The final letter by me to Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Thank you both for this - it gives me hope for the future. One addition: I am a schoolteacher among elites, and my students see the pitfalls of wokeism but can't always articulate them. Thus, they run to science as a way out of the endless indoctrination they receive in their humanities classes. As a humanities teacher myself, it breaks my heart to see us gutting hard-won truths about the human condition and what it takes for people to flourish because they were developed by white men. But the woke don't realize that these systems came at a tremendous cost of life over decades, if not centuries. I argue that the rise of female power is behind wokeism; that we have the ability to exercise power in public spaces, and we are testing it out, in the ways in which we do well, and badly. Men's testosterone-fueled physical strength, competitiveness, hierarchy create one set of problems. Our estrogen, the sympathy and concern for the powerless and the weak, create another, and we are now seeing what happens when you mistake the cunning for the truly weak and powerless. It's like the animal who pretends to be injured in order to look weaker than she is; then she strikes. My fear is we women have backed ourselves into a corner by valorizing victimhood. We are now silencing ourselves; we apparently don't need men to help us with that, although any canny man will realize he can be an “ally“ while neutralizing another power center that at times works against his interests. Please, women, realize that if we lose our freedoms by restricting others', we have no one but ourselves to blame. Men took centuries to learn that their freedom and those of others were inextricably bound; women, let's learn faster!
Thank you for this! In a weird, twisted way, the woke ideas about privilege actually could have some explanatory power if one, as Jordan Peterson rightly infers, ditches the idea that the privilege is «white», but rather acknowledges that in any given society, privilege comes with being majority.
While the woke is all about personal privilege, a lot of Americans might actually be oblivious to the fact that their freedom and privilege is based upon uncompromising liberal ideas, and that they abandon these ideas at their peril.
So I agree with you on your optimistic end note that that inhabitants of rich, western countries simply might have grown «an inability to comprehend the value of something many here have never lived without,» as this holds a hope for rediscovery.
The downside is of course that we might have to do without the liberal ideas for a while and watch the bulk of academia destroy itself from the inside before we can rediscover liberalism. On the other hand, this might come about more quickly than we can imagine, as the universities are far too expensive to be able to uphold themselves without quality: Their monetary, scientific and moral bankruptcy will implode on themselves.
Thanks so much for sharing this exchange. I want to share Ayaan’s optimism, but I’m inclined towards Sarah’s pessimism. I do see certain elections shifting the sands a bit. Seattle’s city council lost one woke seat last fall and will lose more this year. A prosecutor who is willing to prosecute people was elected. Downtown is a shambles, but at least people are concerned about it now. I worry about K-12. Time will tell.
Thanks for republishing. I had never read it and found it to be quite interesting. And, you are right, I believe. I am a pessimist in this area, like you. I do have one question. You say: "If America’s “true founding” was the date we brought slaves to these shores, then what are the true foundings of all other nations on earth, the majority of which have histories marred by slavery, sometimes of a sort far more grotesque?" Could you let me know of the societies that you feel had slavery "of a sort far more grotesque." I mean, I know ancient societies certainly did - but are you talking about slavery during a similar time frame that was "far more grotesque"? I would be interested in reading about that.