by Craig Knoche
Wokism obliterates the individual
Wokism subsumes all unique individual personal characteristics into a shared group identity. For example, it is now common in class discussions for college students indoctrinated by wokisim to speak as representatives of a group rather than for themselves, saying “as a member of [marginalized intersectional] group x . . . . “, rather than “I believe . . . . “ 1
Wokism fosters a victim mindset and depreciates individual human agency
All failures by members of marginalized groups are attributed to the external forces of systemic cultural and linguistic bias and oppression of the dominant class 2 rather than to any individual errors in action or character flaws. This denies the power of human agency and personal responsibility for one’s own destiny, thereby fostering a victim mindset. It is ironic that this is also a deeply patronizing and paternal view given that if whiteness is responsible for black vices, shouldn’t it also be responsible for black virtues?
Wokism is psychologically injurious
Wokism encourages people to see the world and all human interactions as consisting of nothing other than oppressive power structures. When all is power, every interaction is a struggle, every interaction assumes the worst of everyone, and not winning breeds resentment. Wokism also maintains that members of the dominant identity group in principle cannot understand the “lived experiences” of members of oppressed identity groups. The “the patriarchy” is incapable of understanding as well as sympathy or empathy. Without understanding, communication is impossible, and revenge for perceived injustices becomes the dominant emotion.
Wokism rejects cultural explanations for the successes and failures of marginalized groups
Wokism treats all culture as irrelevant except that of the dominant culture. Structure cannot explain the behavior of the dominant class given that the dominant class is at the top of the food chain, therefore, culture is the only other explanation for how the dominant class behaves. But how can culture be the sole factor for the dominant group yet not be a factor at all for marginalized groups?
Wokism maintains that all disparities in outcomes are the result of oppression and that it is illegitimate to cite cultural 3 explanations for why some minority communities thrive while others do not. Examples of thriving minority groups include: immigrant blacks 4, Koreans, Vietnamese, and Chinese 5 . Citing such facts as the 75% level of black illegitimacy (up from ~25% before the Great Society programs) 6 as explanation for poor academic performance are attacked as racist despite the overwhelming evidence that children from single-family household have lower academic performance.
It is counterintuitive to assert that the boundless diversity in human culture has no bearing on why some societies are richer and poorer, and why certain subgroups are more or less successful in a given society? But for Wokism, all disparities are the result of the actions of an oppressor class rather than to the influence of individual agency, family, community, and culture.
Wokism seeks to overturn established institutions which historically has required tyrannical force
By liberation, Wokism does not mean simply freedom from external constraints, e.g., the right to go about one’s life undisturbed, rather it means emancipation from institutional power structures, the conventions and customs inherent in the shared norms and values of western liberal capitalist society. This can be seen in its intense focus on “deconstructing” and overturning the institutions such as the family 7 , nation state, law, capitalism, school and religion 8 . It is this characteristic that Wokism shares with the objectives of the Jacobin French Revolution and Maoist Cultural Revolution. Concerted efforts to overturn prevailing institutions historically have required considerable tyrannical governmental force and violence.
Wokism is intolerant and illiberal
Ironically, wokism fosters extreme illiberality in the name of “tolerance and diversity.” To a devotee of Wokeness, being unWoke is tantamount to being a rank heathen or an evil infidel. Wokeness is not merely a matter of politics; it is the only righteous worldview, and it must be embraced with a religious dogmatic fervor. The result is efforts to suppress free expression and intellectual debate, and to silence and cancel dissenters, and compel thought. The typical methods include accusations of racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, etc., all of which are impossible to refute as it is difficult to “prove a negative”.
Social justice does not mean merely individual equality before the law, rather it seeks equality (aka “equity”) in every sphere that a person might desire, whether that is property, leisure, social rank, education, employment. In this, it is utopian and communistic. Anything less is regarded as unjust. Yet ironically, some social justice advocates eschew equality, and advocate that some groups should be more equal than others as retribution for past “power imbalances”.
Wokism is unfalsifiable and impervious to evaluation
Knowledge and truth are always and only a function of power, so all claims made by the dominant institutions and its members lack objective universal truth. Truth claims are analogous to disguised emotivist exhortations and commands. There is no rational basis for debate as attempts at persuasion between members of differing identity groups are always a power struggle, no claims can be objectively falsified, and evidence is always biased. Personal claims of “lived experience” are privileged over science, which is claimed to be an oppressive cultural artifact set up by white cis heterosexual males.
To test a claim of discrimination or sexual assault against evidence makes alleged victims “unsafe” and violates their sanctity. Thus, complaints of racism, misogyny and the like are converted into unfalsifiable proof of discrimination when articulated by an alleged oppressed identity group. This same idea underlies the assertion that all rape claims are true so it is legitimate to dispense with defendant legal due process rights.
Woke theory is self-contradictory
Critics of the post-modern “Knowledge Principle” (which says there is no objective truth) rightly asked whether the “Knowledge Principle” is itself objectively true. Obviously, one can’t maintain that it is without contradiction. Consequently, advocates of “Theory” revised the “Knowledge Principle” to claim that there is no objective knowledge or truth to the prevailing dominant institutional narratives, but that the claims of “Theory” and its Social Justice normative system are, in fact, objectively true.
Wokism invents technical and intentionally obscure language to inoculate itself from criticism
Purveyors of woke ideology tend to use pretentious prose along with a large and continually shape- shifting lexicon of technical language 9 . It all seems intentionally designed to create an aura of pseudo- scientific authority 10 , obscure arguments and deflect criticism, and intimidate others into acquiescence. A representative single-sentence example from Judith Butter 11 is as follows:
“The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality in the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes that structural tonalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.”
Other examples of the shape-shifting terminology include: problematizing, queering, performativity, heteronormativity, allosexual, allocishet, hegemonic femininity, heterocentrism, hermeneutical injustice, himpathy, humanonormativity, hxstory, kyriarchy, microinvalidations, phallocentrism, problematics, and xenogender. The list of taboo expressions is constantly revised and expanded, so no one must stay conversant with the approved vocabulary or risk being publicly shamed and shunned.
Wokism is a secular theology with cult-like tendencies
Wokism is a secular religion which, while congratulating itself on its escape from the strictures of ancient and traditional religion, evinces a spiritual certitude about what is right, true, good and real, along with an apocalyptic pain with a world that lies in sin and error. Wokism has it all – a piety (egalitarianism), clergy (Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi, Nikole Hannah-Jones), heretics and heathens (white heterosexual males), cardinal sins (racism, misogyny, classism, meritocracy, among others), sacraments and rituals (kneeling with head bowed, hand-holding with fists raised to the sky), and a devil (the unwoke). Woke evangelicals use all the techniques of cult formation in the conversion of new adherents 12 .
As Eric Hoffer put it, “Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” 13
Suggestions for further reading:
- Bern D., Four Fallacies of the Woke Prohibition of Cultural Arguments
- Douthat R., The Decline of the Christian Consensus
- Lindsay J., Pluckrose H., Cynical Theories
- Morrow L., Dawn of the Woke
- Lyndsay J., New Discourses
- Smith K., On Leaving the SJW Cult and Finding Myself
- Sullivan A., The Roots of Wokeness
- Varadarajan T., A Challenger of the Woke ‘Company Policy’
1. Krohnman A., The Assault on American Excellence, Chapter 3, citing his experience teaching at Yale University
2. Cf. Loury G.C., The Bias Narrative v. the Development Narrative. Wokism favors the bias narrative and denies legitimacy to the development narrative.
3. Bern D., The ‘Model Minority’ Myth Cudgel
4. Tisdale., Black immigrants earn more than U.S.-born blacks
5. Brooks D., The Learning Virtues
6. Williams WE., The True Black Tragedy: Illegitimacy Rate of Nearly 75%
8. In this, its method is akin to that followed by the French Revolution which sought to overturn all institutional authorities, and unlike that of the American Revolution which sought merely liberation from British rule. The former ended in Napoleonic tyranny, the latter initiated what has been the longest surviving Republican Democracy.
10. Lindsay J., Pluckrose H., Cynical Theories, pp. 89, 186
11. Butler J, Further reflections on conversations of our time, Diacritics, Vol. 27, no.1, Spring 1997
12. Lindsay J., The cult Dynamics of Wokeness
13. Eric Hoffer, The True Believer