Peak Woke? Maybe

Interesting Twitter-essay by @tracewoodgrains, “Contra ‘Peak Woke'”:

I agree this secular progressive religion is not going anywhere even if the branding periodically changes. So what options are there? I have long-argued, here and here, that one approach, which is already happening, is for the anti/un-woke to simply crowd-out the woke–that is, the woke occupy a smaller share of the cultural pie. The woke institutions still exist, yes, but they occupy a smaller slice of the discourse, being drowned out and less relevant by un/anti-woke alternatives.

The biggest podcaster and YouTube star are anti/un-woke, those being Joe Rogan and Mr. Beast–the latter who is not anti-woke, but rather un-woke or apolitical, although often a target of critcism by the woke nonetheless. Elon Musk buying out Twitter is another example. Anti-woke (such as the ‘Clown World’, Libs of TikTok, and Babylon Bee), conservatives (like Tucker), and alt-middle/center (such as Tim Pool, ‘HBD-sphere’, etc.) accounts get much more positive engagement compared to woke accounts and woke content, which is often ‘ratioed’. Videos of shoplifting, violence, looting and other examples of societal decay of Democratically-run cities go viral, as well as clips of Biden’s gaffes, unlike during the pre-Musk era in which such content was likely algorithmically suppressed or accounts banned.

Tucker left Fox and thanks to being boosted by Musk, has a bigger audience and microphone than ever to spread an anti-woke message. Meanwhile, left-wing cultural institutions are dated and only newsworthy for the fact they still exist, like The Daily Show and SNL, not for their cultural pull, that like Hillary’s 2016 voter turnout, is lacking where it matters most.

Overall, the woke are not as competitive when people are given a choice, as consumers will naturally gravitate towards the anti/un-woke options, as we see with YouTube (such as woke videos being heavily downvoted, until Google in 2021 removed the visible downvotes), Twitter, or podcasts. Wokeness is something that has to be imposed on the public, not out of choice except for a tiny minority like academics. The majority of people do not care about Covid misinformation or the role, if any, Russia played in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Same for the possible decline of cancel culture as discussed by Scott Greer in his excellent essay, “Woke In Retreat“:

Cancel culture almost seems a thing of the past. Several doxes were published over the last year of prominent commentators saying “racist” things in private or under pseudonyms. None of the people targeted faced serious consequences. Richard Hanania, one of those targeted, still saw his book published by HarperCollins. That would’ve been unthinkable in 2019. The formerly-canceled Shane Gillis triumphantly returned to Saturday Night Live a month ago and used the word “retard” in his opening monologue. No one really cared. Politicians and conservative pundits are able to get away with edgier rhetoric than ever before. The Republican Party purged Steve King for a minor comment, yet now proudly stands behind Mark Robinson and Marjorie Taylor Greene over their more “offensive” statements. Figures such as Charlie Kirk, Tucker Carlson, and Candace Owens explicitly address topics such as the Great Replacement that would’ve gotten them fired in 2018.

The popularity of Twitter and Substack allows anti/un-woke academics and other intellectuals to bypass the usual channels.

Of course, the left still has considerable gatekeeping power like HR/DEI and credentialism. The problem has been that mainstream Republicans see wokeness and woke institutions as an extension of the free market or freedom of association, in contrast to something more sinister. Credentialism, DEI, and woke universities are viewed as manifestations of the free market in action, so any attempt at trying to fix this is doomed to fail when viewed from that lens of being a matter of personal choice. But it’s not a choice when the majority of employers for good-paying jobs demand the credential. Much of anti-woke rhetoric is just lip service, as discussed earlier:

Same for higher-ed. Republicans are not that strongly opposed to credentialism or woke universities, despite paying the occasional lip service to the culture warriors of their base. Many of the biggest donors to woke universities are Republicans. Same for attendees of athletic events. Credentialism is just the free market at work, as I wrote many times. Large companies embrace credentialism because it saves money and improves efficiency in the hiring process. Students, parents, and governments bear the cost of credentialism , not corporations, who get a large supply of pre-screened/filtered applicants to choose from for free. Corporations, true, have to pay in the form of higher wages, but this is still worthwhile.

Many of these same Republicans who talk tough on wokeness donate to or otherwise indirectly support woke institutions.