Political extremism appears to have a natural lifespan.
Between the storming of the Bastille and Thermidor—the arrest of Robespierre by his fellow revolutionaries fearful of the guillotine—five years passed; another five and a sort of national equilibrium was restored to France. A similar ten-year period elapsed between Mao’s launch of the Cultural Revolution and the arrest and imprisonment of the Cultural Revolution’s major supporters by their rivals within China’s ruling hierarchy. Neither country held meaningful elections but both had public opinion shifts that eventually encouraged those in positions to challenge the radical wave to step up and take the risks.
Wokeness emerged in 2014 with the sudden explosion of phrases about race equity and white supremacy in the media. This means that we are eight years into the emergence of the Woke.
The Woke is an ideological movement that has managed to humiliate and fire its victims rather than kill them. But it is not a stretch to see parallels to totalitarian movements of the past century in it: the enforcers’ preening self-righteousness; their demand for forced confessions portrayed as apologies from their victims; the attempted politicization of every aspect of social life including language; and the insistence that their own country’s traditional mores are utterly debased.
Never before in the world’s history has so much effort been expended to get people fired for expressing an opinion. This is something that this site has been talking about. Now we even have it on black and white by an article by the Times of Malta:
Many of the goals of awakening may eventually become as institutionalized and naturalized as the abolition of slavery. (Some members of the woke elect left identify as abolitionists.) It is more likely that it will be repealed its practitioners and cultural preferences mocked and then ignored and its victims rehabilitated and in some cases honoured.
The origins and nature of the woke revolution have been extensively described if not definitively. It has elements of a new religion and it was made possible by social media with the ability to quickly organize a Twitter mob.
The 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath yanked the rug out from under a generation of debt-ridden college graduates while providing business elites with an incentive to welcome diversions from a more class-based leftism.
Wokeness appears to be embedded not only in the media liberal foundations and universities but also in institutions perceived to be mainstream and non-political. For example the American Medical Association has officially called for doctors to incorporate absurd woke phraseology into regular communications with their patients.
The central idea of wokeness is that America and the West are defined by interlocking oppressive systems the main pillar of which is white supremacy with secondary but significant pillars being the privilege of heterosexuality and men over women. To be awake means to believe that these dominances pervade all aspects of social life and that challenging them is a moral imperative. For over a century radical leftists have held views similar to this but their nominal acceptance by much of the establishment is new.
Wokeness is portrayed as a struggle against whiteness or white supremacy rather than against white people a rhetorical evasion that allows white people to become the primary practitioners of woke politics.
With black activism the famous “Black Lives Matter” the Woke has a somewhat contradictory relationship. On one side it is given to displays of performative submissiveness. On the other hand one finds a paternalism that sees black people as having little control over their lives defined by the past injuries of slavery and segregation and still burdened by chains of structural racism that are rarely specified but so pervasive that standards of achievement and behavior appropriate for other people must be suspended for them.
The woke Martians are a threat to a free world and to your freedom.
The woke corporations will have you go broke.
The woke governments will turn your days into a nightmare.