Keeping up with the FITs, No. 23
The Woke and the Religious; and the new new Right
John McWhorter’s book, Woke Racism, came out on Tuesday the 26th, and I quickly read it. He says that we should treat anti-racism as a religion. You cannot argue with religious zealots. You should not cave into them. You should work around them.
Separately, in a podcast taped a few months ago but which only became available recently, Jordan Peterson, Jonathan Haidt, and Steven Pinker also talk about the role of religiosity, or religious psychology, in the Woke phenomenon. They talk about other things as well, and the conversation includes a lot of disagreements. Highly recommended—make time for it.
I appreciate the overlap between religion and Wokeism. Both use shared irrational beliefs as a binding mechanism. Both tend to divide humanity into adherents and heretics. But the analogy with something like Christianity is not perfect. There is no church hierarchy. There is no official central council. There are no regular meetings to worship or conferences to connect adherents.
Perhaps in the 21st-century media environment you do not need as much structure to have a religion. What would Christianity be like if the early followers of Jesus could have used Facebook? Would it never have occurred to them to institute a custom of praying a church?
Antonio Garcia Martinez looks at the other end of the political spectrum.
Another important figure here is Patrick Deneen, a Notre Dame professor and author of Why Liberalism Failed, a tour-de-force jeremiad against what liberalism has become in our time (rather than what Mill or Locke once theorized). . .
I’m sympathetic to Deneen’s critiques (as is Obama). The Times piece quotes and references him extensively, and rightly so, as he’s perhaps the most cogent critic of liberalism writing today.
I recently offered my mixed feelings about this new right phenomenon. And three years ago I wrote a (negative) take on Deneen’s book.
“But the analogy with something like Christianity is not perfect. There is no church hierarchy. There is no official central council. There are no regular meetings to worship or conferences to connect adherents”
Although it does not have the breadth and depth of say, the Catholic Church, a case could be made that the Democratic National Committee has the potential to, or already serves as that hierarchy? Or one of several?
"But the analogy with something like Christianity is not perfect. There is no church hierarchy. There is no official central council."
Other religions may be available.
For what it's worth, Parkinson spent some time in Evolution of Political Thought drawing the Communism as Religion analogy.