Musings on wokeness, leaders, evolution, and freedom.
I'm so glad you're using Substack to let your mind off the leash of cookie-cutter space constraints. Shorter, longer -- it should fit the size of the thoughts and ideas you want to explore. This is great!
You present a great argument, but why does it infect only a small segment of the population? Refer back to the McMartin prosecutions, where it infected only selected segments of police, social workers, and the judiciary. It lasted for years and then died out. Both then and now normal folks were not convinced. There must be an element of peer pressure within the selected group to make this work. And that element does not extend to the broader population. If the people are not buying what the elites are selling, what are the prospects for the elites continuing? From 40 years ago, a cartoon captioned "There they go and I must hurry, for I am their leader."
Great read! I tend to be libertarian/conservative with a high personal value on self sufficiency. Our NM Governor had some of the most stringent Covid lockdown measures in the country. Initially it made sense but as more information came out about masks, lockdowns, business closures etc, it became apparent it was just bureaucratic CYA with a measure of incompetence. The social media comment that repeatedly baffled me was some variation of “the governor saved our lives” or “she saved the state”. I just couldn’t fathom someone thinking a bureaucrat, caught breaking the same regs she implemented, could inspire that level of faith-until I read your post-thanks!
"Many people are happy to have an excuse to treat other people badly and to feel good about it, and all sorts of ideologies, including but not limited to religion, provide that in various forms." See my post Conformity, Cruelty, and Political Activism:
I've been thinking a lot about the anti-democratic nature of the current western left. It's one thing to live in a republic, and be cool with the leadership the people vote in; it's quite another to believe that the people in general are too stupid to lead, and that the elite and their bureaucratic state better take care of everything so the little people don't make a mess of things. Republicans are republicans, but Democrats aren't democrats.
To paraphrase Thomas Sowell when someone asked him to run for office” a campaign message of vote for me and I won’t do anything” isn’t a winning message. I actually tried it with a slightly different emphasis. I campaigned on the message that I would save tax money by opening up the bidding for township contracts and otherwise leave people alone. I quickly realised that business owners wouldn’t donate to my campaign because there would be no advantage to them if I won. Many people liked the idea but more rather I had a plan to be more active in “doing” things. Needless to say I lost the election. I have lived in the township for over 40 years. The leadership is made up of either narcissist or sycophants not a libertarian in sight.
Thanks for another great article to ponder.
I agree with you Glenn that a genuine advantage of the Substack format is the freedom that writers have to think out loud without a neat tie up at the end of the essay. Please feel encouraged to do more of the same. Good on you.
Excellent article, Glenn. I have long thought that the retreat of mainline Christianity from the culture is not an indication that people have lost their faith per se, but have simply shifted their allegiance to a new set of beliefs for the doctrines of a new(ish) politico-cultural church firmly rooted in the state as the final arbiter of truth. It also seems that the mainline Protestant churches have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em which makes them redundant and, ultimately, empty.
From Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer”: “Thus the effectiveness of a doctrine should not be judged by its profundity, sublimity or the validity of the truths it embodies, but by how thoroughly it insulates the individual from his self and the world as it is. What Pascal said of an effective religion is true of any effective doctrine: it must be ‘contrary to nature, to common sense and to pleasure.’”
I suspect that the vast majority of folks who are now adherents to the Woke Religion were unpopular in their old lives. This is a place/group where they can be popular and leaders.
I greatly appreciated Glenn's latest thought piece. I would add that in addition to the yearning for a leader (fuhrer), they most wish for SECURITY and a leader who can promise and deliver that will have a long run and much evil will overlooked. Dostoevesky set it out at great length in the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor more than a few years ago.
A few years ago, I was watching Jordan Peterson's Genesis series, and he had a throwaway line about how scientists can create religious experiences. So I jumped down the God Helmet rabbit hole; apparently, they wired people up and created electromagnetic fields. These caused a lot of people to have religious experiences. Interesting, but: it seemed that atheists did not have those religious experiences. One of the famous atheists (Dawkins or Hitchens iirc) said he only experienced a tingle down his leg (which I thought was interesting since that was what Chris Matthews said about hearing Obama speak. huh)
There were several articles, a few other atheists and a few other religious experiences (some terrifying!) I don't remember everything, but it seemed to me that maybe we have evolved to have a kind of "God Detector", and that atheists' are broken. Not exactly evidence for the Judeo Christian God, but atheists don't seem to have many children. So I guess having a working God detector is a survival trait, at least.
No "aha" moment with pointed finger, just something that occupied my mind while driving through east Tennessee one rainy night.
I hear more than a bit of resignation in this post, an inevitability. This is probably something I'm reading into it, as I have felt for a long time a certain inevitability to how the sludge oozing forth from all levels of education will find it's way into law and government. This was amplified after a recent trip to India where, as one long-time visitor put it, the country has "a rather casual relationship with waste." Looking at the lists of most polluted cities on the planet, something similar may be true in China. Several enviro-zealots with whom I remain acquainted have privately confided they believe the tipping point for reversing climate change has already been reached and passed. Again with the inevitability.
I don't have a solution. Systems this big are beyond our control in the same way the resources in a Petri dish half full of bacteria are beyond the control of the bacteria. Is it a run-away system? Has it's buffer accommodated a thousand small changes and is on the verge of suddenly accommodating no more? Collapse. Implosion. Chaos. Ugliness. Save us Saint Greta! You're our only hope!
The irony is the irrevocable laws of the universe are cruelly indifferent. According to geologists and the snowball theory, the Earth was twice covered in ice and rebuilt from five extinction events. Put an ear to the ground and one can almost hear Gaia saying "Here we go again."
Even so, I'm reminded of something from Nock's "Isaiah's Job" that keeps me going...
"There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."
And so it goes, my life as a T-cell in the 2023 corpus.
The book, Christianity and Social Justice: Religions in Conflict, makes this point that social justice/wokeness is a religion. This book is authored by Jon Harris, who podcasts "Conversations that Matter"
Thank you for this thoughtful analysis. I couldn’t help but think of the Stanford Law School “protest”. Did Judge Duncan have a right to feel safe even while acknowledging he is unpopular? Unfortunately he did not do so in a civil manner, either, so there is culpability on both sides. You make the point that intolerance comes from all religions - Calvin’s included. The intent of the First Amendment was to protect the freedom of speech and religion, but alas we are losing both. Restore protection for the right to be unpopular and we might reverse the trend. Posthumous kudos to Adlai Stevenson for this truth, and present-day kudos to you for rekindling it.