What are the concerns?

Wokism produces a reductive dogma that alienates those that don’t fully conform to it, leading to intolerance that harms lives and divisions that hinders progress. 

1. Reductive dogma – that hinders understanding

The desire to avoid discomfort prevents deeper discussions from being had, and from broader view points from being considered. This leads to ‘group think’ that reinforces the held beliefs more strongly, with particular language and behaviours being adopted increasingly unquestioningly, resulting in an unchallenged orthodoxy of thought. 

EXAMPLE: Protest Looting. During post-George Floyd protests, it became dogma to not be able to challenge whether violence and looting in the protests was appropriate. This made it difficult for there to be an honest and open discussion about that question, despite the fact that many ‘strong liberals’ did indeed question whether it was appropriate.  Tom Cotton’s opinion piece calling for military support during protests was considered so inappropriate that the NYTimes fired the editor that permitted it to be run.

2. Alienation – of a silent majority that could contribute

The emphasis on moral purity shuts down anyone that raises an alternative viewpoint. This leads to a growing proportion of people that don’t feel comfortable to say what they really think. 

EXAMPLE: According to the Cato Institute, 62% of the US population believe that the political climate presents them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive. Although lower, this remains at 42% for self-identified “Strong Liberals”. 

3. Intolerance – that harms lives

The emphasis on moral purity leads to a ‘mob mentality’ that comes down quickly and strongly on anyone that is seen publicly to make a mistake.  It becomes difficult to dissent from the mob and call for forgiveness or learning. It is seen as right and good to serve that punishment publicly and loudly. 

EXAMPLE: Amy Cooper exhibits implicit racial bias in her actions recorded in a video, recognizes it and apologizes for it. Her company is pressured to fire her (which they do), and many celebrate this as the good and right reaction

4. Divisions – that hinder progress

An emphasis on the hierarchy of lived experience leads to groups that focus on their differences rather than commonalities, splintering a progressive base amongst itself. The result is weaker power, as progressives increasingly do not speak with one voice, and thus are less able to push for change. 

EXAMPLE: POC to BIPOC.  The movement against police brutality splinters into black-led organizations (instead of ‘people of colour’ led organizations) as the focus shifts to who has ‘the most’ right to speak and lead, focusing on difference (black vs brown) vs commonalities (being non-white). Terms are expanded as individuals the emphasis becomes on difference over commonality (from POC to BIPOC, similar to the expansion of LGBTQIA+).

Good ideas gone awry

Underlying each of those pillars is an excellent and important point. Wokism takes those good ideas to dangerous extremes. We must learn to appreciate and utilise the underlying good whilst avoiding the negative extremes.

The knowledge intrinsic to lived experience is importantThe knowledge intrinsic to lived experience is supreme and unquestionable
Bad behaviour should be pointed outAny mistake deserves severe punishment
Equity (racial, gender, other) is important and should be invested inEquity is ALL that matters

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