Yes people, like it or not, we live in the Woke Age. Hard to put a start date on it but my personal guess is the late 1990’s, but feel free to disagree - a concept which will be conspicuous by its absence in the rest of this article. That’s when a whole raft of issues, which used to be minority concerns, suddenly reared up and became the central focus for many Western governments.
Up to now, this new “age of enlightenment”, as woke followers would call it, is largely constrained to traditional wealthy democracies found in Europe, North America and Australasia. In other words, most of the world, by population, is yet to feel the woke wave or has decided it’s just not for them. Poor ignorant souls, still able to give their misplaced opinions on issues which have been ruled on by our woke leaders as unfit for public debate.
But where did the term “woke” come from? According to Wikipedia, “By the mid-20th century, it had come to mean well-informed or aware, especially in a political or cultural sense. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the earliest such usage to a 1962 New York Times Magazine article titled "If You're Woke You Dig It" by African-American novelist William Melvin Kelley”.
These days, it’s used by brave or foolhardy people who oppose the woke movement as a derogatory term to describe the range of in-vogue “social and racial justice” issues and their virtuous acolytes that have taken over most spheres of public life. As you’ll know, it’s hard to be unwoke and most non-wokees tend to keep their heads down and live a quiet life. You’ll have to forgive me because I’m forced to invent my own negative terms which shows just how popular woke culture is.
It’s hard to tell how many people are secretly unwoke but I suspect it is a very large number indeed. Why don’t they speak out? If there’s one thing the woke brigade does well, it’s bully and intimidate. This is an age-old human tactic for getting your own way but what makes it particularly hypocritical in this case is the endless woke calls for fairness, kindness and freedom of expression. Like most movements born out of an urge for radical change and revolution, these laudable aims only apply to their own supporters. Anyone who dares to disagree or argue an alternative viewpoint is shouted down, vilified and verbally beaten into submission.
You have to give the woke movement its due. Over at least the last two decades, it has implanted its devotees into key positions in national and local government, academic institutions and the media. That has allowed it to take over the levers of state control and fill most public organisations with like-minded believers. Corporates soon towed the line in a craven effort to protect their profit margins.
Traditional non-woke political parties chose to appease the woke movement rather than stand up and fight back. History demonstrates a very poor success rate from this course of action and that has been borne out with the partial assimilation of woke values into most centre-right parties, giving the poor voter limited real choice.
To future-proof their new nirvana, the woke are now attempting to instil the same “values” in our young people by rewriting parts of the national curriculum and re-educating teachers in the virtues of indigeneity, ethnic and sexual minority rights and the evils of white privilege and most majority rights. Most governments only plan about 3-5 years ahead but our far-thinking woke rulers are intending to be around well into the future. Potentially, to the point where annoying and disruptive practices like democracy and elections can be done away with as out-dated relics of capitalism and white colonialism.
One thing we know for certain is that nothing lasts forever. Even the bright beacon that is Woke will eventually fade or be snuffed out by our next “great age”. It would be nice to know when that is going to happen and it would be really nice to know that it is going to happen very soon but I don’t have a crystal ball, or a UN climate computer model, to make meaningless predictions, which is a futile exercise in any case.
In the last 70 - 100 years the great unwashed, that’s you and me by the way, have gained enormous freedoms and opportunities, not least regular baths and showers, which were denied to our ancestors. I don’t believe we will give these rights up easily. Like all radical movements, Woke will degenerate to more extreme and intolerant ideas, continuing to divide us by race, colour, gender and sexual orientation. These policies will become irreconcilable with preaching the same facade of understanding and fairness.
I hope that, despite the indoctrination planned for future schoolchildren, many will rebel and challenge the woke elite. However, this is likely another generation away, at least. In the meantime, the Great Unwoke need to band together, as best they can, and speak out at every opportunity to encourage others to follow suit. To stay silent and live a quiet life is no longer an option. Let’s bring on a new great age where we can discuss all issues in public life without fear of being branded something repugnant.
Derek Mackie is a geologist with a keen interest in current affairs.