Cultural Fire Lines

Progressives in many ways, Sean Penn and Conan O’Brien now blast totalitarian woke-ism.

Progressive tumescence at the turn of the 20th Century resulted in the 18th Amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol nationwide for almost 15 years. It is doubtful that progressive marxists could today get a ratified amendment for any aspect of their value system. Progressivism and modern marxism are not linked to any kind of broad-based widely shared philosophy,

The negative effects of alcohol consumption were visible enough to most people, as a gateway to all kinds of sins.  This was an era a hundred years before that of synthetic drugs and the internet, both of which serve similar functions, I suppose.  The real history illustrates that Prohibition, its repeal, as with modern Pharma and the internet, all served the perennial interest of the reigning state rather than the culture of the day.

The philosophies and fears that supported prohibition, beyond state interests, were widely shared across the country at the time.  The same cannot be said for “wokism.”  Wokesters cluster in ivy towers, and hide behind a myriad of keyboards seen mostly by their friends and allies, and to be fair, are also blasted daily into homes and businesses via the US government-funded Ad Council and US government-influenced Hollywood streaming services.

When a fire is burning, as it spreads it either gains fuel or runs out of fuel.  Fire breaks, whether naturally occurring or man-made, shape that fire. Containment is natural and predictable.

Fire lines are emerging.  A meme poking fun at the iconic AOC says capitalism won’t work because people are too selfish, but marxism will?  Of course, it was never marxism or communism that worked at all – it was only the state totalitarianism that worked.  Until the state burned itself out as it destroyed the last of its remaining resources, human and natural, spiritual and economic.

Wokism requires centralized control and political totalitarianism.  It is a socio-political crusade to save souls, albeit without a defined heaven and hell.  The articulators of the woke vision are elites and globalists.  Yet the perceived mass beneficiaries of the woke vision are a set of inchoate and unhappy people who feel like they are not where they should be and it isn’t their fault, who translate their fear for their own future onto the larger vehicle of the world’s future.  As with old-time marxism, a good amount of jealousy and a false sense that we are not getting what we deserve is woven into the cloth. But the cloth holding the marxist elites together with the inchoate unhappy mob was always threadbare.

As Sean Penn notes, wokism shrinks opportunity.  He notes that as a straight male, he would never have been allowed today to play a gay character (as he did in Milk).  O’Brien chimes in on a well-known problem for wokism, one noted over that last several years – no one gets to laugh anymore.  College campuses used to be a proving grounds for comedy, now nothing is funny on a college campus.

There is a reason military colleges are a tiny subset of the university system in the US.  Most people want to attend college for a kind of curated exploration of the new, different, edgy and above all fun.  All colleges today seem to be aspiring military schools, complete with intellectual uniforms and 6 am room inspections.  Certainly no one wishes to pay or borrow tens of thousands of dollars for the kind of censorious, lockstepping, unhappy, fearful and constrained experience college campuses offer today.  If young people wanted to be nagged, monitored, criticized or frowned out whenever they stray from the culture of family and neighborhood, they could just stay home for a lot less money, and maybe even get a job and make everyone happy.

The woke fire is running out of fuel, as it shrinks professional opportunities, market opportunities, educational opportunities, and disallows having fun.  It is starting to burn those it ostensibly wished to aid, as we see here, here, and here.

A natural fireline is being created, as the fire runs out of fuel.  Certainly, the late to the game response to wokism is denying new fuel for that fire across the country, as people wise up, tuning in to and opposing local government woke trends and tuning out the elite messaging.

Fire lays waste, and drastically changes landscapes.  As with normal forest or grassland fires, there is a benefit in fertilization and in some cases, refreshed germination.  Does this refreshing and recovery work philosophically, as it does biologically?  It can, with the impact of actual human beings, seeking and finding opportunity to live and thrive, and a little good weather.

Follow-up a big fire with a flood, a drought, or earthquake, and recovery is going to slow down.  Just as marxism was a tool for government bureaucrats to acquire and control the means of production, so modern marxism, wokism, and its devastating impact on free speech and action been a handy tool for US politicians and the state to do the same.  The fire burned itself out, but the heat created a large population of nervous, tiptoeing, behind-closed-door people – who may disagree with wokism but prefer not to have their lives and economies destroyed by publicly saying so.

If we can judge them by their fruits, we are not judging university professors with their narrow ideologies and elite superiority.  We are judging the state, which has been the sole beneficiary of the woke movement.  Mainstream universities, and increasingly public schools, are no longer places of opportunity, for their staffs or their students.  The educational elites were tinder.

Media elites – regardless of their initial enthusiasm for wokeness – can no longer practice their trade or craft – for fear of cancellation, blacklisting, shadowbanning, or loss of social media platforms.  TV producers, actors, talking heads, famous radio hosts – all tinder.

If the state is interested in equality of outcomes (and the US state is), critics of the state’s noble motives will not be tolerated.  I always come back to Harrison Bergeron, Vonnegut’s powerful novella about equality, and the ravenous interest of the state in controlling outcomes – which is to say controlling every individual, cradle to grave –  rather than guaranteeing opportunities.  Modern technology lends itself to this not-so-secret fetish of the state, and the state is all in.

As wokism burns itself out, and the country breathes a sigh of relief, the state will take credit for any firelines, no matter how they came about.  Calls for unity, a coming together, and peace in the aftermath of our national spasm of wokeness will be heard. It was a fundamental and deep fear of the future, shared across several generations, that fueled and justified the progressive woke/climate change globalization/centralization movement.  However, this fear was never resisted or healed by the state; it was cultivated, stoked and institutionalized.

We can applaud the beginning of the end of the woke movement.  But its mother and father – the fundamental fear of impoverishment by the masses and the anti-liberty sophistry of the elites – are alive and well within the centralized state.  If the US goes totalitarian (and door to door injections sound like a good start) the only thing left to burn will be the currency, and corpses.