Woke Is Always Wrong (2024 Jan)

by Barry A. Liebling

The leftist elite, which has a stranglehold on American culture, is enamored by woke “thinking” which is the motor driving woke behavior. Their policies in business, in government, in their personal lives are energized by woke sensibilities. With their religious devotion to woke, they congratulate themselves when they attempt to bully everyone into submission (and often succeed).

People with a positive, healthy sense of life regard woke opinions and attitudes as repulsive. And of course, they are right to react this way. But not everyone can articulate exactly what is the core problem with woke, and why it cannot – in principle – be adjusted, modified, or fixed.

Step back and consider what the core essence of woke is. It is a blending of some of the most vile aspects of neo-Marxism, racism, and determinism. Thus, woke is incompatible with and overtly opposed to the best ideals of the Enlightenment.

Start with neo-Marxism. The original Marxist doctrine erroneously described the world as consisting of economic classes that are perpetually hostile to one another. The bourgeoisie (property owners) are the oppressors and the proletariat (workers) are the oppressed. Marxists maintain (via dialectical materialism) that it is proper and inevitable for the oppressed to rise up and defeat their oppressors. To a Marxist those who help to speed this up are “progressives,” and anyone standing in the way are “reactionaries on the wrong side of history.”

The neo-Marxists have dramatically expanded the original version. Now there are many types of oppressors (males, Americans, white people, heterosexuals, and an ever-growing list) and a host of oppressed categories (anyone not an oppressor who is also judged as worthy of affection by the leftist clerisy). According to woke “ethics,” the more oppressed groups you belong to the higher your status, and oppressors deserve contempt and perpetual punishment.

Note that a major feature of the woke sensibility is that humans are – and ought to be – permanently hostile to one another. If you are “politically aware” you should despise your (assigned by the leftist intelligentsia) oppressors. If you belong to one or more oppressor groups you should loath yourself and people who are similar to you.

The picture gets even worse. Woke is explicitly collectivist. Groups are the primary consideration. Individuals might be consequential, but only to the extent that they subordinate themselves to the interests of their assigned groups, or are traitors to their groups. Think of bees in a hive. The hive matters. Individual bees are of little or no importance.

Consider the woke term “social justice.” It is different from conventional justice which describes what a given individual deserves. In genuine justice you should have a good outcome if you act virtuously and correctly, and you should be penalized if you behave badly. In the real world justice does not always occur, but to those who value the best ideas of the Enlightenment, justice is the goal.

Think of Lady Justice, a mythical character that is personified in classical statues. She holds a scale and is blindfolded. The underlying theme is that she makes judgments fairly, and she deliberately ignores the identities of the people involved. This means one set of rules for everyone, regardless of anyone’s group memberships.

“Social justice” dispenses with the individual. Groups that are favored by the leading woke leaders ought to be showered with prizes, and groups that leftist “intellectuals” deem unworthy need to be pushed down. Woke advocates completely reject the sentiment behind Lady Justice. For committed leftists, group memberships far outweigh what any particular person does. Notice that when leftists are excoriated for having double standards they generally do not respond. One standard for everyone is an Enlightenment value that woke advocates categorically reject.

If you yearn for a world where people generally get along with one another, where the approved default is to deal with people with respect and by mutual consent, where conflicts occur but can normally be resolved by objective laws that treat all individuals equally (regardless of “group memberships”) – you should embrace the philosophy of individualism. Recognize woke for the poison it is.

*** See other entries at AlertMindPublishing.com in “Monthly Columns.” ***

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