Gareth Roberts offers an excellent and nuanced take on the potential impending death of wokeness in the Spectator. Here’s an excerpt:
If you don’t live online, you may have missed the controversy over Hogwarts Legacy, the latest computer game to have been spun out of the multi-billion Harry Potter franchise.
A small but amazingly vocal band of activists launched a vicious campaign against the game because of its connection to ‘transphobe’ J.K. Rowling. Then the game came out and was instantly a phenomenal success – the most popular game ever on the streaming platform Twitch, physical sales of 12 million in its first two weeks of release, earning its makers $850 million (£709 million) in revenue. These cold, hard, commercial facts are like a glass of cold water in the face. The balance sheet shows that we have a very skewed understanding of the popularity and reach of ‘woke’.
Elsewhere, we see the smash West End success of Steven Moffat’s play The Unfriend, despite its star turn by notorious ‘Terf’ (‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’) Frances Barber. A friend showed me a hilarious social media post from a true swivel-eyed woke believer who apologised to his followers for attending, and said that, though he’d loved the show, he’d made a point not to applaud Barber at her curtain call. Outside the worlds of showbiz and entertainment, we have recently witnessed the spectacle of Nicola Sturgeon self-destructing after her gender reform bill smashed into reality.
One dares to hope: is woke dead? We keep waiting for a tipping point that never tips. There have been so many false dawns, hefty straws that you think will surely break the camel’s back then don’t.
A global pandemic, it was believed, would make people appreciate that gender pronouns are not humanity’s most pressing concern. But COVID-19 quickly established its own culture wars, as keyboard warriors began arguing about which marginalised groups were suffering most. A major land war in Europe should have been serious enough to bind the progressivist fist for a month or two. But the conflict in Ukraine has barely touched the sides. Even the recent possibility of an alien invasion doesn’t seem to be having much effect on concentrating the crazed human hive mind.
Roberts hopes we may see a gradual erosion of wokeness, while acknowledging it won’t be easy, due to the way woke ideology has embedded itself in so many public and private organisations:
Lots of us would like to reclaim our culture from the insane progressivists who have hijacked it over the past two decades. But there remain big obstacles. The biggest is that almost every western institution, public or private, big or small, has a cell of woke activists in it, enabled by their elders.
Our increasingly ageing population is, bizarrely, characterised by this deference to youth. Older people seek out the political validation of teenagers and young adults, even children, when it really ought to be the other way around. Think of middle-aged people wearing ‘ally’ badges, burly policemen shying away from upper-middle class Extinction Rebellion protestors, or the publishing execs who tell authors: “We couldn’t get it past our junior members of staff.”
Interestingly, he believes a Labour government may actually reduce wokeness in the culture.
In the U.K., an incoming Labour government might be a factor in the dying of woke. You may think this unlikely, given the party’s love of taking the knee and diversity ‘training’, but let me explain. The defenestration of Margaret Thatcher and the coming of Tony Blair led to our pop culture, populated as it is by middle-class bien pensants, unclenching its socially concerned muscles and expressing itself. Look at the joy of daft Reeves and Mortimer after the grim Ben Eltony political shoutiness of 1980s comedy. And not for nothing were the scabrously incorrect League of Gentlemen and Catherine Tate Show the products of a time when the Tories had been ‘seen off’. That’s a silly way of looking at the world, yes, but it’s how TV commissioners think.
Right now we stand at a crossroads. Let’s consider two futures. In Future A, people look back on the 2010s and early 2020s with bemusement. ‘How mad that time was!’ celebrity talking heads will tell the nostalgia shows of 2043. ‘What were we thinking!’
Or we might get future B: the gradual degradation and collapse of western civilisation as this cultural awfulness snowballs through it, as personal liberties taken for granted for centuries evaporate, as crazier and crazier grievances are indulged, as the pillars of the institutions rot, as the state becomes nothing but a gigantic simultaneously totalitarian and crumbling HR department.
Worth reading in full.