The Right is obsessed with Woke — it also depends on it

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Whether they like to admit or not, it’s evident now that Wokeism is integral to the way the Right now operate. So much so, they have become holistic. And after the Tories’ recent drubbing in the local elections (is it any surprise why Rishi Sunak hasn’t announced the election yet?), we can start to see why their anti-Woke discourse is the only strategy they have left. 

Fear is always the root in which to arrest an electorate to, or in this case, against an ideology.

In Judith Butler’s new book, ‘Who’s Afraid of Gender?’, the renowned philosopher and gender theorist seeks to give the narrative of Woke back to the Left, despite the Right’s insistence that they have had it all along. If this were so, LGBTQ+ hate crimes would have decreased; racial hate crimes would have decreased; there would not be a mental health crisis amongst minority groups (nor indeed young people as a whole, one may surmise; the “war on Woke” is also a war against Gen Z and Millennials waged by our elders).

If one were to vox pop any town in Britain, Woke would incite an emotional response only the Right could have created. Fear; and confusion as to why that fear exists. And of course, there is no GB News equivalent on the Left — a news channel solely created to tackle this “Woke Madness” — enshrined as the underdog “fighting the good fight” (with millionaire backing) for the supposedly dwindling sensibility of so-called “common sense”. Indeed, it’s hard to play the underdog when you have men like Lord Ashcroft and Jacob Rees-Mogg batting for your team.   

The Right have co-opted Woke to create fear, by defining it as a “witch-hunt” in which an army of progressive commanded by Butler, Greta Thunberg, BLM activists and Free Palestine protestors will find you and, with no exaggeration, kill you.

The Right, one has to concede, have been clever in designing their strategy. For the truth is, “Cancel Culture”, the policed response of a reactionary minority, has now been embedded within the definition of Woke. When one now mentions Woke one automatically signifies it with Cancel Culture. Yet Woke isn’t, and has never been, an extension of Cancel Culture. A simple look at the evidence proves this. Wokeism’s origins stem actually stem from the 1930s as a precursor to the Civil Rights Movement, with ‘stay woke’ becoming a slogan calling for social change within the Black communities of America. It became popularised after BLM, before becoming appropriated by other minorities wherein this call for social change became necessitated.

Woke then, if we follow its history, is about — and has always been about — mobility. Certainly, if one were to vox pop the same selection of people and changed the word “Woke” with “Mobility” this would not generate fear (it may generate disgust — for some people are, inexplicably, offended by equality — but not fear). The Right have co-opted Woke to create fear, by defining it as a “witch-hunt” in which an army of progressives commanded by Butler, Greta Thunberg, BLM activists and Free Palestine protestors will find you and, with no exaggeration, kill you. In reality, you’d probably just receive a long (perhaps shouty) polemic telling you why you’re wrong. 

Woke then, if we follow its history, is about — and has always been about — mobility

Fear is always the root in which to arrest an electorate to, or in the case, against an ideology. From here, the Right inject it with their own treatment. Moreover, they are weaponising Woke to cover for their own fatal mistakes. Particularly in the UK, where the working and middle classes have been decimated from 14 years of Tory rule. This has occurred, indisputably, from the wealth inequality fuelled by David Cameron’s class-warfare campaign of austerity, then Brexit, then COVID, then The Lettuce’s great big adventure.

The Right have used Woke to disunify these classes by pretending that diversity in the BBC, the colour of the England flag, and, of course, facing consequences for saying hateful things are the biggest ills in our society. Rather than what is actually true: poverty is rising, inequality is rising, (both by the highest rate in the UK’s history), and that these fiscal problems are caused by a ruling class for whom this benefits. No doubt, if our country does have a Big Brother, they are celebrating every time criticism of J. K. Rowling is labelled Orwellian. The most Orwellian thing, really, is using this word in this context — as Big Brother then decides to impose more tax breaks for Canary Wharf and the energy sector. Blink, and you’ll miss it. 

At a certain point wielding the “what makes a woman a woman” argument the face of a recession becomes transparent

Perhaps though, in this country, the Right are getting found out. The Tories certainly are — because at a certain point wielding the “what makes a woman a woman” argument the face of a recession becomes transparent. That is, it is an obvious strategy to polarise; to deflect from the mess the Tories have made. So focussed is Rishi Sunak on making transphobic gibes when Brianna Ghey’s mother is in the Chamber, or using racialised politics to justify the Rwanda scheme, that he cannot fail to see the writing on the wall.

He is going to lose, make no mistake; yet when he does, he hands the keys of Downing Street to a Labour Party who have already admitted that they cannot fix the economy (they have already ruled out a wealth tax; Rachel Reeves has already espoused her desire to continue austerity). Economically, they are bending towards the Tories, slowly but surely. A failure to fix this economy, I fear, will strengthen an already dangerous anti-Woke sentiment — with the alt-Right waiting in the wings. For the more disaffected the electorate, the more radical and rebellious they become. 

Image Credit: UK Government via Wikimedia Commons.

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