by Paul Gottfried
In a widely noted analysis of wokeness at The American Conservative, Scott McConnell indicates that there’s good news ahead. Woke culture may soon be a spent force. It may be following the paths of other attempted revolutions like communism and Jacobinism, which reached a high point in power and popularity and then precipitously declined. According to McConnell, these periodic eruptions “seem to have a natural lifespan,” of about five years, only to peter out. If we show enough “will power” and presumably patience, that will happen in this case.
An End to Wokeness
A reaction is supposedly already setting in with the woke ideas of American educational and media elites. It seems these zealots have pushed their weird notions of white systemic racism, gender fluidity, and anti-Westernism beyond the point of public endurance. Pushback has supposedly begun; and most of McConnell’s detailed commentary is an attempt to flesh out how this perhaps inevitable reaction to wokeness is unfolding.
Asian and Hispanic voters are breaking from the woke-intoxicated Democratic Party; and in the Virginia gubernatorial race in November, a Republican candidate who ran against critical race theory shocked the cultural Left by winning. Moreover, Glenn Youngkin’s Democratic opponent, rather than proudly identifying with the anti-white instruction of the teachers’ unions, simply denied that CRT is being taught in Virginia’s schools. Since Democratic politicians no longer publicly declare their support for the entire woke agenda, we may assume that it’s losing resonance.
McConnell further notes the appearance on the scene of Asian and black media personalities, who are changing the image of their groups by taking emphatically conservative stands. This development renders the Left less attractive to anti-white political coalitions, for good reason. It is hard not to notice that these coalitions are drawing funds and advocates from white elites, while vocal opposition to wokeness is featuring more and more non-white representatives.
Although I wish Scott (who is a friend) were right, I disagree profoundly with his conclusions and believe that he overstates the significance of certain changes. Youngkin only won in Virginia by two points in what was supposed to be an electoral off-year for Democrats; and if my colleague Pedro Gonzalez is correct, the incoming governor has been reaching out feverishly to the Left while putting together his staff.
Black support for the Democratic Party and by implication, the cultural Left, remains at about 90 percent. Half of Hispanic voters and most college-educated youth under 30 will likely continue to vote for the side that McConnell (and I) dislike. As far as I can tell, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris continue to appeal shamelessly to the anti-white Left, and their disapproval of the acquittal of “white supremacist” Kyle Rittenhouse in a trial that should never have taken place was entirely in keeping with their perpetual appeal to racial hostilities. Both leaders continue to favor the right of male athletes who have redefined themselves sexually to compete in women’s sports events.
Although one can multiply such examples to underscore that McConnell mistakes small changes for cosmic ones, a more critical factor needs to be addressed. There is a globalist ruling class in this country with its counterparts and links in other Western countries, and these rulers are not about to surrender power. The important thing is not that some soccer moms in Loudoun County, Virginia are less keen on CRT than they were last year. Wokeness is still the ideological tool through which the powerful hold together their coalition.
A swing of two to three percentage points in a state gubernatorial race, or the TV appearance of a non-white reciting conservative talking points, will have no impact on who rules us. Indeed, those who are in a position of control can deal with unwanted contingencies as they did in 2020, by closing the media to anti-Democratic information in the final weeks of the presidential race. These powerbrokers also effectively used government surveillance operations against a populist president who quarreled with the deep state.
There is also a real possibility now of a federal election law that would reduce to utter insignificance any opposition to our elites. Our elections would then abound in harvested and late arriving votes and would look like similarly hollowed-out rituals in Third World kleptocracies. At this moment, the Democrats in Congress are moving with executive approval toward such a step.
The critical question concerning the future of wokeness is to what extent it remains useful as an instrument of power. If it leads to the escalating violence we saw during the “Summer of Love,” or to the disruptive influx of illegals, who may eventually cause more backlash than aid to the Democratic Party, our elites may change course. But such an about-face will not happen for the reasons Scott offers in his commentary. Instead, it would be an expediential adjustment made by those in high places. Structural, not cosmetic changes are necessary to overcome the ruling class and its favorite political tool.
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Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.