Not so distinct

Interesting new blog/e-magazine I came across Compact Mag. Hat tip to Oliver Lee Bateman, who recently published an article there and brought the website to my attention.

Only the Economic Left Can Beat the Woke

I think there is a recent tendency to treat the woke-left and the ‘anti-idpol-left’ (or the so-called economic-left) as being distinct or separable tribes of ‘the left’. I think this distinction is much smaller than assumed. Being woke is highly correlated with also being economically liberal, and vice-versa. Exceptions such as Fredrik deBoer, who is an anti-woke Marxist, or Slavoj Žižek are rare.

But anyone who has observed Woke and CRT in action will be aware that race and gender are the overwhelming priority, with exclusionary judgments of people’s appearance and physical capacities a poor second, while class and capitalism almost invariably come in a very distant third.


This lopsided focus is easy to find almost everywhere you look. Neil Young might withdraw his music from Spotify, because the company wouldn’t get rid of the podcaster Joe Rogan, and even tell Spotify employees to quit their jobs “before it eats up your soul.” Netflix employees might be up in arms because the streaming service wouldn’t cancel Dave Chappelle comedy specials. Disney employees might demand that the company take a political stand against Florida’s law restricting what public-school teachers can say about LGBTQ issues in classrooms. Woke activists are far less likely, however, to militate against, say, exorbitant CEO pay or monopolistic practices or their employers’ entanglements with authoritarian regimes in China and elsewhere

It’s not that the woke doesn’t care about CEO pay, monopolies, workers’ rights, or ‘Wall St. greed,’ but that those issues are outside of their purview of expertise. Woke people, occupationally, are primarily involved in things pertaining to the humanities or the liberal arts, such as journalism or sociology, not economics. Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Robert Reich, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren mostly focus on economic issues, but they are also fully on board the far-left on social issues too, such as BLM, belief in systemic racism, etc. An economist like Paul Krugman is going to devote his efforts to addressing alleged economic injustices, because his specialty is economics, but this doesn’t mean that he isn’t also in agreement with woke on trans issues too.

For example, Krugman’s commentary on BLM is predictably woke. Economist Robert Reich is predictably woke on trans issues. Same for Crystal Balls, who’s also effectively woke despite occasionally being labeled as anti-idpol.

It’s hard to find Ibram’s commentary on economics, but the tweet below is in agreement with the economic-left overall:

Someone like Ibram X. Kendi would probably agree with Paul Krugman on economics issues, and Krugman probably knows less about social justice stuff compared to Ibram, but would still agree on the issues.

Likewise, being an anti-woke liberal, like Andrew Sullivan or Jordan Peterson, is highly correlated with opposing far-left economics.

From a strategy standpoint, is adopting an anti-idpol approach viable? I don’t think so. Because the category is too small and the overlap between far-left liberalism and far-left economics is too great. From a branding perspective, I think wokness is terrible, but I don’t see it going away either.