- Wokism rose by replacing the Marxist distinction of class wealth with a variety of other divisions like gender, race and sexuality.
- It aims to undermine traditional values and cultural and sexual boundaries.
- As with Marxism, it seems the primary goal is not to address actual oppression, but to use social division to gain political power.
A Critical Theory of everything
Marx summarised communism in a single sentence: the abolition of private property. Critical Theory and related neo-Marxist theories coming to prominence in the 1960s simply replaced the abolishment of physical property with the abolishment of cultural norms.
The theory is that traditions and social norms are not defined by nature, but by a privileged elite. So the “woke”—followers of the theory— must control the government and “deconstruct” existing values and social distinctions. They aim to liberate humanity by throwing off oppressive cultural boundaries, using new language and norms.
Where economic Marxists called everything they wanted to control bourgeois, cultural Marxists call everything they want to control racist. For the woke, “racist” (or in the US especially, “white”), means the same thing “bourgeois” did for Marxists.
Add to this Post-Colonial Theory, cousin of Critical Race Theory, where the system of oppression is colonialism. Now “colonialist” can be used in addition to “racist” so people can be divided by country of origin in addition to ethnicity.
Radical feminism works the same way. The system is called “the patriarchy” and everything it does is “misogynistic”. Under queer theory, the social norm of being straight is the system of oppression and everything it does is “homophobic”. With transgender theory the “cisnormative” gender binary is oppressive and “transphobic”.
Diversity only in appearance, not culture
Economic Marxism is straightforward in saying all differences in wealth must be removed. Cultural Marxism, with its intersectional theories, is far more complex. For instance every straight white female is a victim of the patriarchy but an oppressor of blacks and gays. Critical Race Theory tells us differences in cultural outcomes are the result of oppression, so saying different races tend to have different priorities is racist stereotyping. People can look culturally distinctive, but the theory requires us to assume there are no really significant ethnic differences. Or with radical feminism, if men and women value different things, this is said to be the result of backward traditions that must be overcome for humanity to progress.
Marxism and the Social Division
On the surface some of these theories contradict each other, for instance feminism and transgender ideology. How can feminists defend women’s rights against the oppression of men while also supporting men to gain those same rights by identifying as women?
It is no more a contradiction than all Marxism, where revolutions install governments more oppressive than before. It is a politics of cultural opposition and deconstruction, not concrete solutions. It’s about using social division to gain power as the new experts and administrators of society.
This also explains phenomena such as Black Lives Matter protests in Western nations that have no history of slavery or black oppression. The reality of history and the actual causes of inequality are less important than the ideology. Increasing awareness of social division is seen as progress in itself.
In the last part we will look at how these theories were applied in New Zealand such that the political left abandoned the working class.