Not directly related to this topic but it is telling to me that the people with the most direct experience and sophisticated understanding of wokeness are the most pessimistic of any hope of seriously turning back its tide. The main divide I see is between those born before about 1990 and those born after. Those born in the 1990s were brought up with this and understand better than the older millennials and gen xers who keep expecting the final collapse of wokeness: For our Generation there is nothing else.
Among millenials raised in the mainstream global cosmopolitian class, there is no ideology or identity that has a positive project to stand up against Wokeness. There are pockets where the old religious identities hold out but these are eroding quickly and they seem to have lost all power to motivate any spread outside their shrinking parochial boundaries. As someone who lived through it, it seemed as though the Second Bush presidency simply destroyed any legitimacy of any of the old ideological projects for this generation- whether it was christian religion, patriotism or even muscular liberal internationalism. The 2000s-era combination of rank moralistic hypocrisy at home and bloody stupid blundering abroad irreversibly tarred all of these projects, at least for the generation that came of age during them.
Among the various counter-woke movements or communities I've seen, the only ones that seemed to offer any constructive project or spiritually fulfilling content of their own are the 'Rationalists' and Jordan Peterson. The Rationalists have some troubling cult-like features of their own and their content is never likely to be embraced by a broad audience for reasons that are obvious to anyone who knows anything about them and Jordan Peterson seems to have pushed himself past the brink trying to carry a global spiritual revival on his back. And even his project felt as though it was ultimately doomed by the hollowness at its core- he offered a story about stories, trying to argue for the value of the lessons that the old myths could offer but he couldn't bring himself to argue that there could be any actual truth to them- the real kind of truth the way the dimwit understands it not the midwit version of truth you have to conjure into being through argumentation with Sam Harris.
And yet, even assuming I have correctly diagnosed the problem, I have no solution and little hope of any. I can continue to point out the stupidities, cruelties and casualties of the new faith until the day I die but I have nothing real to stand against it. What gives me the strength to do so is a complicated combination of family, cultural and psychological impulses that I suspect I will find difficult enough to pass onto my own children, much less anyone else.
Really interesting read, Sarah. Thanks.
I would be very interested in seeing a walkthrough of your thinking on the pros and cons of affirmative action style diversification practices, and what you think are the conditions that call for it (and how to do it well) and what are the conditions that make it inadvisable.
Thank you for this thoughtful piece. You skillfully recognize and report how the pressure to diversify can have unexpected and sometimes negative consequences on individuals and organizations — even when the effort is well-intentioned.
Of course I recognize the event (!!) and still consider hiring that band a horrible decision — for the event, for the donor(s) who subsidized it, and for all those who showed up to be part of something special.
I think the silver lining is that most people, both in the States and abroad, simply don't buy the "anti-racism" sales pitch. Twitter makes it seem like they have the upperhand. They don't. Plus there's people like you, Coleman Hughes, Chloe Valdary, John McWhorter, Dr. Sheena Mason (check her "Theory of Racelessness" out! Similar to Chloe but less religion based) and others who are pushing back on this. Plus, it just doesn't work. So it'll fade of it's own accord. Keep hope alive! ;)
How much of "impostor syndrome" is due to diversity and affirmative action selections? The diversity picks know they weren't selected on the same standard. It can't be good for the psyche.
I've seen this throughout my career, and it is really toxic. Thanks for sharing!
Great article! One issue I thought of when reading it was whether or not it would be useful to name these organizations / people outright. Is it just an issue of it not being worth the trouble? I certainly wouldn’t blame you if that were the case, but I’m wondering if there is a different reason.