Woke Ideology

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Augmented version of a progressive, emancipatory critique of the woke ideology.


= this is best seen as a behavioral grammar or the patterns that explain judgments and behaviours based on the 24 episodes of the Benjamin Boyce documentary series at Evergreen State College in 2017

“Based on an extensive study of nearly two years of the original expressions of woke sentiments, I think we can distill the following principles that lay behind most of the communication and behavior we can witness by the adherents of this movement. I have preferred highlighting the inner consistency of the ideology rather than the inner contradictions.

“Every statement on my part is based on multiple elements of evidence, and is not just anecdotal, but crucially, it is not based on the theorization of Critical Race Theory, but on the actual practice on a day to day basis, as evidenced by incidents and recorded public discourse.”

The first source for confirming evidence are the events documented at Evergreen State College in 2017, documented in 24 episodes by Benjamin Boyce; For a quick summary, we recommend the 3-part documentary by Mike Nayna which focuses on the persecution of Brett Weinstein.

For the theoretical concepts, see our critical review of CRT theory by mostly progressive authors, via our Category: Identity Politics

— Michel Bauwens

The Oppressiveness of Choice and Freedom of Intersectionality

Non-Agentive Personal Identity: People are largely determined by their membership in human groups. These are characterized by biological markers that have social consequences, i.e. race, gender, etc ... Individuals may possess different markers that should be seen in addition to each other.

Non-Agentive Interpersonal Identity: How we are treated by life and society is largely a function of these markers. The ‘intersectional’ addition of these markers create a hierarchy between human beings in social settings, which consists of levels of power, and levels of oppression. In any human relation, there is one that oppresses and one that is oppressed. This is an inescapable human condition.

Group-Belonging Determined Historical Identity: People with less negative markers or more positive markers are privileged, not only in the present time but as a result of past privilege and oppression by people with the same characteristics. Thus, in the present, these groups must atone for the sins of their group in the past, and their future descendants will have to atone for the present generation. There is no end to this process. These processes should be institutionalized in the public and private sphere. Any dissent is illegitimate, and should be considered hate speech, even when it is expressed in the privacy of the home. Hatred of the oppressor by the oppressed can never be considered hate speech and should on the contrary be encouraged.

The Determinism of Power Imbalances

Personal Determinism: There can be no expression of individuality that is not determined by these markers, hence every expression by any person is exclusively an expression of power. Life and communication are power plays that can only be won or lost. Always look for inequality, there can be no equality between persons. Such oppressive power must continuously be met by a greater counter-power, and there is strength in number. Such behaviour should be publicly called out whenever and wherever possible.

Interpersonal Determinism: For an individual characterized by more of these ‘negative markers’, means to be oppressed and discriminated against, but also to have more experience and knowledge about the nature of human society. The true knowledge is always on the side of the oppressed individual, and having more markers of oppression means knowing more. This is not subject to discussion, and the expression of any feeling by the oppressed is the equivalent of unchallengeable truth.

Group-Based Historical Determinism: There can be no human relation that is not determined by these markers, hence every relation is always one of relative oppression. In any unequal relation, there is an oppressor that must atone and listen, and an oppressed that needs to be listened to in service of liberation. Neutrality is not an option. For example, if one is not constantly engaged in antiracist activity, one is effectively a racist. This can be applied to all markers. A ‘oppressor’ person must atone for the oppression by his group, and can do this through confession and admission of guilt, in a public setting, in which that person will be shamed; but can atone by becoming an ally of the oppressed. This engagement does not mean the oppressor can be liberated from his status, not now and not in the future. This is emphatically NOT a path of redemption, only of atonement, an equivalent to paying back an eternal debt.

Denial of the incommensurability of Individual Human Experience

Intersectional markers determine membership of groups that are hierarchically ranked according to their level of presumed oppression. Though determined by biological markers, these identities are political; A person that is part of such a group but does not express the presumed ideology of the group, is considered to be in betrayal of that group membership. For those that belong to a privileged group, when they express their sentiments, they express the power of the group, and the desire and need to maintain that power. They are not expressing anything that should be considered a authentically personal expression, unique to their person, that would express a complex personal history and agency.

From this follows that, people with privilege must know when to listen, and when to show their appreciation for the expression of oppression. At no time must they expect to be peers with active expressions of their sentiments, as these can only be sentiments of privilege.

Priority of the Periphery

Epistemic Priority of the Periphery: In all circumstances, people with more negative markers should be listened to, they have a gnosis, a knowledge, that is unattainable by people with less negative markers.

Moral Priority of the Periphery: Allyship actively excludes equality between privileged and underprivileged. Allyship is service to the underprivileged and their leaders. Failure to exhibit such obedience is a proof of oppressive behaviour.

Scientific Priority of the Periphery: Any research or research findings that question the truth of these premises must be suppressed, as they are expressions of privilege and hatred. Funding must be withheld, the data must not be available to the wider public and the research findings must be retracted. Scientists are responsible not just for their own findings of facts, but for the potential misinterpretations that they can generate. If some oppressed people misinterpret the findings, it is the researchers that should apologize and retract. Failure to do so should result in the loss of employment.

Perpetual Vulnerability And Its Solutions

Purity of the Oppressed: People who are oppressed cannot express phobia or hatred. This claim should not be interpreted as infalitizing people without privilege, nor as claiming that they are less fully human than people who can express phobia and hatred. Any claim that persons who are oppressed have expressed phobia or hatred is a misinterpretation of liberatory speech.

Inculpability of the Oppressed: Victims are allowed to use repressive and oppressive acts as they are in the service of liberation. Any expectation that victims not yell, swear, or berate others is “tone policing” and must be rejected as an imposition of norms that victims can never fully learn and, moreover, should never be expected to learn. This is not condescending or paternalistic, nor a way for those in power to keep victims from realizing their power in spaces to which access is contingent on conformity with conventions of decorum and respect. This is liberative. Because Western conventions of decorum and respect have perpetuated patriarchy and white hegemony, the standards themselves must be rejected and new standards put in their place.

Fragility of Called-Out Oppressors: Any person of privilege who disagrees with the above premises is expressing the emotional distress of being called out for his/her privileges. This distress can be expressed by critique and dissent, which should be seen as a manipulative expression of the desire to remain privileged; or by flight or silence. These persons should be convinced or forced to admit to their privilege and sanctioned if necessary.

The Call to Cancel: In order to obtain diversity and inclusion of the oppressed, we must exclude dissent, which is an expression of oppression. Words can hurt, words can kill, the experienced feelings of the victims are the unchallengeable standard of truth in these matters. The expression of disagreement by persons of privilege is an act of aggression against people without privilege. This includes asking for evidence or logical reasoning to substantiate any accusation. Requests for evidence are themselves an expression of privilege and oppression and should be vigorously suppressed. Disagreement with these premises is an expression of phobia or hatred and must be suppressed. Therefore, dissent should be policed and sanctioned.

The Uniqueness of Today’s Systemic Oppression

The Virtue of Historical Naïveté: The oppression of humanity started mostly 400 years ago, by the people of a particular race, except for gender oppression which precedes it and is the ultimate cause of all other forms of oppression. Previous oppressions, which were done by people who are oppressed, are largely immaterial to an understanding of reality today; these earlier forms only look repressive and are used to justify privilege today. Knowledge about these forms should not be encouraged.

The Primacy of the Present: Today, the system of oppression has reached its apex: there has never been a moment of greater oppression than today. Proofs to the contrary are merely a means to deny that reality and are themselves part of the oppression.

The Redefinition of Equity: The remedy against privilege and oppression is the implementation of equity, beginning now. Equity entails the elimination of any disparities between race-based or gender-based distributions in positions of power, in comparison to the general populace, if and only if those disparities favor people with privilege. Any disparities that do not favor people with privilege should be celebrated as the unique accomplishments of an historically oppressed people. Every institution should hire experts to initiative the overhaul of their programs in ways consistent with goals of equity, beginning immediately.

The Reallocation of Resources: To achieve equity, all resources, including speech rights, must be allocated according to the markers of group membership. Full equality of outcome should be the goal. Any meritocratic requirement is by definition oppressive. Math is oppressive and should be culturalized. Testing and exams are oppressive. Working and studying hard are markers of a culture of privilege and should be avoided. Degrees in any domain should reflect the relative weight of any population with markers of oppression.

Proportional Rights Can Solve Systemic Oppression

Re-Allocation of Rights: In any group meeting, anti-oppression processes should hold sway. This means that the people with the least privilege should at all times have priorities in terms of speech rights and allocation of other resources. People of privilege should always be humble and listen to people with less privilege. In group settings of people without privilege, they should only speak if asked so. Since they are the oppressors, they should never see themselves as equals in such group settings, but as people that must atone. Silence is advised, unless one is asked to express agreement. Under no circumstances should oppressive disagreements be expressed, except as confessions of guilt.

Pre-Justification of the Oppressed: People without privilege have the right to express their lived experiences in any form, including expressions of rage, destruction of property (that this is actual violence is merely a matter of perception, violence originating from victims is not true violence), and the occasional expression of personal violence (systemic causality should not be understood as the structures being bad and needing to change, but it should be understood that every single participant is subjectively evil and responsible for all past, present and future crimes of their oppressive group, that is exclusively what ‘systemic’ means). Any attempt to constrain property destruction or other expressions of rage is “peace policing” and should be rejected. All expressions of rage should be treated as cathartic and part of the process of emancipation.

Woke Re-Education: People of privilege are socialized in a culture of privilege, and their expressions should be maximally interpreted as statements of power and contempt. They should be educated into the details of potential microaggressions and practice internal policing of the tone and expression of their speech and thinking. Microaggressions are defined by the people who declare to be victims of it. Intention is immaterial. It is paramount to interpret every potential microaggression in the most negative possible way, and argue without hesitation that it results from bad intentions. There are no innocent micro-aggressions, they are tactics of oppression.

Preventative Woke Education: To reduce the degree to which privilege is inculcated from a young age, people with privilege markers must have reduced access to resources and speech rights in daycare and education facilitates. They should nevertheless be reminded that people of privilege, no matter their age or personal experience, are oppressors by virtue of the privileges of their ancestors. Our educational institutions must reflect this reality and must actively educate people about liberation, by suppressing privilege and people with privilege. There can not be an equality of speech rights for the privileged.

Sex and Gender Idealism

Sexual differentiation and determinism does not exist; men exist and they are oppressors, women do not really exist, or if they exist, they exist through mere declaration of chosen identity. Gender identity is the choice of any individual, based on a simple statement that can change at any moment. This is expressed by a choice of pronouns that is obligatory speech for all other people. People who refuse intimate relations with such self-identified are expressing their hatred of difference. Gender transitions must be encouraged without any interference.

Separate is More Equal

Racial Segregation, Yes: Race is the primary expression of differentiation. The mixing of race in interpersonal relationships should be avoided, especially between oppressors and oppressed. Adoption of children of another race should be interpreted as an expression of oppression.

Intersectional Segregation, Yes: To avoid oppression, inter-group relations should be segregated. Meetings should be held between people of the same group characteristics to prevent privilege from intimidating the free expression of feelings of oppression. The ideal society without privilege should be organized as a system where every individual belongs to the proper intersectional group and receives societal resources according to their membership in these groups. These groups should maximally organize themselves without interference and contact with other groups, especially groups with privilege.

No Cultural Appropriation: Oppressed groups create cultures and cultural expressions that are their group property. Emulating these cultural expressions is an act of theft and cultural appropriation by privileged groups and should be discouraged and sanctioned. Practicing yoga is an act of active colonialism, dressing inappropriately should be called out; hairstyles should be racially and culturally determined.

Emancipatory Uniformity: Individuals within these groups should express the culture of their group and not express the cultural and political ideas expressed by people and cultures of privilege. Identity is above all determined by the group and is political. If you have biological markers consistent with a historically oppressed group but disagree with these premises, then your biological markers do not qualify you for membership of the group. In that case, your obvious biological identity is fake and your behaviour is tantamount to treason. Identity is not really biological; it is political, in the sense that carrying biological markers carries with it political obligations of group agreement.

Moving Forward

Perpetual Revolution: Given the length of the period of oppression in the past, it is not realistic to determine the end of this type of societal organization in any foreseeable future. It is for all practical purposes, meant to be the final societal form.

Systematic Denial of Class Aspects: Always ask for racial (‘white’) privilege, never ask for class or money privilege. Any recognition that racial outcomes are influenced by class determinants, which would suggest commonality of struggle between the workers and the oppressed regardless of specific biological markers, should be minimized. Whenever possible, all data should be interpreted as reinforcing the narrative of racial and gender and other forms of intersectional oppression and exploitation.

No Holds Barred Engagement: Any critique of the above premises, in part or in total, should be actively fought. If possible, these deviant people should be called in, and have a chance to confess. If not, they should be actively cancelled and lose their right to employment and expression. These people cannot be allowed to oppress by their dissent.

Exclusive Lens of Power and Privilege: When you encounter critique, never forget it is exclusively a matter of power and privilege, that comes from an ill intention. Do not look for any other form of intention as privilege excludes good intentions.

The Woke Duty to Denounce: Actively seek out potential hidden expressions of these ill intentions and call them out when you find them. If they are not readily available, seek them out in the online archives of social media, no matter how singular or old they are. Do not let these targets defend themselves under any circumstances and the defenses itself are expressions of oppression. Under no circumstances can these sins of expression or omission be forgiven. Lack of denunciation of privilege and oppression is a sure sign of ill intent. Never choose any charitable interpretation, as their true intention is hidden, and as a person without privilege, your interpretation will be the right one. People of privilege do not suffer, and cannot really be harmed, so do not hesitate.

No Right to Comfort: If people with privilege seem to suffer during this social transformation, you should see it as a rebalancing of the scales, for the sins of their forefathers and their own in their earlier life." Given all the pain they have inflicted — intentionally and accidentally — oppressors have no right to comfort. Do not let them weaponize their tears to expropriate emotional labor from you or, especially, from any oppressed peoples. Do not empathize, as their ancestors did not empathize with you. That was their time; this is yours.


Towards a Class Analysis of the Woke Movement

Michel Bauwens:

Here are some preliminary notes about the meaning of the emergence of the woke movement in the US and elsewhere.

I define the woke movement as a social movement that:

  • Claims to want to end unequal power dynamics and the end of oppression and privilege by majority groups towards minority groups, with the main privileged groups believed to be white males, who prop the unjust domination of the West
  • Claims that to obtain this equality, we must practice equity, i.e. a form of systematic reverse discrimination of resources so that the oppressed groups can appropriate their right share of resources, principally through antiracist activity. Resources must be unequally divided with a preference for the oppressed groups.
  • Claims that the primary determinant of human life and one’s position in the social order, depends on group membership, which largely determine individual identity and the course of life.
  • Claims the moral high ground and practices moral outrage as one of its principal activist tactics; calls for censorship and denunciations/cancellations are the most common tactic to obtain ideological hegemony.

The movement originated as one of the outcomes of postmodern teachings in academia, through the mediation of Critical Race Theory, and its social origination is in the youth strata of the elite universities, i.e. the children of the most privileged strata of the population, allied with the professional strata of minority groups. It is also supported by the cognitive urban strata of the population, especially the post-millennial generational cohort.

The aims of the movement are massively supported by the 1) ‘diversity and inclusion’ bureaucracy’ and administrations of US universities, corporations and federal institutions (particularly HR sectors but extended to all forms of administrative leadership); 2) massive funding by philanthro-capitalism and corporate leaderships (‘woke capitalism’); 3) the political leadership of ‘progressive neoliberalism’; 4) the mainstream mass media.

The above sociological orientation does not suggest that it has any characteristic of traditional emancipatory movements, which are generally supported by working class populations. Moreover, its political demands have immediate and obvious effects that are hugely detrimental to the poorer populations of all genders and races. Their demands favour the elite and upwardly mobile sections of minority populations. Many of its tactics are hugely reminiscent of the reactionary social movements of the 1930s (deplatforming and cancellation of political dissent, desire for caste-based allocation and organization of society, racial scapegoating), although there are obvious differences in its sociological basis. What is common is a conjucture of societal 'descent', creating populations that fear social regress, which generally does not create 'progressive' aims and outcomes.

So here is my attempt to explain its emergence at this particular historical conjuncture.

Global capitalism has entered a downward spiral of systemic crises that has hampered its ability to satisfy the desire of populations for material betterment; this is especially so in the Western countries, which have since the 1980s sacrificed their own working classes to enable globalization.

Originally, the neoliberal compact of the 80s, which replaced the social welfare compact after WWII, was based on an alliance of the ruling classes with the new identity politics, i.e the cultural changes demanded by the youth cohorts that fought the 1968 revolutions, and the subsequent demands for egalitarian civil rights by racial minorities, women, sexual practice minorities, etc …, while simultaneous de-industrialising the West to eliminate working class power and demands. This led to huge advances in civil rights, to systemic anti-discrimination practices in institutions, and to the growth of a upwardly mobile middle class emerging from these minorities, though at the detriment of the stagnation or decline of working class wages.

But as of 2003, resource prices stopped their downward trend and started augmenting, and in 2008, the global financial crisis occured, seriously affecting the redistributional capacity of the state. Neoliberal leaderships such as those of Obama, resulted in choices in favour of the saving the financial elite, at the cost of minorities and working classes (see the housing policies of Obama, which particularly affected the housing stock of the African-American population).

In particular, upward educational mobility was seriously affected, creating a generation riddled with student debt, and with very precarious prospects. This is particularly the case for minority students which saw their upward mobility endangered.

In such a conjuncture, social and economic prospects become not only negative, but can be seen as a zero sum game; psychological and sociological uncertainty leads to identity issues and a search for protective communities that can take various forms:

1) traditional left-wing urban populism, as represented by Sanders

2) ethno-nationalistic re-identification with the nation state, as represented by Trump

3) identitarian politics, as represented by the woke movement.

Option 1 is the most hated by the elites, since it requires substantial distribution of resources towards the working poor; option 2 has become attractive to rural populations, small business holders and the native working class and this movement gave us Trump; but to a substantial degree, Trump represents giving up Empire to save the Nation, which is contrary to the neoliberal choice of giving up the Nation for the sake of Empire. Trump represents a rival alliance than the current neoliberal compact.

And this is what makes option 3 so attractive to the elite. Option 3 represents a new compact of the elites, to make hard a new redistribution of the spoils with the upwardly mobile minorities, but at the cost of sacrificing the working poor of all genders and colours.

It is the cheapest option, that allows the ruling elites 1) to maintain the Empire by expanding its social base with new middle class representation; 2) to avoid more massive egalitarian redistribution.

Giving the alliance of minority elites a stake in the system creates a new sociological compact, and expands elite buy-in, creating a bulwark against majority demands that are much more dangerous and costly.

More information

  • Why be concerned with a few thousand cancellations, rituals of degradation and berufsverbot for dissenters ? Because it's just always a beginning, not where it ends. Read this absolutely stunning essay by James Lindsay: Psychopathy and the Origins of Totalitarianism