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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Wokeism is applied postmodernism

The masks and quarantining that we're experiencing now are symbolic of what wokesters want in the world of ideas.

M uch has been made about how wokeism is a moralistic religion, but an insightful critique by Kit Wilson at Aero reminds us that the rioting and chaos we're now seeing are also a form of applied postmodernism:

The crux of the problem has to do with language. There is widespread confusion among today's activists—many of whom are only loosely familiar with Critical Theory—about language and its relationship with reality.

Most of them would deny, for instance, that language has fixed definitions. They claim, that is, that words are not attached by some metaphysical umbilical cord to actual things out there from which they get their meanings, but that they are created by humans and projected onto the world. On the other hand, they contend that—for the sake of moral progress—language needs to be purified and meticulously policed.

Since, according to po-mo doctrine, nothing—least of all a word—has any objective meaning, he says there are no guidelines to the idea that one can change the world by changing language, and no endpoint to the amount of chaos and destruction the wokesters will produce.

Wilson also brings up an interesting comparison: the masks and quarantining that we're experiencing are symbolic of what wokesters want in the world of ideas. Canceling is a form of quarantining, and censorship is a mask that blocks nonverbal communication, just as the Internet does. The Wuhan coronavirus is a godsend to those who want to divide us: social distancing atomizes us and makes us suspicious of each other.

Chess pieces on a mirror
Post-structuralists would deny that chess pieces are not a continuum

Unlike a real virus, the woke plague mutates without bound because it is not bound to anything real, only to emotional thinking masquerading as profundity, as in slogans like “Love is a human right,” “Words are violence,” and “Black lives matter.“

These slogans are designed to be impossible to argue with. We're in an epidemic of motivated and emotional reasoning. It is profoundly anti-science, and it should be a warning that science is not immune.

The nature of poststructuralism is to invent an unsupported assertion, present it as established fact, and then use intimidation to suppress resistance. For example, they claim that science has established that sex is a continuum. Already Nature magazine has caved, allowing the claim in their pages. If not repudiated, wokeism will undermine the credibility of science just as it has destroyed many other institutions we once relied on for credible information.

Words are not violence, and sex is not a continuum. The world may or may not be as it appears to be, but at least it is logically consistent. Sex is about as far from being a continuum as it is possible for a biological function to be. The idea that anyone can change their sex merely by wishing to cannot survive contact with reality. And indeed, that is why these ideas must be continually enforced by punishments and cancellations. But wokesters believe truth is a function of power; since it is not, wokesters find the ground shifting beneath them and they are forced to invent new absurdities that must be enforced with ever greater rigidity.

If Wilson is right, this can only end in two ways: either the movement dissolves in ridicule, which will happen the moment celebrities and athletes stop pretending to believe it and corporate HR and university bureaucrats stop acting as its enforcers; or the wokesters will go full Pol Pot.

Politics is downstream from philosophy

It's a sobering idea, but it shows how politics is downstream from philosophy, not popular culture as often claimed. The hatred and chaos we're now seeing are proof that we are living in a world dreamed up not by rock stars and sitcom writers but by nihilistic academic post-modern / post-structuralist philosophers.

Feminism led the way by its claim that language was sexist. We once ridiculed terms like ‘chairperson,’ and asked if ‘manganese’ is next. Then it became mandatory (or ‘persondatory’) to say chairperson. Now it is becoming a firing offense to say there are only two sexes, and indeed people have already lost their careers by saying so.

Perhaps we will always have people who follow nonsensical philosophies to their dismal end, but the ones who will ultimately be blamed for what follows are those who failed to stand up to them. When intellectual chaos is tolerated, social chaos follows, and insofar as wokesters can formulate goals in the absence of ‘racist’ conventions like logic, mathematics, and common sense, social chaos is one of them.

But there's an upside. Wokeism has shown us which corporations are poor investment opportunities. If truth is merely a function of power, then inability to gain power is falsehood. Accordingly, if postmodernists are true to form, the riots and the coronavirus lockdowns will have no political value after November 3rd. They will magically disappear and be forgotten just quickly as the Occupy anti-globalization rioters have been, and something even stupider will take their place.

aug 09 2020, 5:21 am

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