“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” Bertrand Russell
My Latin is not good, but recently in a book I was reading I came across the phrase that is the title of this post, which literally means “dare to know”, but commonly translated as “Have courage to use your own reason.” Unfortunately doing so may, as Bertrand Russell observed, make you a target for the herd.
One of the truly evil concepts of religion is original sin, the idea that a new born baby would be held accountable for something done by others prior to their own existence; wokeism essentially does the same thing, holding people accountable for that which happened before they were born because of the color of their skin, their gender, intelligence or physical ability. Politics has become the new religion with beliefs that are the products of someone else’s thinking, usually someone in a position to be impressionable with youth; this is most apparent in education where wokeism has its genesis.
Recently the great comedic writer, actor and producer John Clease, in an interview with Nick Gillespie, gave a very good humorous one liner describing wokeism as “…people waiting for the thrill of being offended.” Such individuals are so self-aware and socially conditioned that they become completely oblivious to the fact that their actions actually create more of what they are supposedly trying to change. One of the main tenents of wokeism is intersectionality which maintains that inequalities based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class, etc. “intersect” to create other more and unique discriminations; a never ending search for oppression and victimization.
Wokeism’s focus on such things like gender, race, etc. sets up its believers for their inevitable hysteria that arises when others don’t agree with them. Some have likened it to the 1980-90s political correctness, but it’s more like a Maoist Cultural Revolution, or the Salem Witch Trials, or McCarthyism; like all those things it’s based on fear. Fear is easy to stoke, difficult to overcome, and always leads to a bad place, in this case a very cruel and hateful ideology, at the same time engendering an adolescent sense of elitism.
Such behavior is not only a sign of immaturity, but an inability to use one’s intelligence, a condition caused by a dependency on those entrusted to provide youth the very basic tools like sound reasoning and the social skills to engage with others with a fearless attitude toward the future; what they get instead is fear of just about everything. As an example, take humor, which is a good and effective communicating and learning tool. There is no humor in wokeism, and any comedian judged to have used a “trigger word”, i.e. one that the woke find offensive, is a target for cancel culture. The more zealous the religion, the less humor will be found. Wokeism is fear based, its followers insecure to the point where mockery must not be tolerated. Christopher Hitchens expressed this trait very succinctly when he said that “I’m very depressed how in this country you can be told ‘that’s offensive’ as though those two words constitute an argument.”
The ignorance to believe that by being racist you can end racism, by being sexist you can end sexism, by limiting the able you help the disabled, shows how beliefs can be manipulated among those whose intellectual development has been stunted. The ability to use your intelligence to acquire knowledge provides the courage to think for yourself and overcome fear; that is the antidote for wokeism, or as Bertrand Russell put it, “To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”