What’s Wrong With Woke

Halloween Costume: “Psychology of a Woke Student” (self-titled)

What’s wrong with woke is what is wrong with Marxism more generally.

As Thomas Sowell wrote, when discussing history Marx displayed a stunning intellect, so much so that a good portion of Marx’s thinking had become part of the intellectual apparatus of every thinking person. Yet in addition (Sowell wrote):

“Much of the intellectual legacy of Marx is an anti-intellectual legacy. It has been said that you cannot refute a sneer. Marxism has taught many – inside and outside its ranks – to sneer at capitalism, at inconvenient facts or contrary interpretations, and thus to sneer at the intellectual process itself. This has been one of the sources of its enduring strength as a political doctrine, and as a means of acquiring and using political power in unbridled ways.”

– Marxism: Philosophy & Economics (Thomas Sowell, 1985)

Sadly, this anti-intellectualism weds the woke to policy prescriptions which generally fail in two ways:

  • by generating unanticipated outcomes that overwhelm their stated goals;
  • by assuming as context a State so expansive that freedom could not persist.

They remain wedded to such policy prescriptions because their anti-intellectualism makes them deaf to counterargument, even obvious counterargument. Indeed, while Marx wrote, “Military justice is to justice as military music is to music,” I would append, “…and military music is to music as Marxist philosophy is to philosophy.”

It could happen to anyone, but it especially happens to Marxists (and the Woke) because their policy prescriptions assume a static deterministic world. Adam Smith is wrote of such a person (whom he termed, “a man of system”):

“The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-​board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-​board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-​board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.

– “A Theory of the Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith 1759)

What is odd is that in many cases they are bright people. And it is always odd to be well-acquainted with someone, often someone quite wonderful, who turns out to have such a defect in their intellectual construction. (I do have a private theory on that: psychometric testing reveals that the most most salient psychological trait of Lefties is low self-esteem, and I suspect imagining themselves seated at such a chessboard satisfies some control-fetish/revenge-fantasy instinct). So one makes allowances as one would for any others beat up by life in various ways. “Be kind,” said Aristotle,”for everyone you meet is having a hard battle.” And cherish them in the same way one might cherish someone who has gone deaf, or is a burn victim.

One stops perceiving it in so negative a way when one accepts it, and sees the person behind the injury.

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12 comments
  1. Mr. Byrne,
    I cannot tell if your mistake of seeing Marxism as being an “oopsie-daisy” instead of the weapon is real.

  2. Everyone is entitled to their own PRIVATE preferences, injuries, fantasies, and fetishes. It is when they insist on imposing them onto the rest of us using government force that they stop deserving treatment as victims and begin deserving treatment as victimizers.

  3. To understand human society, put a bunch of chimps into a big cage, and then throw in a loaded revolver.

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  6. Thought provoking from many angles. I have 3 brothers who became marxist radicals in the 60s who all endured the same brutish childhood personal treatment and injuries which crushed their self esteem. They wound up as militant activists with an ax to grind that was forged in what should have been their wonder years. The rest of the observations about rigid, anti-intellectual control by
    these type’s of personalities follows perfectly. I would bet that the two types of control freaks in governments today are either deeply damaged angries with rigid anti intellectual adolescent minds or opportunists using them to enrich themselves with wealth and power. Carry on PB.

  7. The piece that gets missing in these discussions is the number of people suffering actual economic injury/harm as a result of deliberate policies that destroy their jobs, families, and communities.
    While these days I’m guessing most people under 35 ingested their Marxisme from universities’ liberal arts boutiques (and that was flowed outward to the general society via the poison IV of the MSM that later employed these True Believers as talking heads and producers), it wasn’t always that way.
    The “Marxists” I knew in the 1970s and 1980s were reacting to “deindustrialization,” to the replacement of white workers with the cheapest possible melanistic ones, and to the Reaganisticexpialidocious worship of pinstripes and Wall St. These policies wreaked havoc on American workers/working class families and communities, and there were few in the leadership class who recognized this or showed any concern or compassion for it. The concomitant rise of ubiquitous media (cable TV and CNN in places of mass gathering or public presence) fortified the “trickle down” message of money worship, and the idea that if you were struggling, it’s because you were a bad person.
    This was coupled with the creation of an artificial middle class–largely in the ever-necessarily-expanding government spheres and in the Education Biz–of blacks, Asians, Global Southerners, and women in general.
    Thomas Sowell is writing from a 1980s perspective that has little to no bearing on the present moment. The “sneering” of which he speaks is coming from his era’s pontiffs; the children of those broken communities and the single-mom-head-of-household families that resulted from these policies mostly came later.
    Today’s college-schooled Marxoid is a sort of political Roomba whose ROM can be hacked constantly by emanations from the Palm Slab. Those in positions to hire others have an AA pyramid scheme going that can only be reset by the exposure of “affirmative action” as fraudulent, just as “civil rights” was a deliberate effort to set up a system of law parallel to, but intending to supersede, the Constitution.
    OK, enough blogposting. But really–“anti-intellectual” is a laughable Boomer concept at this stage. The global IQ has been plummeting for my entire oldphag life. The “talented tenth” includes people who can’t use a calculator to figure out the cost of carpet for a room whose dimensions they are given, because it involves multiple levels of variable/cognitive abstraction.

  8. “Woke” has nothing to do with “Marxism” or anything political. It’s a false analogy.
    The term woke, for over 100 years, has been used as a slang term by black people as a term to “be careful” or “keep your eyes open for trouble” – because they were often discriminated against and were often harassed. You had to avoid trouble – stay woke. That is the origin of this slang term and what it was used to convey. Nothing to do with politics, capitalism, or anything of that sort at all. Stay woke- keep an eye out for potential trouble. That’s all.
    If you now want to redefine the term “woke” to mean something else, you should clearly say so and clearly define what the meaning is. Otherwise it’s a pointless article.

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