I encourage you to read Andrew Sullivan’s latest offering. In it he muses on, using his diction “why is wokeness winning?” I would phrase it a bit differently which is the source of the title of this post. Here’s a snippet:
It’s been a staggering achievement, when you come to think of it. Critical theory was once an esoteric academic pursuit. Now it has become the core, underlying philosophy of the majority of American cultural institutions, universities, media, corporations, liberal churches, NGOs, philanthropies, and, of course, mainstream journalism. This summer felt like a psychic break from old-school liberalism, a moment when a big part of the American elite just decided to junk the principles that have long defined American democratic life, and embrace what Bari Weiss calls “a mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality.”
It’s everywhere. Across the country, schools and colleges are dumping SATs so they can engineer racial equity, and abolish the idea of merit. The Smithsonian backed the idea that working hard, showing up on time and perfecting a task are functions of “whiteness”. In California, there’s a ballot initiative to legalize government discrimination on the basis of race; and a new mandate that company boards add members from under-represented communities. Corporations who haven’t publicly committed themselves to the full woke project are being hounded by their employees into doing so, meaning hiring and firing on the basis of race, or forcing employees into re-education sessions, guided by DiAngelo and Kendi. The NBA, for Pete’s sake, is now a festival of wokeness, even as viewership collapses. CRT propaganda like the NYT’s 1619 Project can be exposed as untrue and unethical, but the paper can both debunk it in its own pages and still hail it as a triumph. And the pièce de resistance: 21 percent of liberal students in the Ivy League favor some level of violence to stop campus speech they disapprove of.
He considers five reasons:
The reason so many people marched this summer was because of a righteous revulsion at the visceral image of a black man being murdered slowly on the street by a bad, white cop.
- It’s super-easy
Social inequalities are extremely complicated things. A huge variety of factors may be in play: class, family structure, education, neighborhood, sex, biology, genetics and culture are some of them. Untangling this empirically in order to figure out what might actually work to improve things is hard work. But when you can simply dismiss all of these factors and cite “structural racism” as the only reason for any racial inequality, and also cover yourself in moral righteousness, you’re home-free.
What antiracism brilliantly does is adopt all the instincts of racism and sexism — seeing someone and instantly judging them by the color of their skin, or sex — and drape them with a veil of virtue.
- Social aspiration
The etiquette of wokery is increasingly indispensable for high society. They mark you as someone high up in the American social hierarchy.
Many moderns want the experience of religion without God. With CRT [ed. critical race theory], as in the past with communism, they can have it.
to which I would add one more: there’s good money to be made from wokeness. From my perspective the tragic aspect is that “wokeness” is plain old racism, very much akin to the sort that prevailed in the South prior to 1965. And none of what is making making “wokeism” successful is new. It was all described in detail fifty years ago by Tom Wolfe in two pieces, “Radical Chic” and “Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers”. Not to mention in Dostoevsky.
I think that the phenomena described by Mr. Wolfe were the reaction of progressive white people to black nationalism and black nationalism, sadly, was one of the reasons that the advancement of the fortunes of ordinary black people in the U. S., the descendants of slaves, came to an abrupt end in the 1970s.