Friday, February 12, 2021

The Inductive Argument Against Wokism

A dialogue:

A: Hey, leftist, can you explain to me how ideology works?

L: Well, you see, it's very common for ideologies to be created which reinforce the existing power structures. The people who hold power and who serve as gatekeepers of power tend to create and spread ideas which maintain their power. This might mean the divine right of kings 500 years ago, or some theory of natural rights to property which legitimates and reinforces capitalist power relations.

A: Ok, cool beans. So, how often do elite power holders adopt an ideology which undermines their status, power, and authority?

L: Pretty rarely. They might say things which are incompatible with their behavior--such as when medieval kings would mouth Christian doctrines about love right before starting a war--but in the end, their ideology will serve to legitimate their behavior. Sometimes complaining about X is a way of distracting people from seeing that you're doing X. After all, if you're in power, you want to regulate and be the gatekeeper of those ideas so you can defeat objections to your status. 

A: Got it. Hey, woke person, let me ask you something.

W: Yep?

A: What do you think of this theory of ideology?

W: Oh, I dig it. After all, the US is a racist country founded on racism, and the ideology behind the power structures serves to reinforce and legitimate white supremacy.

A: Got it. So, what should we make of it that in the span of a few years, Woke Ideology has become the dominant ideology of corporate boards, the party that controls all branches of government, of universities which serve as gatekeepers of elite status, of publishers, social media platforms, and other media which control the media and content of speech, of hiring boards at regulatory agencies, of high-status and elite celebrities, and so on? What should we make of it that these same groups frequently stifle dissent from Wokism when they can? What should we make of it that dissent from Wokism is generally the province of weak, low status, and low power people?

W: Um...

A:  I mean, maybe this is an exception to the general theory of ideology you seem to accept? 

W: Well, you see, when a new elite comes in, they bring in a new ideology. Like the bourgeoisie replaced the divine right of kings, which served the feudal system, which the natural rights and social contract theories, which served their capitalist goals.

A: Ok, so if the elite were being replaced, this wouldn't necessarily be an issue. But I noticed that it's pretty much exactly the same people and institutions in power, but now with a new ideology. I mean, it's not like Wokebook replaced Facebook, or Mark Z was ousted. It's not like Harvard died and Oberlin rose up in its place. It's not like the Democrats disappeared and the Social Justice Party took over. The people and institutions which have power and status today are for the most part the same as those which had power and status before Wokism became big. 

W: Well, um...

A: So it seems that on the "ideology serves power theory," we should conclude that the rapid adoption of Wokism is evidence that it serves the self-interest and helps maintain the status and power of the elite classes and institutions. 

L: It might be that Wokism is a way of cleaning up a purportedly meritocratic ideology, which serves to justify unequal outcomes and a hierarchical society. That's one reason why many real Marxists are so suspicious of Wokism.

A: Hmmm.