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.
5 thoughts on “I’ve Pondered Wokeness For Almost 20 Years, Here Are My Thoughts”
It’s always nice to see someone actually articulating their thoughts on controversial topics, as so much of modern discourse (especially on social media) is so reactionary. That being said, there were a few moments in your piece that came across as a little troublesome to me, but I overlooked all but one of them, as I realize this piece is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of your opinion on Wokeness, but more of an introduction to that opinion — if you were to go more in depth, perhaps some of my concerns would be resolved by clarity.
The one concern I didn’t feel I could overlook was the language you use in regards to the LGBTQ community. You say things such as “the main tenets of LGBTQ+ philosophy” and “modern LGBTQ+ beliefs and values.” The queer community is far from a single, cohesive group of people with a common set of beliefs — and that includes beliefs on topics of identity and sexuality. Like with any demographic, any two queer people will both agree and disagree on both minor and major topics.
I bring this up, because this language sounds really close to the erroneous criticisms used to invalidate queer people in the past and present. However, I’m not certain if your language regarding the LGBTQ community is meant to represent your own beliefs, Wokeness beliefs, or both. Whether if you personally believe such a thing as a modern LGBTQ+ system of values and beliefs exists, or if you are saying that Wokeness ideology believes in a LGBTQ+ philosophy, I would encourage you to better define what exactly is meant by such terminology (if you were to write a piece expanding on this opinion of Wokeness).
As a gay man who has studied queer history, I have seen how much damage the rhetoric of queerness as a system of beliefs and values has been. I DO NOT think you are using such rhetoric, but I do think the current language used in the piece could be misconstrued as such rhetoric.
Anyway, I apologize for the length of my response. I do hope you’ll continue to delve deeper into “Ethos-Marxism,” and perhaps even write up a more in depth post about it, because again, it is nice to see someone articulating a non-reactionary opinion about such a topic, on social media.
As a side note, the claim that Wokeness is a “belief system that only resonates with embittered and arrogant people” feels a bit hyperbolic (if you don’t mind me saying so). I know you didn’t claim that what you were taught at university “resonated” with you, but still, your opening anecdote seems to imply that you don’t really believe that Wokeness ONLY resonates with embittered and arrogant people. If I’m wrong, this is definitely a claim that could be expounded on.
Best and kind regards,
Daniel! First, let me say, I appreciate the feedback. I really do.
Regarding the hyperbole: Yes, this article is still in editing process. I publish to WordPress as my wife edits the piece. I’ve don’t have a lot of viewers directly from WordPres. So that is my editing process for now. When I put it on my social media, which for now is mostly Facebook page, AJ Hall, I have it cross-checked by my partner. But writing that sentence did feel a tad harsh, and I already had plans to revise it before publishing on channels that get more views. Thanks for feedback.
Regarding LGBTQ+ belief system: I think you are exactly right when you say “like with any demographic, any two queer people will both agree and disagree on both minor and major topics”… This is exactly my point, and what I believe is the greatest flaw of all lines of Marxist thinking: it only sees people in groups, not as INDIVIDUALS. Human beings are first and foremost individuals, then we choose to assembly in groups for the sake of community and safety and what have you. Ethos-Marxism becomes even more flawed when it tries to categorize people by LGBTQ+ “philosophy” because the ideology (simply the set of ideas) is ever-evolving as with the inclusion of (IA) in recent years. To be sure, I’m certainly not bashing the fact that a free group of individuals, loosely connected through a common human experience, are evolving their way of seeing the world. I accept all people as my equals and seek to show proper respect for any human being and their opinion. And to be fair, I have never done extensive research in queer history and do know the extent to which classifying “LGBTQ+” as a belief system has been weaponized against gay people. I certainly DETEST the idea of doing so to any America Citizen, or any human being for that matter. To your point about diversity in any group, ideology, and philosophy, I 100% agree with you, and I can speak from my own personal journey. I had a spiritual experience at my father’s deathbed that did something on the inside of me. Some may disagree with me or even mock me for thinking I experienced it. Over a few years, I came to identify this spiritual experience as what Jesus taught in the New Testament as “born from above”. In other words, I was “born again” this way. I didn’t necessarily ask for this, and I don’t like, nor appreciate, being lumped into the “religious group”. Many religious people are religious because of psychological/temperament and/or social reasons. I have very little in common with them. And I think another human does a disservice to themself and others by lumping me into a pre-conceived “religious category” and thus writing me off. In fact, I honestly believe the hope of the free world and Western Liberalism is what you and I are doing right now. Talking as two individuals who have various beliefs of kinds and sorts.
Since you found value in my thoughts, I would encourage you to share this post. With your own commentary and challenge friends and family. What we are doing right now is SO desperately needed for the Western world. I recently thought of a term #reviveliberalism. But I would love to see #reviveliberalism become a thing.
Thank you!! This is a stunning portrayal of truth that this generation needs to hear. This should be an excerpt from a future book.
Thank you. Christina and I tried to be generous to all sides.