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Reblogged:'Woke' vs. Taking the Initiative

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There is a part-interesting, part-amusing, and entirely predictable battle going on over the meaning of the term woke, as Tauseef Mustafa discusses at Digital Journal before concluding that the politicians don't know what it means:
According to The Economist, as the term woke and the #Staywoke hashtag began to spread online, the term "began to signify a progressive outlook on a host of issues as well as on race."

But, more recently, among American conservatives, woke has come to be used primarily as an insult. The Republican Party have been increasingly using the term to criticize members of the Democratic Party, while more centrist Democrats use it against more left-leaning members of their own party. [links omitted]
Image by Danny Burke, via Unsplash, license.
This is in line with what I have been able to glean on the subject, although I bet one could also find examples of populist/fascist conservative types using using the term to insult free market advocates.

I have noticed a couple of further things about the conservative adoption of this leftist shibboleth.

First, since the term was never precisely defined in the first place, and its use as a shorthand for a certain ideological orientation is inherently imprecise and can easily backfire, as demonstrated by the humiliation of a conservative commentator being asked for a definition and coming up empty.

She had just written a book about how she thinks "woke ideology is upending American childhood." Uh-oh.

Worse than this, you have the likes of Ron DeSantis saying phrases like "woke capitalism." If something is truly capitalistic, it isn't leftist. And if it isn't, why not call it what it is, like mixed-economy?

Second, the term is right up there with one of my old favorites, overreach, as symptomatic of the dependence of today's right on the left: First, absent a positive agenda, the right defines itself only by contrast to and in supposed opposition to the left. Second, because the right holds the same moral premises as the left, it can't really challenge the left in any substantive way. (e.g., "Regulatory overreach" does not challenge the propriety of the government running things, but inherently concedes that regulation is good only complaining of it being in excess whatever excessively good might mean.

The phrase "woke capitalism" is interesting in this light. Conservatives are ambivalent about capitalism, but like to pretend to be mostly in favor of it -- unless, as now it seems, it promotes leftist political goals. They have also never liked "unbridled" capitalism. We have been warned.

And so, with woke, the right focuses on the left rather than defining and forging ahead with its own positive agenda -- which is what the pro-freedom political revolution we need will require.

Instead, we have the right agreeing with the left that the government needs to be in charge of far more than it should be, and differing only in details for what end, which won't be the protection of freedom if they continue on their present course.

-- CAV

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