The Cult of Wokeness

As you may know, I do not normally want to engage in any kind of political talk. I’m not entirely sure if you can even call this topic ‘political’, because free speech, science, rationality and objectivity are cornerstones of the Western world, and form the basis of the constitution of most Western countries.

And as you may know, I have spoken out against pseudoscience before. And I have also been critical of deceptive marketing claims and hypes from hardware and software vendors, somewhat closer to home for me, as a software engineer. I value honesty, objectivity, rationality and science, because they have brought us so much over the course of history, and they can bring us so much more in the future (and with ‘us’ I mean all of humanity, because I am a humanist).

However, in current times it seems that these values have come under pressure, from a thing known as cancel culture. To make a very long and complicated story short, currently there is a “Woke” cult, which bases itself on identity politics and Critical race theory. In short, they think within a hierarchy of oppressors and oppressed identity groups. Any ‘oppressing group’ is not allowed to have any say or opinion on any ‘oppressed group’. That is their simplistic view of ‘social justice’, ‘racism’, ‘sexism’ and related topics.

It is somewhat of a combination of postmodernist thinking and neo-Marxism. It is rather difficult to explain it all in just a few sentences, but the basic concept is that they see everything as a ‘social construct’. So man-made. Which also means that they can ‘deconstruct’ these things. They see language as a way to construct and deconstruct things. Basically, society works a certain way because of human behaviour, and language is a big part of that. By redefining language, you can ‘deconstruct’ certain behaviour, if that makes sense. It is pseudoscience of course.

A common example is the redefinition of ‘racism’, into something that is defined by what the ‘victim’ experiences. By turning this definition around, they can now argue that you can be racist even if you didn’t intend to, because that no longer matters. If someone claims they have ‘experienced racism’, then it is true, and you must be a racist. They extend this to a concept of ‘institutional racism’, where just as with racism, it’s never entirely clear what an ‘institution’ is, but again it does not matter, because as long as a ‘victim’ has ‘experienced institutional racism’, then it must be true, and therefore institutional racism must exist, even if it can’t or won’t be defined.

In general that is the modus operandi of this Woke cult: they favour feelings and emotions over facts. In other words, they value subjectivity over objectivity. I suppose you understand how that affects the world as we know it, especially science and technology. This can go as far as them not accepting facts, because since objectivity does not exist, facts are always subjective, they are a ‘social construct’ as well. They claim that other people can have ‘other ways of knowing’ (which is basically a way of saying ‘magic’). Recently, there even was a discussion of how “2+2=4″ is not always true. For some people it could be “2+2=5”.

This is just a short introduction, but I urge you to dig into this more. There are various online sources. A good starting point is the site New Discourses. Another good source is Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. He has put up a short page on postmodernism and Marxism on his website. You can also find various of his talks on the subject on YouTube and such.

Online there are many Social Justice Warriors who will attack anyone with a wrong ‘opinion’. They don’t do this by using free speech, as in engaging in a conversation and exchanging viewpoints. They do this by basically drowning out these people. A mob mentality. They try to ‘cancel’ these people, to deplatform them.

This also leads to virtue signalling, where people post certain opinions for no apparent reason, to show they’re ‘on the good side’ (probably because they’re afraid to get cancelled themselves).

I started noticing that last thing on Twitter over the past year or so. I mostly follow tech-related people. And it occurred to me that quite a few people would post rainbow flags, and discuss trans rights and things. So I started wondering “why are they doing this? Are there so many gay/trans people in tech? I have been following this person for quite a while, and afaik they’re neither gay nor trans or anything, so what gives?”

Apparently this Woke-cult has been growing in the liberal arts colleges in the USA for many years, and it is now coming out, and trying to take over the world (some ‘academics’ are part of this, they have the credentials, but their work does not meet scientific standards, such as Robin DiAngelo and her book “White Fragility”). The Black Lives Matter movement and Antifa are the most visible manifestations of this cult at the moment. And they are trying to deconstruct many parts of society.

They want to ‘decolonize’ society, and are even attacking things like mathematics now. They claim it is a ‘social construct’ to manifest white supremacy. They want to remove the objectivity and ‘rehumanize’ mathematics. Does that sound crazy? Yes, it does. But I’m not making this up, as you can see.

Mathematics is perhaps the most abstract phenomenon you can think of, and is completely unbiased to any human. It is just pure logic and facts. It led to computers, who use mathematics to perform all sorts of tasks, again, purely with logic (arithmetic) and facts (data). Entirely unbiased to any human. And now you are proposing to look at the race and/or (ethnic) background of children to somehow teach them different kinds of mathematics? Firstly, that’s a racist thing to do. Secondly, it destroys mathematics, because it will no longer be a universal, unbiased language. The paper claims that it is merely a myth that mathematics is objective and culture-free. Yet it gives no explanation whatsoever, let alone a proof that this would be a myth.

If anything, I’d say there’s plenty of proof around. So much of our technology works on the basis of mathematic principles. And that same technology works all over the world. There are people all over the world who understand these same mathematic principles, regardless of their race, background, culture or anything.

The issue with these things is that from a distance, they sound noble, but when you dig deeper, things are not quite what they seem. Eventually, most people will (hopefully) reach their Woke breaking point. Make sure you know your boundaries, and know when those lines are crossed, and act accordingly.

Anyway, there are many different instances of this Woke-cult, and we have to stop it. We have to prevent it from taking over our world, and destroy everything we’ve worked so hard for to create. So, if you were not aware yet, then hopefully you are now, and hopefully you understand that you need to get to grips with what this Woke-cult is, so that you can recognize it. Note that it is also very much in the mainstream media these days. Look out for things like ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’.

The New York Times for example, is a very clear example of a media outlet that is taken over entirely by the Woke-cult. Bari Weiss resigned there recently, and she published her resignation letter, which speaks volumes. You can also find it in the Washington Post and many other papers. It’s also with CNN, for example. Once you get a feeling of what to look for, you should pick up on Woke-media quickly. They basically all have a single viewpoint, and their articles are completely interchangeable. There are no real opinion pieces anymore, just propaganda.

It’s gone so far that some media, most notably the Australian Spectator, are actually promoting themselves as “Woke-free” media:

So, let us fight the good fight, for all of humanity!

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16 Responses to The Cult of Wokeness

  1. Old Acquaintance says:

    Looking at the “Rehumanizing” report, it does not seem to deal with mathematics per se, but brings up issues pertaining to school math education. It is not the first critique of school education, math or in general. At least some of the issues raised (say, focus on grading, or equal pacing, or avoiding innovation) seem pertinent. It takes a certain angle for sure, and surely disagreeable in parts, but should it be so easily and wholly dismissed?

    I think the same goes for everything else. It’s too easy to draw things into the absurd, on all sides. The principle of charity is fading in today’s world. Let us be responsible for sustaining it.

  2. reenigne says:

    Scali, as much as I’d rather be talking about technical things, I felt the need to challenge some of the things in this piece. I hope you’ll take my response as rational engagement and not virtue signalling (I don’t know if anyone will see it but you) or as trying to drown you out (I haven’t told anyone else about this article). I have been spending a lot of time in the company of intersectional feminists and LGBTQIA+ people over the past couple of years, and I have come to see that there is a lot of merit in the social justice movement that you are opposing in this article. You would probably therefore describe me as “woke”. Your article is a caricature of what we believe, bearing scant resemblance to reality. None of the people I have talked to would argue that objective reality doesn’t exist and mathematical facts are matters of opinion – either that’s the most extreme people in the movement (which would be like taking the Westboro Baptist Church to be a representative example of Christianity) or it’s a straw man argument set up by those hostile to the movement (I suspect some of each).
    There are a lot of gay and trans people in tech. A lot of them are afraid to be open about it. I know (off the top of my head) three trans women just in the UK demoscene. There are probably others. Many of those who aren’t gay or trans want to support gay and trans people because they have friends who are, or because they want to be kind and welcoming to these people (who did not choose to be this way and should not have to feel ashamed of it).
    Yes, you absolutely can be racist without intending to. The point is to call out such forms of racism because they can still be harmful even if not malicious, and to try to get people to do better. And institutions absolutely can be racist – consider the US justice system: even if the laws are not written to be racist, there are racist cops, racist prosecutors, racist judges, racist prison guards and racist parole officers. Laws are enforced much more harshly against black people than against white people (look at the statistics). The US justice system as a whole is an institution, and a racist one.
    Fighting to try to make life better for marginalised people is completely compatible with honesty, rationality, objectivity and science.
    So much more I could say but I will stop there.

    • Scali says:

      I just want to respond to a few things.
      “Yes, you absolutely can be racist without intending to.”
      I suppose that depends on your definition of ‘racist’ and ‘intent’. The way I interpret these terms, it is fundamentally impossible to be racist without intent.

      “Fighting to try to make life better for marginalised people is completely compatible with honesty, rationality, objectivity and science.”

      I think this is exactly what I’m trying to say here: we have a very enlightened society, and its values of honesty, rationality, objectivity, science, and most importantly in this context: INDIVIDUALITY are perfectly compatible with trying to make life better for marginalised people. In fact, one could say the system is more or less designed exactly for this.
      The point I am trying to make is that the Woke-cult with its simplified identity politics and intersectionalism is NOT compatible with all the other values of our society. They see everything as power-struggles, oppressors vs oppressed, which inevitably leads to discrimination and perhaps even a totalitarian system. Because your status depends on the groups you belong to, and these groups can only have one possible opinion.

      And I wish it was a caricature, but a lot of dangerous and downright scary things have already happened because of this. One of our universities stopped hiring men altogether, because of some arbitrary measure that there weren’t ‘enough women’. A judge has since ruled that this discriminatory policy is unlawful, and it had to be retracted. But the damage has already been done: for over a year, men had no chance to apply for jobs at that university. And the women who were hired there, will never know whether they were hired because of their skills, or because of their gender.

      Another thing that happened today is that F1 driver Charles Leclerc has been mobbed on social media and been called a racist because he did not want to take the knee at the start of the F1 races.

      Some say it’s like a frog in slowly boiling water. They take small steps at a time, but it gets more ridiculous with every step. For me it has crossed a few lines some time ago.

      You have to view people for what they do, what they’re capable of, not for who they are. Things they can’t change, like gender, sexual orientation, skin colour etc. That is a dangerous thing.

      • Peter says:

        “Things they can’t change, like gender” Well, it’s certainly possible to have a sex-change operation these days 🙂
        I fully agree with the article. Maybe one thing I’d add is that I believe most people have good intentions, there are very few who actually want to turn things upside down.
        Seeing that you’ve linked New Discourses you’re probably familiar with the talks of Helen Pluckrose, she mentions that the identity politics movement is probably not as well supported as it seems to be. Simply due to the fact that most people do believe that racism is bad and don’t know a lot about the movement, so they don’t challenge it openly but don’t support it either. As you said it can lead to the frog being slowly cooked situation but I believe that capitalism will sort this out. Most corporations are on board with these causes just enough to avoid possible future litigation but will ignore them when making important decisions. Media and Universities are a different subject though.
        “Make sure you know your boundaries, and know when those lines are crossed, and act accordingly.” – well put. If someone’s calling you a racist or even implying this for no real reason (eg. white guilt, “fragility”), they’re being very disrespectful to you. This is manipulation, a sort of a “power play” that the whole movement is allegedly opposing. Also telling you that you should be ashamed just because you happened to be born as a white person is in fact racist (implying that you are a bad person because of your skin color).

      • Scali says:

        “Well, it’s certainly possible to have a sex-change operation these days”
        True… and I suppose you can have your skin colour bleached if you really want to. But either way, it’s not something that most people would want to do, and even if they did, they’d only move from one ‘group’ to the ‘other’. Which actually is weird, because allegedly your status would change intersectionally, based on something that doesn’t change anything about your personality. It’s just your appearance that changes. Which only shows how shallow this way of thinking is.

        My view is that nobody chose what culture they belong to, what skin colour they have, what gender they have etc. So it is not fair to judge people on any of these things. And especially not “You’re white, so you’re racist”. That’s just insane. Especially considering that they think black people can’t be racist (even though some of them are. One example is Malcolm X and his Nation of Islam).

        And yes, I’m familiar with Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay. They also published a number of ‘scientific’ articles based on intersectional thought, and some of them were actually accepted in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Which is rather hilarious, because these articles were fake and sarcastic in nature. It shows that these people have suffered brain rot to the extent that they can’t tell real science from nonsense anymore.
        They also have the book Cynical Theories coming out, which covers Critical Theory and everything around it, which should be a very good read: https://www.amazon.com/Cynical-Theories-Scholarship-Everything-Identity_and/dp/1634312023

      • t says:

        Scali: my humble opinion: one side of the “debate” may be getting people fired for silly reasons, but let us not forget that there is another side that is — very literally — putting their knees on people’s necks. In dealing with the problem of “postmodernists”, perhaps we should not lose sight of the Bigger Problem.

      • Scali says:

        There is a problem yes. Violent criminals who overdose on drugs, resist arrest etc. In some cases, that has unfortunate outcomes. Some of these criminals happen to be black, and activist media focus their attention on that. Criminals of other ethnicities in the same circumstances, are not widely published.
        The BLM narrative is based on lies.

      • t says:

        Scali: Then in that case, why have we not heard of white criminals who had the knee applied to their necks? Why is it that even the supposedly “Woke-free”, “politically incorrect” media fail to mention a single case of such a thing? I am sorry, but the idea that racist cops are not a thing, and that is all the fault of “activist media” — I cannot see how it all can add up in any rational way.

      • Scali says:

        Really? I think the idea of racist cops out to exterminate the black population requires a much larger stretch of the imagination. Anyway, listen to what people like Thomas Sowell have to say on the subject.

      • t says:

        Scali: they do not need to be “out to exterminate the black population”. They just need to have a visceral fear (or whatever) against black people. Of course we cannot reliably intuit the states of mind of policemen. But we can clearly, empirically see the effect of whatever their states of mind are — and it is that some people are being choked to death. One does not need to be a Senior Fellow writing outside his field of study to see that there is something real going on.

        (Another opinion of mine: I think individuality and free thought are pretty important and all, but empathy — what Wade Davis calls “community … the very idea of society” — is also indispensable in any enlightened society. After all, if I am not willing to care about the needs and wants of other people, then why should other people suddenly care about my needs and wants?)

      • Scali says:

        There are people of all colours in the police force as well. And how many racists do you really think there are? I think your problem is that you’ve never seen a police officer keeping someone under control in some kind of body lock. In this case using his knee. This sort of thing happens regularly (with people of any colour, either cop or criminal) when trying to arrest dangerous criminals. Most of the time without them dying because they haven’t overdosed on drugs, so you’ll never hear of it. I really don’t care debating this. It’s not my problem that you don’t want to see what is really happening, and I don’t care discussing it.

      • t says:

        Scali: So basically, you are now asserting a lot of facts without evidence — all while simultaneously criticizing “activists” of “pseudo-science”. I will only note that we can at least still live — in peace — to agree to disagree, which is more than can be said about many people. Peace out and thanks.

      • Scali says:

        Yes, the evidence is there, I gave you a source to start looking into it. I don’t think we need to ‘battle it out’ in the comments section. It’s not my job to convince you with evidence on a blog, in comments. Instead of investigating the lead I gave you, you continue to just be argumentative in the comments.
        What I say are facts, and the evidence is there. That’s the difference.

      • Scali says:

        Here’s a video that shows various sources on police violence, and explains how activist media frame the numbers vs what these numbers actually mean statistically, exactly as I said before:

  3. Marv says:

    As always, I’m a little late to the party …

    It is my utmost belief that science, mathematics, and technology should be both politically and ideologically independent. It is those ideologues such as the “woke cult” that you mentioned who are dangerously threatening to interfere with the independent review process of these rigorously established subjects just so they can fit their own “politically correct” narrative in the name of social justice …

  4. Pingback: The Cult of Wokeness, followup | Scali's OpenBlog™

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