what to do about wokeism

If you must do something, do this one thing


Wokeism with its inversions and distortions of normal humane thinking, and its ability to spread rapidly among susceptible minds, is a mental and cultural plague, pandemically infectious and harmful. What can we do about it?

One option, of course, is to hunker down and do nothing, in the hope that wokeism resolves on its own, as a plague usually does—becoming less extreme as it adapts better to its hosts, or staying extreme until everyone who hasn’t been driven nuts by it has developed strong defenses against it.

Doing nothing probably seems a plausible option to many. In the United States, the Democratic Party’s recent wholehearted embrace of wokeism seems to have made it markedly less popular among voters than it would have been otherwise. Conceivably, the party is now so dominated by this ideology in its leadership, its elite donors, its media enablers, and its city-burning activists, that it can’t change direction, and in future elections will run full-speed off an electoral cliff.

I’m skeptical, though, about the wisdom of doing nothing. When a new and dangerous disease arises, the proper response is to look for its cause and then find ways to block or otherwise neutralize that cause. Wokeism also strikes me as being too robust and malignant to leave alone.

Wokeism is robust because, for all its absurdity as an ideology (at least, to some of us who oppose it), it offers material benefits to many people, especially those who are not what we might call Legacy Americans. These people, these non-Legacy-Americans, occupy, for obvious reasons, an increasing share of the American electorate. Even when wokeism offends them, for example by imposing “critical race theory” (CRT) or wokeist sexual degeneracy on their children in school, they recognize this mindset as a force that promotes their advancement over Legacy Americans—and probably for many of them that “pro” is more important than the “cons.” Did you think the recent GOP victory in the Virginia governor’s race spelled the end of wokeism? It didn’t—the margin of victory was very thin. The wokeists may need only to dial down the ferocity of their attack on Legacy America to start winning again.

There is also the problem of women’s susceptibility to wokeism—especially those women who help run major US industries and institutions, including media, government, science, medicine, law, and education, and thus have an outsized impact on the culture. This inter-institutional gynocracy is arguably the true “Deep State”—maybe we should call it the Deep Pink State—and isn’t going away any time soon, given that the current US political and legal system offers no formal or informal mechanism for getting rid of it. Conservative white males can be gotten rid of by the informal Inquisitional network known as Cancel Culture; but white females are still mostly untouchable, especially if they are woke—they are the Cancellers, not the cancelled.

Even if its membership cannot be uprooted, can the Deep Pink State be somehow controlled? For example, at present, the legislatures of various conservative-leaning states are passing laws banning CRT, 1619 Project nonsense, or other specific elements of wokeism from classrooms or state and local government offices. Can this work?

Well, think about it. In places where the education system, the administrative structures of government, corporate HR departments, etc.  are substantially infiltrated by the women—especially single women—that make up wokeism’s religious hard core, isn’t it likely that any legislated “ban” of wokeism is going to be effectively nullified by these institutionally embedded believers? It’s pretty easy to imagine them continuing to teach, preach, propagandize, evangelize, and catechize, using the same wokeist gospels but now with different labels—or with those labels but with more stealth and indirection. It’s also easy to imagine these wokeistas banding together with even more solidarity, seeing themselves, of course, as history’s heroines, freedom fighters, eager martyrs for the glorious cause. There will be no end to the drama.

So, if “banning CRT” or other elements of wokeism is unlikely to work as intended, and if the average soft-hearted American recoils in horror from the idea of more direct and definitive measures, e.g., banning wokeists from culturally influential professions, or even exiling them to hopelessly wokeified countries such as Canada, what is there to be done?

Try Just This One Thing

I’ve proposed in a long series of essays (e.g., here and here) that the spread of wokeism and many other striking cultural shifts of recent decades is due largely to the new and unprecedented cultural and political power of women. Put simply, this putative “pink shift” in Western societies has resulted from the essentially maternal mindset of women being brought out of its traditional domain of the home into the wider world of public affairs, a realm for which it was not adapted by biological/cultural evolution.

In other words, women’s maternal instincts—and I would guess that the instincts of single and/or empty-nest women are especially ungrounded or unhinged in this sense—are now at work in cultural and policy realms and bias women towards what are often faulty solutions. These include the sentimental encouragement of mass-immigration, overgenerous welfare, and discrimination in favor of the “traditionally disadvantaged,” as well as aversions to freedom of speech, free scientific inquiry, and due process of law. While such policies and attitudes wouldn’t necessarily be problematic in a home setting, I think are bound to be ruinous at the level of public policy.

As I’ve also written, one of the most striking things about this “great feminization” is the effective suppression of mentions of it in the mainstream media. I suspect that this is part of the whole feminization process. In other words, the female editors who now gatekeep mainstream cultural information from Hollywood to Madison Ave. and toe the women-are-oppressed feminist line, aren’t about to allow the portrayal of themselves as having real political and cultural power—let alone as having used that power to wreck the civilization that empowered them.

For their part, male writers and editors, having seen too many of their brethren thrown on the breadlines already, generally don’t want to cross their female colleagues by writing or publishing something that could draw the label “misogynist screed” and get them sent to the stake. Remember NYT science writer Donald McNeil Jr.? How about NYT editor James Bennett? Every man in Western MSM journalism knows that he could be next, and for the airiest of reasons.

I should add that, having tried and failed to get even very softened versions of my hypothesis published in many conservative venues, I have glimpsed a similar dynamic—I think partly rooted in worries over losing female subscribers and contributors—that serves to suppress this idea even on the right.

On the other hand, we still have an Internet, on which ideas still circulate relatively widely and freely, including ideas rejected by the MSM—and things that get big on the Internet usually make their way into the MSM eventually. The “great feminization” idea hasn’t quite made it to the big time yet, but thanks to some popular linkers, The American Mind, and some behind-the-scenes assistance from other (female as well as male) writers, it has been getting many tens of thousands of views, including by some potentially very influential people.

Anyhow, what I suggest is that people can combat wokeism simply by encouraging the circulation and discussion, on the Internet or wherever else they can, of this hypothesis that wokeism and related cultural shifts are only the downstream effects of cultural/elite feminization—i.e., of a maternal mindset that is dangerously out of its depth. If, having that hypothesis to guide them, people start to see supporting examples every day and become convinced of the peril to their civilization—then wokeism will be undermined, and I think that at least in its most excessive forms it ultimately must collapse.

Collapse is one metaphor, although melt—from the dissolving effects of better knowledge—may be more apt.

To what end? the wokeists cry! Do we want to silence women? Do we want to declare them unfit for public life, turning the clock back 200 years and confining them to the home?

Well, no—anyway I don’t want that. I think there is room for some rollback of women’s employment in very important professions, such as the military and police, in which men have certain innate advantages and women are apt to cause unhelpful distraction by their presence. But on the whole I think the solution to the “pink shift” problem is to limit the damage that any demographic group can do when it is captured by some infectious ideology to which it is especially susceptible.

In other words, I think the solution is broadly to limit the power of government, corporations, media, etc. to suppress or to alter the essentials of a sustainable and relatively liberal Western civilization, including the traditional virtues, structures and drives relating to family formation, free-ish markets, due process of law, and free scientific inquiry. No one has benefited more from this liberal civilization than women! And perhaps as women look around at all the burning, looting, anarchy and madness that wokeism promotes, they may start to agree—like the many female refugees from the similar excesses of the 1960s—that in a tough world where women are still the weaker sex, wokeism ultimately isn’t going to be good for them.