The American wit Gore Vidal once observed that, in the 17th century, the Puritans left England for America ‘not because they were persecuted for their religious beliefs, but because they were forbidden to persecute others for their beliefs’.
Surveying the ever-growing pile-up that is wokery in Britain, it’s hard not to recall these words. For woke is the first alleged social justice movement that seeks not to extend freedoms, but — in the manner of all vicious, bullying cults — to limit them.
The great progressive crusades of the 20th century — from women’s liberation to civil rights for black and gay people — sought to increase the span of human dignity by making sure the same rules applied fairly and to everyone.
But as I pointed out in the book I published last year, Welcome To The Woke Trials: How Identity Killed Progressive Politics, the woke movement — that censorious, high-minded mob trying to force everyone else into following their narrow worldview — has nothing so liberal about it.
Instead, it has far more in common with the hysterical witch-hunting of the Middle Ages.
Now two new books take up my thesis: that wokery has a quasi-religious nature, and it’s only getting worse.
Read more: Rise of the new Puritans: Once it was religious fanatics who sucked all the fun out of life but today it’s joyless young social justice warriors