The Driver behind Wokeness

Credit for my motivation to create this post must go to @RayAndrews for a comment he made recently, and I quote.

The first sentence I took as an invitation to propose a few ideas as to what may be driving this phenomenon.

The second and penultimate sentences that this is primarily a political force driven by a few elites to overturn the fundamental institutions that underpin our society so that they themselves can take control is clearly a very popular theory shared by the more vocal on this forum and probably most other more right leaning ones.

The problem I have with this theory of world domination is the caliber of the people accused of masterminding it. Really? These guys came up with this and have been so effective at rolling it out on a global scale primarily in the democratic world? Most folks engaged in these types of anti-woke debates are much smarter than this, why not come up with an alternative strategy and roll it out instead?

The reason is because it is virtually impossible to accomplish this, even with a significant number of folks on your side. Various cults have been successful in creating a small dedicated community, but once it gets exposed to broader society, it quickly falls apart. This movement, with as many tenants that appear just as crazy as any cult, has been far more successful. Why?

Which brings me to Ray’s last sentence, the people must believe that what they are doing is for the greater good.

Back to Ray’s challenge to speculate about the real drivers of wokeness, at the risk of having my sanity challenged by the anti-woke amongst us.

For me this has to fundamentally be based on the desire for a moral code in the absence of a unifying religion. The best I could come up with. “Do no harm, physical or emotional, to your fellow man”. Everything else about our liberal society is routed in freedom of the selfish man, and laissez-faire capitalism. There needs to be an implicit moral code that stops us short from outright rape and pillage and exploitation of the weak, I believe it must be something along these lines. That’s victimhood right there.

The next common aspect of the moral code and any religion that tends to encapsulate it, is it appeals to the oppressed. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. Being nailed to the cross by the oppressor is a pretty impressive way of illustrating this concept. All you have to do is identify some form of oppression in your region, nation or community that you believe more people should be sensitive to, add some motivating rhetoric, purge some heretics, and you have a movement. The idea does not have to be centrally driven, it is more like a franchise.

The third key aspect I suggest is the law. In 1964 the USA introduced Title VII of the Civil Rights act which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The intention was to “judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin”. Could it in fact be achieving exactly the opposite? The unintended consequence is that it provides folks who might feel they qualify as an oppressed group with legal status and recourse provided they show increased affiliation with one of these groups, not exactly the intended purpose of the Act…

If I’m right that these are the fundamental drivers of wokeism, then if history is our guide, the worst thing we can do is feed their prophets to the lions. That is the ultimate route to Sainthood and Martyrdom.

OH, and if you think wokeism is doomed to failure because it is full of illogical and fanciful stuff, then it has been awhile since you read your Bible.


Even in my own mind the theory is far from settled and you hit on the biggest difficulty. It’s the same one used against 9/11 – nobody is smart enough to pull something like that off as a conspiracy. But it’s not a ‘conspiracy’ it’s more like the globalists see something they can use and they use it opportunistically, only latter realizing that they’ve all hit on a good strategy at the same time and only then perhaps does some unspoken cooperation arise.

Sure. There’s no contradiction. Wokeness arose from political correctness combined with genuine Progressive ideals and the need to find a new religion which is shocked when you explain to it how much it is like the old religion:

A small edit and we have the new version: “Blessed are the Victims, for they shall inherit the West.”

Indeed not. It is no successful attack on the theory to point out that there is no governing institution, one is not needed.

Yes, and highlight their Victimhood. Nope, best to just defund them and refute them and refuse to let them take over every institution.

Read your Bible again, with the understanding that a deep and consistent moral program can harness the human need to conserve irrationality in such a way that the irrationality does no, or little, harm. Catholics believe that the wine literally becomes blood, but exempt those allergic to wine from having to drink it. “Ah HA!” Says a Dawkins, in Darth Vader voice: “I have you now!” No Richard, you don’t have them, you merely embarrass yourself with your mechanic’s mindset.


Wow, this much alignment on an issue between us? I have only been here less than a month, clearly too long. :wink:

We need something more than that.
A moral code that combats exploitation by the narcissistic & schizophrenic 1%.
Hope for the marginalized in an increasingly competitive global economy.
A legal system that does not automatically force one to identify as a marginalized group.

On this last point the problem is when one wants to encourage the concept of color blindness, how do you enforce this with the law? The law does not reward good behavior, it punishes bad. So it forces you to enhance your affinity with a marginalized group to get enforcement, not reward you for being of indeterminate race. Ask Elizabeth Warren, Kamal Harris or Barrack Obama.

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Agree to all. My list didn’t presume to be complete. No list is complete. But I quibble as to Obama. Perhaps the main reason I supported him is that he presented himself as an American gentleman period. He rather resisted his Victimhood than wallow in it. Not perfect of course, he did on occasion play the race card, but rarely; I don’t think he’s even woke, really, tho it is not surprising that he goes along for political reasons.

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Obama is not black, he is of mixed race. He will go down in history as the first black president of the United States. You don’t think that being presented as the first black president did not count for several votes, because of this fact? Tiger Woods is not black either. Image a society as MLK did in which being of indeterminate race was what we aspired to. It is not.


Obviously it did. But he did not present himself as ‘black’ he presented himself as an American. I think he believed in the spirit of MLK.


At the time, possibly. If he were elected today, I doubt it.

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You give them far too much credit for intellectual nuance. The woke, as they are, are a breed of snide, condescending pseudo-intellectuals who have arrested their thinking at the threshold of a low-level college seminar on “injustice” and have determined that theirs is the cure for all society’s ills. There is literally no commitment to “justice” in any form behind those who most loudly promote “social justice”. There is no driver to wokeness apart from arrogance, intellectual laziness and a childish commitment to righting whatever wrongs happened to them on a playground 25years ago.


To find the drivers of the woke phenomenon is easy, just follow the money.
Among the main sponsors of the NGOs and think-tanks that are enforcing woke agendas are always the same suspects: large weapon manufacturers and corporations like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook.
In other words, it’s the good old military industrial complex.

The benefits of the woke phenomenon are quite obvious.
Replace educated good politicians with clowns, thus making governments very easy to manipulate.
Provide a means of repression of dissent: anyone who dares challenge the new status quo will promptly be accused of some sort of sexual abuse or racism or other such “monstrous offenses”, and no need for evidence, their careers will be terminated.
Create a post-modernist culture, where reality has no meaning anymore, actually reality is a punishable offense now.

The fact that most people have a profound contempt for the woke is very useful, because it makes it very easy to pit people against good ideas, by simply making these good ideas be pushed by the woke.


  1. Police brutality was and is a real issue. They made it into a racial issue and a woke issue of “defund the police”.
    As a result most common sense people detached themselves from this issue.
  2. Environment destruction is a major problem that most people care about, what better way to destroy the environmental support than put the woke to work on it.
    Now it’s all about plastic bags, racial environmental injustice and climate change, and while at it, let’s attack meat eating and milk drinking as barbaric inhuman practices, let’s use our woke government officials start a jihad against farmers because they produce…nitrogen…while contemplating the massive acquisition of land by Bill Gates, Chinese capital and so on.

Could go on and on, but the bottom line is that the woke is a modern instrument of social and political control in the hands of the power elites.
Power elites as defined and described by C.Wright Mills

The main source of power of the woke is the post modernist destruction of reality.
This is why the biggest enemy of a feminist or a black activist, are definitions of simple terms, like “what is a woman”, or “what is racism”.
Want to finish with a funny example of such an epic fail (3) Kendi Defines Racism - YouTube

I like that. Corrupt a good idea, or noble cause, and people will tend to throw the whole thing out, rather than engage in the more frustrating task of attempting to detoxify the idea. Thus the rightie wants to throw the whole welfare mess onto the scrap heap and get back to the virtues of dog eat dog capitalism, the lefties want more of the same, and the center asks how welfare might be restored to something helpful not addictive and destructive.

OK, so where are we going with this? The left has identified some significant social issues that our society needs to address. Are we saying these issues aren’t real? From my perspective, ignore them at your peril.

So certain

cash in on this and make a total mess of the issues.

So our answer is to give them enough rope and they will discredit the whole cause.
Great. Now what? We still have the underlying issues to deal with, and we don’t seem to be trying to come up with a plan.

This pettiness on both sides of the isle is not getting anything done. Where are the adults? Is that really us?

On the contrary, very real. But as Kaay points out, if one dumps enough woke bullshit into a very real issue, folks will be inclined to disavow even the legitimate issue. For example, after Floyd we got BLM and the MPPs which tended to make me forget about the legitimate need for police reform and just want to see the army called out to mow the rioters down.

So what is the key takeaway from yourself and Kaay then?

For me it appears to be rejoicing in the concept that we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

“contempt for the woke is very useful because it makes it easy to pit people against good ideas”
Why is that very useful? to whom?
“I like that. Corrupt a good idea, or noble cause, and people will tend to throw the whole thing out,”

You both seam to be celebrating the outcome?

Precisely the contrary. We deplore this as a diabolical way of diverting people’s attention from what should be noble causes. As I said, when watching a MPP destroy half a city, I have to remind myself by force of will that police reform really is necessary.

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On why “wokeness” has take off…

Cultural Marxism goes back to at least the 1920s. Of course, CM has (vastly) proliferated of late. At least four reasons come to mind.

  1. The rise of Cultural Marxism is too some degree, a consequence of the fall of conventional Marxism. Conventional Marxism was (slowly) dying by the 1950s. The Soviet invasion of Hungary and later Czechoslovakia alienated (or worse) a vast number of people who might have otherwise supported the Communist system. The economic failure of Eastern Europe combined with the great success of the “Little China’s” (Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan) and South Korea was a great blow to the credibility of conventional Marxism. The Cambodian genocide must be mentioned in this context as well. Of course, the fall of the USSR and China’s switch to Capitalism (and subsequent success) were the final nails in the coffin.

My sense of it is that failure of the Soviet system (and Eastern Europe) was a bigger deal than China’s switch to capitalism. The numbers make the converse case. However, I still think the failure of Soviet system (and Eastern Europe) was/is more important. I don’t agree, but that doesn’t matter.

Of course, these were monumental blows to the traditional Left. However, the Left wasn’t about to fold its tent and disappear. For better or worse, a huge section of society will never embrace bourgeois values and will be (highly) motivated to reject them. Since conventional Marxism was “the god that failed”, the Left embraced Cultural Marxism as a substitute. Of course, Cultural Marxism is just as crazy as conventional Marxism (perhaps considerably crazier). However, we don’t have easy country comparisons to show how nuts it is (i.e. no North Korea vs. South Korea).

Blank Slate ideology is arguably nuttier than old-style Marxism. However, we don’t (yet) have a Stalin or Mao to attack as the leader of it (Cultural Marxism).

  1. As long at the Left was committed to traditional Socialism/Marxism, the right would move heaven and earth to oppose it. Big corporations, rich people, religious people, some union people, etc. all had powerful incentives to oppose traditional Socialism/Marxism. That meant that anti-communist movements, ideas, intellectuals, etc. were assuredly substantial support as long the enemy was “Real Socialism”.

By contrast, CM provokes no comparable opposition (from big corporations, rich people, religious people, etc.). Actually the reverse is true. party-line adherence to CM is notoriously profitable for some companies. For example, most Tech firms (Apple is a bad example) would be crucified by Democrats/Liberals/Leftists/etc. for their exploitation of the tax system. In real life, the level of criticism is near nil. By declaring their commitment to CM, they gain de facto immunity from criticism from the Left (the Right wouldn’t criticize them anyway).

At least the indulgences sold by church cost real money. Now you just need to pay lip service to CM.

  1. There is also (predictably) a class element to this. Old-style Marxism was inherently (too some degree) a blue-collar worldview. Of course, that was never entirely true. Marx was an intellectual. The cliché that “Marxism is the Opiate of the Intellectuals” existed for a reason. However, conventional Marxism was never going to appeal to white, upper-middle class (UMC), liberals for all sorts of reasons, of which class was definitely an issue.

However, Cultural Marxism has no such problem. White, UMC, liberals can espouse and advocate Cultural Marxism without any contradictions (as they see them) and without restraint. Indeed, they do. Studies (Yascha Mounk) have shown that “woke” progressives are one of the least diverse (in many senses of the word) groups out there. Cultural Marxism gives UMC liberals free reign to denounce “deplorables” to their hearts content. Conventional Marxism would have been much more circumspect. Of course, upscale folks have always wanted to attack (rhetorically and otherwise) the working class. However, conventional Marxism constrained the left (but not the right) from doing so.

Cultural Marxism imposes no such limitations.

  1. In my opinion, the failure of liberalism was/is a substantial factor in the rise of CM. In the 1960s (and earlier decades and later decades) it was widely believed that liberalism would work. In other words, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society would produce a (much) better American where poverty and race would not be intertwined and poverty itself would more or less disappear. That didn’t happen of course. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society was roughly as successful as his war in Vietnam.

At this point it is obvious that liberalism has failed (in attaining the goals of the 1960s). Some folks have responded to this failure by basically giving up. However, the most motivated have moved to the left (far left). Note that we here far more about “systematic racism” now (when it doesn’t exist) than we did when Jim Crow was a daily reality.

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My view is that the traditional establishment has lost all confidence in itself. There is some resistance to ‘wokedom’. However, essentially every anti-‘woke’ figure is far from the traditional establishment. For example, Douglas Murray is from the UK and gay, Andrew Sullivan is gay, Jordan Peterson is Canadian, Bari Weiss is female, Jewish, and lesbian, Claire Lehman is female and Australian, Sam Harris is gay, James Damore was/is Jewish, Alessandro Strumia was/is Italian, Bret Weinstein was/is Jewish, etc.

Do you see any parallels with the collapse of the military and economic might of the Roman Empire around 476 and the rise of the second coming of Roman influence through the Catholic Church starting to dominate about 20 years later?

This is a good argument, but what one must consider is that if we consider religions ideologies, the older the ideological meme, the more the meme is likely to have shifted to the state of benign parasitism which in some cases can even be healthy for the host, if we consider the host as existing at a societal as well as individual or group level.

Most newer ideologies have killed millions. This one looks to do the same, but on a more limited scale- at least in the immediate future. Because the ideological meme has shifted into woke capitalism, ESG and the WEF it’s now being cynically weaponised to implement central planning mechanisms on the world stage.

We know how disastrous these approaches have been in the past, either through Keynesian approaches applied in the developing world or socialist central planning. The WEF isn’t considering just how susceptible commodities markets are to even minor shifts in supply.

Perhaps they have an unfounded faith in Bill Gates attempts to institute a Green Revolution in Africa. It won’t work. The soil is simply too locally variable.

As to the recent successes of the woke religion? Social media made it viral. In the nineties, these ideas were confined to remote and justifiably undervalued academic fields (Sokal Hoax emulation). Then Eric Garner et all happened and young and impressionable minds went looking for explanations, and it seemed plausible at least at a superficial level. Social media breached the conventional firewalls between academic fields, and allowed the kids to access ideas and the ideology without the hopefully sceptical intercession of a responsible professor.

What they didn’t know and couldn’t consider was that for every case of police brutality against a Black man, there were comparable examples against White people. The media simply didn’t consider these stories nationally newsworthy because they didn’t support an overarching narrative which pointed to police racism.

Best recent example? Tony Timpa.

I think the actual suffocation lasts about 13 minutes, and his death could have saved George Floyd, if it had led to a ban through national media attention, in a timely fashion.

John McWhorter has spoken at length about the comparable white deaths. The real problem is that although humans are usually good at recognising threats, we are incredibly bad at estimating how likely a prospect a particular threat is. Considerable portions of young people estimated the number of unarmed Black men shot by police at over 10,000 a year. In 2019, the number was 10.

It’s the old problem of garbage in, garbage out. People are consistently over-rating the danger of some risks and completely ignoring others- such as the threat to the world’s poor or most marginal. And when the threat does manifest, they will misattribute the causes- blaming both climate change and capitalism, for what is actually a result of the withdrawal of the latter, mainly through the interruption of war and the intervention of central planning.


Sorta what I’m always saying about the conservation of irrationality. Jesus walked on water – not much harm, if one must (as one must) believe in something silly, that’s a good one. Communism killed hundreds of millions, we all especially admired Pol Pot’s version, the scope was limited of course but within his little country … well, we all know what he achieved in the spirit of doctrinal purity. Meanwhile Ella and her woke teachers merely want to mutilate and sterilize millions of girls – mild stuff.


Is that true? Usually you back-up your claims with good data. Do you have something that you are basing this on? Your claim fits my intuition, but then my living experience is a relatively short timeframe.

Various new authoritarian regimes certainly end up removing opposition in huge numbers, but is this specifically the ideology? The crusades killed about 1.7 million people, which was not a significant portion of the population at the time, but it was 1000 years after Christs death. Jihad leveraged the Muslim faith in the 19th century.
Scientology, a relatively new religion, I think can be associated with only around 10 deaths.
Not a comprehensive attempt at challenging your assertion, just a knee jerk one.

Another interesting claim, and one that one feels must be having an impact.

There is another background factor however that I feel is creating the space for this new ideology.


Note the mainline protestant curve on which much of US culture was based is now trending below unaffiliated curve. So what is filling this ideological gap? Wokeism perhaps?

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