The Woke West
The Identity Politics, Cancel Culture, Radical Activism And Forbidden Knowledge Dividing The West...And What You Can Do About It!
Confrontation - Independence - Activism - Kindness - Inspiration
The top definition for the word “Woke” on urbandictionary.com is: “deluded or fake awareness.” As of this writing, this definition has received 2346 thumbs up, 455 thumbs down. Ranked in the number two spot is another Woke definition: “the act of being very pretentious about how much you care about a social issue.” This one received a healthy 7520 thumbs up and 1509 thumbs down.
Woken, and less commonly woke, are past participles of the verb wake. In the year 2017, a rise in the colloquial use of woke as an adjective, prompted the Oxford English Dictionary to include the following adjectival definition:
woke, adjective: Originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice; frequently in stay woke.
Throughout this book my use of the word woke primarily refers to the activists, often called Social Justice Warriors, who have recently cropped up across western societies, claiming to be awakened to an invisible system of oppression that is responsible for social injustice. The less militant casual supporters of these radical revolutionaries, those more consistent with the Urban Dictionary definitions, are also considered among the woke.
Wokeism is a problem of the far left. Woke activists reject both conservative and classical liberal values. Wokeism is leftist extremism, not congruent with the liberal societies of the West. It is rooted in radical postmodern ideas like Social Constructivism; A social theory that asserts human cognitive development is influenced by cultural “structures,” such as the language, history and social context.
Woke activists openly advocate for a revolution they describe as “tearing down the oppressive white power structures of the west.” Woke Social Justice Warriors manifest in many ways and in many different organizations and institutions. Included are groups like Black Lives Matter, ANTIFA, Radical Feminists & Radical Trans Rights Activist Groups, Defund Groups (as in Defund the Police), 1619 Project, Fat Pride and many others.
These groups are themselves hashtags (ie. #BLM and/or #BlackLivesMatter) and are drivers of “hashtag movements” like the following examples: #MeToo (paving the way for #MenAreTrash and #KillAllMen), #ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards), #WhiteFragility, #ReparationsNow and #DownWithCIS - that according to Urban Dictionary is “intended to challenge the cisnormativity and heteronormativity in our society, and promote the abolishment of gender roles that keep trans people alienated and oppressed.”
You will hear the woke movement described as “the Authoritarian Left,” “the Radical Left,” “the Woke Left,” “the Anti-West Left,” “the Neo-Marxist Left” or just “ the Marxist Left.” All of these terms are referring to the same phenomenon; wokeism. The key thing to understand is the illiberal nature of this movement. Woke ideology is to the extreme left margins of the political spectrum, liberalism and its foundational tenets are fully rejected.
I personally have always identified as left-of-center politically. My support has shifted from the Canadian Liberal Party to the New Democratic Party to the Green Party and back. Regrettably, I voted for Justin Trudeau in the 2015 Canadian federal election, back when it seemed like a good idea.
It’s an important point to make because much of the criticism of wokeism coming from conservatives is largely silenced or ignored. In light of the insidious nature by which this ideology has manipulated the support of traditional liberals, and gained power and access to virtually all corners of society, it is especially important for people from the left (like me) to fight back against the rot of authoritarianism within our own ranks. Calling this phenomenon a culture war is not hyperbole.
This book, in more ways than one, is also about intellectual freedom. Freedom inside traditional Western institutions of education, and of academics to pursue open inquiry into any subject they choose, has essentially been revoked. I will attempt to explain in detail how this has happened, and why I believe it is a big problem.
Among the solutions offered is another aspect of intellectual freedom I’ve chosen to discuss. That is the encouragement, or lack thereof, of on-going life-long independent scholarship, aimed not necessarily at obtaining academic credentials (although that is quite possible too), but for reasons of personal enrichment, self-mastery and skills & knowledge acquisition. And if for no other reason, than to reject the cynical world view and revolutionary fervor of the woke.
The anti-intellectual situation at western Universities means they can no longer be counted on to produce knowledge untainted by the “woke agenda.” Under attack is objectivity and the traditional academic rigour associated with a methods based approach to scholarship, responsible for the west’s technological advancement sufficient enough for conditions of peace, prosperity and pluralism to flourish.
Postmodernists (more on them later) feel this story is just cover for white oppressive power. Postmodern and Critical Theorists posit that everything is a social construct originally developed by white colonizers. They claim the continued functioning of our “oppressive” society is self-reinforced by awarding advantage to white people (especially white men), which is disadvantageous to everyone else. They assert that institutions of the west are systemically, and it's people inherently, racist. I will attempt to explain in detail how we have arrived at this place, and why I believe it is a big problem.
Woke activists have taken up the ideas of Postmodernists and magically decreed their theories of social constructivism and the like to be indisputable facts. Because much of postmodernism is basically made-up “theory,” not rooted in empirical or scientific methods, logical arguments contradicting their wild assertions are not permitted. Woke activists don’t rely on data or debate to defend or evangelize their religion. Instead they appeal to polylogism and emotional storytelling, dealing with detractors through tribal power plays like social media witch hunts and cancellation pile-on. It's ugly, disrespectful, unkind and authoritarian. This, I hope, needs no explaining why it's wrong.
The woke refer to Western societies as “Patriarchy,” that support and maintain historical “White Supremacist '' colonial power structures. The majority of white people who inhabit these countries have “white privilege” and show their “White Fragility” if they don’t admit this much. But even if they do pledge to be “less white,” they are still racist. According to woke ideology “whiteness” and the inextricable racism that goes with being a white person, regardless of personal history or how they treat others, carries the mark of original sin. No other race of people gets treated with this rare exception by woke ideologues.
This is made all the more confusing when you consider the fact that the majority of woke activists are white westerners. Cognitive dissonance, hypocrisy and contradiction riddle the woke world. It is not easy to pierce through the layers of convolution, but it is easy to see why many people who dare contradict a woke acolyte are often left stunned and/or confused by the ensuing exchange. Reasonable people can do little save for shaking their heads and walking away. But as we will see in chapter one, disagreeing with Woke authoritarians can have serious consequences.
To counter Woke Authoritarianism and restore intellectual freedoms to the West at least five important things generally must happen:
A movement inside Universities to reclaim lost academic freedoms by pushing back against woke authoritarianism. Fundamentally Confrontational.
A movement of independent scholarship outside the constraints of traditional institutions. Fundamentally Independent.
A rejection of the limits and binary quality of thinking consistent with ideological orthodoxy, partisanship and group identity politics. Fundamentally Activist.
A commitment to respect, patience, tolerance, kindness and love. Even though the present situation as described, is nothing short of a culture war, and the need to firmly stand ground and assert our right to criticize and push back against “wokeism” is pressing, we must remain non-violent, respectful and kind. Fundamentally Kind.
Inspiration by highlighting human examples of meritocratic values; Excellence, Competition & Challenge, Hard Work, Diligence, and Optimism. Don’t teach BIPOC kids that they are victims, introduce them to winners like David Goggins, who overcame so many unfair disadvantages. Don’t tell white kids they are oppressors, teach them about the gift of the enlightenment and the western canon, along with an accurate recounting of history much broader than the ahistorical Woke oppression narrative. Fundamentally Inspirational.
This is the first installment of “The Woke West: The Identity Politics, Cancel Culture, Radical Activism And Forbidden Knowledge Dividing The West...And What You Can Do About It!” - A book by James Pew, published serially to The Turn Substack.