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Left Is Not Woke

Left Is Not Woke

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Calmly but fiercely defending the principles of universalism and progress that once defined the left, she gives us a counter to the narrow tribalism that threatens to derail progressive politics.

As a result, wokeism conflicts with ideas that have guided the left for more than 200 years: a commitment to universalism, a firm distinction between justice and power, and a belief in the possibility of progress. If there are still holes in your knowledge of “woke” culture, you can turn to Joanna Williams’ How Woke Won: The Elitist Movement that Threatens Democracy, Tolerance and Reason (2022); Ralph Calabrese’s Toxic Femininity: Why Woke Women are Trying to Disable Our Youth, Minorities, and Civilization (2021); Kevin Donnelly’s The Dictionary of Woke: How Orwellian Language Control and Group Think Are Destroying Western Societies (2022); Stephen Soukup’s The Dictatorship of Woke Capital (2023); and D. John Locke, undoubtedly one of the most influential political philosophers in European history, owned shares in slave-trading companies and leveraged Enlightenment “reason” to defend the practice. The looming danger of an ephemeral enemy of the people – the “woke” – has been a financial boon to traditional print media. Furthermore, her neat dismissal of “theory”, her occasional cobbling together of a thinker’s position from a few disparate quotes, and the simplistic dichotomies that structure each chapter (universal vs.

Personally, I think it best to view the term “woke” in light of how it functions as a speech act: as a “snarl word” (to use the technical term S.

The intellectual roots and resources of wokeism conflict with ideas that have guided the left for more than 200 years: a commitment to universalism, a firm distinction between justice and power, and a belief in the possibility of progress. While Enlightenment philosophers made grandiose claims about rights, justice, and reason, scholars asked if it was possible to reconcile those vaunted ideals with the fact that the period witnessed a rapid expansion in European colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and discourses of “scientific” racism. Indeed she stresses the numbers of white Americans who rallied behind the Black Lives Matter protests of several years ago, which would seem to disprove her central assertion. Neiman goes on to list a series of brutal empires before noting: “[a]s far as we know, there was one thing they lacked: a guilty conscience”. Much of the content in her book is taken directly from the 2022 talk, with some interesting exceptions.

Struggling to define her terms, Neiman also struggles to clearly articulate the (imagined) position of her (imagined) “woke” interlocutors, who become the straw men one suspects she really wants them to be. Susan Neiman's provocative book is an impassioned defense against the corrosive particularisms that have eroded solidarity on the left.

Richard Wolin’s 2023 book, Heidegger in Ruins , stands as an illustrative example, deftly tying together the evidence of Heidegger’s malign influence on some parts of leftist thinking; Neiman’s book does not. Neiman rightly acknowledges that this “happens daily in the name of corporate globalism,” but corporate globalism isn’t “woke” according to Neiman. Kant in fact went far beyond the racism typical of Enlightenment figures, as, for example, when he offers the following advice: “use a split bamboo cane instead of whip, so that the Negro will suffer a great deal of pains (because of the Negro’s thick skin, he would not be racked with sufficient agonies through a whip) but without dying”. But there is a reason this book was put to print so quickly (so quickly it lacks an index, although it is sufficiently footnoted), which has to do with the shape of politics in the world at large. Education, health, leisure, and even sex—they all came under the purview of new scientific discourses and government policies, which set up distinctions between what was normal or acceptable and what was not.Kant was of course a man of his time, but, as Stella Sandford points out, “he was racist even by the standards of his day”.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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