Victor Davis Hanson
Almost everything that has followed from the woke mass hysteria gripping the nation since 2020 has proved disastrous.
Wokeism destroys meritocracy in favor of forced equality of result—history’s prescription for civilizational decline.
If we continue with the woke hiring of administrators, air traffic controllers, ground crews, pilots, and rail workers, there will be even more news of disasters and near-miss airline crashes.
Wokeness demands a McCarthyite suppression of free expression. No wonder a woke FBI recently hired out social media censors to suppress stories it deemed unhelpful.
Soviet-style, wokeism mandates strict ideological party-line narratives under the cover of “science.” No wonder a woke government lied that requiring vaccines would prevent both infection and infectiousness.
Woke substitutes race for class in its eternal neo-Marxist quest to divide permanently the nation along racial lines, between victims and victimizers.
Yet wokeism recently has embarrassed itself as never before.
Take the COVID pandemic.
The Department of Energy has joined the FBI and is now attributing the origins of the pandemic to a leak of a likely engineered virus from the top-security virology lab in Wuhan, China.
Wokesters had long suppressed that reality, demonizing any who rejected its orthodox lies and spoke a larger truth: A dystopic China is not our global partner in greening the planet. Criticizing Stalinist China is not “racist.” China is not building a progressive society that is a model for others.
The ongoing environmental catastrophe in East Palestine, Ohio, following the train derailment revealed more woke moral bankruptcy.
Ostensibly the ensuing toxic spill and noxious plume have poisoned a poor and working-class small town. It should have galvanized the old Democratic Party that once voiced loud support for all green causes and championed the lower American classes.
But woke ended all that—substituting racial chauvinism for class concerns and ideology for genuine worry over the environment.
Woke dogma mandates that pollution and poverty are no longer concerns—if they affect the white poor who are stereotyped collectively as privileged victimizers.
Wokesters insisted that California is the greatest casualty of “climate change” defined as permanent drought.
Purported climate change required radical new bureaucratic rules and antidemocratic mandates over irrigation supplies, ground water, and contracted water deliveries from public reservoirs.
But then it rained. And it snowed. And it became terribly cold in supposedly scorching California.
Southern California is blanketed in snow.
Even so, for much of this cold, wet winter, state officials continued to claim the man-made drought was in full force. But finally, the most recent frigid, wet weather strangled the woke drought—and with it the credibility of our climate change Cassandras.
Americans sympathize with Ukraine’s plight as Vladimir Putin seeks to destroy its autonomy. But woke brooked no deviation from the party line that Ukraine’s Volodomyr Zelenskyy is a saint, while Russia is near bankrupt due to sanctions, and doomed to lose the war.
Accordingly, the United States was obligated to give Ukraine a veritable blank check given Kyiv’s commitment to freedom. Zelenskyy’s team now even talks of a victorious Ukrainian armored counteroffensive into Moscow’s Red Square.
This week, however, we are learning the Russian economy is nearly as strong now as it was before the war. It has mobilized 700,000 troops to ensure that eastern Ukraine becomes a Verdun-like killing field where tens of thousands more will be ground up.
Ukraine bars dissidents and maintains a government media monopoly. And the more Joe Biden promises another $2-3 billion in biweekly aid, the more Zelenskyy acts as if it is a pittance given what supposedly stingy Americans should be capable of supplying.
Meanwhile, at home, new woke protocols mandate race as essential rather than incidental to the human experience. Supposedly such fixations will heal racial wounds.
Under the new reparatory and compensatory diversity, equity, and inclusion rules, those deemed non-white were to be hired and admitted to colleges in greater numbers than their demographics. Even the old mandated proportional representation quotas were no longer enough.
But racial chauvinism, nonstop talk of reparations, and the new campus segregation have not resulted in better racial relations.
Polls show that there are greater racial tensions than ever before.
Data on interracial and hate crimes show even sharper racial disproportionalities. The incidence of both black violent criminal perpetrators and black crime victims are near historical highs.
Woke policies of no cash bail, downgrading felonies, and no jail time only spiked violent lawlessness.
Our elite universities are now fully woke. Almost weekly an embarrassing story further erodes their credibility and reputation.
Ridiculous lists of taboo words are issued on woke campuses, barring incendiary words like “American” and “immigrant.”
Bragging of segregated dorms, graduations, and safe spaces recalls Jim Crow, not woke racial utopias.
Grades and standards are deemed counterrevolutionary, even as incompetent graduates increasingly fail to impress employers.
Someday wokeism will disappear because it is inherently nihilistic and cannibalistic.
But in the meantime, Americans should end it now before it ends America first.
16 thoughts on “The Woke Wrecking Machine”
When I get totally depressed with the continued dead-end trends in modern Western society, I come to your site for a breath of sanity. I immediately feel better. Thank you.
I want to see a picture of Uictor riding this ball and chain.
All societies exist through the exchange of consumption and labor, the eternal question being who does the consumption and who does the labor. Technology, which is a nebulous term meaning any and everything, applies to both the production by labor and the consumption by society. The invention of a ‘plow’ pulled by several men marginally increased the production of foodstuffs. Invent a wheel to help spin cotton or wool into yard/thread yields an increase in cloth. Essentially technology means being able to do more with less but always there is a critical point where there is no “more” to increase.
The Enlightenment was all about the progress of mankind on the earthly plain, perfection after death was left to God. So we are left with the idea that progress in society leads to perfection in mankind, we just haven’t got there yet. Our problem is that we cannot collectively agree on just what perfection is, what we are suppose to become, how we reach it, and then what do we do when we are perfect. Once societies emerge out of the survival mode the need for a more perfect society emerges.
Conservatives have got scads of brilliant and courageous voices (including yours), the social media grip may be weakening, the Democrats have nobody with competence/credibility . . . there’s hope (that, as you say, Americans will end it before it ends America).
Having spent 30 years of my life in the US Navy flying from the decks of aircraft carriers, I don’t think I am naïve. Although I am a senior citizen and no longer in the active labor force, I am very much aware of most news worthy events all over the world.
I have to ask just where and when did all this “Wokism” start? Did it spring out of the Biden Regime? I can’t find that Wokism or other spelling variations are even in the dictionary. Surely, there must be some group or a few individuals that are responsible for this current curse on America. Wokism didn’t just spring out of nowhere, it has to have an origin (a father of Wokism) as well as names of the main people who fan the evil flames.
Perhaps Professor Hanson can give us a future essay relative to the origin of Wokism – it is a sickness in our society. America needs names or a group(s) that are responsible (the father of Wokism) that we can fight back against.
Jack its hard to pinpoint an onset, but Obama’s second term was all about wokeism.
I believe it started when Obama played whites against blacks with his disdain for police, his rush to judgement every time there was a black death at the hands of a white officer before due process was allowed to work its way through the system, and significantly, his promotion of the Black Lives Matter movement. Current contributors include our biased news media, our educational system that is more into indoctrination than educating, and our liberal leaders in the Democratic Party. The Biden administration has intensified the destruction of the woke movement on our society.
It should merit notice that much damage had been inflicted internally.This has been glaringly demonstrated by the National Institute of Health spending $241 million to promote ideological tests for diversity faculty recruitment.
It would be interesting to get your take on the work by James Lindsey. He makes a clear case that the left is a Marxist organization that has replaced the notion of class warfare, with that of identity-based warfare (aka race warfare). I have reached the conclusion that the left does not feel shame for their failures, because they judge success by only one metric, the consolidation of power. There is no other goal or morality to what they do. Dismantling our constitution and our republic are insignificant to them, because they view these as antiquated social constructs, they are mere obstacles to them. The left only wishes to advance their position, by gaining power. By this measure they are very successful. I recall reading in the book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a description of how Adolph Hitler gleefully danced all night after he was appointed Chancellor of Germany. It seemed odd to me, his childlike enthusiasm for winning, but his was a simple minded worldview. The left has a similar mindset (especially Joe Biden, who doesn’t believe in anything). They lust for power and control over the masses. That is all. They are seeking an absolutist government.
The pseudonymous blogger ‘Spandrell’ argued that the Left had replaced class with race in 2017, what he labelled ‘Biological Leninism’ or ‘Bioleninism’; three part essay and follow up interview here: https://spandrell.com/2017/11/14/biological-leninism/.
Thank you for pointing out many of the destructive outcomes of the wokeism wrecking ball. We live in fear of retribution if we question the woke ideologies permeating our schools, work places, and communities. We may have to sacrifice friendships, relationships, and our jobs by standing for what is right. I appreciate your courage to get this message out there.
Yes, we can all see the ship is sinking because we’re on it. However, just how do we stop it? We are on course for a Strongman, an iron fist type, that will tap the outrage and promise to crush “woke” and its purveyors. Historically, not a good situation.
Well said, Wes!
Wes, I really don’t like Rod Dreher’s stuff, but have you looked at his “Benedict Option”? It leaves me and my Tocqueville sensibilities worried about replacing one Tyranny with a thousand little and more invasive tyrannies, but I know many people who have benefited from engaging with it. Seriously, could the answer be to form self-reliant cross-class collectives in rural and urban environments across the U.S. and wait out the storm? I have a million problems with that, but it is at least a serious go at a solution.
I suspect we’ve passed “peak woke”. The rejection of Chesa Boudin as SF’s DA and a few woke school board members is one clue. The 2020 change in Congressional control may be another. The reaction against ESG investing is yet another. Then Lori Lightfoot’s loss in her reelection campaign to be Chicago’s mayor. And everyone with a gas stove is furious about the notion that they might be banned.
There are still true believers who’ll go to their graves “woke” (Gavin Newsom, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi), and they’ll still do some damage. Passing a peak puts us at right about where we were just before the peak. However, the society the woke crave is largely a poorer one (except for them), and there are some signs people are figuring that out. Just look at which states are growing in population and which are not. Was it Lincoln who said something about not being able to fool all of the people all of the time?