In the last few years, the term ‘wokeness’ has been used to decry anything which the speaker finds contrary to their values. Whether it be protesting social injustice, the Black Lives Matter campaign, rights equality or any number of other subjects, they are all subsumed beneath the ‘woke‘ umbrella.

Misusing ‘wokeness’

When I was growing up, woke was not a term that existed in my sphere. Much like NFTs or TikTok, the concept of wokeness was something I never imagined having to encounter. To me, being ‘woke’ describes a simple moral code that can be summarised as: ‘Do no harm, take no s**t’. At least, that’s my perception of it; the idea that being alert to social injustice is something that no rational individual could take issue with.

Experience shows, however, that the deeper a government finds itself in crisis, the more frequent the conjuring of bogeymen appears to be. Much like successive governments of every political stripe using refugees and migrants as a scapegoat to win votes for themselves, this is a routine as depressing in its efficiency as it is predictable. The newfound desire to point at protestors marching for causes or toppling statues of slave traders into harbours and yelling, ‘See, they have no respect for our history and culture!’ is indicative of a general reluctance from our country’s ruling bodies to be alert to the multitude of social injustices.

My question is this: Are those elements of our shared history worth venerating with monuments?

It’s important to know one’s history, and education is where the future starts. This is where the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) has become a talking point in the US. Regrettably, much like wokeness, the critics of CRT are often using the term incorrectly by deliberately constructing their own limited narrative. Domestic history curricula on both sides of the Atlantic have suffered for decades as a result of being dictated by people who happily omit crucial elements of systemic oppression. Resultantly, the merest suggestion of teaching history without a bias towards the traditional ‘white, male and stale’ category is greeted with outpourings of fury. Older generations tend to pejoratively label anyone concerned with issues of social justice as ‘woke’ or ‘snowflake’ — with little awareness of how their pearl-clutching tantrums are viewed.

Dowden’s ‘psychodrama’ slur

The kernel of thought that started this article are comments made by the former culture secretary, and man for whom salad cream is too spicy, Oliver Dowden. In his remarks, Dowden decries the ‘woke psychodrama’ that is supposedly consuming western nations, preferring instead to call for unity:

‘just when we should be showcasing the vitality of our values, and the strength of democratic societies, we seem to be willing to abandon those values for the sake of appeasing this new groupthink’.

Note how Dowden uses the language of Orwell, in an attempt to lend legitimacy to his critique — but fails to recognise that in 1984 Orwell also refers to ‘doublespeak’, the concept by which ‘The Party’ legitimises their claims by redefining words and presenting the view that they believe would enhance their standing within society.

When Dowden speaks of ‘the vitality of our values, and the strength of democratic societies’, he obviously cannot be referring to the Trump-era United States; four incredibly dark years when the rest of the world waited with bated breath for the latest nonsense-laden tweet.

The UK is in no better position to be sanctimonious. Currently, the Prime Minister, along with other members of his staff are under investigation by the Metropolitan Police over breaking laws that they themselves created. The same Metropolitan Police service that has just seen their commissioner step down under a cloud, and whose replacement will be determined by the same government who are currently being investigated. The irony is inescapable.

And what about the controversial Police, Crime, and Sentencing bill that is currently being batted back and forth between the House of Parliament? So far, the Lords rejected some of the bill’s more draconian elements. But the fact remains that the bill questions the right of the people to protest, maintaining that it is not an ‘absolute right’. Personally, I do not recall many strong democracies removing the right to protest against those in power from their citizens without undermining the very notion of a democratic society.

Presently, Dowden’s successor and famed connoisseur of animal anuses in ‘the celebrity jungle’, Nadine Dorries, is heading up a department to make the BBC and other broadcasters less woke. Describing the BBC as a ‘polar bear’ on a melting ice cap in urgent need of saving ‘from itself’, could Dorries’ real issue be the broadcaster’s move towards inclusivity? Perhaps that’s the real meaning behind her accusation against their ‘absolutely right about everything’ groupthink.

On some level, the reactionary nature of the Right is only to be expected. Historically, when someone’s had the lion’s share of the power, anything that challenges it will naturally be viewed as a threat and something to be feared. Fear has always been used as a way of consolidating power in politics by relying on the concept of ‘othering’. This is when a hostile bogeyman is created to point at in order to distract and unify a scared electorate into voting for the candidate selected to prolong the rule of the chinless elite.

The natural fallback of people who enjoy the trappings of an entitled life is to mount a defence of the gilded cage by calling the ‘other’ barbaric. Unfortunately, for those attempting to maintain the status-quo, they cannot quite decide whether being awoken by a ‘red pill’ and conscripted into the defence of the norm, or being ‘woke’, is the metaphor du-jour.

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