Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
The Pledge of Allegiance to the "Woke"

The Pledge of Allegiance to the "Woke"

Defining it is easy, eliminating it is hard.

How it started:

How it’s going:

It’s kind of amazing that there was ever a time in American life when we pledged ourselves one Nation under God, isn’t it? It seems we are no longer that and have become fractured into many different nations, not even just two. But it does seem very clear that a new religion is upon us.

In our schools and in our corporations, in our movie theaters and in our science labs, what had once wrestled free from the grasp of religion has now been overtaken by a new one. To describe that religion has never been easy. We always needed a word for it since none that existed seemed to do the trick.

But at some point, the majority of people have settled on one word to rule them all: woke.

The amount of ink spilled on the word “woke” this week proves that there is no word that represents the moment we’re living through better than that one. Who is allowed to use it, what does it mean, how does it offend and what does it reveal?

All of this sprang from a video clip of Bethany Mandel that went viral. Her face expressed that moment when you know you’re about to become fodder for the churn. Make no mistake, the internet, the Left, and so many pundits, and bloggers didn’t care what she said. All that mattered was they caught her saying it.

A “right winger” gets caught being unable to define “woke.”

That’s supposed to be some kind of gotcha. Maybe they can destroy her, they think, and that’s one big battle won in our ongoing Civil War over words.

The reality is that she was trying to be sensitive, since a Black woman, Briahana Joy Gray, was asking her to define it. She knows what all of us know about the Left now. White women are Karens if they get caught on video saying the wrong thing. She’s smart enough to realize she’d just put herself in what would become a feeding frenzy.

How you use it, if you use it, often indicates whether people should attack you or not. I often put the word in quotes to show that I understand it’s an explosive word but I’m using it anyway.

So much of what we’re living through now is about an ongoing struggle session with people who genuinely care, who don’t want to be seen as racist or phobic, and as a result are much easier to exploit and harass online.

If you don’t care what they think of you they mostly leave you alone. That’s why, say, JK Rowling is treated like the antichrist but Matt Walsh is not. Mandel is obviously someone who doesn’t wish to be offensive and of course they ate her alive.

Well let’s ask Chat GPT shall we?

The term "woke" originated in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and refers to being aware of and sensitive to social and political issues, especially related to racism, social injustice, and inequality.

In recent years, "woke" has become more mainstream and is often used to describe a person or group that is socially and politically aware, and actively works towards promoting social justice and equity. The term is also used to describe ideas, actions, and policies that are considered progressive and enlightened in the context of social issues.

However, the term can also be used in a more negative way to criticize people who are seen as overly politically correct or who are accused of performative activism, where they only engage in social justice issues for the purpose of appearing virtuous or gaining social capital.

“Woke” to the Black community, has long since been discarded as a useful word. It has been picked up by those critical of it. You can argue about it. You can debate it. You can write lengthy think pieces on high-minded news outlets but there is no getting rid of it.

So let’s define what it means in the parlance of our times.

The WOKE are people who demand compliance when it comes to words. So it’s the height of irony that we’re arguing about the word used to describe it. Why do you think they hire sensitivity readers to sanitize language and make words less offensive? THE WOKE.

Why are universities, publishing houses and journalists carefully policing every word they write, say, and produce? THE WOKE.

Past generations thought sticks and stones were harmful but words could never hurt you. The Woke believe words are violence, words are harm. Past generations believed in raising resilient adults, not overly fragile ones. The WOKE believe the world must be made less harmful for the marginalized and the overly sensitive.

For a while, we thought it could be contained. We knew there were “social justice warriors” online but they were mostly adolescents, mostly girls, who populated Tumblr. We stupidly thought they would grow out of it. Some of them have, mercifully. But many of them haven’t.

You can tell that there was once a Left that wasn’t overtaken by the Woke. In fact, once upon a time, even Saturday Night Live mocked them:

But the WOKE revolution in the Summer of 2020 sent the ruling class into panic mode. Now anyone could be called out at any time for a thoughtcrime. At some point, it felt like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. What happened to the Old Left, we all wondered.

By now, though, it has become a full blown political movement, a religion, that keeps evolving, or devolving, inventing new rules as it goes along. And we’re all forced to comply with them or else. But really, it’s about power. And status. No one ever gives that up willingly.

On the Left they have convinced themselves that none of it exists. I see tweets by Good White Liberals that celebrate being “woke,” because it’s about asking for equal treatment for marginalized groups. “Cancel Culture,” they also believe, is just “holding people accountable.”

But many of us realize it is much worse than that. Now we’re seeing what this has done to so much of what we used to rely on to keep ourselves sane, like comedy, like movies, like music, like journalism.

Elon Musk aptly calls it the “woke mind virus.”

Andrew Doyle wrote a great book called the New Puritans.

This makes sense considering the WOKE built a mini utopia inside the utopia and it became their “shining city on the hill.” That meant they had to persecute and purge the non-compliant, the outsiders, the dissenters, just like the Puritans did.

The game of hot potato with various words means they have already won the argument once you started debating. They’re not interested in your thoughts on the subject. They are the ones with all of the answers. They believe you are to be schooled on what those answers are.

Ultimately, this is an ongoing religious war between traditional religion and wokeism. How we define the word exposes which side of the war we’re on.

If you control what people say you can control what they think. We must, as always, look to Orwell. Woke can also be defined as “newspeak” from 1984:

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take ‘good,’ for instance. If you have a word like ‘good,’ what need is there for a word like ‘bad’? ‘Ungood’ will do just as well—better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of ‘good,’ what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like ‘excellent’ and ‘splendid’ and all the rest of them? ‘Plusgood’ covers the meaning, or ‘doubleplusgood’ if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already, but in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words—in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston?


“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we’re not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,” he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. “Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?”

We’ve never had an internet. We’ve never had a generation that came of age on it as internet natives. Imagine what that does to a young brain? You can simply invent a new religion that follows your ideas of what the rules should be. Most younger generations have grown up with the idea that they have their real lives and their online lives, avatars, and can hack the human body or history or social norms to invent whatever reality they want.

Their enforced use of pronouns or ever-expanding gender ideology is their way, as mostly white people, to become part of the marginalized movement, the protected class of high-status puritans. There are new categories being invented daily. The only thing you can’t be is high achieving, successful, heterosexual and white, then you are expected to step back and let others get ahead of you. The idea is that people like you have all of the privileges in the real world, but in their online utopia it’s reversed.

They’ve grown up in a panopticon, where everything they think and say is monitored and judged. It’s a terrifying reality for all of us but especially the young. This “woke” religion gives them protection, structure, rules to follow that would ordinarily be given to them by schools or parents or their Church.

When they finally grow out of it they will laugh at what they once were, how ridiculous it all was, and when they do, they’ll use the word “woke” to describe it because there is no better word.

WOKE means every television show, every advertisement, every graphic, every movie, every award show, every news program MUST be intersectional. It is mandated because the THOUGHT POLICE are always out in force, prepared to call out those at the top for being discriminatory, racist, or phobic of one kind or another.

And thus, we’re never fully caught up in the story. We’re always aware of those hiding behind the curtain, their fear palpable with every casting decision, every word written, every joke made. It’s like that Twilight Zone where they have to make sure to please the little monster else they be wished out into the cornfield.

How does art or anything else survive that?

There has never been a group of people, however, more in need of being made fun of than the WOKE. Anyone that uptight and overly sensitive makes for great comedy.

What would ordinarily get us out of this mess is the free market. In a Capitalist country, the consumer has the power. We decide what we want by what we buy. But as we’ve migrated online, and corporations became corporate monopolies and all of them have adopted the new WOKE religion - ESG capitalism, DEI, equity, or what Vivek Ramaswamy calls “woke Capitalism,” that means the consumer has less power to tell corporations what they want.

Now, corporations tell consumers what they SHOULD want. And as long as they signal their virtue, as long as they obey the WOKE doctrine, they’re mostly left alone.

Ramaswamy suggests calling up corporations you do business with and asking them how much of your money is going to ESG policies. Sooner or later they’re going to get the point.

He’s also the perfect person to help you better define the word:

America is not a country designed to be under the thumb of puritanical scolds. We are the country that stands for freedom. What good is freedom if you have a powerful corporate class policing thought and speech? Re-ordering the social hierarchy, punishing merit and hard work and achievement, and rewarding victimhood?

Of course, they should be aware of those who slip through the cracks, who live in crippling poverty and have no way out of that mess. But if we aren’t rewarding or hiring our best and our brightest then our nation will collapse.

I find lately that I check the date on almost everything I read online or watch on Youtube. I know that if it is post-2020, or even post-2016 there is a good chance it will be compromised. The truth will have been negotiated and you will be getting a modified version of it so as not to offend anyone.

As human beings, we have perfect words for things where no other word will do. Like love. Like hate. Once that word is invented, everyone who speaks the language knows what it means. Arguing about it is silly. It is, after all, just a word.

And as Roald Dahl once wrote, “Don't gobblefunk around with words.”

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Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Essays on politics and culture from Sasha Stone's Substack. A former Democrat and Leftist who escaped the bubble to get to know the other side of the country and to take a more critical look at the left.