Posted by Roger Mallett Posted on 4 June 2023

What and Why is ‘Woke?’

The modern phenomenon of ‘woke’ is hard to pin down. Is it a movement, a religion, an attitude, or a lifestyle? Here we offer our own definition that places woke in the broader historical and political story of the West.

We start with a list of attitudinal elements that most people would agree should count as part of woke. In this we are spoiled for choice, with a whole smorgasbord of examples from the personal, political and corporate spheres from which to discern the core elements. Here are our top five:

  1. Identity theft. This is best exemplified in gender appropriation, whereby anyone who says or believes they are a woman is indeed a woman and must be treated as such by others, at pain of social disapprobation and even legal punishment. The woke lack respect for previous identities.
  2. Illiberalness. The woke perspective in many areas features a suspension of belief in public debate and the value of diverse viewpoints, to the point of being willing to invade and sabotage public spaces in which such debates and viewpoints are aired.
  3. Cancel culture. We see the cancellation imperative of woke in the destruction of symbols and rituals of the previously dominant Western culture: felling monuments, defacing art, negating traditional days of celebration, using disruption and chaos to draw attention to causes, and targeting the careers of those who defend the pre-existing culture.
  4. Victimhood. Woke places primacy in the public sphere on helplessness and victimhood, preferably victimhood resulting from perceived injustices at the hands of traditional Western culture.
  5. Alarmism. Woke promotes the idea of the collapse of civilisation due to human-induced threats (like climate, viruses, or the Chinese government) and adopts ever new totems allegedly to ward off that collapse.

Identity theft has always been a go-to in the toolbox for hopeful cultural coup d’états, as for example when the Christians outfitted their Devil with the trident of the Greek god Poseidon and the goat feet of other religions, bolstering their own credentials while marginalising the older culture. Illiberalism is a staple of communism and fascism, both Western inventions. The absolutism of cancel culture is a mutation of traditional liberalism. Victimhood is an old Christian meme. Alarmism has been the bread and butter of subsidy-dependent international groups for centuries.

Read More – What and Why is ‘Woke?’ 

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