We’re in the last days of the 2010s, and though this decade has witnessed more material prosperity than ever before (even if unevenly distributed), culturally, it’s been a dark age. “Woke” will be the culturally defining word of the 2010s, with all that brings. Media hoaxes, witch hunts, and lynch mobs have convulsed American culture. Reputations have been destroyed, livelihoods taken, hoaxes made worse and spread more easily by highly suggestible populations.
Meanwhile, the entertainment industry has done all it can to appease these mobs. Rote, soulless sequels and remakes have been churned out of the Hollywood assembly line, with woke nonsense sprinkled on top. Books have been censored and made to conform.
Toward the end of the decade, particularly after Donald Trump’s “shocking” election win, internet censorship by unaccountable tech trusts has increased, threatening freedom of speech and thought, as digital is the medium through which expression is made in the 21st century.
Knowledge itself has come under assault through gender-crazed attacks on biology (“men can have periods!),” “woke math,” and other absurdities. This cultural disease will threaten our material prosperity if it is allowed to fester. Gender-confused dorks can’t be happy or help the nation prosper. People who spend all day learning about how math is oppressive can’t be expected to make the next strides in science or technology.
The military, long the last bastion of traditional wisdom and virtue in the face of politically correct deconstruction, has also started to succumb. Barrages of feminist and transgender hysteria have cracked its walls.
Starting more or less in 2013, it’s been the same stale soulless virtue signaling everywhere. Conform or else.
Quintus Curtius said it best in 2015: “unreality is mandatory reality.”
I’ve seen this said elsewhere, but it bears repeating: Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 gave the far left the impression that they had a divine right to rule. They felt that they had definitively won the culture war and began shooting survivors. They were proven wrong in 2016 – but they don’t think and can’t accept that they were, which is why there’s been nothing but hoaxes and tantrums from them since. Those are just outward manifestations of their cognitive dissonance (as Scott Adams would say), which has rewrote their internal realities. Because they have more influence than they deserve, they’ve forced everyone else to live with their personal delusions in some way.
But during the last year of the decade, there have been some signs, if tentative ones, that we’ve reached the high tide of woke power and it has now started to ebb. Why is this so?
1. Its absurdity can no longer be hidden
Woke ideology was never about good governance or creating a flourishing society. At its root it is a Year Zero revolutionary impulse. Its adherents believe that traditional Western civilization is evil and needs to be deconstructed in its entirety. Then, their utopia can be built on the cleared sand. All history and social organization before the revolution is irrelevant. Anyone standing in the way of the revolution is evil and can be disposed of. I’ve warned about this for years. David Starkey recently got at it in this video, where he rightly said they would throw you in a gulag if they could.
As he notes in the video (which I recommend in its entirety), functioning societies build on and improve their history. Absurd, unworkable ones topple it.
This Year Zero impulse is the reason why woke zealots are comfortable with so many otherwise contradictory things. Mass unchecked immigration and environmentalism can stand side by side. Activists who fight for gay equality can reflexively defend Sharia law. Feminists can defend men saying that they’re women, with all that entails.
These are tactical contradictions, but when you zoom out to the strategic level and see that they all contribute to the revolutionary overthrow of traditional Western society, the circle is squared. That’s their goal, so the underlying contradictions are tolerated, in much the same way that coalitions of competing interests nevertheless combine against a common foe, as Athens and Sparta did against Persia.
But these coalitions are unstable. Just as Athens and Sparta eventually fought each other, woke culture’s contradictions risked internal squabbling and blaring its inherent absurdity to the rest of the world like a mile-long neon light. Both are happening and it became more obvious in 2019.
From the homeless crisis in California, where authorities refuse to clean up shit in the streets, to schools letting kids out to “protest” in hysterical climate scaremongering, to giving free tickets to Mets games to violent criminals, woke culture’s disconnection from anything faintly resembling reality is reaching a critical point.
Of course, the most absurd thing of all about woke culture is the Orwellian world of transgenderism, where biology itself is considered irrelevant and expendable. This has, as we warned years ago, led to situations of biological men competing with women in sporting events and easily beating them. The problem is now more obvious than it was in 2014-15, when this particular front in the culture war opened, and more women are getting fed up. Nowhere else is it more obvious that “unreality is mandatory reality.”
And let’s also not forget that the biggest hoax of the decade, the Trump-Russia “collusion” saga, was definitively exposed in 2019 as an insane conspiracy theory. The fact that woke culture is still clinging to it shows how delusional it and its adherents are.
Meanwhile, another absurdity has made itself plain this year. 2019 might go down in history as the year American public opinion finally turned against China, as the abuses of its communist regime became far more ingrained in worldwide consciousness. The Hong Kong protestors shined a huge spotlight on it, while the detention of the Uighurs in Xinjiang has gotten a lot more attention, and China’s social credit system is an ominous indicator of our own future.
Yet, the same woke culture figures who are so eager to deconstruct Western civilization and lecture the rest of the population about their own virtue rushed to defend the Chinese regime in 2019. Nike will remove the original American “Betsy Ross” flag from its sneakers but gladly do business with China. LeBron James will wear safety pins as a symbol of “resistance” against the Bad Orange Man in the White House but will throw the Hong Kong protestors, who are actually resisting an oppressive regime, under the bus.
But these people claim to be better than us? Sure.
Don’t even get me started on the blackface episodes that Ralph Northam and Justin Trudeau got away with because of their “elite” status (more on that later), which they would eagerly use to ruin anyone else.
As the decade ends, the absurdity of woke culture has become impossible to ignore. No one that isn’t in the bubble can make sense of it now. More importantly, when that bubble prevents normal people from living normally, such as by fostering a public health crisis with the homeless problem or letting criminals out on the streets, external pushback against it will increase, as more and more people come off the sidelines. We’re starting to see all of that.
At the same time, that aforementioned bubble is also starting to become destabilized from within.
2. The elite are turning on wokeness and each other
Woke culture poses such a huge problem because it’s sealed itself off from feedback. Predicting this to the letter, Thomas Sowell called it “optional reality” in 1995’s Vision of the Anointed:
[The vision of the anointed’s] greatest achievement and its greatest danger are one and the same: That vision has become self-contained and self-justifying – which is to say, independent of empirical evidence. That is what makes it dangerous, not because of a particular set of policies which may be flawed or counterproductive, but because insulation from evidence virtually guarantees a never-ending supply of policies and practices fatally independent of reality. This self-contained and self-justifying vision has become a badge of honor and a proclamation of identity: To affirm it is to be one of us and to oppose it is to be one of them. Moreover, the pervasiveness of the vision of the anointed at all levels of the American educational system ensures future supplies of people indoctrinated with this vision.
I highly recommend this book. If you don’t read it, you won’t make sense of today’s world.
Woke culture is self-contained and self-perpetuating. By definition, it cannot change from outside forces alone. This was one of my mistaken assumptions in 2016, when I thought Trump’s win would force its practitioners to reassess. The opposite occurred, because Trump was “one of them.” It will take forces inside the bubble to change it. Self-proclaimed “elites” will not so easily bend to the will of a “non-elite” group, at least not so quickly. One election won’t do it. Many elections won’t do it.
For example, Harvey Weinstein’s behavior was known for years, but none of his victims were able to bring him down because they weren’t part of the “elite” in-group. It was only when fellow insider Ronan Farrow published the results of his investigation that the mogul finally fell from power.
It takes an insider to topple an insider, at least if that toppling is to occur quickly and without protracted pain.
Which is why developments in 2019 have been notable. Toward the end of the year, President Obama, one of the sainted figures in woke culture, delivered a stunning rebuke to the faithful.
It’s internal criticism like this which ultimately forces things to change. Obama’s words won’t be a game changer on their own, but they might be a sign of things to come. After the recent election in the United Kingdom, where Boris Johnson won a crushing majority and handed the Labour Party its worst defeat since 1935, other “elite” voices were sounding the alarm.
One lesson from the UK: if the Democrats don't stop their hard-left slide, they'll suffer the same fate as Labour. If they don't move off their support for mass immigration, they're toast. Ditto the wokeness. Left Twitter is not reality.
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) December 12, 2019
Now with Trump’s re-election likely, we might find more voices in woke culture starting to defect, making it less self-justifying and perpetuating. The key, of course (assuming that this scenario happens), will be whether their defeats find enough acceptance among them, or whether the woke will just make new excuses to keep reality optional.
But the more “elites” turn on politically correct culture, the better the chance that it breaks faster. And this year, we saw some additional incentives.
At the beginning of the year, Amazon’s attempt to build a second headquarters in Long Island City fell apart, thanks in large part to a woke mob led by Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez. This opened an interesting new front in the war which threatens the fragile woke coalition.
Politically correct culture is in large part sponsored by the big tech trusts and the unaccountable oligarchs that run them.
But what if the very mobs that these “elites” helped to create turned on their benefactors, like a 21st century Frankenstein? As the mob becomes more anti-capitalist, will the tech overlords continue to sponsor them, now that some of their interests begin to diverge?
It’s not just on the economic front that the interests between the “elites” and the mob are beginning to diverge. We might be starting to see it on the cultural front as well.
The disparity between feminists and transgender activists grows with the uncomfortable questions about biological men invading women’s spaces. During one of these recent debates, Harry Potter author JK Rowling got caught in the crossfire. A previous champion of woke culture, with her constant defending of mass third world illegal immigration into Europe, she became one of the latest mob victims earlier this month. The irony was not lost on commentators like Paul Joseph Watson.
How long will it take before people like Rowling decide that these mobs, and the hoops they need to jump through to stay current with what’s acceptable in a woke culture that changes every day, are more trouble than they’re worth? Suddenly, when these instruments get directed just as much at them as they do against “the benighted,” with the revolution eating itself, they seem less appealing.
The woke circular firing squad will increase. That’s one thing we can be sure of. The rules of woke culture are predicated on the fact that they can change several times a day. That’s the entire point, otherwise “the anointed” would have no power, as people could adapt to the rules and expectations. But with the rule makers shooting each other to show their own virtue and get their way, how much longer can it realistically last?
Either way, once woke culture stops being useful to a critical mass of the “elites” within the bubble, it will start to crumble on the inside, as pressures from the outside also increase.
2019 was the year where we started to see some muttering from those within the bubble that they aren’t satisfied with what’s going on in there. It’s an important development.
I suspect that as the fact of America’s great power competition with China becomes more and more apparent, aligning with that country will be worse and worse for social status, undermining the “elite” who apologized for it. Moreover, as the threat of China grows, we might not have the energy needed to engage in these useless identity politics power plays anymore. The West now has an external threat greater than any seen since World War II. That has a way of unifying people and not affording the luxury of the absurdity that woke culture traffics in.
But that’s a bit impersonal, isn’t it? Let’s talk about things that give us more power.
Our role is to increase the pressure on woke culture from the outside. First, of course, we have to make sure that the zealots keep losing elections. If Trump doesn’t win next year, the entire enterprise will be set back and these trends reversed. Things look good, but we can’t be arrogant and we have to make sure we do everything we can. It’s still very possible he could lose, so we all have to show up to vote and mobilize others to show up. If you live in a battleground state or know someone that does, you have an especially important responsibility.
Even if you live in blue states, you still have to come out and do your part to make sure Trump wins the popular vote. The zealots must be permitted no excuses for their defeat. Much like the insistence that Germany surrender unconditionally in World War II was to prevent the resurgence of the “stab in the back” myth, we must do everything we can to shatter the similar myth that woke culture has developed since 2016.
In the intermediate term, we need to do the two things where we can make the most impact.
1. Undermine the power of the universities which churn out the next generation of zealots like a grotesque factory. We must educate these young people in classical wisdom, career and social skills, and good character. In other words, we need to help provide the education they haven’t gotten in their schooling.
2. We have to create a superior culture of our own. That isn’t easy, given that most of the keys to institutional power are in the hands of the woke and social media censorship has increased, but nevertheless the attempt needs to be made. With the critical panning and relatively poor box office performance of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, it’s yet more tantalizing evidence that there is a mood for original work, rather than the corporately-produced derivative deluge we’ve been subjected to this decade. There is a mood for authenticity, rather than fakery.
Another roaring 20’s is possible, but we need to do our part to make it happen. Woke culture, and the cultural dark age it brings, isn’t going to vanish on its own accord.
In that regard, specifically for the second part, stay tuned – and subscribe. You’re about to see a preview of what I’ve got in the works for 2020. My epic war story I’ve worked on since 2008 will be released in 2020 unless extraordinary external circumstances prevent me from doing so.
In the meantime, read Stumped, since 2020 is an election year and you’ll want to be better prepared than the fake news media will let you be.
Never stop seeking
Knowledge and Glory.
Men are naught but This! pic.twitter.com/lDRHjTIRsq
— Quintus Curtius (@QuintusCurtius) December 29, 2019
That’s what it’s all about. Follow this, and your 2020s will be roaring!
Happy New Year, Happy New Decade.