Wokeness is not new to me. In the early 2000s I was a liberal arts student at the University of Florida. I was trained in a Woke belief system (if you could call it a belief system). All of my Sociology professors were far-far-left and held what I would call a “proto-woke” ideology. So during my time as an undergrad, I was exposed to heavy critiques of American/Western history and culture. I never denied these critiques.
In fact, I wrote several papers on topics like “Systemic Racism in the United States” and “Racist Tendencies in Zionist Efforts in the Middle East”. To this day I can understand, appreciate, and articulate valid criticism of Western Liberalism. As a student, some of my professors in Sociology and Psychology became mentors to me and even encouraged me to pursue my PhD and become a Social Scientist.
So with all that being said, I don’t think my critique of Wokeness is reactionary, nor do I think I’m simply having a knee-jerk reaction due to my “white fragility” (as one online commenter implied of me).
I’ve pondered the various social theories that formed and birthed Wokeness for almost twenty years, and I’ve come to some conclusions…
Although I believe “Woke ideology” accurately defines many modern social problems in the United States and/or the West, I emphatically stress that it is a fundamentally flawed philosophy. Why do I believe this? Because Wokeness centers around a neo-Marxist view of the world that seems to often be (to use one of my old Sociological terms) hyper-monocausal in its analysis of complicated social problems. In other words, modern Wokeness tends to oversimplify things and leads someone to think that social issues, such as the African American plight in America, have only one cause that should be considered.
Can Wokeness help inform an uninformed American and/or Westerner on the darker parts of their history? Yes. Can Marxism provide a helpful, cautionary commentary on capitalism? Yes, I believe so.
As a follower of Christ, I affirm that human nature is corrupt, and Marx’s observations are not wrong. Broken and greedy human beings, privileged by various God-given and/or social graces, often find ways to exploit the disadvantaged and consolidate power, wealth, and control for themselves. This greed produces various types of oppression against the more vulnerable and underprivileged segments of the population.
Marxism as a social commentary is one thing, but the problem starts when people seek to implement these theories to bring about a “utopia” through social revolution and dismantling of powers. Whenever and wherever people have adopted this radical approach to Marxism, things do not end well. That’s not my opinion. That’s just the truth. Study the last 100 years of world history and you will see that people groups (or nations) who embrace an unfettered, imbalanced Marxist worldview do not ultimately move themselves towards happiness, prosperity and freedom. Never. I’ve not been able to find even one case study where radical devotion to implementing Marxist doctrines ever produced prosperity, nor has Marxist doctrines ever been able to deal a death blow to its greatest enemy, human oppression.
One fatal flaw of Marxism is that it seems to always paint the oppressed person as possessing some inherent virtue, and thus incapable of major sin. Marx didn’t make this claim verbatim, but it seems Marxists tend to start to believe oppressed people are not capable of evil. The oppressed person is always the victim. I would suggest this is a byproduct of all Marxist thinking, because essentially Marxism is only focused on the sins of another. The rich person is bad. This thus causes the Marxist revolutionary to be near-sighted and doomed to see history repeat itself. When you dethrone the Oppressor, eventually, another person rises up to take his place. Yes, Marxism can bring about social revolution and change, but in the power vacuum, it always seems that a person, coming out of the ranks of the Oppressed, becomes the new Oppressor. Marxism kills one Oppressor and in turn replaces it with another.
After thinking about it for awhile, I’ve coined this new extreme Wokeness Marxism as “Ethos-Marxism” to distinguish it from its Marxist predecessors. But like Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, and the multiple Latin American flavors and attempts to implement Socialism/Communism, Wokeness is absolutely a reworking of classic Karl Marx thinking and principles. Wokeness follows all the same beats of power struggle, oppression, and social revolution; and like all Marxist dogma, Ethos-Marxism suffers the same pitfalls.
Let me give you my definition of “Ethos-Marxism”.
Ethos-Marxism is the belief that:
- The world is best (and really only) understood as the eternal struggle between the “Oppressor“ and “Oppressed”. While original Marxist doctrine drew the battle lines along economic-social classes of people, i.e. the “haves” and “have nots”, this newer Ethos-Marxism divides people along various “ethos groups”, or generally accepted historical, cultural and social identity groups.
Some popular “ethos groups” adopted by modern Ethos-Marxists first identified by the Oppressor then the Oppressed:
a. Men (mostly white men) vs. Women (of all colors)
b. White people (of all economic classes, and “Uncle Tom” blacks, i.e. black conservatives) vs. Black people (sometimes, but not always, including all non-whites and people of color)
c. Binary Men and Binary Women (biological males who identify as males and biological females who identify as females, of all colors, and any beliefs not accepting the main tenants of LGBTQ+ philosophy) vs. LGBTQ+ (of all colors, genders, non-gender, and sometimes, but not always, including any heterosexual or homosexual person wholly devoted to the tenants of modern LGBTQ+ beliefs and values)
- The only real problem facing any oppressed people group is the active, albeit sometimes unconscious, oppression from their corresponding Oppressor. No other significant contributing factor to the Oppressed’s problem is recognized. In fact, if anyone denies that the Oppressor is the sole problem and seeks to test various theories, this person shows themself to be an Oppressor, a subliminal racist, homophobe or transphobe, and are unconsciously, but maliciously, attempting to impose their binary, heterosexual “whiteness” on the Oppressed.
- Importantly, if the Oppressor will not comply absolutely with the demands of the Oppressed, the Oppressor is to be torn down, their property destroyed, and platform silenced. Whatever it takes to see the Oppressor removed, the Oppressed is entitled to do so that the Oppressed may rebuild a society that will give equal treatment to all. (Now, it’s important to understand this line of thinking) The Oppressor IS the problem. So if the Oppressor can be silenced and/or destroyed, then the Oppressed will finally be free and able to reach their dreams and goals.
- The Oppressed should not immediately start with political violence, but be generous and noble to the Oppressor, giving each Oppressor the chance to repent and forsake their conscious or unconscious racism and/or fascism. In showing the fruits of repentance, the Oppressor must submit to reeducation, publicly acknowledge their privilege, and forgo any attempts to further broadcast their conscious or unconscious racism and/or fascism. Unfortunately, more often than not, most Oppressors need to be silenced or destroyed, since at the end of the day the Oppressor IS the root of all problems facing the world. Once the Oppressor has been properly dismantled, the Oppressed can finally see their dignity restored to them and obtain a real chance to pursue their dreams. Once freed from their oppression, the Oppressed will never again have to deal with power struggles or inequality, because the Oppressed, by virtue of the oppression, are inherently good and noble people, incapable of wrongdoing. This is also why every Oppressed person should be encouraged to attempt a peaceful transition of power with their wicked and corrupt Oppressor, because they are super good people.
In my observation, Marxism tends to promise a lot, but give very little. It promises a utopia, but does not deliver. Worst of all, radical Marxist beliefs seem to resonate most with embittered and resentful people, who cast off all personal responsibility and long for simple solutions to complicated matters. I don’t say this lightly, but people seduced by the oversimplification of radical Wokeness, if unchecked, have absolutely the same potential to bring about human misery, political violence, and social disaster that every attempt to implement Marxism has ever produced in the last 100 years.