Wokeism Will not be Defeated Politically, 2/5
A reader of Andrew Sullivan’s substack writes,
I’m aware that there’s a problem here. But the solution is not to ban specific ideas from being taught. (When has that ever worked?) Because the problem is not CRT. It’s activist teachers, teaching kids what to think, rather than how to think (to use your own words). And I don’t want kids indoctrinated with Rufo’s ideas any more than I want them blindly believing in Robin DiAngelo’s.
Subsequently, Sullivan himself writes,
The trouble is that banning courses restricts discourse, and does not expand it. It gives woke racialist theories the sheen of “forbidden knowledge.” It removes the moral high-ground from those seeking to defend liberal learning from ideologues of any variety. And it sets an early lesson for kids that the right response to bad arguments is to get authorities to suppress them — exactly what the woke believe — and not to marshal arguments that refute them. Greg Lukianoff calls this “unlearning liberty.”
N.S. Lyons doubts that the political defeats that the Woke have suffered so far and are likely to suffer in the near term will stem the tide of this movement.
One would think that by now all these anti-woke conservatives and moderate liberals would have learned at least some of the bitter lessons from the last decade about how political power and cultural change actually work, but I guess not. They could have taken note of all the fundamental factors driving this ideological belief system, all of which had to be painstakingly uncovered, layer by layer, even as it swept through every institution. But they have not. (Like, do they even read the pages and pages of erudite Substack anthropology on the topic? No?) They could have recognized by now that this is not a simple political issue with a political solution, but they have not.
He lists twenty (!) points against the view that the Woke revolution has peaked. Among them:
One does not simply walk away from religious beliefs. . .Majorities don’t matter. . .All the institutional high ground is still occupied. . .Culture wars are generational wars, and the young are woke as hell. . .Elite overproduction is still in overdrive.
The opposition is still only political. Given all of the above, it should be clear by now that political opposition to the Revolution is rather unlikely to be sufficient – not without resistance on the cultural, educational, economic, technological, and media fronts as well, at a minimum. Yet what else has emerged so far? As outlined in detail above, the woke left is unloading huge amounts of cash to advance the social causes that matter to them. On what social causes has the right matched this level of funding, or even enthusiasm?
it seems to me that the woke revolution, as co-opted by the elite, is being tailored to point not towards dissolution and lawless chaos forever, but towards a re-ordering that brings with it a great centralization and unification of power. In this revolution the liberation and safety of the individual by the state becomes the greatest good. Each individual comes under the tender, empathetic care of the state alone, which ensures their “liberty” through safety.
Have a nice day.
I do think that the current generation of 15 to 30 year-olds is a mess. But perhaps the wokest of them won’t breed. Maybe the next generation will have a lower proportion of neurotics, and society will recover.
"Defeating Wokeism"? What does that even mean? When I try to get the dandelions out of my lawn, I am not trying to drive the entire species into extinction. Am I not supposed to even try to keep my own little patch green unless I am convinced my actions are contributing to the Final Solution To The Weed Question? Good grief.
Rufo Laws aren't about that, just throttling down the nasty CRT lies getting shoved down the throats of public school kids. Just like noted liberal (I guess?) Andrew Sullivan says should happen, in this very article. If these laws aren't going to accomplish anything (as Sullivan says they won't if they are too specific), then why all the protest?
That article of his is a piece of work, about as inconsistent and incoherent and gullible as he's ever been. It's certainly possible to be torn or ambivalent about some controversy without contradicting yourself every other sentence.
"A better way is to insist that any course or lesson that involves critical theory must include an alternative counterpoint."
Nice, he discovers adversarial pedagogy! But he hasn't thought it through. How is this going to work in practice without "restricting the discourse"?
He extends the Overton Window all the way to Hurston, McWhorter, and Loury. How very generous of him! But, you know, why stop there? The spectrum of opposition to CRT goes so much further. Are the kids going to read some choice excerpts from Calhoun and Dabney? And why stop at NHJ or Kendi on the left? Frankly, they are pretty tame and mediocre compared to their more serious predecessors - and likely successors - they are mere Mensheviks, paving the way for the Bolsheviks. Dessalines and Malema have lots more to say, and they don't even have bronze medals if you want to get really hard core about it.
Sullivan's been on the internet long enough to know that this is merely the tip of the iceberg, so, what about all the other stuff - all good for Mrs. Johnson's sixth grade history class? All of it gets in, indeed, all of it *must* get in? Poor little Jessica and Tommy, I don't think they were quite ready for all those graphic extremes of extremes, but you know, wouldn't want to restrict the discourse.
Well, duh, obviously that is not workable even in theory, so the discourse is gonna get restricted, but then, we are right back to the whole big question: if we are going to have public schools at all, then who decides?
"And I absolutely get where the parents are coming from. What else are they supposed to do, confronted with a woke educational establishment that lies to them, and brooks no compromise?"
Well, I guess Sullivan isn't going to go with "the educational establishment" as the answer! But then, what other principle does his very non-ugly "ban CRT outright" 'liberalism' have, besides, uh, parents and voters, through, um, laws ... But, but ... liberal=!liberal => syntax error, does not compute!
Speaking of both incoherence and of laws:
"If your kid, black or white, is treated differently by a school or a teacher in class because of his or her race, there is already a remedy: the Civil Rights Act of 1964.... If your son is told he is inherently toxic because he is a boy, or straight, sue."
What about if he's told he's privileged because he's white, no matter how rough his life has been? Sue? Did Sullivan get this from that liar French? What about if the Asian kid has to meet a much higher standard than a Latino kid to get accepted to a *state* university?
You don't need a CRA for that, it's right there in the 14th Amendment! The constitution is even better at protecting your right to not be deprived of the "equal protection of the laws" than some mere act, right? Surely you can just sue in federal court for ... oh ... wait ... yeah, you can't. See, the judges who interpret the constitution and the CRA said *that* kind of unequal treatment is ok, for reasons, and that, as judges, they can make exceptions to rights, when they think it's really important for there for be an exception, "which we promise we'll only grant in extreme circumstances, trust us!"
At any rate, the CRA obviously doesn't provide a remedy for *any* of the stuff people are complaining about. Show me the lawsuit wins. Just one! See, if it did, people would be suing and winning all the time, and teachers and administrators would be intimidated and chilled, and they would be censoring the CRT on their own. Which, duh, they are not at all, that - and all the lawsuit wins - are all on the other side. Huh, funny about that.
But let's imagine some theoretical world in which the suing under the CRA was effective. Ok, now let's imagine that the CRA didn't exist yet, and the teachers were doing these nasty things in the public schools. What would Sullivan suggest those desperate parents do to rein in that terrible educational establishment?
Well, I guess they would have to organize politically and elect people so that they could ... pass the CRA, a law, that would ban the nasty activity, by giving the parents the right to sue to stop it. And that's 'liberal' and not 'ugliness', because it's the cool status quo and what Sullivan suggests they do, yes? No? Maybe? Was the language of the Civil Rights Act a power grab from the left wing or the right wing, too general or too specific, or Goldilocks-approved on all counts? Why is the 'liberal' line right there, but not a millimeter further towards parents determining for themselves where the lines for the inevitable discourse restriction should be drawn?
Battles of wit and contests of opinion between competing political and social interests can be engaging and entertaining, but the outcomes don't change the tide. Change will come as people are given a choice to leave corrupt institutions for something better. For public education, the growth of "school choice" may prove to be the game-changer. Granted, fully blue states will restrict such growth and I am resigned to think the populations of these states will become ever more rigid in their worldview. However, as a whole for American society, I expect the argument for personal Liberty and Freedom of Conscience to gain momentum and to change the social trajectory.
Thomas Paine observed: "Panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered." (The American Crisis, 1776)
The moral collapse of American society has peaked with Covid and "blue state" officials demanding citizens mask to protect themselves from what has now - based on actual CDC data - become the common cold. Please note, I am not claiming SARS-COV2 was a cold, but that the viral evolution and widespread community exposure / immunity has made the virus endemic and akin to a common cold.
The masking and vaccine demands of progressive leaders (most extreme at Ivy league schools, of all things!) has brought to light the extreme illogical superstitious beliefs of the "Woke" crowd. The choice between the two worlds has been made stark and clear. The progressives embrace a society of made up rules arbitrarily created and enforced with puritanical zeal. Their world is attractive to zealots, Machiavellians, and weak-minded sycophants. The alternative is a world that expects individuals to make their own choices and accept personal responsibility for failure.
Now that people are seeing with clear vision what a culture of socialized blame provides, a culture of personal accountability becomes a lot more attractive. I agree that the institutional control held by progressives is daunting. But progressive management is leading those institutions to collapse. I believe the collapse will be more sudden than we anticipate - we need to remember how quickly the Soviet Union fell apart once the cracks of its control appeared.
Lastly, "Conservatives" must realize that they don't win by defeating "Liberalism". Victory occurs when principles of Liberty and Freedom are adopted as core beliefs for government and social institutions. Any politician or pundit who engages in the argument with replacing mandate 'X' with mandate 'Y' is an obstacle to progress.