to silence or hurt those exact same people. To them it’s just a coincidence, so their condemnation of the woke is shallow: “we know these people are evil, but trying to disenfranchise, ostracize, and economically isolate them is just too extreme.” Sorry guys, but to us deplorables, you’re 2 peas in a pod. You both hate us; you’re just arguing about how much to show it.  

If you old-fashioned liberals really want to defeat the “woke” insanity, get ready to climb into bed with some deplorables. And that conversation needs to start with something like this:
“We’re sorry for saying you would put black people back in chains. We’re sorry for saying you were only pro-life because you wanted women barefoot and pregnant. We’re sorry for saying your Medicare reform plan was to kill Grandma. We’re sorry for calling 3000 year old beliefs nothing but bigotry. We’re sorry for calling you Nazis every other week for 2 decades. We know that our words over many years helped birthed this terrible creation called wokeness. We are primarily responsible for it, but we need your help to fight it. How can we show you that we won’t turn on you the instant the woke are defeated?”

You want my attention? Start there. Until I hear that, I won’t help you. You’ve treated me as the enemy for too long to be trusted.

Last edited 3 months ago by Brian Villanueva
Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
3 months ago

Another Unherd article where it was clear after five or six paragraphs that the comments would provide more insight than I would get from finishing the piece. Right again.

Richard Riheed
Richard Riheed
3 months ago

Well written article, TO, keep it coming.

David McDowell
David McDowell
3 months ago

“One reason why this matters on the liberal-Left is because the vast majority of 18-24 year olds now back liberal-Left parties. There is an old adage that people become more conservative as they get older. But if the changes in people’s lives which lead them to become conservative, such as owning property and having kids, are becoming increasingly rare, then that transition to conservatism might not come to pass for many young people.”
Good point.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

An interesting assertion but I would have liked it to have been backed up by some support. Perhaps there are other possible variables for becoming more conservative with age such as changes in personality, judgement and familiarity, for example.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/mr-personality/201410/why-are-older-people-more-conservative

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
3 months ago

Children in continental western Europe who at one time read Asterix before satellite TV came around probably first got an inkling of the character of Britons, of who they are, from the comic book Asterix In Britain (by Goscinny and Uderzo). Or when they had read some Tin Tin. The reality of who the British are, by going by who they had been as Britons two thousand years prior, as depicted in Asterix In Britain, was not glossed over. A French child reading his Asterix in the 70s might have said: “A-ha. They haven’t changed at all, zeez Breetonz. I suspect zey are really today like zis. Ze Romans have, lucky for them, ultimately preserved them. But not too well, I see.” And the Britons did indeed maintain their little traditions and traits and continue to stop all their activities for a brew at 4pm, no matter what. And indulged in their passion for mint sauce. The Romans did not greatly interfere with these things, even if they disapproved of them.

The whole point of the woke intensity today, full of its various passions, is to knock the stuffing out of a nominally Christian, yet democratic and free, nation’s tendency to entertain and be entertained.

The animals in Orwell’s Animal Farm became as glum as get-out after their neat little coup. And now we have here, from the piece above, a list of pressing questions to do with understanding ourselves individually and as a nation, each of which demands a quick and woolly answer. The correct questions a society must ask itself are effectively tasks that must be performed by all and sundry, to rival the focussed, in reality very narrow, world-view of the animals in Animal Farm (if they’re still going, that is). The question of, for instance, What is a woman? This reminds me of a documentary on TV I saw fifteen years ago or more when, at the Sony company’s private little old museum of artefacts in Japan, a retired old Sony executive showed a long cotton tape to the interviewer who was astounded to hear that Sony first experimented with tape made of cotton. It was wound round a spool on a defunct sound recorder. “But you can’t record sound on cotton!” was the interviewer’s exclamation. Old Sony exec: “When we first started the company, we had to ask ourselves, What is tape?”
And now women are getting the Sony start-out what-is treatment. What is woman? they ask in the West now. Apparently. Sony’s innovative endeavours, by going back to basics, led onto great things. Perhaps the passionate woke intensity aims similarly. Innovation’s what you need – if you wanna be a record breaker. And dedication, too. But thankfully Sony’s wild days of experimenting passed. It was just like a fad.

As with tape, vis-à-vis the eternal curiosity of the woke, we’ll never get a definitive answer to what something is. The static must become eternal flux. Like the commandments given to the animals in Animal Farm. From the above piece, the wordy “… are all absolutely key for trying to make sense of the nature of public discourse today and in the future. They (various vexing questions) ultimately boil down to the question of who we are, and what we should do about it.”
So a permanent process of distillation. The country should vaporise itself! Why should ordinary people put up with all this nonsense? As with the overworked animals in Animal Farm, they too must strive on and on, to try ever harder to wrap their heads round the great questions of the age. Like, What is a frog? A frog is a prince! No, actually, a frog is a frog is a frog – is going to be the response of the vast majority of people, surely. And the animals in Animal Farm became ragged, worked to the bone literally, they were. How they strived to build that windmill!

Do not so many diverse British citizens take pleasure in their citizenship? In the same way that many are proud Americans, they are proud to be British? At least, well pleased to be so?
The-who-we-are question: is it always going to be a very woolly answer? Like language, always evolving?

“We have to adjust ourselves to this reality.” The new normal. The West shrugs its vast shoulders. It goes along. It gets with the programme.

Striving, boiling down, adjusting: Britannia, they have it in for thou! No more jolly knees-ups. No more great popular music to go with it, too. It’s all a misery fest. Misery guts entertainment now in the navel-gazing age.

With refugees from war arriving, in their millions, surely there is a need to reassure them that they are human and loved. That reassurance won’t ultimately boil down to coming from a woke-minded country. (Imagine how unappetising America would have been in the early 1900s had identity politics been all the rage, awaiting the new immigrants on the quays). The conditions that identity politics places everywhere is not conducive to the Christian idea of forgiveness. Will the woke folk preserve the British identity, by adapting present-day Britons to the new realities sweeping across the globe? Are you linked in? – you’ll be asked effectively.
Will future generations, centuries from now, cheekily ask their brethren, Whatever did the woke folk do for us? In jest? Will future generations of Britons hail their good fortune that they had not been too well preserved by the early 21st century waves of pieties – hence their continuing strange customs, attitudes and traits and their habits of drinking tea, not woke coffee, at elevenses and at 4pm? Or is technology going to aid the roamin’, prying woke to clamp down on all quirks of behaviour? Will this roamin’ woke be then impervious to being amused? Especially when they get to control everybody’s behaviour? When their pieties have been excellently preserved, and they survive untainted, through time, no-one very young, I figure, is going to know about the viability of quirks in humans such that amusement is possible. There’ll be no French kids able to laugh at the British and all their eccentricities. The eccentricities will be vaporised! Everybody will be wandering around aimlessly like the extras in the 1976 movie Logan’s Run.

I’m boiling my head down in my great striving to make sense of the nature of all this, today and into the future. The manuals, they are a-comin’. Kids in America must not have time for mere hobbies what with all the manuals for living that are distributed in the schools there.

Simon South
Simon South
3 months ago

I find it troubling that the “culture war ” society is removing our desire to listen, debate and learn.
The arguments are so polarised and dualistic – I’m right, you are wrong! And I will attack you and destroy you, until everyone agrees with me!
The very definition of culture “war” with all the supporting war/military metaphor and rhetoric leaves no room for exploring opinions, discussion and more importantly learning from the diversity that is human life . Creating a sanitised homogenised history removes the lessons that we need to learn from our past. As human beings we get things wrong and never more so than when we don’t listen and engage with the inate human dignity owed to all. Aren’t we at risk of following Putin’s desire to whitewash all aspects of life in line with the Orwelling ” truespeak “?

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 months ago
Reply to  Simon South

Aside from not reading Plato, Locke, etc. along with 1984 many have no idea how most societies evolve. These struggles are not new just arrive as if a recent update to human.07.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
3 months ago

Perhaps we need an article ‘In defense of comment moderation’.

Dominic A
Dominic A
3 months ago

Three interesting things I’ve read on these matters, not covered here:

  • An Australian research paper made a very useful PCL, PCA distinction. Politically Correct Liberalism – widely accepted and healthy, eg: racist jokes are not funny, civic organisations should more or less reflect the racial/gender makeup of the population etc. Politically Correct Authoritarianism – the irritating and toxic wing of wokery.
  • Jon McWhorter’s warning that wokery, unless unmoderated and centered (i.e. ditch the PCA), will awaken robust counter-criticism & truth telling that’ll be not all helpful to minorities or cohesive society.
  • Borrowing the idea of ‘intersectionality’ – wokeness is only partly about social justice, it also contains thick threads of a youth fad (hippies/mods/rockers/punks/ravers….and now wokers have found a new way to piss off the elders); inverse-racism (nb: whilst most victims of bullies do not go on to bully, most bullies were victims); and socio-political kabuki (aka virtue signalling).
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

An of course, on all things critical social justice aka ‘woke’, the most authoritative resource I have encountered;
https://newdiscourses.com

Simon Diggins
Simon Diggins
3 months ago

Good article. Highlights the challenge of those who want change but don’t believe that the only way to achieve it is by adopting a Year Zero approach.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 months ago

And then again, most ordinary citizens will decline, will refuse to keep analyzing their navels and just proceed to live their lives, to just get along. Life is too short.

Pete Marsh
Pete Marsh
3 months ago

This article is mainly a catalogue of intellectual cowardice.

Thomas Cushman
Thomas Cushman
3 months ago

Interesting arguments: in academia, there is a considerable number of professors and students who accept that we need significant changes to American society and culture along racial, ethnic, and class lines. The woke movement has forced discussion of many important issues.
Wokeness as an ideology, however, demands rather rigid conformity to its radical agendas that grates even at many liberals, who are more often than not targeted when they offer even slight, open-minded deviations from woke orthodoxies.
Wokeness is a rejection of classical liberal values of individualism and freedom of thought, conscience, and expression. These values, however, remain strong among many liberals and conservatives in the US, even in academia, though professors and students are generally terrified to show commitment to them.
The author posits that wokeness is here to stay. In fact, ideologies proceed in waves: what is in place at the present gives way to counter-ideologies and movements. This is something like a sociological law. It is harder to predict the substance of these changes, but not so hard to predict that they will come. He is right to say that the conflicts will not disappear, but the seeming hegemony of wokeness will.
Take the case of Berkeley in the 1960s: student radicals, to the great acclaim of most of their professors, more or less took over the university, as woke radicals have these days. By 1980, however, a majority (not a huge one ) of Berkeley students voted for Ronald Reagan).

Marian Baldwin
Marian Baldwin
3 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Cushman

Yet, James Lindsay has stated that in 2017, Cal Berkeley started giving professor applicants a social justice test, saying they would not use the test in their decisions. However, by 2019, they were. 76% of applicants for a biology professionship were rejected as they didn’t pass the SJ test.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
3 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Cushman

Wokeness is not a “repudiation” of liberal values, it is their logical conclusion. Enlightenment liberalism posits that all unchosen constraints on individual autonomy must be removed in order for someone to be truly free. The idea of complete individual autonomy is highly seductive, so liberalism has been successful in “liberating” people from class, race, church, family, sex, gender expression, and now (with “trans-ness”) even biology itself.

However, a society whose only foundation is “my rights only end at your nose” turns out to require constant adjudication about ever smaller delineations of said “rights”. And such monitoring and control must take place by the state, since people have been liberated from all other institutions. That’s what wokeness is: the use of raw state power to enforce norms and standards over ever smaller and smaller slights, in the name of safety, of course.

Wokeness sprang from liberalism. It did not overturn it.

Mia Doornaert
Mia Doornaert
3 months ago

I don’t believe my eyes. We have to think about ‘what is a woman’. Why not about “what is a man”??? This is the most frightening thing in the atmosphere woke had created: a ferocious hate against women. Speaking about ‘men’ does not make you a ‘transphobe’, speaking about women does. We are seing the worst backlash ever against feminism. Women are not even allowed to be human beings any more, they are reduced to ‘bodies with vaginas’ and other degrading nonsense. Sorry, if a man is a man is a man, then a woman is woman is a woman. Full stop

Dugan E
Dugan E
3 months ago

Yet another bypass and straight to discussion essay. There seem to be an increasing amount of ‘In my humble opinion’ contributions nowadays?

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
3 months ago

Wokeness is like halitosis. Despite smelling it, one is too civilised to mention it, but that does not change the fact it remains an unpleasant experience. George Orwell already described the wokies in The Road to Wiggan Pier. The second part. It is above all fear turned into resentment.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 months ago

Tombs will (falsely) claim in the Times that Churchill was not a racist.
Hm. This is what Tombs said; This matters because certain “narratives” are being used as weapons. We have seen accusations that Churchill was a racist …
Tombs doesn’t commit one way or the other as to whether these accusations are accurate or not. What he is saying is that these accusations are being weaponised in service of a certain wider weaponised narrative.
Perhaps he does claim elsewhere Churchill was not a racist, but going on the linked Times article doesn’t persuade me at this point.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
3 months ago

I can’t see wokeness continuing on in those places scourged by nuclear weapons. Like many other idle playthings of the bored and decadent. it will be incinerated.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
3 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Agreed. But let us hope that nuclear incineration is not the only way to defeat it.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
3 months ago

The woke spectrum seems to me to resemble what Bp. Jeremy Taylor said of sin, “Our vices are but virtues, in love with fastastical objects.” The woke folk have a sense that we do not live in an ideal world and whom that bothers, but sadly have created a culture of victimhood, which keeps their sensitivity creds alive, while letting them off the hook because of course it’s hopeless to change human nature. And it’s pathetic to call anyone a racist, much less someone who existed in the past when the nomenclature didn’t even exist. It’s OK to be racist. It’s OK to be Covid-vaxx sceptical. It’s OK to not believe in green energy. Time will sort it out. Stifling humanity’s infinite variety can only end badly.

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago

One reason why this matters on the liberal-Left is because the vast majorityof 18-24 year olds now back liberal-Left parties.

Another is that the tribal nature of politics is such that you can easily slip into supporting views more extreme than your own because they are presented as “on your side”. Even on subjects you know little about, or even care about.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 months ago

Some very considered comments below.
Some of this essay appears to follow research done by Eric Kaufmann
https://cspicenter.org/reports/academicfreedom/
At an SDP conference Kaufmann gives a very good outline of the connections between Cultural Socialism, Critical Social Justice Theory and its quasi religious tool, ‘wokeness’.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6EoyoamPy8

David McDowell
David McDowell
3 months ago

Read this before you feel sorry for Clanchey https://bookriot.com/kate-clanchy/

Robert Tombs
Robert Tombs
3 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Forgive me for stepping in again. I was on the jury that awarded the Orwell Prize to Ms Clanchy, and don’t regret it. It’s a sincere and very moving book. A small number of people took odd phrases out of context and accused her of racism etc. The most notorious of those phrases was used in a poem by the girl it applied to, who later publicly defended Clanchy.

David McDowell
David McDowell
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Tombs

Were you also on the jury that awarded a prize to Carole Cadwalladr?

Robert Tombs
Robert Tombs
3 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

No.