102 Comments

Sorry, but I have to say that I find this discussion greatly over-complicates things. The hard truth that Western liberalism so struggles with is that people who are free-thinking and open-minded and independent-minded are (and have always been) the exception, not the rule. In consequence there are - in big picture philosophical terms - very few 'smart people'; whatever their nominal IQ. Most people - the vast majority in fact - are group-thinkers. The need to be liked, to go with the flow etc is just too compelling.The distinctions between this that or the other brand of 'elite liberalism' that feature so large in this essay really have little significance. The big picture is that we have had 60 years of a rag-bag hegemony of 'Progressive' vanity, narcissism and sentimentality - right across the academy, arts and media. And we are currently witnessing its chickens coming home to roost.

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I'm not sure how you can say that distinctions between different strands of leftism have "little significance" given all the evidence concerning the nature and timing of the Great Awokening. There was clearly a step change in the early 2010s, as various data series indicate and numerous commentators have noted.

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I tend to look at the story of Western Progressivism in the round....and this is what I see:

* Yes there was a step change around 2010

* but in very broad terms it has been on an exponential up curve right from its beginnings

- very approx late 19th c. (The biggest step change was the 1960s).

* I differ from many conservatives in that I think of it less in ideological terms; more in psychological terms. The intelligentsia's desire to FEEL good as opposed to BE good.

* I think the growth of this social psychology was seeded in the very beginnings of the 300 year trajectory (the tragic story) of Western Liberalism....and will be its doom.

[A difficult conversation to have on a comment thread like this....but all this is a core theme of most of the essays on my own Substack.]

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I'd like to add that so far as catalysts for wokeness, two highly publicized events, Michael Brown/Ferguson, and much more potent, the George Floyd video, were fundamental to the acceleration and popular adoption of wokeness.

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Couldn't agree more. I'd especially emphasize the sentimentality aspect. Current views on race or ethnicity are pure sentiment, a kind of ostentatious and performative anti-racism completely at odds with what we can observe ourselves.

For countries like Britain that conquered most of the people now coming here our elites have made explicit choices to ignore 150 plus years of knowledge about the nature of other peoples we know well. We literally had to ship Indians and Chinese into West Africa just to get anything done, but now we are told the elites are somehow racial environmentalists and believe the Africans will make superb New Britons?

I don't buy it. I don't think the elites are thinking at all. And I think the current era is characterized by people being included in elite circles precisely because they toe the line and embrace mindless groupthink, not because they agonize over theories of racial disparities.

As you say independent thinkers are rare in any setting. Covid alone demonstrated one stark fact, our educated professional class seem incapable of any critical thinking.

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> For countries like Britain that conquered most of the people now coming here our elites have made explicit choices to ignore 150 plus years of knowledge about the nature of other peoples we know well.

The elites who knew that died off and were replaced by a new generation who didn't.

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I still believe it must involve intentional self-deceit. We are aware of the realities of Empire, and we were in the midst of Africa and South Asia. Even if there is sentiment involved the reality is immediately visible in London today. Although I appreciate the elites themselves are somewhat insulated.

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I think the recent referenda in Ireland indicate that a large portion of the liberal elite are hilariously out of touch with grassroots opinion.

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The levels of out-of-touchness border on a psychotic break from reality.

We saw that when the girl was stabbed in Dublin.

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An absolutely infuriating incident. "Sure, three of our citizens are bleeding to death because of a psychotic muslim, but hey, one of the first five responders was an immigrant pizza-delivery-man, so I guess those cancel out!"

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One theory I've heard for what's happening in Ireland, is that the Irish are suffering from cultural insecurity and so are trying to conform to what they precive to be "global elite opinion". Thus they were supporting Wokeness until Elon Musk started using Twitter to have his followers mock them for it. Then they rushed to switch to the new perceived "global elite opinion".

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You seem to be saying that the cleavage axis between woke/non-work is not so much IQ, but routine individual, as opposed to group, thinking.

I think there's great merit in this. What seemed to be missing from the discussion--although I realize the writers doubtless recognize its existence but did not mention it directly or explore it--is that we could examine high IQ individuals who, by some criterion we have bounded off from the rest of the population, mid- IQ persons. and a similarly arbitrarily bounded lower IQ group, and that independent thinkers can be found in all groups, although likely in differing proportions.

So I think you're onto something significant here: the border between "woke" and "non-work"--allowing that there's a range of commitment between the two poles--is individual observation, analysis, and conclusion, rather than IQ.

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Hello Hairyhanded Gent, I think I was saying something more fundamental than this....I am sceptical that there is much of a link between IQ and wisdom. A high IQ can paradoxically be employed to 'cleverly' prove to oneself something that is patently untrue...as is the case with just about every 'Woke' belief. People come out of the Leftist hegemonic university sheep-dips in many ways more stupid than when they went in. So I was fundamentally at odds with the thrust of this particular Aporia essay...(although I am a great admirer more generally). If you have the time, take a look at the essays on my own Substack...(this one for instance: https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/how-diversity-narrows-the-mind) as this 'education' paradox is a subject I have written on quite extensively.

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Yeah its hard to say that Ivy League students aren't elite or NYTimes journalists aren't elite.

Maybe the top 1% of STEM PHDs aren't Woke or whatever, but a wider swath of the "broad elite" is more or less what drives policy and outcomes.

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"Maybe the top 1% of STEM PHDs aren't Woke or whatever, but a wider swath of the "broad elite" is more or less what drives policy and outcomes."

I believe those with STEM degrees, B.S. through PhD.s, are mostly not of the woke persuasion.

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Thanks for responding. Some comments:

I wrote that "smart people overwhelmingly choose wokism over right-wing alternatives." Non-woke liberals like Pinker and McWhorter are not counterexamples to this claim. They're not woke, but they're not on the right, either. I don't think you challenge the point that, when it comes to attracting smart people, the right is not very competitive vis-à-vis wokism *or* regular liberalism.

Point taken re the CEOs of S&P 1500 companies disproportionately donating to Republicans. However, I think this is a potentially misleading statistic. Woke corporate culture goes far beyond what is mandated by the law, and seems to be driven largely by employee demand. Note the mass resignations at Coinbase and Basecamp after they tried to dewokify the workplace. Wokism is good for business because that's what many of the most valuable employees want. The average age of S&P 1500 CEOs is 62 (literally a boomer), and most of them were probably appointed by people born before WWII. The next generation of CEOs might be different.

I could quibble over how to interpret the GSS data (footnote: I agree with almost all of the positions you labeled "liberal"), but I think the right's cognitive deficiency is clearly displayed in its collective behavior. Why are our institutions so conspicuously inferior compared to those of the left? Why have we not been able to take over a single major university? Why did we select Trump to be our leader?

"But this raises the question: if cognitive elites had almost unanimously embraced racial environmentalism by the early 1960s, why did it take until the early 2010s – no less than five decades – for the Great Awokening to unfold?"

I don't think this is a difficult question to answer. Values are sticky. It takes a couple generations to reach a tipping point where radical change occurs. The philosophical and empirical premises motivating wokism were largely accepted three generations ago. The growth of the ideology was linear until circa 2012 when you had a critical mass of people in power encouraging DEI values, plus true believing zoomers arriving on college campuses.

Agree that race isn't everything. As I say in the original post, wokism is partly the inevitable consequence of integrating women into our institutions. I link to your excellent article about this!

A post-hereditarian revolutionary world would be one in which the intellectual and moral credibility of the liberal establishment has been destroyed, and the right is free to develop a coherent philosophy. That won't fix all of our problems—and it will no doubt create new ones—but I can't imagine a scenario where "[not] very much would be different."

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I find this 'smart people' concept unhelpful. Very few people are smart in a philosophical/wisdom sense because the 'feel good' psychology (discussed in my comments above) overrides all else. Your 'smart people' are overwhelmingly anti-right because they have been marinated in the academia ecosystem and they are group thinkers just like your less-smart folks.

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There is even a reliable measure of this in psychology, agreeableness. Women rank higher in this trait, for example. It is one of the five modern traits used to define personality. When combined with measures of openness you get something like the liberal mindset. People open to foreigners moving in, but don't want to complain when they turn out to be unsuited to our country etc.

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This observation resonates with your earlier statement that modern western culture has become increasingly feminized--possibly increasingly so since women's suffrage--and which conforms to my own personal observations and thoughts.

FWIW...

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>I don't think this is a difficult question to answer. Values are sticky. It takes a couple generations to reach a tipping point where radical change occurs.<

Preference cascade and cohort replacement. In 1960, all the old people (i.e. people in top positions of power and influence) were born before World War I, some would've been born before the turn of the century. It takes time for all of those old people who grew up with and internalized pre-Civil Rights values to simply fade away and die off, until eventually people who were teenagers and young adults during the 60s stepped into their shoes.

Returning to the concept of a preference cascade, overcoming the inertia of social norms that have been the standard for decades or even centuries presents a huge collective action problem. Lots of people may disagree with the old standard but they face insurmountable uncertainty about how many other people also disagree, and how many would stand up alongside them if they spoke out. So they all keep their head down and the standard likely continues to persist well past the point when, if everyone had perfect knowledge of each other's preferences, it should've changed.

Eventually the social pressure builds up to a point that one way or another, people's true preferences begin to show through, and then a tipping point is reached where the collective action problem is solved and everyone stands up together en masse. I believe the dissolution of the Soviet Union is a notable example of this. It also explains how wokeness can be seeded in decades past, lay dormant for a time, then take over seemingly overnight. The same dynamics may now be playing out in reverse--liberal elites were happy to usher in "wokeness" when it just meant gay marriage and abortion, but they didn't expect it to overshoot into things like transgender nonsense and unhinged anti-semitism.

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Great points. You do get the impression this formulation is everywhere. Richard Dawkins' recent comments about his home town dropping Easter celebrations and celebrating Ramadan instead. He was happy to trash many elements of British culture but what is being brought in to replace it is not rational or enlightened as he imagined.

Many such cases have been pursued by the chattering classes. Mass immigration of inappropriate people is just one stark example.

Will we see elites backpedal on some of this? I suspect it is too late.

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I see western immigration somewhat differently.

I think that it is a consciously considered policy driven by low native birthrates in an effort to head off the profound disruption caused by a comparatively large older population, who have been promised benefits after retirement (a lot like some nice new wings on entering Heaven) which are supported by a diminishing number of young workers.

So something's got to give--the retirement programs were both optimistic and short-sighted--and a good way to kick the can down the road for the current political class is to encourage immigration. That way, when inevitably the wheels fall off of the system, the current generation of politicals will be either retired or in their graves.

Interestingly, it may be an advantage the west has over east Asian Confucian nations such as China, S. Korea, and Japan, the populations of which are very resistant to the idea of immigration and have similarly low birth rates.

So immigration may be medicine, but it's bad-tasting...

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It is emphatically not medicine. The immigrants are not the same. In Britain 63% of Muslims are on the dole. The cost of educating their children alone exceeds anything they can possibly contribute.

As for them boosting economies? We are shipping in people from failed states as are America and Canada. This is a liberal fantasy driven by egalitarianism, whatever economic excuses are used.

Populations always wax and wane. The far east will survive. We will not. Try explaining to a young Arab or Hispanic why they should pay your pension or healthcare? They are tribal people who literally view you as an alien. Only naive Europeans believe these things. The immigrants are quite clear about their loyalties.

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Let me make it clear up front: my personal preferences--probably from my limbic brain--would like a fairly homogeneous ethnic and racial society in which to live. This would be more like it was in the 1950s, when I grew up in California.

But the reality of it that this is long gone with no recovery. It is the fact on the ground here.

Given that, I need to make the best of the unalterable reality here. I want the retirement benefits promised me, month after month as I paid into the system, being assured that" Yes, you're not paying for yourself, but for people currently on retirement, who in their turn paid for yet others who were retired before them. And you can rest assured that we'll make the next generations of workers pay for your retirement in their turn."

Now, it was silly for me to have ever believed these happy promises in the first place, and after about age 40 I didn't, but really, I had no choice other than to continue to pay. And I set up my own finances so that I wasn't truly dependent on the system's performance.

But still: I paid in and I want value back. If this means tacitly inviting cross boarder immigrants (and I assure you that US Hispanics are not unlikable, inflexible people by nature--i.e., there's at least something there to admire--many of whom are not legal, to pay into a system that they may not even be qualified to use later, to me,it's bad-tasting medicine, and by God, it's palliative as can be.

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They aren't going to be paying anything. That's the point. That's a European thing. It is entirely absent in South America. Inconceivable almost everywhere else. If you think Haitians and Chinese immigrants care if you die in squalor I have news for you.

No disrespect you are part of the problem. Wanting strangers to pay your way is the issue. And it has led to you supporting a novel idea, inviting strangers to your home. They will absolutely destroy what is left of America and the West.

So your pension will be the least of your issues.

You are going to have to fight for your place in my view. So will the Europeans. That is the future, not cultural harmony.

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"Lots of people may disagree with the old standard but they face insurmountable uncertainty about how many other people also disagree, and how many would stand up alongside them if they spoke out."

Here's a personal observation that may/may not have merit, coming from someone who lived thru the US civil rights/Vietnam era.

I'm going to speculate that the radical rejection of the previous generations' standard set of social and economic values by the Boomer generation was not similarly played out between the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation, and most/all generations that came before them. The schism between the Boomers and the preceding generations was based on the threat of being forced to serve in Vietnam, possibly being killed or maimed, and at the very least having one's normal life disrupted for what seemed to us no very good reason. It was a *personal*, and much less a philosophical, individual threat.

This caused an important and additive factor in dropping old values and assuming new ones: we profoundly mistrusted the previous generations, and in losing that trust over national policy, we extended it to many other areas of daily life.What did they know about sex before marriage? What did they know about recreational drugs? It was above all and *emotional* decision rather than an accretion of logical reasons based on an evolving society.

Basically throwing out the baby with the bathwater... :^)

I feel that similarly, the popular drift toward woke-ism is a result of publicized incidents of collisions between largely white authority, often police, and blacks or other nominally repressed groups. The incidents, although often not the proximate causes, are well documented and freely disseminated. As a tag-along, you have imaged or supposed collisions, such as instances of gay/trans bullying, sexual harassment, harm stemming from hate speech, etc. This are not well documented but word-of-mouth tales are accepted as factual and passed along as common knowledge.

Really, it's like two early 20th C Bronx housewives gossiping over the backyard fence about the milkman.

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I think it'd be really helpful for you guys (or whichever of your collaborators is planning a response) to break down woke tendencies for various levels of "smart". Noah's piece is excellent, but the only categories he analyzes are the population as a whole and the GSS respondents with WORDSUM=10 (centile 95.9, IQ > 126).

Respondents with WORDSUM 9 (centile 89.4, 118<IQ<126) or WORDSUM 8 (centile 77, 111<IQ<118) are in a critical range: both sufficiently intelligent to readily qualify for professional jobs, and numerous enough to form a mob that's difficult to ignore. My hunch is that they're significantly more woke than those above or below them in IQ, especially if female.

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Yeah I'd categorize a broader swath of people as "the elite" them Noah would like. The super elite can influence that demographic but can't completely shape it by its mere will.

Any idea is going to be "vulgar" by the time the sausage making of the median above average person implementing it is done. You ideas need to be able to function well enough even if they are vulgarized.

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For what it's worth, here's what I used to convert WORDSUM to centile to IQ ranges.

WORDSUM to centile was Razib's excellent piece: https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/verbal-intelligence-by-demographic

Centile to IQ was https://www.omnicalculator.com/health/iq-percentile.

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There were also earlier generations that wanted to be woke but couldn't. Nixon and Reagan won huge landslides. Bill Clinton got around this by basically not being a liberal. Sure, you could push things behind the scenes at institutions you controlled, but you couldn't be out in the open about it. It's just not possible to run on a campaign of "90% of the populace is evil incarnate". But as the electorate diversified (racially, more single women, etc) you got to a point where Romney tried to run on the same Reagen playbook and couldn't even win.

A lot of non-woke liberals are people that don't like taking this stuff to its logical conclusion, but don't want to really go after the premises. They used to be able to rely on normies to keep their side in check, now there aren't enough normies, and they haven't got the backbone to do it themselves.

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> Why have we not been able to take over a single major university?

Good question. Noah focuses a lot on CEOs and 10/10 wordsum uber elites. But universities and most large organizations have a culture of and for midwits who are sub-CEO and dumber than 10/10 wordsum. The feminization (don't be mean) and lowering of cognitive standards (smartness is mean) in universities and other institutions might have had a rather large effect on our society.

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May 13·edited May 13

The 'women problem' alongside the weaponization of them through academia then social media is the main driver of Wokeness. Erasing racial environmentalism, Trump or liberal intellectuals won't stop it.

As Curt Doolitle says:

"The Seditious Sequence of Feminine-Abrahamic War:

Marxist(LowerClassMarxism) >

... NeoMarxist(CulturalMarxism) >

... ... Postmodern(TruthMarxism) >

... ... ... Trotsky-NeoConservatism >

... ... ... ... Feminism(SexMarxism) >

.. ... ... ... ... Libertarian(MiddleClassMarxism) >

... ... ... ... ... ... Friere's-Woke (EducationalMarxism) >

... ... ... ... ... ... ... PC-Woke(Race Marxism)

Sedition and Treason:

Using Feminine > Abrahamic > Marxist Warfare by Fraud. Or what we technically refer to as seduction into the false promise of freedom from the four sets of laws of the universe, by the accusation of men as oppressors instead of their DOMESTICATORS and CIVILIZERS, hiding under the moral pretense of plausible deniability that their actions are moral rather than seditious warfare that spreads the feminine instinct of irresponsibility for the commons, such that it overwhelms the incentive for men to take responsibility for the commons - and therefore build civilization.

Sex Differences:

The male form of warfare is bad and recoverable. The feminine method of warfare is evil and unrecoverable. Hence the historical reputation of, and treatment of women.

The Undoing of our Compromise Between the Sexes

And the left and the feminists have just undone two thousand years of our efforts to domesticate women into civilization such that we could reverse the historical understanding and universal perception of women as childish, impulsive, shallow, greedy, hyper-consumptive, attention-seeking, disloyal, seditious, treasonous, harpies and wh--res for whom Pandora was but a gentle reflection - that men must protect society and civilization against by constraining women from public exercise of their natural, almost universally uncontrollable, criminality if not constrained by social pressures to domesticate and limit them."

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I am skeptical about this article. That's why:

1. There is a difference between assessing the opinion of the population [the conservatism of people from the 1980s, by the way, is greatly exaggerated: https://vdare.com/posts/pnas-misperceptions-arise-from-a-stereotype-that-the-present-is-far-more-liberal-than-the-past ] and the actual reality of politics. The "great awakening" may be reflected in the leftist radicalization of the opinion of white liberals, but there are not many special changes in real politics:

- Arthur Jensen, Joe Sobran, Sam Francis and Philip Rushton had problems with political correctness back in the 20th century

- the racial integration of the Boston and Busing schools was, in fact, much more radical than the modern DEI.

- black riots in Detroit or Los Angeles were even more destructive than the recent Floyd protests

- The radical left in the 1970s was many times crazier in terms of terrorism than today's "woke" people.

And etc.

2. You mention data from Thomas Piketty. But there is a problem with them: in the past, the right was obviously much more conservative on all issues, but according to Piketty, for some reason this did not stop the “liberal” cognitive elites from supporting them much more in the 1950s.

3. Why pay so much attention to the United States if the elite’s inclination toward social progressivism is a worldwide feature, at least “all-Western”?

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May 9·edited May 9Liked by Aporia

"The "great awakening" may be reflected in the leftist radicalization of the opinion of white liberals, but there are not many special changes in real politics".

The Great Awokening is much than just the "leftist radicalization of the opinion of white liberals". As noted in the article, there was a "dramatic shift in the culture of the English-speaking world that began in the early 2010s, comprising a sudden fixation on “racism” and other forms of bigotry, a marked rise in anti-white sentiment, a massive dialling-up of cancel culture, and the rapid diffusion of “DIE” through academia and the corporate world."

"Arthur Jensen, Joe Sobran, Sam Francis and Philip Rushton had problems with political correctness back in the 20th century".

Michael Woodley and I have assembled the most comprehensive database of controversies in intelligence research that exists. Our data show the same uptick in the mid 2010s that other data series show (see Figure 3 here: https://gwern.net/doc/iq/2019-carl.pdf). What's more, although Arthur Jensen came under attack from activists in the 1970s, his university largely protected his academic freedom. According to our database, no intelligence researcher (or scholar interested in intelligence research) lost employment until 2006.

"You mention data from Thomas Piketty. But there is a problem with them: in the past, the right was obviously much more conservative on all issues, but according to Piketty, for some reason this did not stop the “liberal” cognitive elites from supporting them much more in the 1950s."

Left-wing parties in the 1950s were often explicitly socialist and heavily oriented toward working-class interests. Like right-wing parties of the time, they were also more conservative on social issues. I have yet to find a single dataset from any country that does not show a positive association between cognitive ability and social liberalism.

"Why pay so much attention to the United States if the elite’s inclination toward social progressivism is a worldwide feature, at least “all-Western”?"

I only paid so much attention to the United States because Cofnas's original article did. One of my points was that "the liberalism of cognitive elites isn’t something unique to the US or countries where race is a salient issue".

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4. I have a very strong suspicion that the elite's approval of homosexuals, for example, is also driven by egalitarianism - the belief that gays are "equal" to heterosexuals in terms of their "normality." Cochran's data on gays ( https://www.unz.com/isteve/cochran-on-gay-genes/ ) will most likely cause hatred and a desire to deny in an intellectual.

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Although the term "wokeness" didn't exist in the 1980s and 1990s, the concept certainly did. We called it "political correctness," and it was every bit as intolerant as wokeness. There was very little difference between the two. Yes, back then, you could be vilified as a "racist" for totally innocent remarks.

"Political correctness" differed from "wokeness" in three ways:

1. Political correctness had not spilled over into all areas of life. That was why I enjoyed going to church in the 1980s — it was like entering another world. When I went home afterwards I often felt sad: "Now, I have to return to the future."

2. Political correctness was largely confined to people in their early 50s or younger. Consequently, there were older people, often in positions of authority, who could step in and set things straight. When they retired and died, there was no longer any pushback. That's why political correctness became wokeness after the turn of the millennium.

3. The transgendered movement didn't exist. There were gays and lesbians, but their influence on the left was a lot weaker than it is today. Until the 1990s, the left was more interested in the class struggle than in LGBTQ or "anti-white"-ism. It was the collapse of Marxism in the late 1980s that led to the emergence of a new kind of left.

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"Second, liberal whites of high intelligence are particularly sensitive to accusations of bigotry, and many have been cowed into silence by activists whose views they don’t necessarily share."

I think that cowardice of liberals is a huge part of the problem. But that hasn't really changed.

I think Trump was an excuse that a lot of liberals used to be cowards, and it's still going on. If someone will only stand up under perfect circumstances, they just won't stand up when it matters.

I would add three items to your list:

1) The kind of explicit anti-white aspect of wokeness just wouldn't have been electorally viable until recently. However, due to immigration, it can be electorally competitive. I regard Romney's failure with non-whites versus a much more racially aggressive second Obama term as a turning point.

2) I think there was a lot more hope in the liberal coalition until the 2010s. The 1980s and 1990s were a pretty good run. By 2010 basically every liberal reform to fix the race issue had failed. And the Great Recession kind of sucked.

3) Improving crime, immigration, and to an extent education would still be huge wins, so bring on the hereditarian revolution.

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Promoting a sane and accepting hereditarian understanding probably is the single best way to stop more post-WWII far left environmental drift: gender is mostly biological, race is substantially biological, and society's problems cannot be fixed by ignoring a human nature that has evolved for a really long time. But how to do it?

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Awareness really is the biggest step. The acceptance of general intelligence being hereditary is reasonably popular, as Noah outlined. Fifty-eight percent. But most of said fifty-eight percent legitimately believe that such a divide is roughly equal between races, and to a lesser extent the sexes. Furthermore, of those that know otherwise, many are afraid to promote such, as it carries very real legal sanction for a large percentage of us, particularly among those in positions of power.

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I’m one of those non-woke liberals mentioned in the article. I have not been cowed into silence and I think you make a big mistake when you say that liberals are cowards.

The reason I don’t fight for the issues that people on the right get so agitated about is either because I don’t agree with them or because they don’t really matter in the big scheme of things

I oppose Trump (and the Tories and Brexit and sending refugees to Rwanda) because I think they are terrible for my country. I oppose diversity and inclusion schemes because I think they result in division and racial tension.

I believe in judging individuals as individuals — not as part of the group that they belong to. Black people, trans people and gay people should be treated with respect unless or until they prove they are not worthy of it. Same as white people, cis-people and heterosexual people.

Finally, I note that the person who says that liberals are cowards is using an anonymous email address: forumposter123@protonmail.com

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“I believe in judging individuals as individuals.” Liberals have not done this since Johnson implemented AA.

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What exactly is bad about sending asylum seekers to Rwanda?

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The single biggest remedy to woke-ism would be an open recognition that in the current western world the consequences of meritocracy can be verified objectively and repeatedly, while assumptions about current social injustice can only be found in rare exceptions.

But that's the biggest taboo of all, and it's heretical to boot. A one way ticket to the next auto-de-fé.

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It’s not obvious to me the Great Awokening required a trigger event or events as a causal mechanism. More likely imo that a popular desire for it had been building gradually - failure of CRA, demographic shifts, etc - but unseen by the elite until it breached the dam and came gushing forth. And what might have murmured and died in an 80% white American found ready acceptance in a 60% white America.

We saw the same thing with Trumpism: clearly a large and growing continent on the right had been quietly gaining strength until an avatar appeared and almost immediately swept away the old regime.

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Bingo -- social phenomena rarely move in tandem with the underlying intellectual currents that make them possible. History is not a slow, dirty river. It's placid clarity, punctuated by violent mudslides.

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There are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen.

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May 8Liked by Aporia

Outstandingly argued.

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"Who are the most prominent woke intellectuals? Robin Di Angelo and Ibram X. Kendi – not exactly the intellectual giants of our age."

You're too kind.

"Serious subjects like Mathematics and Economics have much higher GRE scores than activist fields like Gender Studies and Communications."

This could rightly be said of all STEM degrees.

"As Cofnas himself observes, “America devotes far more money and resources to “special” than to gifted education.”

This is demonstrably true and is a significant reason for the deplorable education situation in the United States.

"For one thing, education isn’t a perfect proxy for IQ."

To say the least. High IQs are much more prevalent in STEM-educated people.

"In 2016, Trump lost college educated voters by 9 points, which was the largest gap favouring the Democrats in any election year going back to the 1980s. Then in 2020, he lost them by 12 points."

You continue to use the term 'college educated'. In the current situation, it is evident that the term college educated has no meaning in reference to intelligence. I am by no means a supporter of Trump, but why would anyone support Biden...he is brain-dead. But this position is only academic since whoever is 'elected' will be a titular president. All decisions of import are not made by elected officials.

My experience and observations are that most liberals have rather low IQs.

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Trump does well with people who earn well relative to their education and Biden does well with people that earn poorly relative to their education.

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"Trump does well with people who earn well relative to their education and Biden does well with people that earn poorly relative to their education."

That is the perception. But the fact is that Presidents have no power; that is the purview of the unelected bureaucrats in the three-letter acronym agencies.

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I don't view liberals as low IQ. I view them as more emotional thinkers. Perhaps this implies they struggle to think rationally.

But in my experience they are easily thrown by emotion, and struggle with the detachment needed to make sense of complex topics like economic calculation or the dangers of mass immigration. I've simply watched too many of them become derailed with feel-good utopian ideas no rational person would endorse.

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"I don't view liberals as low IQ. I view them as more emotional thinkers. Perhaps this implies they struggle to think rationally."

The ability to reason is a minimum requirement for an intelligent person.

"I've simply watched too many of them become derailed with feel-good utopian ideas no rational person would endorse."

You have made my case beautifully.

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Given all you say here I think you would find this essay on education interesting: https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/teach-your-children-well

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On the timing, I had an idea about this earlier in the week. I think Wokeness was a ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy) phenomenon. A ZIRP environment, such as obtained from 2009 onwards, is well established as causing irrational and inefficient exuberance in markets. The effect of free money is to permit all manner of faddish and unproductive businesses to flourish, unmoored from the usual necessity of making substantial profits. My idea is that there was a similar effect on permitting the flourishing of a faddish and unproductive ideology. As for why wokeness, that's where the 1960s Civil Rights and academic Critical Theory elements come in: it was path dependency. ZIRP opened the door to a faddish ideology, and Wokeness was the one that happened to be there, ready and waiting to be picked up. Hey, I'll write you a piece making the case if you want to commission it lol.

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I think there is a lot to this. You can also see it reach its crescendo during COVID when real rates were intensely negative and they were just handing out free money for nothing.

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If we went back to the late 19th and early 20th century, we'd see elite support for Communism following a similar pattern to the current elite support for Woke.

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I would argue the only difference is today's elites seem poor judges. I think woke is beyond their control. Their pets have ideas if their own.

The anti white stuff seems to be getting out of hand too. I suspect that may backfire as it wakes some people up.

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I think Cofnas is right that elites believe a lie, and that disabusing them of it could be helpful. But I agree with you that breaking this one lie won't do the trick.

What I think you both underplay is the fact of liberalism's status as a worldview, or perhaps, a religion. Race- or intelligence-egalitarianism are elements of this worldview, but not sufficient conditions of it.

You seem to be moving toward this observation in the third part of what you write here, but you don't quite say it, or perhaps fully accept it -- otherwise the things you ponder in the first two parts wouldn't be so mysterious.

Why wokeness "all of a sudden?" And why isn't it preferred by elites? Cognitive elites want something that isn't too hard to understand: they want to belong to the society in which they find themselves, they want to agree mainly with its central tenets and doctrines, but with room to dissent around the edges and call things into question. Few want to be Socrates, or even Havel. But they want to have intelligent conversations and some input into how things run.

Where Cofnas/Hanania/Rufo are right is in seeing that wokeness is related to liberalism. That it came about abruptly does not speak at all against this. Wokeness is simply liberalism's most vulgar theodicy. The "great awokening" is the preference cascade, among the masses, for liberalism's complete victory in the west. After all, "thoughtful" 18th century liberals were rarely jacobins, and there were plenty of "thoughtful" Marxists who never became Leninists, to say nothing of Stalinists.

It is still possible (for the time being, at least) to be a "thoughtful" liberal rather than a wokist. Most of the cognitive elites have their own, more subtle theodicies to square liberal doctrine with the world around them. Right-leaning ones tend to subscribe to some variant on Fukuyaman eschatology. Left-leaning ones see an "arc of history" bending to personal/sexual liberty -- this is the kind of thing the state department pushes all over the globe.

If you doubt that the cognitive elites are basically conformist in this way, just take the examples you adduce in the last section of the essay. Murray has several times gone on the record saying he'd prefer a multi-ethnic neighborhood of the "vibrant" sort to living solely among whites. Liberal mind. I watched Scruton "debate" Anthony Appiah on homosexuality back in the 90s. Nary a serious disagreement, lol. This, from a man who wrote a whole "socially conservative" book on sex. And while I'm not ready to say "liberal mind" in this case, Scruton's primary concern seemed to be forestalling any impression of irrational prejudice.

Point being - and I said this in one of Cofnas's comment sections - I think the commitments go to much older and more well-established moral and intellectual currents than any debate about intelligence does. And this means centuries rather than decades.

This actually explains both elite and vulgar expressions of liberal dogma. I'm not trying to "blame" cognitive elites. In a way, their position is quite understandable. But it does lead to certain forms of blindness, such as the view that having a vulgarian in the white house is somehow more threatening than the horrific panopticon society we're building at home or the imperium of rape and license we're trying to push abroad.

I'm not optimistic that argument will do much to dissuade them.

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Charles Murray is a good case of this. He forecasts where all of this will head, but then says "if I have to be "mean" to stop it, I guess we're doomed."

When the Iraq War was being debated, Charles supported it (he recanted after it was a disaster, but who didn't). He had some high fluting ideological reasons for this.

Steve Sailer published an article before it even got going that said in effect "Arabs are low IQ cousin fuckers, there is no fucking way this war is going to work."

Both knew the genetic realities of Iraq, but on the most important policy question of the decade Murray chose his aesthetics over his realism.

You can also see it over immigration, where shorn of its niceties Murray basically understands "we don't want more people from shithole countries", but Trump actually says it without the floweriness and he recoils. Now he'll probably vote for a guy that is letting in millions of illegals a year, because at least he's "nice".

So whether it's Murray saying that nonsense about vibrancy while living in a 90%+ wealthy white town, or Trump, or whatever else, aesthetics rule. Murray is perfectly willing to embrace hereditarianism where it already lines up with his aesthetics. But if there is a fundamental conflict, he will thrown truth to the side.

Woke are a vulgar expression of liberal aesthetics. But they are their aesthetics (at least mostly). Free speech is an easy thing to fold on if it requires sacrifice on behalf of things you don't like anyway.

Anyway, I think liberalism is a hot house plant that can only survive in certain conditions, which unfortunately liberalism doesn't like to maintain.

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Right, and that means catastrophe will change things. Perhaps that's the way things will play out. But I think every decent person wishes to avoid that, if possible. There's a duty, at least, to try to avoid it.

Lawrence Auster used to say that it was likely that western people would have to be "melted down" and re-cast, because liberalism had infused too much of our being.

If there's a practical response to that, it's not just in having arguments about these "hard" truths about race an intelligence. Those arguments can only grow and flourish in soil provided by aesthetics, as you're noting here.

We need an alternative vision, something that will compel by means of its attractiveness, not its "logic." At the very least, you have to show people how liberalism is not just untrue, but ugly.

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Do we though? I think the conditions we are creating in most Western nations will trigger mass violence. And I think the woke will be annihilated first. In a way it seems to be self-correcting. What will be left is anyone's guess.

I am reminded of the Canadian lesbian who recently spoke out that the Muslims had taken over their local council and their first act was to ban all gay rainbow paraphernalia. The lesbian seemed genuinely shocked. We campaigned for these "refugees" to get free housing, she said. We helped them ship in their family members. We bent over backwards for these alien people. How could they be so bigoted and do this to us? I mean, she can't last long if she is that naive.

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It's entirely possible (maybe even likely, at this stage), that events will outrun whatever intellectual efforts we make to forestall them.

It's still not wasted effort, though, because the more attractive a picture we can build, the faster success we will have after the upheavals.

I won't pretend I have a worked-out answer on this, but I think it has to start with recovering elements of our pre-liberal European heritage.

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Yes I quite agree. And that starts with defending that heritage and celebrating it. The anti-whiteness worries me. The speed with which it has been established. And the willingness of some whites to embrace it, especially young women.

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And ooh boy, it's deep. Just finished grading final papers for a class where I emphasized some distinctly UNliberal themes. Many of the young men picked up on the importance of these things, almost instinctively. The young women.... several who seemed rather nice and intelligent, wrote dreadful dreadful ideological papers, as if they had not heard or understood a thing. They weren't to the stage of disagreement -- they had not comprehended. At all. Not a damn thing said by any of the various authors we studied, had permeated their hermetically-sealed skulls.

We really are fighting two decades of dogma at the point of college, and little in the environment of most western women can discombobulate their assumptions.

Not that it shouldn't be tried... but our reform efforts should concentrate more on the men. The women will follow when the men lead.

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One overlooked catalyst for the Great Awokening may be the "too big too fail" bailouts. Previously political correctness/wokeness in the business world was kept in check by the fact that any company that promoted too many incompetents in the name of diversity would go bankrupt. Now it could get a bailout either directly or by being acquired by a bailed-out bank.

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Another possible explanation is that during his second term Obama sicked the DoJ on silicon valley's meritocratic hiring practices and forced them to hire woke commissars.

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Silicon Valley shifted from startups to giant companies with moats. Once you’ve got an HR department and no real competition you are a sweet target for the parasites.

Similar transformations happened in other sectors, medicine is way more institutional these days and there aren’t a lot of individual medical practices.

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That was in response massive new government laws, especially Dodd-Frank and Obamacare, which favored large institutions that could afford legal and compliance departments.

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“If elites are not woke, as you claim, then how did the Great Awokening happen in the first place?”

Because most liberals were already proto-woke. In terms of undermining hereditarianism and attacking racism, the groundwork for proto-wokeism had already been laid with intellectuals like Franz Boas in the 1920s.

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While I think it's true that acceptance of hereditarianism wouldn't necessarily turn most liberal elites into conservatives in a direct fashion, in large part because these people will remain opposed to religion, I think it's possible that rejecting one fundamental pillar of their worldview might eventually lead to the rejection of others. Acceptance of hereditaranism means rejection of blank-slatism, and rejection of blank-slatism leads to different conclusions on every political and social issue. For instance, once one recognizes hereditarianism and rejects blank-slatism, one realizes that there is a subset of criminals who cannot be rehabilitated and should in fact remain locked up forever, a conclusion that is impossible to reach under blank-slatism.

>A reasonable response to what I’ve argued goes as follows. “If elites are not woke, as you claim, then how did the Great Awokening happen in the first place?” I think there are three reasons.<

I would add to this: Trump. There was an overwhelming moral and emotional hysteria from the 2016 election through the 2020 election about the Bad Orange Man, and to speak out against any woke stuff during this time would've been seen as carrying water for Trump, a capital offense. Once Biden got into office and "the adults were back in charge," this effect seems to have faded. We'll see if it comes back if Trump actually manages to win the presidency again.

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> I would add to this: Trump.

The Great Awokening preceded Trump. In fact Trump was in many ways a reaction to the Great Awokening.

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Wokeness was already around in the second Obama administration. Trump was a reaction to it.

This was easier for me to see because I lived in a city that was part of the first wave of BLM before Trump was even a candidate.

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I agree, my point is more that Trump delayed the ability of "normal" liberals to push back against woke garbage.

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May 9·edited May 9

"Once Biden got into office and "the adults were back in charge," this effect seems to have faded."

I fail to understand how anyone could intelligently support Biden. But I do not support Trump.

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I don't think anyone genuinely likes Biden. People just wanted to get rid of Trump. In the same way, many people who are going to vote for Trump in 2024 are not necessarily fans of Donald Trump (this includes myself), but view Biden as intolerable.

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But for me, on essential issues, it matters not who is elected.

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Couldn't one interpret elite liberal support for affirmative action and race-based preferences as evidence that they are actually hereditarians? They support these policies because they doubt the abilities of protected classes, but social convention prevents them from saying so.

The same for welfare. If you think someone with an IQ of 85 is not going to be able to support themselves in the current environment, you're more apt to support transfer payments.

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we don’t actually have a lot of “transfer payments”. We have a lot of in-kind services that are provided for free. Would a hereditarian support NYC spending $25k / kid / year on a k-12 system that doesn’t and couldn’t teach them any useful skills?

Charles Murray I think laid out what policies a hereditarian would support if they felt a lot of nobless oblige. It doesn’t look like the Democratic platform. The Democratic platform looks like a lot of interests being bought off with blank slate being the ideological glue that holds it together and sells it to the public.

Let’s say you want blacks in your political coalition. You use affirmative action to buy off blacks. You convince yourself you are doing this for good and noble reasons, not as a cynical power grab.

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I have often thought this myself. Liberals have no trouble recognizing stupidity among Southern or MAGA whites and certainly have no problem pointing it out with glee. Surely they can see that many blacks are just as stupid (if not more so) as indicated by their poor English/enunciation, crass behavior, criminality, etc. Maybe there are significant numbers who actually believe that poverty and racism has reduced some blacks to low IQ criminals, but it’s hard to believe they all do. Of course, liberals are also strongly wedded to the welfare state because few are strongly endowed with a spirit of individualism in the economic realm, so they need blacks as a voting block. This fact may help keep their taboo private thoughts to themselves. In the case of left-wing radicals, exploiting racial division is a key ingredient in advancing their economic goals.

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Heck most of the so called "stupidity" among MAGA consists of them ignoring taboos of this kind.

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> But this raises the question: if cognitive elites had almost unanimously embraced racial environmentalism by the early 1960s, why did it take until the early 2010s – no less than five decades – for the Great Awokening to unfold? It’s not as if racial gaps suddenly failed to close in the early 2010s. They had consistently failed to close since the passing of the Civil Rights Act.

I suspect this may be like asking why did the water freeze suddenly when the temperature was gradually being lowered?

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