Ominous Stirrings in the World of Woke
by David Ashton
The ideology of “equality, diversity, inclusion”, which some call “Wokeism”[i], is spreading into every nook and cranny of our national life. Perceptive observers compare it to a new “faith”[ii], recently adjunct to Black Lives Matter militancy. It has no formal creed, unlike traditional Christianity or orthodox Islam but its adherents and missionaries repeat the requisite jargon better than neophytes of yesteryear Sunday School and, sadly, with deeper psychological internalization than thought-reform penitents of Communist China. Some converts seem almost deranged[iii] and invoke as their icon an African-American criminal “martyred” in dubious circumstances[iv].
Who are these “engineers of the human soul” (to quote Stalin)? Conveniently, in a pull-out section, the New Statesman has illustrated the “equitable future”[v] in store for the hapless inhabitants of these isles by quoting several woke supporters. Commencing with the ridiculous statistical complaint that the current pandemic has exposed such “underlying inequalities” as that half of “black, Asian and ethnic minority” women are worried about their work prospects, the magazine advocates proactive plans for “equality of gender, race, disability and class”.
‘Today’s woke progressives take their ideological marching orders from European thinkers of decades ago, such as the Italian Antonio Gramsci and the German-American Herbert Marcuse’[vi]. Their “race, gender, class” formula, initially hatched during the sixties in a US campus/sociology movement, aimed to undermine western national, cultural and parental structures, and spread internationally as “critical studies” through “agenda-networking”. Targets specified for collective mobilization were women, students, migrants, sexual and ethnic minorities, especially “black people”[vii]. The “differently abled” were bolted on subsequently.
First up in the socialist weekly was MP and Shadow Minister for Women and Equality, Marsha de Cordova, who wants mandatory disability and pay gap reports, deprecating, because “data-led”, the government’s approach to racial, religious and sex-orientation group disparities. Politics, she insists, must be “representative” not just of ethnicity and disability, but also of “class”. “Equality” must be part of our thinking and “everything we do.”
According to New Statesman’s special projects editor Alona Ferber [viii], de Cordova, who is black and is registered blind, became a shadow minister when a spotlight shone on “inequalities, both between the genders and in terms of racism, in health outcomes” around the time that “the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd led to greater acknowledgment of systemic racism… And these things intersect.”
London Transport’s Staynton Brown, whose staff already represents “different protected characteristics”, also maintains that “the killing of George Floyd galvanised people” to “go further and faster in tackling discrimination” and become “more proactively anti-racist.” Kate Fergusson, at Pinsent Mason’s legal services, concurs. “Events such as the tragic killing of George Floyd’, she avers, “underscored the need for change.”
BBC “Creative Diversity” boss Miranda Wayland announced a £100 million budget for on-screen “diverse content” and an offscreen workforce plan for “50 per cent gender, 20 per cent ethnicity, and 12 per cent disability”. Similar pay for similar work is fair enough. But behind the gender dogma is Marxist “emancipation” which entails the introduction of the “entire” female sex into “public industry”[ix], social care of any children resulting from coital freedom, and abolition of the traditional family home.
The notion of women existing for commodity production rather than motherhood is prevalent among corporate capitalists not just revolutionary socialists. Global boss of TransferWise (“money without borders”) Jihan Ahmed frets over “detailed requirements” in “masculine language” that deter women from an engineering career, while Tesco’s Alessandra Bellini proudly offers “gender neutral language” and “additional” diversity & inclusion training for supermarket managers, thereby moving business towards “a more inclusive Britain”.
Dr Matthew Connell, policy and public affairs director at the Chartered Insurance Institute, thinks that the BLM protests were “a sobering reminder that the struggle for racial equality is still ongoing” and that “systemic change needs to happen.” We must “keep driving forward the momentum on inclusion and focus on the intersectional nature of it”, he maintains.
Tireless campaigner and demonstrator Larissa Kennedy, NUS President, chips in. She urges her generation to go “beyond diversity” and “fight” for “gender justice”, in order to “implement systemic changes that redress the historical exploitation and erasure of women and non-binary people”. Lauding the “organisational might” of school climate-strikes, university rent-strikes, Black Lives Matter & the Women’s March, she rejects “neoliberal individualism” and upholds “collective power” to “transform” the whole world. Meantime, there are less-global issues like “anti-black dress-code policies with hair requirements steeped in misogynoir.”[x] Of course, we need “an intersectional lens” when, for instance, forcing employers to improve pay-gaps impacting “women and non-binary folk at the margins – those of colour, those who are disabled and those who are LGBTQ+.”
The New Statesman supplement aside, Ofcom “hate” speech regulations already extend to “all forms of expression” based on “intolerance” of “disability, ethnicity, social origin, sex, gender, gender reassignment, nationality, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, colour, genetic features, language, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth or age”, prompting historian Dominic Sandbrook to ask what might come next: “Disapproval of mass immigration? Criticism of Black Lives Matter?” [xi]
Wokeism has captured one organisation after another, from the British Library and National Trust to Historic England and the Royal Horticultural Society. Anglican Archbishop Cottrell, who thinks Jesus was “black” and supports “same-sex relationships”[xii], considers the Church of England leadership “too white.” [xiii] Likewise, actor and comedian Sir Lenworth George Henry, PhD CBE, protests that UK TV is ‘too white’; The death of GeorgeFloyd…made him realise that “what we need is power…What we need is fundamental, integral, systemic change”[xiv].
Universities dumb down entry qualifications in the name of equality and shut down free speech, while the Queen’s English has expired before both the Queen and the English, but regarding it as a superior standard is “racist” anyway. [xv] Publishers spew forth more and more conformist matter for teachers and children alike, and “cancel” dissident writers. They have yet to print a formal Book of Common Protest for their congregations, from college “safe spaces” to BLM/Antifa street battles [xvi], but the new clerisy, as demonstrated above, evidently recite from the same hymn sheet.
Though not enforced by rack or stake, this new secular religion is imposed no less widely than public religion during the long-past arch-episcopacies of Arundel or Bonner, its top-down promulgation ranging from Equality Act “protections” to Big Tech opinion-control [xvii], plus your local constabulary and classrooms. But help is at hand. Welcome debunkers of woke’s ideological presumptions include James Lindsay, ‘What is Critical Race Theory?’, 10 January 2021, online; Charles Murray, Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class (2020); Byron M. Roth, The Perils of Diversity (2014); Murray Rothbard, Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays (2000); Kenneth Minogue, Alien Powers (2008); Steven Goldberg, Why Men Rule (1999); and Abigail Shrier, Irreversible Damage (2020).
[i] ‘Woke’, Wikipedia, online; ‘Fighting ‘Wokeism’ & the origin of Slug.com,’ online
[ii] E.g Max Funk, ‘Wokeism – The New Religion of the West,’ convergemedia.org, 4 August 2020; Edward Dutton, ‘The Next Great Awakening,’ Radix, 27 June 2020, online; Paul Embery, ‘Despised: Why the Modern Left Loathes the Working Class’ (2020). Search also online comments by Alexander Beiner, David Bern, Casey Chalk, Helen Pluckrose, Robby Starbuck, &c.
[iii] Douglas Murray, The Madness of Crowds (2021); ‘Anarchy is breaking out’, Mail Online, 14 June 2020; Frank Furedi, ‘Why did the protests over George Floyd turn into mass hysteria?’, 21 June 2020, online; Aram Bakshian Jr, ‘The National Media Is Fanning Hysteria About Racism’, The National Interest, 5 June 2020, online
[iv] E.g. Dr Simukai Chigudu, Rhodes Must Fall tub-thumper, appointed Professor of African Politics, describes his trauma following the ‘brutal torture and murder of George Floyd’, empathy with ‘other Black people’ under ‘racist regimes’, and his demand that ‘Oxford, Britain, and the west must be decolonised (The Guardian, 14 January 2021). For alternative views, see Jim Goad, ‘George Floyd: The Big Lie,’ Taki’s Magazine, 9 August 2020, online; Arthur Kemp, The War Against Whites (2020) pp.3-40.
[v] ‘Spotlight’ Supplement, 8 January 2021
[vi] Mike Gonzalez, ‘The Revolution Is Upon Us’, Law & Liberty, 4 September 2020, online; Kevin Portteus, ‘The War on America’, The American Mind, Claremont Institute, 2 September 2020; Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds & Firebrands (2019), pp.220-222
[vii] Michael William, The Genesis of Political Correctness (2016) p.99; Dinesh D’Souza, ‘The Philosopher of Antifa’, The Epoch Times, 23 June 2020
[viii] Alona Ferber, ‘counter-extremism’ specialist & former managing editor at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
[ix] Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, Selected Works (London/Moscow 1968), pp.510-511
[x] See ‘Misogynoir’, Wikipedia, for an explanation of this ‘intersectional’ term.
[xi] Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail, 5 January 2021
[xii] For an unfashionable scriptural perspective on homosexuality, despite downplaying biological factors, see the scholarly studies in print & online by Dr Robert A. J. Gagnon; also, Stephen Green, The Sexual Dead-End (1992)
[xiii] Sunday Times, 5 July 2020
[xiv] Sunday Times, 3 January 2021; BBC News, 8 February 2008 online
[xv] David Derbyshire, ‘How English as we know it is disappearing’, Mail Online, 27 March 2008; Richard W. Bailey, Images of English (1993); Cockburn, ‘U Chicago declares that English is racist’, The Spectator [US], 15 September 2020, online. J. R. Thorpe, ‘[The English language] contributes to structural racism’, Bustle, 5 October 2017, online
[xvi] Trevor Pateman (ed), Counter Course (1972), p.389; Graeme Turner, British Cultural Studies (2002) is a revealing guide to subsequent subversion by a professorial exponent. Kyle Shideler (ed), Unmasking Antifa (2020)
[xvii] Tom Slater, ‘How Big Tech took over’, Spiked, 15 January 2021, online; Neill Ferguson, ‘The tech supremacy’, The Spectator, 16 January 2021; ‘The sound of silence’, The Economist, 16 January 2021; Allum Bokhari, #Deleted (2021)
An explanation of note [xvi]. “Counter Course” was perhaps the most “leftist” of all the Penguin publications during that period, including 90 pages of bibliography in minute print, subdivided into 30 sections, concluding with “Tactics & Strategy”, the reference given here to an instruction manual on bomb-making &c.
Penguin Books were on the whole a magnificent achievement, with handy, neatly bound paperbacks, so many collectible today. The blue Pelicans especially remain a store of valuable information, beautiful children’s books (Kaye Webb), then the translated classics (Emile Rieu), all wonderful, even unique. However, in the pre-war period and during the Russo-German pact, Penguins published a number of tracts sympathetic to Soviet communism. After the war it had a time when it had a symbotic relationship with student-directed revolutionary stuff, especially of course “anti-racism” in its African library (Ronald Segal). Of course, these publications, from Bukharin’s “ABC of Communism” to Marcuse’s “Essay on Liberation” are useful to anti-Marxist researchers.
A recent development from Penguin, on board with the neoracism of the “antiracists.”
I would just think about using the word “equity” in the first sentence here. It is the preferred term of the ideologues described here. Equality sounds to classical-liberal, implying equality of opportunity and fairness under law. Woke ideologues, on the other hand, attribute prejudice and malice as the reasons for any actual, real-world inequalities that it observes. Equality is about fairness and natural rights. Equity seeks equal outcomes, and in instances where they don’t exist attributes racism, sexism, etc. as the cause rather than differences in interest, effort, ability.
** “sounds too” didn’t catch the typo
The ambiguity of “equality” in the British context is part of the deception. Equality of opportunity would mean that Chinese do better than Jamaicans and Bangladeshis. Since it is “racist” to think that human beings are biologically different, comparative ethnic failure, especially black under-achievement in (say) science rather than sport, has to be blamed on “structural racism”, i.e. the native whites.