I read this post multiple times over. I've also gone back and re-read some of your earlier writing on the topic. I have also had a look at one or two of the sources you link to in those articles.

And after all of that, it seems - from my perspective - like that what you call woke"ism" is not a monolith and is really an amalgamation of multiple phenomena (both ones I would defend fervently, defend lukewarm...ly and ones I would absolutely not defend) that interact in weird and contradictory ways and hence creates this impenetrable, confusing and sometimes even hostile image.

I'd like to caution throwing the baby out with the bathwater by counting overly many things as "woke" and getting too entangled in the narrative of how terrible all these "woke" things are.

If you would indulge me for a second (you can file it under "steelmanning" if that helps), here is my perspective:

There is (intersectional) feminism, the recognition of the fact that in the world we live in, some people experience systemic (as opposed to incidental) oppression for having certain characteristics (gender, sexuality, ethnicity, as you say, but also class, immigration status or weight, for example) and the fight for a future in which this oppression no longer exists.

I believe, skipping over significant detail for the sake of brevity, that this is _essentially_ what you call "the liberal civil rights movement". I also believe, although we are using different nomenclature, that you, I and a large part of the audience, would all subscribe to at least a decent part of the core ideals of this.

Part of why I believe that is that we have some of the very same concerns and grievances as you do. One example that I've seen come up multiple times - and that maybe might help illustrate the point - is the concept of "privilege", frequently linked to a form of original sin in "anti-woke" writing. The idea is that a person can have, for example "white" privilege (but it works along any axis of oppression), meaning the fact that they have a characteristic (like being white, as I am) that is _not_ experiencing systemic oppression is therefore not making their life harder. That is not something that is good to have (virtuous) or bad to have (sinful) but I do think it is something to be considered in good-faith debate. I have never personally experienced racism, which might be a reason I don't know about certain aspects of it that e.g. Black people don't have the luxury of not knowing about. It doesn't mean I'm ignorant about the topic in general, or that my opinion doesn't count, just that my mind has not been formed by an environment that was systematically hostile towards me in this regard. And that we should keep that in mind, and maybe should not take my opinion over that of a Black person, because it does make a real difference (I personally file that in the same corner as "In matter of boots, refer to the bootmaker").

And it is _certainly_ not the same as saying that whoever has the most "oppression points" wins whatever argument, whoever has the least loses, or that there is a moral component to experiencing oppression at all. None of that is true, first of all, and we even have a word for this particular fallacy: "Oppression olympics"¹. Like other fallacies, it's a place where error-prone human brains sometimes end up. But it has been identified as a fallacy and at least where I hang out, it is very much frowned upon, just as much as I imagine it would be on your side.

There are many more examples I'd like to go into (up to and including the word "woke" and it's use itself, which you have lamented before²), but this comment is already too long, I fear. I guess if I had to put it all on a postcard, I'd say the following:

The movement you used to identify with (more strongly), that is genuinely interested in building a better world for everyone from the left, is neither dead nor captured. There are those in it who share at least a good part of your criticism, even, and you do not have to swing further to the right (relatively, I'm not trying to call you right-wing) to oppose it. For some other parts, it is my genuine belief that you at least might change your mind if the topic was presented to you as it was to me.

One thing that I think is contributing to the hostility that these discussions tend to be charged with, is that nuance and carefulness over the internet is hard and being loud angry at the outgroup is easy. Neither you nor I are exempt from that; nobody is. But that should also be a factor to be considered when judging the perceived aggressiveness of the other side.

And lastly, if you are interested in continued good-faith conversation on the topic, I am too, and I'm happy to explain my perspective and continue the exchange if you are.



[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppression_Olympics and https://geekfeminism.fandom.com/wiki/Oppression_Olympics

[2] https://deathisbad.substack.com/p/whitewoke?s=r

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Thanks James! I have some small quibbles here and there, but I broadly agree with your comments.

I don't think I've thrown out the baby TBH. I still think all people should be treated equally, and judged for their individual actions. I'm dedicated to liberalism and human flourishing. Opposing the regressive and/or bad things done in the name of wokeism is consistent with that IMO.

One of the reasons I oppose the woke faction as much as I do is becaue I do fight alongside them for various causes. I anticipate being shoulder-to-shoulder with them in the fight for abortion rights and trans rights in red states. Therefore I want to make it clear there is a distintion between us, and that they are doing harmful things that should be opposed. I'm not willing to give them a free pass to do whatever damage they want just becaue they are fighting with me on certain issues. They are not my sworn allies. I will be fighting against them on other issues.

It is in their interest to claim that they are THE faction fighting for civil rights, and thus that anyone who opposes them is against civil rights. I think that may be behind the comment I quoted at the top of my post. The past couple years have demonstrated to me that, to my dismay, I have to push against this strongly, or it becomes the accepted truth.

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Thanks for replying. I hope you don't think I wanted to accuse you of having thrown out any babies, permanently. If so, I was not precise enough and I apologise. Especially since there's nothing permanent about it, we're all still adapting our models and can change today.

What I am seeing in your posts is a certain... let's call it eagerness to accept and follow a narrative, if it targets what both you and the narrator identify as "woke overreach". And I think it hinders your ability to notice confusion¹ in some places.

I have a concrete example in mind, I'll probably do a thing on twitter with it in a bit.

[1]: https://www.readthesequences.com/Noticing-Confusion-Sequence

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