The battle against wokeism, aka the Critical Social Justice perspective, is entering its third phase. The first phase involved sounding the alarm and drawing attention to this retrograde, caustic, atavistic, anti-modern, anti-liberal, anti-science and anti-scientific creed. The second phase whose end we are now approaching involved understanding, analyzing and describing to the public at large what characterizes the creed, where it comes from, its results and the extent to which it has captured our institutions. The third phase involves challenging the creed and recapturing our institutions. The beginning of this phase began in earnest in K-12 education with parents all across the US joining together to reclaim control over what their children are being taught. While doing so, lessons are being learned and shared. These experiments are essential to success. What has been missing is a unified presentation of the phenomenon, the strategies and tactics used to entrench it, and those that can be used to defend against it; in a word, a guide. The purpose of Counter Wokecraft is to play this role.
The focus of Counter Wokecraft is universities and academia. They are the focus since they are the origin of the Critical Social Justice perspective and its most avid and effective propagators. They are also the institutions with which I have the most experience and where I have observed the rapid advance of the doctrine in recent years. I believe that at this stage, the manual will be most useful to STEM disciplines defending against the Woke onslaught given the hegemony of the Critical Social Justice perspective in the fine arts, humanities and social sciences. Despite the focus on STEM disciplines in universities, I believe it can be easily adapted to other disciplines, milieux and institutions.
The manual itself comprises three parts: understanding Woke, the strategies and tactics of those advancing the Woke perspective (wokecraft), and how to protect against wokecraft.
Understanding Woke provides a description of the doctrine, its political project, as well as a woke-relevant typology of the different participants involved in making decisions at universities.
Understanding Critical Social Justice doctrine is essential to being able to defend against wokecraft for at least three reasons. The first is that the key axioms of the creed inform and help explain the strategies that are adopted to entrench and propagate it. The second is to help readers appreciate that while Wokeism appears to represent a bewildering number of different movements, the “movements” are all fundamentally rooted in a few axioms. Understanding the axioms therefore helps not only to demystify one particular movement, but all of them. Third, it is essential to prepare would-be dissidents to be able to respond to it.
The Woke political project needs to be understood since there is so much confusion around what the goal of the movement is. There are many reasons for this including the fact that so many advocates seem well-meaning, that its goals are intentionally obfuscated, and that many common words are confusingly re-appropriated to serve the Woke cause. In a nutshell, the Woke political project can be summarized as equity: the retributive redistribution of resources according to identity. The flow of the desired redistribution is from oppressor to oppressed identities, where identities are defined by skin color, primary sexual characteristics, sexual orientation, etc.
The woke-relevant typology is necessary to identify with whom you might be able to work to challenge the Woke juggernaut, as well as to identify Woke advocates and enablers before they become too powerful. In short, the Critical Social Justice perspective has been promoted and supported by those who adhere to and understand it (the Woke), as well as those broadly sympathetic to the cause but who don’t actually understand it (the Woke-proximate). You’ll need to identify other Woke dissidents and latent dissidents to effectively counter wokecraft. Opportunists will go whichever way the wind blows so you won’t be able to count on their support until and unless your challenge is successful.
Understanding wokecraft begins by defining terminology about where it can be used and who can use it. Ultimately, it can be wielded in any “situation” in which a decision of some kind is made, and by anyone allowed to influence those decisions (participants). Overarching strategies such as the “end justifies the means” and the “least amount of force necessary” interact with key tools such as ubiquitous dual-meaning Woke crossover words and are forged into the micro-tactics wielded in situations.
Individual micro-tactics come in three main categories of increasing forcefulness: subterfuge, exaggerating support and quelling dissent. These tactics are supplemented by the subversion of liberal decision-making norms and the insistence on informality in decision-making, which renders it vulnerable to intimidation. The forcefulness of tactics used is influenced primarily by the degree to which the Critical Social Justice perspective is entrenched in a given situation. The more Woke participants there are, the more the perspective is entrenched. The more it is entrenched, the more forceful and aggressive the tactics will be.
Micro-tactics are harnessed and used together towards the tactical goal of overwhelming every situation with Woke participants and in the ultimate service of the grand tactic of “Woke Viral Infection.” It is through Woke Viral Infection that Critical Social Justice is spread from department to department, through university administrations, across disciplines and into funding agencies and governments. Woke Viral Infection is successful thanks the use of Woke crossover words such as “critical” and “diversity” that allow the Woke perspective to be introduced into situations where it was absent before.
Protecting against Wokecraft
The best protection against wokecraft is spotting it early. This is done by being aware of it, taking it seriously and remaining vigilant for any signs of its appearance. It can be spotted by identifying Woke participants who will be discrete when in small numbers but who become much more obvious, aggressive and imposing as numbers increase. Woke participants can give themselves away by a number of different signs. The use of covert Woke crossover words is particularly important to spot due to its role in subtly introducing the Critical Social Justice perspective in situations throughout universities.
Counter wokecraft is difficult to accomplish alone and is most effectively conducted in coordination with (dissident and latent-dissident) allies. Spotting allies is more difficult than spotting Woke participants so to some extent is a process of elimination. Once spotted they need to be approached. If amenable, you need to agree to work together, coordinate, recruit others, prioritize sites of intervention and aim as high up the in the academic machinery as you can to counter wokecraft.
Once in larger numbers, counter wokecraft strategies aim to disarm Woke subterfuge, exaggeration of support and the quelling of dissent. Disarming Woke subterfuge requires being on the lookout for discrete signs of Woke incursions, and unmasking them when you see them.
Tactics to counter Woke exaggeration of support and the quelling of dissent are similar. You can actively demonstrate opposition to Woke incursions or support others who do so. It is also of utmost importance to ensure the institutionalization of mechanisms that allow the anonymous provision of input, and more importantly, decision making through secret ballot voting. These mechanisms will help cement the formalization of decision-making, but this must also be supplemented by good formal practices in meeting organization. To this end, the use of agendas, adhered to and properly reported in minutes is central to ensuring that meetings cannot be hijacked to advance Woke goals.
Finally, when preparing this third phase in the battle against Wokeism, we have to recognize that it will not be easy to “right the ship.” The roots of the current capture of academia (and many of our institutions more broadly) do not reside in the most recent resurgence of the 2010s. Nor do they reside in the political correctness of 1990, nor of the “New Left” of the late 1960s. No, the roots to our current situation stretch back at least a hundred years to when Antonio Gramsci was sketching out the map for the long march through our institutions. I don’t think it will take us that long to get them back, but it might take years and probably decades. I hope this manual will speed the return to a traditional liberal, universalist modernity, one where no one with a competency to pursue a dream is prevented from doing so because of immutable characteristics or the sins of their ancestors.