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Is ‘Woke’ Becoming Toxic, Even Among the Left?

Is ‘Woke’ Becoming Toxic, Even Among the Left?

“It doesn’t help that its most frequent invokers are so irritating.”

Sam Adler-Bell seems annoyed with the perceptions of ‘wokeness’ on the right and the left. Of course, redefining the terms isn’t going to help much.

He writes at NY Mag:

Unlearning the Language of ‘Wokeness’

Several nights ago, I shot up in my bed with a ringing in my ears and the queasy sense that the ceiling was getting closer and further away at the same time. I assumed I was having some kind of post-COVID neurological episode. Or maybe an acid flashback. It was neither. What I was in fact experiencing was a series of thoughts about “wokeness.” And now, dear reader, despite some reservations, I am going to share them with you. What can I say? Misery loves company.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: This discourse sucks. “Wokeness” may once have had a relatively stable meaning, signifying, among 20th-century Black radicals and artists, something like: “staying wise to the persistence and insidiousness of white supremacy in American life.” Now the term has been abused and stretched to a point of such ample unintelligibility that its mere appearance, in text or speech, reliably signals that an unclear or tendentious thought is about to be expressed — inducing, in me at least, a slack-jawed irritation that is phenomenologically not unlike having my ears boxed.

It doesn’t help that its most frequent invokers are so irritating. The pundits who inveigh against “wokeness” tend to fall into two categories. First, there are conservatives who oppose the goals of a more expansive liberatory agenda on principle, and for whom “wokeness” is a conveniently pre-stigmatized shibboleth with which to launder their underlying disdain for a more egalitarian social order. And second, there are the “popularists,” who believe the capture of liberal institutions by overtly left-wing communicators is bad for Democratic Party political outcomes. These latter pundits often conceal their disinterest in — if not disdain for — the goals of the insurgent left behind a plea for strategic unanimity and compromise.


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Jack Klompus | June 13, 2022 at 11:02 am

Actually Sam, productive society doesn’t give a shit what you and similar nobodies ponder in your attempt to pull an original observation or thought out of your pampered, pseudointellectual derrieres as you pen your little pieces for your readership in the Brooklyn echo chamber.
We do take notice when people of similarly twerpy ilk get into positions of power and make rules you never seem to follow yourselves.
So go write for your cute little boutique publications while the rest of us do jobs that actually make society function.

underlying disdain for a more egalitarian social order

I can assure the author that this isn’t the problem, though I’m unclear as to whether they’re really this ignorant, or if they’re just lying.

    henrybowman in reply to randian. | June 13, 2022 at 3:03 pm

    It has to be The Man holding them down. It certainly can’t be their own ignorance, laziness, and incompetence.

Worrrrrd salad.
I wonder if his jacket has leather patches on the elbows.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to herm2416. | June 14, 2022 at 7:20 am

    Those in, and of, themselves may not indicate his being a castrato.

    But, in reading his first paragraph, an image popped to mind: man-bun: check. skinny, very short “designer-label” beard; check. High, whining, Neil-Young-nasality voice: check.

drsamherman | June 15, 2022 at 2:41 pm

Adler-Bell (why do leftists always have to split their names down the middle?) probably typed that screed with one hand.