From the Washington Examiner
By Dan Hannan
See how the revolution devours its children? Last week, Britain’s sole Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, called for a government of national unity to step in and cancel Brexit. Not just any government of national unity, though. One made up wholly of women.
Lucas, who represents the delightfully louche, ultra-liberal city of Brighton, listed the cross-party ladies whom she wanted to save Britain from itself. And it was here that she incurred the fury of her fellow leftists. Can you guess what her sin was? Of course you can. As she put it in a groveling statement the following day: “An all-white list of women isn’t right. I should have reached out further and thought more deeply about who, and what kind of politics, an all-white list represents. I apologize.”
But why? Seriously, by what possible logic is it acceptable to exclude people on grounds of sex but unforgivable to exclude people on grounds of color?
Think of the ethical gymnastics, the twists and contortions, that you’d have to go through to come up with a coherent worldview that justifies arbitrary rules like that. Yet, for a large and growing chunk of the population, reason and consistency no longer matter.
Lucas is not some outlying feminist academic at a provincial university. Well, okay, she kind of was that, but she has since become the public face of a party that, at the most recent nationwide election four months ago, secured 12% of the vote. The years since 2014 have seen an explosion in identity politics known by some political scientists as “the great awokening.”
Ideas that had festered harmlessly in America’s gender studies departments broke out, first infecting the rest of the academy and then, over the past two or three years, reaching epidemic proportions across the English-speaking world. Everything must now be measured against the yardstick of imagined privilege. Freedom, merit, justice and democracy are all subordinated to the imperatives of imagined victimhood.
This latest case neatly demonstrates three of the most irritating qualities of wokeness: its inconsistency, its imperiousness, and its irrationality.
The inconsistency is inherent. Race and gender are simultaneously considered artificial constructs and vital distinctions. It is unacceptable to allow any innate difference between the sexes, yet it is also de rigueur to demand more representation for women because of their innate qualities.
When, to pluck a random example, Larry Summers said that biological differences might explain why women are more drawn to the arts than the sciences, he had to resign. To the extent that Lucas made an analogous argument — that women should run the country because they are more caring and sharing — the woke nodded along solemnly.
Worse than the incoherence is the implied authoritarianism. Never mind excluding half of the population because they are male. The real outrage is in excluding 52% because they voted to leave the EU.
Once again, we see how identity politics is often about advancing an unpopular political agenda. Britain has had two female prime ministers but, to the woke, they don’t count, because both were Conservatives. The current cabinet is the most ethnically diverse in British history, yet its nonwhite members have been subjected to a tirade of abuse from the hard Left because they are “collaborating” with the Tories.
The wokiest of the woke get to make up the rules as they go along. On the one hand, they tell us that race is a social construct with no basis in biology. On the other, they insist that you can’t be properly black or brown if you’re not on the Left. And that is a shockingly racist claim, that one’s physiognomy ought to determine one’s political opinions.
How did such an obviously incoherent and self-contradictory ideology ever get off the ground? Like most damaging doctrines, it begins with its conclusions and twists its arguments accordingly. But wokeness has an additional defense mechanism. It dismisses criticism a priori on grounds of who is voicing it. If you are white, male, or straight then your objections are by definition invalid and your logic is trumped by the feelings of the supposedly disadvantaged. And we’ve just seen above how they deal with nonwhite, non-straight, and female critics. An entire worldview is thus immune to critical assessment.
The denial of objectivity, truth, and reason or the notion that they are defined by power structures, is known as “postmodernism,” and is the intellectual pedestal upon which contemporary identity politics rests. But a better term would be “premodernism.” For it represents a return to the pre-Enlightenment notion that an idea is defined by the status of the speaker rather than by its inherent merit.
It is the single most destructive notion in contemporary politics, and it is spreading.
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