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The woke phenomenon has been called by some the new Marxism although it replaces socio-economic class struggle with a war for ‘recognition of differences’. Instead of being broken into rival camps: bourgeois, peasants and workers, society as seen through the woke lens, below the fundamental identity defined by skin colour is a composite of myriads of self-defined groups which are connected by common personal life tendencies or interests. As a result of that fragmentation there is no people as such and majority rule, codified in democracy, is regarded as dangerous because it is populistic and does not recognize enough the all important apparent or hidden minorities which make it up.
In that light, immigrants (especially clandestine ones), homosexuals and people who want to change or have already changed genders are central to the neoliberal woke scheme because they manifest the fact that there is no common ‘natural’ or national law and that nothing is applicable to all people. Gender is elective because ‘one is not born a man or a woman but becomes it through social pressure’. People may not even be people because they are one (or various) species of animal and therefore a higher revealed truth provides the final answer. Hybrid societies made up of people of all origins, languages and cultures are desirable and even indispensable because they break national homogeneity and prevent the hegemony of a single culture.
Obviously, it is the woke religion which shows that most of the heroes or heroins of the past are unworthy of praise and should be condemned and forgotten since (admittedly, people being far from perfect) they committed many wrong actions or at least did not have the ‘right’ opinions. In their place the hitherto ignored figures of wokism must be celebrated even if we may not know much about them or their contributions. In the logic expounded by many propagators of the novel creed the fact that there are not many women and African and Pre-Columbian American figures in the global pantheon of civilization is only due to the fact that the outstanding ones were not allowed to rise and thus not given credit. Although there is undeniable truth in this reasoning it should not lead to the conclusion that great artists, reformers, spiritual leaders, scientists and inventors must be cast aside and reviled because they were or are men and white ones at that. On the other hand, according to the woke assessment the abuses and cruelties committed by ‘minorities’ can be ignored or justified because they are reactions to the permanent and essential oppression they endure. In this and other regards the Wokish paradigm revives many of the excesses and absurd theories that flourished during the French Revolution and in some cases led to the bloodbath that some of its leaders carried out.
Indians, Chinese and other Asian, African and native American peoples might welcome these arguments in the expectation that their eminent and very ancient contributions to the common intellectual and material heritage of humankind will finally be appreciated at their true value. However, they are quickly disappointed when it becomes apparent that Wokism has no regard for ancient cultures which it also castigates as patriarchal, sexist, racist and therefore fascistic, whether in the form of Chinese Confucianism, ‘Brahminical’ Hinduism or ‘repressive’ pre-Columbian or native African civilisations. Only the most ‘primitive’ tribes may find some grace in the eyes of the Woke Ones, perhaps because they don’t know enough about them and assume that they were all matriarchal, non-sexist, not racist and anarchical which is patently untrue. However, in contrast the same Woke moralists have very little to say about Islamic fundamentalists and even less about economic inequality and the huge concentration of wealth in a few hands, probably because many of the leading billionaires and mega-corporations in the US and Europe pay at least lip service to the Woke Gospel when they don’t generously fund the favourite causes of its self-appointed representatives. Indeed, some see in this doctrine, which does not usually question turbo-capitalism and the decline of the middle classes, a gift for the uber-rich who can pose as philanthropists by supporting such a purportedly enlightened and tolerant cause. ‘Gay Pride Parades’ are arguably less threatening to high finance than workers protests and strikes.
This summary panorama of this surging phenomenon is not complete until we allude to the increasing reaction it is arousing as people all over the western world and in all walks are indeed waking up against wokeness whose champions are overplaying their hand. Nationalist, cultural and political conservatism is making a comeback in many countries, from France and Poland to Brazil and the USA in diverse and often new forms whereas Russia is, once again, a pioneer in this regard. The French political scene is increasingly dominated by parties and figures which call for a return to patriotism, faith and social order and the same trends in more subdued or idiosyncratic forms are visible in Germany, Italy and Spain, not to mention several other nations.
That new nationalist wave is propelled by three major factors, firstly the rising burden of mass immigration from Asia and Africa which is disrupting the socio-economic balance of western societies while threatening their ancestral ethnic and cultural identity, secondly the concern caused by rampant technocratic globalization which undermines national cohesion and self-defensive abilities and thirdly the realization of the corrosive effects of woke nihilism on democracy that lead to its substitution by a combination of unelected administrative and judicial powers, as shown by the arbitrary and often tyrannical management of the COVID epidemic.
The ongoing technological revolution is in some way at the root of the woke craze because the claim of omnipotence raised by its scientific and industrial leaders has led to the implicit conclusion that average people are not qualified to decide what is good for them and must defer to the advice of official experts, legal authorities, (misleadingly called ‘sages’ but often ideologically driven) and technocratic tycoons. One can form the simplistic but not entirely mistaken assumption that the new definition of democracy is no longer that of a popularly elected government but instead is tantamount to a ‘health pass’ (mandatory for individuals in most EU countries) listing a few requirements such as keeping central banks independent of political elected authorities, toeing the line set by the United States, boasting consensual political parties largely sharing a common liberal agenda and holding regular gay pride parades. Recently the former justice minister of France who abolished the death penalty some forty years ago declared on television that nations which still execute criminals are dictatorships and not democracies. He thereby added a new commandment to the democratic articles of faith.
The European Union is perhaps the largest theatre of the unfolding drama that pits recalcitrant people of many hues against the power of the supra-national Leviathan served by the Woke ‘useful idiots’. It may not survive the confrontation of those increasingly irreconciliable opponents who are also tearing the United States apart.