Broke: smiling for customers at your McDonald’s service job
Woke: crying after your Fortune 500 boss fires you for not raising your fist
Bespoke: applying everything you’ve learned to launch your own platforms
Much ink is being spilt this year over “wokeness” and what it all means for the world. Why do liberals like it so much? Where did it all start to go wrong? Who’s to blame?
And James Lindsay, founder of New Discourses, has partly lead the charge. Furthermore, his digital publication has worked hard to foster an intelligent conversation around it. And that’s not an easy feat at this historic, ideological cross point.
But more from James, on legal and civic considerations, in our excerpt today.
Under these assumptions, our legal system will corrupt itself into an identity politics-based replica of the worst failures of history, those in which some ruling capital-P Party becomes the basis for the law and its standards. That is, these assumptions aren’t just wholly incompatible with the idea of a free and liberal society, they are the guarantor of its replacement by a totalitarian ideology and Party designed to be favored by it. In this case, that party is the Critical Theorists of Identity, and under its rule, the madness and naked caprice of this passing summer will be but a warm-up act that presages a completely new Iron Rule of Woke Law.
I don’t know about you, but I’m voting for reason and taking the side of anyone who still supports it.
Reasonableness. Somewhere in there I assume Mr. Lindsay also means a sort of moderation to our discourse. Notably, a liberalism taken from the heart of our project that is modernity, hyper-global or otherwise.
The idea almost seems quaint in 2020 though, does it not?
A free nation living with a rule of law and open, public discourse. Indeed, I say it aloud now and chuckle a little bit, thinking about…
- The intentional, decades-long decay of governance in financial markets
- Or the rise of a managerial class adept at the very best in hollow rhetoric
- Or the complete subversion of law within my own lifetime (and but one example)
- Or the quasi-governmental nature of companies like Google or Facebook
- Or the longstanding fuckery of universities, nonprofits, corporations, and governments
Either way, you cannot overlook a basic flaw in Mr. Lindsay’s piece. And that’s how corporate leaders funding woke activism are being truly reasonable.
You could go so far as to call it a rational purchase. And therein lies the rub. You see, the executives and corporate leadership—Amazon, Airbnb, Reddit, Cisco, Microsoft—they’ve been empowering woke culture in their enterprises for as long as I can remember.
Why would they encourage and fund these ideologies?
The answer isn’t straightforward nor is it the same for every business. But we can hazard a guess that by fostering social justice, they receive a competitive advantage.
Take Silicon Valley giants or New York media, for example.
They predominately rely on talent produced at top-tier schools. Guess what else those schools have in common? That’s right, social justice. To attract students, they have to tow the line on liberalism. And this is likely the case across all educated professions.
It’s also possible that corporations have realized a reasonable but counter-intuitive concept. And that’s how things like lockdowns, or in our case, social justice, damage the economy in complex ways… but increase their position of power relative to less-entrench competitors. This is also why the phrase “get woke, go broke” may be misguided in the age of infinite bailouts. Still, it goes without saying, even if the dog shits in the house sometimes, at least he keeps little Jimmy off your lawn.
But having known many executives, I can see most of this being the situation. And it is mostly certainly not their irrationality that is the problem but their own very real reasoning leading them this way.
This brings me to my final thought.
Mr. Lindsay and I don’t disagree, in that, level-headed conversation is a positive thing. Still, when it comes to social justice more broadly, you cannot rationalize with fundamentally irrational people. And as we saw yesterday with Taleb and Machiavelli, sooner or later, normal, reasonable methods will be exhausted. The ever-evil Vox Day also noted this half a decade ago in how social justice activists “always double down.”
What do we do when this becomes the case?
Well, Joe the Plumber didn’t elect Teflon Don because he’s a reasonable man. Quite the opposite actually; he’s a damn good, damn loud bully. He’s Joe’s bully. Or if you will, his attack dog. And this dog can be fearlessly un-empathetic, unpolished, and unapologetic.
Or you could also say, in a society being crippled through reasoning with manufactured grievance, you can’t have sympathy for the devil.
No, what we need is not more reason. As it stands, I’ve personally known and know many reasonable men in elevated roles. To wit: they are the politicians selling out the lower classes as they reach across the aisle and acquiesce. Or the executives cheering on activists who are torching small businesses. And they are the civic leaders, talking, ever talking, while Rome burns in the background.
No, what we need more of, by and large, is good old-fashioned courage.