The post-left, a.k.a. “wokism”, is a parasitic infection which is destroying the political left, if it has not done so already.
Sommaire en français La post-gauche, alias le « wokisme », est une infection parasitaire qui est en train de détruire la gauche politique, si ce n’est déjà fait. (Ce blogue est disponible en français : Quatorze observations à propos de la post-gauche.)
- So-called “wokism” is real. You are allowed to dislike the label, but you are not allowed to deny the existence of the phenomenon. It is not some fiction invented by the political right. Many people who considered themselves to be on the political left self-defined as “woke” long before the right ever heard of the term.
- The mix of ideologies which constitute wokism is complex, but the common underlying doctrine can be identified clearly. The “woke”—although they claim to be on the left—have rejected Enlightenment values, values which constitute the very definition of the political left. Thus, they have betrayed the left. I call them the anti-Enlightenment pseudo-left or the post-left.
- Enlightenment values, such as reason, tolerance, freedom, progress, universalism, human rights and secularism, have become widely accepted in Western societies—or were until the recent growth of the post-left. Today even moderate right-wingers generally accept such values. Thus, on some issues—such as secularism, objectivity, freedom of expression—the post-left take positions to the right of moderate conservatives such as Jordan Peterson or Mathieu Bock-Côté.
- As post-leftists fail to respect values such as objectivity, they often play fast and loose with the truth if lying will advance their agenda. One of their biggest lies is that “wokism” is some moral panic invented by the political right. See (1) above. In fact, criticism of the post-left comes from across the entire political spectrum, from the left, including Marxists, from the centre and from the right.
- Although the philosophical origins of the post-left include important contributions from French postmodernists and German post-Marxists, the post-left is principally an American phenomenon. It was in the USA that postmodernism was first applied to political activism. Furthermore, the history of slavery and extreme anti-black racism in that country has resulted in placing the concepts of race and racism at the centre of the post-left’s preoccupations. This prioritization of racism, especially anti-black racism, is understandable and indeed legitimate given the history of the USA. However, the post-left does a very bad job of fighting racism even in the USA. And its effects are even worse when exported to other countries whose history—in particular the history of racism—is very different from that of the USA. Resisting the post-left is necessary in order to oppose the creeping Americanization of everything.
- At the core of post-left activism is, therefore, neoracism, an ideology which claims to be anti-racist but which does more to inflame racism than to fight it. Neoracists reject the colour-blindness goal famously declared by Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) and instead promote colour-consciousness, i.e. positive discrimination. Neoracists point out that MLK himself advocated affirmative action, which is true, but they conveniently forget to mention that he intended it to be a temporary measure—perhaps several decades—whose purpose was to achieve a colour-blind future in which his four children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” The goal of neoracists, on the contrary, is so-called “equity” which requires equality of outcomes (not just equality of opportunity), meaning that the racial mix in a profession must match the racial mix in the general population. This is practically impossible to achieve, even with the most draconian social engineering. So in practice, neoracists propose no conclusion, just an obsession for racial identity ad æternum.
- Post-leftists are often accused of being anti-white, even though their ideology is very popular among “whites.” The accusation is certainly valid, but it is important to understand that the real object of neoracist hostility is Europeanness. The Enlightenment was arguably the greatest achievement of European civilization. In abandoning the Enlightenment, the post-left demonizes European civilization and Europeans.
- Influenced by postmodernism and cultural relativism, post-leftists reject universalism and see the world as a collection of groups, each with its own interests and “truth,” often irreconcilable with those of other groups. Thus, group interests and feelings (real or presumed) take precedence over objectivity, leading to the over-valuation of emotion and the social censorship of words or images deemed to be “offensive” to a group perceived to be a target of injustice. A recent example is an art history instructor at a Minnesota university who was dismissed without due process for the sin of teaching art history—by using a medieval painting of Muhammad in a lesson. The university president declared that “respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom should have superseded academic freedom.” This is a consummate example of social censorship motivated by post-leftist ideology.
- The post-left prides itself on defending minorities against injustices, but in reality they do a very poor job of doing that because their real action is to denigrate majorities. Furthermore, they tend to see each minority as monolithic, failing to consider the great variations which may occur within each group.
- During the era of European colonialism, Europeans considered themselves to be the centre of the universe, with the duty of civilizing the rest of the world. Today, the post-left continues to place European civilization at the centre of the universe, but now that centre is allegedly rotten, imposing all forms of oppression on everyone else. The latter attitude is just the flipside of the former. Both are Eurocentric. Both are false. Both are harmful extremes. For the post-left, Europeans (i.e. “whites”) are the evil majority which constantly persecutes various minorities. Persecution in the other direction or persecution of one non-white group by another (such as the Arabo-Muslim slave trade) is rarely if ever mentioned by the post-left.
- Neoracism differs from classic racism in one major way: while classic racists exaggerate biological differences and thus attempt to establish a hierarchy of “races,” some superior to others, neoracists simply ignore and deny biology. Neoracists do not even attempt to define “race” or “racism” in any coherent way. This allows them to make accusations of racism at will, even in the most inappropriate contexts. A post-leftist accusation of racism is practically irrefutable—like an unfalsifiable religious belief—because there is no clear post-leftist definition which can be used to determine objectively what is racist and what is not. This habit is at its worst when post-leftists conflate racial identity with religious affiliation, thus giving themselves carte blanche to throw accusations of “racism” against anyone who criticizes the religion.
- Post-leftists tend to consider themselves to be the very incarnation of perfect virtue. But because they do such a shoddy job of defending traditional left-wing causes (such as antiracism, male-female equality, etc.), and because they arrogantly claim to be the left, the only left (as if the universalist left did not exist), they play into the hands of the political right and far-right. The egregious and sometimes insane behaviour of post-leftists brings the left into disrepute and thus comforts and strengthens the political right. Right-wingers often paint the entire political left with the brush of wokism in order to discredit the left in general and make themselves—the right—look better.
- The post-left is not a political party or a well-circumscribed group. It is rather a mentality, an ideology, a prejudice whose influence has spread throughout many of the institutions of society—governments, universities, activist groups, media, etc.—in the United States, Canada and several European countries. Different people display various degrees of adherence to this ideology. Many of those who have, to some greater or lesser extent, adopted the post-leftist mentality, perhaps even unconsciously, may be unaware of the origins of that ideology. These issues must be discussed publicly so that people may learn to resist the ideological infection which post-leftism represents. The word “infection” is indeed appropriate here. Post-leftism is a parasitic infection which is destroying the political left, if it has not done so already.
- The antidote to post-leftism is universalism, a core Enlightenment value. Indeed, it is the cure for both racism and neoracism.
…criticism of the post-left comes from across the entire political spectrum, from the left, including Marxists, from the centre and from the right.
Neoracists point out that MLK himself advocated affirmative action, which is true, but they conveniently forget to mention that he intended it to be a temporary measure…
In abandoning the Enlightenment, the post-left demonizes European civilization and Europeans.
…they tend to see each minority as monolithic, failing to consider the great variations which may occur within each group.
A post-leftist accusation of racism is practically irrefutable—like an unfalsifiable religious belief—because there is no clear post-leftist definition which can be used to determine objectively what is racist and what is not.
Right-wingers often paint the entire political left with the brush of wokism in order to discredit the left in general and make themselves—the right—look better.