Woke-ism winding down? It depends

Musa al-Gharbi writing for Compact Magazine proclaims Woke-ism Is Winding Down. I think the author erroneously downplays or misdiagnoses the problem.

Data on media outputs and “cancel-culture” incidents also suggest that a corner may have been turned. Across a range of datasets, we see apparent declines in “grassroots” attempts to censor uncomfortable speech on campus (even as there are growing attempts to suppress political scholarship from external stakeholders). Media discussion of various forms of prejudice and discrimination also seem to have declined significantly over the last year.

These people live in a bubble of their own making in which popular opinion is irrelevant. The woke do not need to see the huge number of downvotes on their content to know that their ideology is not that popular, but this does not dissuade them. I think YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s video, in which she awarded herself the ironically-titled ‘The Freedom of Expression Award’ in 2021 has the record for the highest ratio of downvotes (16 upvotes and 6,300 downvotes), which coincides when YouTube removed visible downvotes. [This also coincides with when, I believe, YouTube made some major overhauls that may have reversed at least some of the woke bias seen earlier, to be discussed in a forthcoming post, so it’s not entirely hopeless. ]

As said before, the woke tend to be decentralized, and include:

–Low-ranking journalists, usually unpaid contributors to tiny publications, although it includes larger publications like writers for Vice or Rolling Stone.

–Assistant professors at low-ranking colleges, adjuncts.

–Anonymous Twitter trolls

–Low-ranking BLM and social-justice activists

Individually, they do not have much power and cannot do much. It’s not like an anonymous heckler in J.K. Rowling’s Twitter comments who has 10 followers can get anyone cancelled or de-platformed. They do have power if they collectively gang up on a target, and are able to get the attention of the NYTs, Rolling Stone, or Vice to write a hit piece about the individual or organization in the hope of getting it canceled. Emailing employers works, but this also requires some coordination.

The bigger problem are the ‘servants of the ruling ideology’. These people are not woke per say. They are not activists, but rather see themselves as do-gooders for social justice. Individually, unlike the woke, they hold a lot of power, especially gatekeeping. They include:

–Employers, managers

–Media executives

–Social media moderators, including unpaid Reddit moderators, but also admins. Same for YouTube, Facebook, etc.

–Risk compliance departments

–‘Trust and safety’ departments. These people decide what constitutes ‘hate speech’, ‘misinformation’, or ‘inciting violence’.

–HR departments

Center-right pundits focus mostly on wokeness in the context of academia or school, but the private sector is bigger and probably equally bad, but in different ways (the ‘Twitter files’ probably just scratched the surface and is demonstrative of how corrupt and compromised the private sector is, even as bad as academia is). It’s huge news when professors get fired or demoted for politically or ideologically motivated reasons, but when this happens in the private sector, it tends to be much less newsworthy. This has never made much sense to me. Many of the same people who support at-will employment in the context of the private sector, this does not apply to academia or education, which has always struck me as sorta hypocritical or self-serving. For most people, academia is just 2-6 years of their lives, and 2/3 of American adults don’t have a degree at all. Including school, we’re talking maybe 25% of one’s life. After that, the remaining time is spent dealing with the so-called ‘real world’. So for most people, statistically speaking, the consequences of wokeness are going to be experienced in a non-academic setting, such as on social media or at work.

Sure, Netflix may have refused to capitulate to the mobs regarding Dave Chapelle; same for Spotify and Joe Rogan, but most workers are disposable. Cancelling large targets always incurs the risk of backlash and defection to competing platforms, which is why it tends to be done sparingly and not without deliberation, but smaller individuals tend to get no coverage when they are fired or banned from platforms.

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