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Left Is Not Woke

Left Is Not Woke

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However, I do not understand how these faceless individuals are appropriately dubbed “woke”, especially given the common use of the term. Left Is Not Woke accuses some trendy voices of the left of a fatal self-betrayal: renouncing the very grounds on which the left has traditionally stood, the concepts and principles in the name of which it has fought its battles and advanced its ends, above all, universalism. To the extent that the book has a coherent argument, though, it is this: the contemporary Left has turned away from universalism, justice, and progress, which Neiman contends originated in the European Enlightenment, in favor of a more relativistic progressivism that stems from the works of Michel Foucault, Carl Schmitt, and other 20th-century philosophers. Furthermore, and more insidiously, snarl words are frequently the language of the status quo, the epithets politicians and media personalities daily hurl at their targets. Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam (2021); John McWhorter released Woke Racism: How a New Religion has Betrayed Black America (2021).

At its best, Enlightenment thought teaches us to be skeptical of received wisdom, to question sources of power and structures of domination. Enter Susan Neiman, an American philosopher who directs the Einstein Forum in Berlin and has authored numerous acclaimed volumes.

Neiman’s insistence on the importance of universalism is particularly apposite in the current emotional responses to the Gaza conflict.

She insinuates that “the woke” believe “only tribal interests are genuine” but fails to identify a source for this claim. Bringing her argument full circle, Neiman asserts that those who would reject Enlightenment thought ‘fail to see that the theories they embrace subvert their own goals.What these groups do share is the certainty that if we have any hope of confronting the future—of even surviving into the future—we need new ways of thinking. Instead, she conflates two distinct things: on the one hand, we have an epistemic principle that previously silenced voices may have a valuable perspective in virtue of their voices being silenced; on the other, there is the much stronger claim that previously silenced individuals are inevitably a source of political authority.

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  • EAN: 764486781913
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