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How do we think about the "woke" debate?

Proponents of so-called "woke culture" describe the term as having an awareness of inequalities, social issues and injustices. Yet, others are less convinced - suggesting that it has a more sinister undertone. These critics draw crude parallels between its values and those of authoritarianism, which have allegedly turned it into what President Trump calls "childlike fascism". Should we be woke to the pitfalls of this ideological movement?

Wokeness is an awareness of privilege and inequality

The term has stayed true to its origins in the American civil rights movement, where it was applied to show awareness of structural inequalities.

Wokeness is being conscious of inequalities

The term is a call to arms to be aware of the (largely racial) inequities that govern Western society. Historically, it has encouraged peaceful protest against systemic racism and spawned positive forward-looking movements, such as Black Lives Matter, which seek greater equality in society. Explore

Wokeness is an expression of white guilt

White guilt, or the feeling of culpability in benefiting from inherited wealth and privilege, is ultimately why so many liberals advocate for wokeness. With an awareness of their relative privilege to those they defend, proponents of wokeness aim to correct the inequity that they represent. Explore

Wokeness has gone too far on the left

The term is now used by left-leaning activists to abuse those who do not agree with them.

Woke is a dangerous form of censorship

As commentator Toby Young suggests, the greatest impact of woke culture is in silencing the masses. It advocates for "woke programs" which leave no space for disagreement. It instills a culture of fear, politicizing each area of our society. It could also create a surveillance culture we would do best to avoid. Explore

Woke is a class issue

Statistics show that those who describe themselves as "woke" come from wealthier backgrounds. The same is true of those who favor censorship of "un-woke" views. The term is intrinsically linked to social class. Those who support woke culture are, in fact, part of the privilege they claim to fight. Explore

Woke is a meaningless term

This group argues that a meaningless term has become problematically powerful. The bloc claims that various agitations about big global issues have been hammered together into a single ideological school. "Woke" is therefore a collection of ideas that do not naturally link together. It is used to make arguments that it cannot support because of its own incoherence. Explore

Woke represents cultural elitism

The well-educated, liberal elite use this term in order to undermine the legitimacy of those who don’t agree with them. This group exploits their position in society, suggesting that any disagreement with them reflects brainwashing by fake news or puerile right-wing propaganda. Explore

Wokeness is misrepresented by the right

The term has been co-opted by the right to undermine important social and economic injustices.

Woke is used as an insult to defend structural violence

Many argue that the woke backlash is brought on by a creeping insecurity. Wokeness is powerful because it highlights the bastions of inequality that many depend on for their own status. The reactionary responses of those who hate the term come from a threatened sense of privilege. Explore

Woke is used to undermine inequality

Right-wing groups criticize this term to undermine pushes for equality. These critics claim this term is a selfish push for self-aggrandizement and the furthering of a sinister agenda. These comments are baseless, serving to undermine the social justice movement’s progress. Explore

Wokeness is flawed

While the cause is noble, it suffers from flaws in its approach and structure.

The binary view of injustice in the woke debate undermines its cause

Wokeness is simply being aware of injustice, but this is where its problem lies. There is no moderation in its ideology. Rather, the more "woke" one is, the better. While awareness in its purest sense is encouraged, there is no overarching idea of how to overcome the issues it highlights. Explore
This page was last edited on Friday, 19 Jun 2020 at 16:17 UTC