by Ani O’Brien
In the absence of a better word with which to refer to the rabid activists who claim progressivism while demanding adherence to an increasingly prescriptive set of political beliefs, I call them “woke”. With its roots in Black American slang, the term originally denoted a person or a group who were enlightened on social justice issues and awake to the inequalities in America. As words do, it has evolved from a self-descriptor to more of a term the fed up masses use to describe the drivers of cancel culture and identity politics throughout the anglosphere and indeed most of the West.
Wokeism claims Marxism as not only an influence, but as foundational political doctrine on which their various social justice issues are based. So fierce are their claims on modern Marxism they have all but consumed many of the traditional Marxist organisations and re-educated the world on their new brand of socialist theory. However, even someone with the loosest understanding of the writings of Karl Marx and the complicated history of his movement is able to discern some serious flaws in the woke iteration. Not only does it differ from the previously accepted principles and aims of Marxism, stark contradictions can be seen in much of the behaviour exhibited by wokeists.
For a group of people with an aggressive aversion to binary concepts e.g. binary biological sex, wokeism has pounced on the binary tension between oppressor and oppressed that is at the core of Marxist theory. It is perhaps the only place in which they can be said to really resemble the political theory they have claimed. Unfortunately, however, these usually middle-upper class, educated elites have little time for the analysis of class that is supposed to underpin this exploiter/exploited and oppressor/oppressed concept. Rather they will apply it to whichever pet social justice issue they are espousing at the time.
The woke appropriate the struggles of various marginalised groups and collect their oppressions in order to rail against their perceived oppressors. They have entrenched themselves in the politics of race and transgenderism in particular and while there are of course some valid discussions to be had in regards to inequalities and discrimination faced by people of colour and transgender people, the narrative set by woke activists is riddled with disingenuity and gaslighting.
It is time that society catches up and realises that wokeism is not the movement for the disadvantaged and oppressed. Wokeism is the establishment. It is inextricably linked to corporate politics and capitalism. Woke activists have disproportionate social power in today’s fraught world. They are the establishment in the culture wars. Consider this:
If you can get an ‘I Love JK Rowling’ billboard pulled down in less than 24 hours after just one complaint or an ‘I Love JK Rowling’ train station advertisement pulled after zero official complaints, you have significant social power.
If you can have people you disagree with permanently banned from social media sites for stating basic facts, you are the oppressor, not the oppressed.
If you can have Wikipedia pages deleted simply because the factual information does not suit your ideological position or hurts your feelings, you are powerful.
If you can threaten people with rape, assault, murder, and all manner of other violence and have these actions justified because your political beliefs are deemed more compliant than the person you are attacking, you are the establishment.
If you have managed to convince massive corporations that they should re-educate themselves and their staff, paint themselves rainbow, and cancel any dissenters when these same companies refuse to even pay their factory workers a living wage, you are not the oppressed one. I doubt very much if Marx would consider the validation of the identities of wealthy, university-educated, bourgeois brats a priority over the struggle of the proletariat.
If you can call the police because someone says something you don’t like or retweets a cheeky poem and the police will use scarce resources to investigate and punish the person despite the law not justifying it, you are a nark with too much power.
If the police are bending over backwards to prove how woke they are – wearing rainbows and painting their cars – when they are supposed to be apolitical, you have captured the power to dictate their narratives.
When the Privacy Commissioner abuses his power of office in order to write a hit piece for a media platform about a group women protesting a law you’re trying to sneak in undemocratically because he has a family member who would benefit, you have power.
When government agencies enact your agenda even after a law enabling it is stopped, you are significantly privileged.
When celebrities fall over themselves to parrot your talking points and condemn your enemies, you are the mainstream; you are the establishment.
When you get plenty of positive airtime for your cause on mainstream media and news TV even though you call for the dismantling of the police, court system, prisons, and the state, you have significant power.
When you are able to take 12 women to human rights court for refusing to wax your balls, you are a chauvinistic narcissist and the state is pandering to you.
If you are able to get funding pulled from a rape shelter because you are enraged that they are a women’s only organisation, you have horrendously skewed priorities and are wielding power over the distribution of capital.
If you can commit a heinous sexual violence crime and then simply identify as a woman and be moved to a women’s prison, you have the power of a judge over your incarceration conditions.
If you contact the employers of those you dislike or disagree with in order to implore them to terminate their employment, you are consciously wielding power against workers. There is nothing Marxist about this behaviour. It is weaponizing capitalism so as to silence dissenters.
If you can propagate the lie that feeding children off-label drugs intended for cancer treatment and sterilisation is safe and even vital because it suits your agenda and health agencies, governments, and NGOs blindly agree, you are morally bankrupt and frighteningly powerful.
If you can undermine the hard fought protections and legal wins of same-sex attracted people simply by redefining them to include heterosexuals who identify as gay, you are no friend to LGB people; you are the oppressor. When you demonise lesbians for refusing males no matter how they identify, you are more alike to incels and MRAs than Marxists.
If you are demanding that the sporting opportunities and competitions that women had to fight to establish now be “inclusive” male athletes who identify as women, you are the powerful taking from those who have little power. If you dismiss the health and safety concerns around males in female sport raised by medical, scientific, and legal experts, you are part of a long, long tradition of misogyny that has seen women’s safety relegated to bottom of the priority list.
Wokeism is performance. It is mostly educated, establishment youths LARPing the struggles of truly marginalised groups. It is time we stopped letting them pretend to be saviours when they’re just malignant power in a different outfit.