Woke sentiments and initiatives are generally framed in moralistic terms, as “social justice,” “anti-racism,” and “anti-colonialism.” The objectives are allegedly to defend “marginalized minorities,” “underserved populations,” and “victims of identity class oppression,” particularly “people of color” (but not Asians: too successful), females, LGBTQ++, and Muslims (but never Jews: too smart and too privileged).
Do people generally engage in highly contentious crusades, which can be costly in time, energy, and potential danger, for moralistic reasons? Or is it more realistic to suppose that, in addition to whatever moral principles are advanced, that there are other, converging interests as well? It is likely, and at least worth exploring, the possibility that woke crusades are, from the motivational point of view, overdetermined, that is, caused by multiple influences. Thus, engaging in a woke crusade may also be motivated by a desire for greater status, power, and/or material rewards.
To illustrate, here is an example from Foyle’s War (Series 2, Episode 3): In 1940 in England, young boys and girls are scavenging for materials—paper, tin, iron—that might serve in recycling for war materials. They explain that they are doing it to “win the war.” But, also, if they collect more than other children, they will be rewarded with chocolate. Two good motives converging to energise a particular action.
Allow me to illustrate the overdetermination of motivation by my own views: I am a “classical liberal” because, to me, it is the fairest, most just way of relating to people. This view is that people should be dealt with as individual people, not as members of census identity categories such as race, sex, national origin, religion, sexuality, and the like. In treating individuals as individuals, they should be judged according to their characters, actions, achievements, and potentials rather than their sex, color, etc. I believe it is most just to treat people in a color-blind and gender-equal fashion, and to consider them according to their strengths and weaknesses and potentials.
At the same time, it is in my personal interest to advance a classical liberal position. I want to be treated in a color-blind and gender-equal fashion because I do not wish to be disadvantaged by being subsumed into a category causing me to suffer prejudice and discrimination, and thus to be disadvantaged in relations to others with the same or less merit, achievement, and potential. I belong to a small minority in the USA and Canada, but not one of the preferred and protected minorities according to the woke vision, and do not wish to be disadvantaged for it. I want my children, who happen to be Asian in origin, to be judged by their individual qualities, and not by the color of their skin and their national origin.
So, my views, and I think most people’s, are based on a combination of motivations, are overdetermined. This helps to explain the strength of many people’s views, and people’s resistance to contradicting theories and factual evidence.
Now let us turn to the question of who benefits from woke ideology. But first, a review of who does not benefit from woke policies, such as “equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
The 234 million 73% supermajority of American citizens (out of a total of 321 million Americans) are white, and most of them not only do not benefit from the woke revolution, but are actively harmed by it. Woke ideology says that whites are racist, supporters of white supremacy ideology, have unearned privilege, and are too “fragile” to admit these woke “facts.” Whites are thus vilified, condemned, and attacked on the basis of their skin color and descent. Wokeness is anti-white. “Whiteness” is defined by the woke as individualism, hard work, objectivity, belief in science, logic, and rational thought, the nuclear family, progress, respect for authority, courtesy, promptness, delayed gratification, and speaking standard American English. These are seen by the woke as racial characteristics, and whiteness is regarded as racist when people of other races are expected to conform to it. When people of other races do conform or “internalize” them, this is called “interracial whiteness.”
The sins of whites and whiteness are now being taught to children beginning in pre-kindergarten and continuing throughout the K12 system. Of course, it is standard fare in universities, where “critical race theory” was invented. An extension of this theory, diligently taught in schools, is that America is an evil place that should be hated by all. America, children are taught, is all about racism and nothing but racism. America’s founders, founding documents, and their representations must be canceled, and America annihilated. No one hates America more than school teachers, who have been well trained in wokeness at radical faculties of education.
Of course, for whites, wokeness goes well beyond being insulted, demeaned, and disparaged. The operational definition of “equity, diversity, and inclusion” is that whites are not diverse and can be excluded without penalty. African-Americans, Hispanics, and other “people of color” (but not necessarily Asians), LGBTQ++, and Muslims are deemed “diverse” and must be included. Females also. In contrast, males, whites, heterosexuals, Christians and Jews are not “diverse,” and need not be included. This is an elaboration of the “affirmative action” that has favored African-Americans for fifty years. Achievement and merit, now deemed “white supremacist” ideas, have now been replaced by “equity,” which means equal statistical outcomes whatever the performance differences among categories of people.
The 40 million African-Americans that make up 12.7% of the population do not benefit from woke ideology. Let us begin with the forty percent of African Americans, the sixteen million who consider themselves middle class. If they have achieved their positions by hard work, respect for authority, courtesy, promptness, delayed gratification, and speaking standard American English, then they are deemed by the woke as race traitors who have adopted “whiteness.” How happy are they at this woke definition of African-Americans as unwilling to engage in hard work or respect authority, as being rude, unable to follow time deadlines, and unable to delay gratification?
African-Americans, particularly inner city residents, suffer from woke ideology by its lies about the sources of certain of their main problems. Black Lives Matter has been at the forefront of claiming that African-Americans are primarily at risk from police and “white vigilante” violence, and that the solution is to disband or at least defund the police. African-Americans know that this is nonsense, that the biggest threat that they face is from African-American criminals, who account for ninety percent of the murders of African-Americans, and most of the assaults, robberies, rapes, thefts, and robberies. That is why African-Americans want to maintain a strong police presence in their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Democrat politicians in many urban areas have reduced police funding and police presence, and it is mostly African Americans who suffer the subsequent increases in violent crime, including shootings and murders. And that is not even to mention the African-American owned businesses looted, burned, and destroyed during the months of BLM riots during 2020. African-American communities also lost other businesses that they relied on, and as a consequence some have to travel distances for necessities.
Do education, business, and government benefit or suffer under woke policies? I do not think that just yet there is sufficient evidence to provide sound conclusions. But it is a reasonable hypothesis that when the main qualification is minority skin color, ethnicity, or sexuality, that this will result in criteria such as competence, efficiency, creativity, reliability, and potential being downgraded or altogether ignored. Should we really hire and promote the less qualified over the better qualified? Do all Americans not deserve the very best possible teachers, doctors, engineers, airline pilots, business executives, and political representatives? How is that possible when functional merit is disregarded?
Do young children benefit from being told that they can be any sex they want, or nothing if they want? Even worse, young children are now encouraged to “transition” through medical means from their “birth sex” to their “preferred sex.” Young children, who are by law unable to decide on their own to take so much as an aspirin, are now encouraged to decide on their own to undergo life altering hormonal treatments and plastic surgery in order to “transition.” Parents are threatened with having their children taken from them by social agencies if they object to the transition, or do not call their children by their new gender name.
Do young female athletes benefit from being forced to compete with biological males, even ones with long hair and female names? Is it added value for biological males to enter female toilet facilities and locker rooms? It is beyond dispute that biological male “trans-females” have dominated every female sport that they have entered, and have cancelled the achievements of female athletes. This is simply the result of male biological advantage in strength and speed. How exactly is this not a violation of Title IX?
Do Americans benefit from becoming science-deniers? The Democrats claim to be the “party of science” and disparage the Republicans as science-deniers. Yet the Democrats, including President Biden, are fully committed to the idea that men can become women and women can become men. This is the complete rejection of the science of biology which has established conclusively that males and females are genetically distinct, and are physiologically, neurologically, and psychologically different. If identity, whether sincere or strategic, cancels science, we are returning to the dark ages.
Individual professors, broadcasters, politicians, businessmen, and others who have been cancelled and seen their jobs, salaries, and professions destroyed because they said something allegedly offensive to a protected class—but not if the things said were offensive to men, whites, heterosexuals, Christians, or Jews, because it is a woke duty to be offensive to these despised classes—have been actively harmed by woke lynching. Reading a book title or a poem with an allegedly offensive word is sufficient to get one cancelled. Even saying a different word that sounds to someone like an offensive word is enough for cancellation. For example, the word niggardly, used by Chaucer in 1374, means stingy or miserly, and is etymologically distinct from the offensive term for African-Americans. Yet a staff member of the mayor of Washington, DC was fired for using the word. More recently, a professor was attacked for saying a Chinese word was deemed similar in sound to the offensive word. It is almost as if woke activists are looking for people to cancel. Can teaching and research get done under such conditions?
But someone must benefit from the woke revolution, or else it would not be happening. Let’s look at some who benefit:
Traditionally university students were largely powerless. They were given their academic assignments and tried to complete them satisfactorily. How they did, how their professors graded them had a considerable impact on their egos, on their sense of self worth, and on their futures. Professors were mostly benevolent, or at least tried to be fair. But students were at their mercy. Well, no longer. In the new woke disposition, students have the power to cancel professors. One student alone who feels disrespected or unsafe can bring a professor to his knees. But students do not rely on the strength of one; they join together in disciplinary, racial, religious, and ethnic groups who act in concert to attack any professor with whose ideas they disagree. It is professors, or teachers, or actors, or administrators, or government officials who now face the wraith of whole disciplines, races, religious groups, and ethnic groups. The tables have been turned, and now it is the students who have the power, and can use it to express their woke righteous indignation. And they are enjoying it tremendously.
Traditionally academic teaching and research were the goals of the university, and the professoriate were the university’s heart. No more. The explicit goal of universities today, mandated by governments, is woke “social justice,” “anti-racism,” “anti-colonialism,” and “reconciliation” with “oppressed minorities.” For the first time, administrations have become the heart of the universities. To carry out their new task, they had to hire many new staff members with new functions, the “equity, diversity, and inclusion” officers who would enforce “social justice,” police thought and speech, and cancel dissidents, as well as coddle “marginalized minorities.” Demographically as well as in power, administrations grew as the professoriate shrank. The woke revolution is a treasure trove for university administrations.
“Social justice,” “anti-racism,” and “equity” (read: identical outcomes), and, just to be sure, the “existential threat of climate change,” became the banner behind which the unified oligarchy of education, media, industry, finance, and government—particularly but not exclusively the Democrats and deep state in the USA and the Liberal Party, New Democrats, and Greens in Canada—suppressed democracy, silenced critics, defined half of the population as “internal terrorists,” and set the security agencies against them. “Social justice” etc. is the cover to take monopoly power and control over the population. This allows them to continue to collude with the Chinese Communist Party to gain even more wealth, even as they act to impoverish and marginalize American citizens through opening borders to poor and unskilled illegal aliens, transferring of jobs overseas, blocking the justice system and freeing criminals, locking down small businesses to “protect” the population of an unending pandemic, and crushing “America First.” America Last is the motto of the tyrannical oligarchy.
But you know all of that. So what are you going to do? If we do not mobilize and fight back the oligarchy is going to continue eating our lunch and sending our dinner to China. Have we become too soft to stand up for our own interests, our countries, democracy, freedom? It isn’t quite over, not yet. At least be heard, while there are still places where we can speak. Before the security agencies shut us down completely.