The great awokening—America’s threat from the illiberal left

Hi Everyone,

I appreciate the quality of thinking and discussion in the Checks and Balance podcast of The Economist. Today I listened carefully to get my head around the episode on the concept of woke and its role in American society and business (see the podcast link below).

To explore the topic in context, the comparison with the earlier phenomenon of political correctness seemed helpful, including the assessment of the speakers that woke has not had its peak yet and that it has a lot of ‘velocity’ behind it at present.

In our Integral Life community, the concept and impact of woke have already been explored, to some extent, in the frame of the culture wars playing out in the US. I am interested to hear from the members here what you’re taking away from the podcast, both on substance and on the way of thinking on display in the discussion.

Noting the growing influence of GREEN thinking and language in societies around the world, both healthy and unhealthy, it seems important for integral thinkers to find ways to build on what we hear rather than add to the polarization, although there is also value in calling out practices, even if that requires us to use some firm language from time to time.

Many of the government and corporate leaders I support with leadership coaching are struggling with how to balance GREEN and ORANGE, nowadays often under a theme of diversity and inclusion, now labeled as D&I. Such labeling can of course give way to the marriage of convenience that is described toward the end of the podcast during the interview with Vivek Ramaswamy, author of “Woke, Inc”.

Looking forward to your reflection on the podcast. Here is the link:

Kind regards,

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In US terms, The Economist is a Left leaning publication. If they are questioning, then they are likely repositioning for what they see as positions most effective to sustain/increase readership.

US Wokeism has already crested and decline is accelerating. LGBTQ+ “allies” are starting to eat each other alive as has happened in every other time a non-rational arbitrarily defined “immutable” characteristics (Intersectionality) based “ethos” has been tried. Highly Woke individuals are being “cancelled” by their Woke “allies” for sometimes founded but often completely capricious rationale.

Equity must be included in your DE&I discussions as the E is the “payday” for the Woke community. Int he US this has included corporate level “equality of outcomes” based on intersectionality alone. The recent Leftist federal level “reparations” attempts have highlighted the Woke agenda.

The current US Administration’s failure to balance Unhealthy Green Wokeism vs Orange Effectiveness will insure complete meltdown of Wokeism in the US. This awareness spans the political spectrum. Most of the Woke agenda violates US anti-racism laws and will likely be eradicated after the Republicans take majority positions in both the House and Senate in 2022. Yes, a reset back to the classic Liberal Democracy “status quo”.

As a side note, listening to this, I find it funny how the UK is still socially 10 years “behind” the US. Sans the received pronunciation, this could have aired in the US as far back as 2012.
As suggested by the podcast, I would like to emphasize that wokism is no longer exclusive to the Political Left.
In the United States the Trump years brought wokism into political mainstream of the Right. Indeed, the Republican Party has given up all other ideologies except politics based on identity.
If Wokism can be more or less defined as “Unhealthy Green”, the political Right has moved away from any values it formerly had and is now almost exclusively focused on being “antiwoke”, but in doing so is actually becoming the “New Super Woke”.
Political discourse in the US is no longer about the topic as defined by consistently rational international or domestic policies, but are instead almost exclusively based on dog whistles, personalities and social connections.
Afghanistan: It’s not possible to get ether a woke nor an antiwoke person to clearly define what they think should happen, or even should have happened. The best we can get is “not what the other side did”
Domestic terrorism: It’s not possible to get from either woke or antiwoke camps a clear definition of what is domestic terrorism, what is treason, what is patriotism. The only thing we can get from either the antiwok or the woke is that whatever the other side is doing is terrorism but not their side.
Political Correctness has “created” a group of people who are anti-politically correct. They do and say things not because of any kind of consistent world view, but because they think it is anti-woke.
I could go on with more examples, but at this point people either get it or they don’t.
Green thinking was growing all through the past 50 years or more at least, and I think at some point it did get disseminated down through to every strata of US society. What happened next I think is best seen in the example of Jordan Peterson, who himself felt victimized by wokism and then spent the next decade of his life focused exclusively on being anti-woke at the expense of almost everything else.
Another interesting phenomena in the other direction I’ll call the “Russel Brand Effect”, where people who used to have a more healthy Green get more enmeshed in a Qanon-esque unhealthy Green.

From my point of view, I think it’s important to see that woke and antiwoke are two sides of the same coin - or for a better image a great big ouroborus that consumes its own tails.

So, what can we do?

The most important thing people can do is establish within themselves healthy Green values and not take offense or feel persecuted. As a white heterosexual male, does diversity and inclusion threaten or harm me? No. Am I harmed by policies that do not allow me to sexually harass women? No. It’s work, not a nightclub or dating app. Am I harmed by being asked to not tell offensive jokes or language at a location in exchange for a livelihood? No. When I entered the workplace many years ago you were expected to take on the company’s values or go work somewhere else. Keeping our personal life out of the workplace is actually a conservative value.

With healthy and consistent Green values within oneself, it’s then much easier to identify unhealthy Green from both the Right and the Left end of the political spectrum. For example, are we going to ban manspreading or mansplaining in the workplace? No.

Is finding this line and communicating it easy? No. That’s why executives get paid large sums of money - because they have a difficult job. I’d say one of the most essential qualifications for an executive moving through this next 20 years will be to have within themselves a healthy Green vision for the company. CEO’s who want to join the culture wars and use the Company or Organization as a solder for the Woke or Antiwoke need not apply, lol.
So maybe some kind of Woke / Antiwoke test during the interview process to make sure executives won’t use Organizational resources for their own personal Left / Right political war.

@raybennett You are attempting to create the image of mythical Right by associating with the far Left agendas. This is both inaccurate and intellectually bankrupt. It does give you an image of the Boogieman that is the image you want to joust with.

Yes, the Right will dismantle the Lefts Marcuseian Woke/Critical Theory DEI agendas in 2023. Thats the beauty of a representative Democracy.
But also have NO FEAR (stop the mythical Right beasties in the myst narrative) that Right will dismantle Equal Rights, tolerate racial slurs, or support intersectionality bias. You will see reneeed integrity regarding the Constitution, separation of Powers, and fundamental Rule of Law leaving the worlds most vibrant, human empowering Liberal Demicracy on the planet. Call it the most integrated nation on the planet across class, race, origin, religion, sexual orientationn or political predeliction or in IT perlance integrated Teal Green Orange Blue Amber Red society on the planet.

If you consider this as Anti-Woke, thats your perogative. It is in actually killing the horrific Marxist ideology thats never worked ever. Sharpen your Existential lance and start galloping.

This is simply US Constitutional governance. And Im sure the Left will squel fascism as they burn buildings and attack our structures.

For businesses you will in the future be able to hire and promote the best employees regardless of intersectionality identities.

I often find it frustrating as hell about all this talk about being woke yet no one, it seems, really knows what it means and I highly doubt the podcast will address it with the attention it deserves. I believe Wikipedia has it right about the meaning of being woke but defines it as psychological mindedness

"A person’s capacity for self-examination, self-reflection, introspection and personal insight. It includes an ability to recognize meanings that underlie overt words and actions, to appreciate emotional nuance and complexity, to recognize the links between past and present, and insight into one’s own and others’ motives and intentions. Psychologically minded people have above average insight into mental life"

Dr. Adrian Piper would most likely agree to the above when she said
self-examination entails self-awareness, i.e., awareness of the components of the self. But self-awareness is largely a matter of degree. If you’ve only had a few discordant experiences, or relatively superficial discordant experiences, you don’t need to examine yourself very deeply in order to revise your false beliefs

Then you have Dr. Arthur J. Deikman
*So habitual is the trance of ordinary life that one could say that human beings are a race that sleeps and awakens, but does not awaken fully. Because half-awake is sufficient for the task we customarily do, few of us are aware of the dysfunction of our condition"

The Arab proverb below alludes to the reason why many people find it hard to wake up
"He that doesn’t know and doesn’t know that he doesn’t know is a fool, shun him. He that doesn’t know but knows that he doesn’t know is simple, teach him. He that knows but doesn’t know that he knows is asleep, wake him. He that knows and knows that he knows is wise, follow him"

Carl Jaspers follows along the same lines as the Arab proverb
"The untruth of the present state of affairs, regardless of whether the form of government is democratic or aristocratic or tyrannical, cannot be remedied by great political actions. No improvement is possible unless the individual is educated by educating himself unless his hidden being is awakened to reality through an insight which is at the same time inner action, a knowledge which is at the same time a virtue. He who becomes a true man becomes a true citizen"

I believe Dr. Robert Firestone’s quote below tells us that, not only do we have to deal with our own shadow and unresolved inner conflicts- going as far back as childhood- but we are also confronted with the social/political and economic system that is largely culpable in this malaise we are in which makes it harder to wake up. (it’s no wonder some individuals decide to live in a monastery because it’s the best environment to focus beyond being woke: self realization).

"Our society actually exist as a kind of negative afterimage. We all live in a crazy, backward world, often unaware of the lies and double messages we are given. If we could be free for a moment to catch a glimpse of our true situation, if we could view our society as a visitor from another planet, we would be stunned at the nightmare in which we live. The things we are expected to believe about ourselves and about society are frequently the very opposite of the way things really are. Unhappily, the individual and all the members of our society are often unconsciously working together to maintain a largely defensive and dishonest way of living"

I believe Dr. Jaspers was very perceptive when he said that our "hidden being " must be awakened to reality. I would amend that by saying that when we discover our hidden being
it awakens us to a greater awareness of reality. It’s the kind of experience no amount of college education can provide and it makes you wonder why our universities know nothing of this.
Having said all the above, I often wish we should stop this ongoing tiring and endless politized arguments about being woke and instead focus on HOW to realize our hidden being in a very real way. No amount of talk is going to do it. In fact, the more we argue and talk about all manner of being woke, the more we entrench ourselves away from our hidden being. It’s just another way we are spiritually bypassing. I believe the aforementioned authors are much closer to the truth as to what we are up against in discovering our hidden being. And so, and for the love of God, WHAT are the means by which we can realize it? To lose weight, we already know we must exercise and eat sensibly. So how do we realize our hidden being? As far as I know, no one has said anything about this. I have yet to see Corey Devos interview a psychotherapist who has developed a therapy that focuses on psychological mindedness as well as individuals who have benefited from this treatment. Until then, we may take pleasure talking ad nauseum about being woke but nothing good will come of it.

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I think the intent underlying this so-called “wokeness” is coming from a good space. Unfortunately, it’s become convoluted by shadow material and has regressed into Fundamentalism. I had my woke days back in the late 80’s even though I didn’t understand it as woke but outgrew it for the most part even though I sometimes have my “mean green moments.” In the 90’s I was shocked when I found myself being the target of wokeness here in Seattle. I’m a heterosexual, white male and found myself being judged and verbally attacked by women, LGBT, and other minority groups that were automatically assuming things about me without even knowing me. I have many friends in the LGBT community, Black community, etc. That was very difficult for me because I was a progressive yet I felt like the progressive community was completely rejecting me. I literally felt like I was in some sort of Twighlight zone.

At first I thought it was just Seattle because I didn’t experience it when I moved to New York. Then when I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area where I grew up I saw it again. Then I embraced Ken’s work and things started to make more sense. It’s still difficult to tolerate sometimes but I’m more understanding and forgiving of it.

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I too wish we could stop these endless politized arguments … I agree that the more we argue the more we entrench ourselves.

The solution I find most edifying is arguing with myself … challenging what I believe and why I believe it … and then daring to discover my own failures … and then being open and willing to start the questioning all over again. ~ Peace :slight_smile:

I agree with you, Brian. The term woke is being thrown around so much, its lost its true meaning hence has become a form of fundamentalism; aa good way to look at it. It is indeed unfortunate that the vast majority of people are not going to spend the time reading and thinking critically about the true nature of being woke and I often find this depressing. It seems the only way to get people to pay attention to this issue is through stories. Imagine bringing the most brilliant minds to write and direct screenplays in ways that can explain how the extreme left and right lost their way respectively on being woke (and other important matters) without judging them. Historian Kathleen Belew did some brilliant research on the history of the white power movement
It is this kind of research that can be used to dramatize humanistic stories to millions of people so that they can hopefully understand their misunderstandings and therefore get people out of the rut they
find themselves in. I’d also like to see real stories of people in psychotherapy where cameras can capture the moment when a client gains a sudden insight that bring him in touch with his hidden being.
In the film, Good Will Hunting, the character Will is confronted with his trauma and in a way that brings him to abdominal sobbing. As fictitious as the film may be, it nevertheless dramatizes what we must go through to free ourselves from our own trauma and inner conflicts.
Stories can have a powerful effect provided they are created to make people think and feel in ways they never did before. If chemistry can beat Covid, surely, good stories can do the same to combat ignorance and stupidity.


Thank you for these links! I’m going to check those out. I totally agree with you that we need to bring back story telling. It has been lost in this era of Twitter, Facebook, etc., and the 30 second attention span. I’m not exactly sure how we can do that but I think it’s crucially important that we somehow do!

You wrote the book on inaccurate and and intellectually bankrupt positions - so I’ll defer to your expert opinion on the matter.

There was a point a few weeks ago where I thought you might experience a breakthrough - but you’re just too entrenched in attacking your imaginary enemies to distract yourself from whatever progress or changes you need to make within yourself.

Your position / argument / side / whatever … I’m completely unconcerned. For me all the dogma was just a medium to see if I could get across a deeper message.

I could care less about Marxism - that debate is over and done for 50 years. You actually sound intellectually challenged every time you bring the term up - like you are using terminology that is out of date and no longer used or applicable to current society.

I see this conflict between your particular socio-political group and the American “left” coming to a crisis point sooner or later. Probably in violence. We in the 50th State will probably face some kind of economic fallout from that crisis but we won’t be “ground zero” if the culture wars “go hot”.
So again - I’m on the outside looking at you vs these numerous leftist enemies you have. It’s not really my problem so if you want to keep beating the drums of conflict, you and your community will reap what you sow. Neither side will win. A very large Ocean separates me from your madness, and another stretch of water separates my home from the closest International Airport. Then a long drive.
Honestly I’m not entirely sure if the US will even be able to maintain its Military here in the decades ahead. I suppose it probably will during my lifetime and it will depend on how quickly you and your chosen enemies are able to pull your collective heads out of your asses.

In the community I grew up in, it was “cool” to be a bit … how to say this … “anti-smart”. Here’s a cultural icon from my teenage years (who actually got several thousand votes in a run for Governor)
The whole problem with this “anti-smart” lifestyle is that it obviously isn’t a good idea to actually be this stupid. Neither is it good to be overly intellectualized.

In the time since the 1980’s and 1990’s, being a nerd or a geek or smart is no longer seen as bad. Now, being introspective, inclusive and caring about oneself, one’s community and the planet is the new “nerdy” and now the same mindset that was anti-smart is now anti-woke.

At the end of the day, it’s a problem based in lack of something in the types of people who are “anti”.