Saturday 18 May 2024

What's 'woke'? Let me explain.


You hear it all the time now.'Woke.' "He's woke." "She's woke." "That's woke." Woke, woke. woke. You hear it all the time.

But 'woke' to what?

James Lindsay likes tweaking the noses of those that are called 'woke,' but he's a fairly knowledgable chap too. "There's a right name for the 'Woke' ideology," he explains, "and it's 'Critical Constructivism.' Critical constructivist ideology is what you "wake up" to when you go 'Woke'." He explains in a lengthy Twitter thread:

Reading this book [above], which originally codified it in 2005, is like reading a confession of Woke ideology. Let's talk about it.
    The guy whose name is on the cover of that book is credited with codifying critical constructivism, or as it would be better to call it, critical constructivist ideology (or ideologies). His name is Joe Kincheloe, he was at Magill University, and he was a critical pedagogue.
    Just to remind you, critical pedagogy is a form of brainwashing posing as education that is the application of critical theory to educational theory and praxis as well as teaching and practice of critical theories in schools. ... [C]ritical pedagogy was developed ... to use educational materials as a 'mediator to political knowledge,' i.e., excuse to brainwash.
    The point of critical pedagogy is to use education as a means not to educated but to raise a critical consciousness in students instead. That is, its purpose is to make them 'Woke.' What does that entail, though? It means becoming a critical constructivist, as Kincheloe details.

As some people have said, it always starts with teacher mis-education. 

Note what we've already said, though. Yes, Marcuse. Yes, intersectionality. Yes, CRT and Queer Theory et cetera. Yes, yes, yes. That's Woke, BUT Woke was born and bred in education schools. I first recognised this right after [Helen Pluckrose and I] published our 2020 book 'Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody.'
    Critical pedagogy, following people like Henry Giroux and Joe Kincheloe, forged together the religious liberationist Marxism of [Paulo] Freire, literally a Liberation Theologian, with the 'European theorists,' including both Critical Marxists like Marcuse and postmodernists like Foucault.
    In other words, when Jordan Peterson identifies what we now call 'Woke' as 'postmodern neo-Marxism,' he was exactly right. ["Yes,no, and sort of," says philosopher Stephen Hicks.] It was a neo-Marxist critique that had taken a postmodern turn away from realism and reality. The right name for that is 'critical constructivism.'

CRITICAL CONSTRUCTIVISM CONTAINS (OR SYNTHESISES) two disparate parts: 'critical,' which refers to Critical Theory (that is, neo-Marxism or Critical Marxism), and 'constructivism,' which refers to the constructivist thinking at the heart of postmodernism and poststructuralism.
Critical Theory we all already generally understand at this point. The idea is pretty simple: 
  • ruthless criticism of everything that exists; 
  • calling everything you want to control 'oppression' until you control it; 
  • finding a new proletariat in 'ghetto populations'; blah blah blah.
    More accurately, Critical Theory means believing the world and the people in it are contoured by systems of social, cultural, and economic power that are effectively inescapable and all serve to reproduce the 'existing society' (status quo) and its capitalist engine.
    Critical Theory is not concerned with the operation of the world, 'epistemic adequacy' (i.e., knowing what you're talking about), or anything else. They're interested in how systemic power shapes and contours all things and how they're experienced, to which they give a (neo)-Marxist critique.
    Constructivism is a bit less familiar for two reasons:
We've done a lot of explaining and criticising Critical Theory already, so people are catching on, and it's a downright alien intellectual landscape that is almost impossible to believe anyone actually believes.
You're already very familiar with the language of constructivism: 'X is a social construct.' Constructivism fundamentally believes that the world is socially constructed. That's a profound claim. So are people as part of the world. That's another profound claim. So is power. I need you to stop thinking you get it and listen now because you're probably already rejecting the idea that anyone can be a constructivist who believes the world is itself socially constructed. That's because you're fundamentally a realist, but they are not realists at all.
    Constructivists believe, as Kincheloe says explicitly, that nothing exists before perception. That means that, to a constructivist, some objective shared reality doesn't exist. To them, there is no reality except the perception of reality, and the perception of reality is constructed by power.
    I need you to stop again because you probably reject getting it again. They really believe this. There is no reality except perceived reality. Reality is perceived according to one's social and political position with respect to prevailing dominant power. Do you understand?
    Constructivism rejects the idea of an objective shared reality that we can observe and draw consistent conclusions about. Conclusions are the result of perceptions and interpretations, which are colored and shaped by dominant power, mostly in getting people to accept that power.
    In place of an objective shared reality we can draw conclusions about, we all inhabit our own 'lived realities' that are shaped by power dynamics that primarily play out on the group level, hence the need for 'social justice' to make power equitable among and across groups.
    Because (critical) constructivist ideologies believe themselves the only way to truly study the effects of systemic dominant power, they have a monopoly on knowing how it works [despite the contradiction in terms], who benefits, and who suffers oppression because of it. Their interpretation is the only game in town.
    All interpretations that disagree with critical constructivism [they insist] do so for one or more bad reasons, for example:
  • not knowing the value of critical constructivism, 
  • being motivated to protect one's power on one or more levels, 
  • prejudice and hate, or
  • having bought the dominant ideology's terms, etc. 
CRITICAL CONSTRUCTIVISM IS PARTICULARLY HOSTILE to 'Western' science, favouring what it calls 'subjugated knowledges. This should all feel very familiar right now [hello Mātauranga Māori], and it's worth noting that Kincheloe is largely credited with starting the idea of 'decolonising' knowledge. 
    Kincheloe, in his own words, explains that critical constructivism is a 'weltanshuuang,' that is, a worldview, based on a 'critical hermeneutical' understanding of experienced reality. This means it intends to interpret everything through critical constructivism.
    In other words, critical constructivism is a hermetically-sealed ideological worldview (a cult worldview) that claims a monopoly on interpretation of the world by virtue of its capacity to call anything that challenges it an unjust application of self-serving dominant power.
    When you are "Woke," you are a critical constructivist, or at least suffer ideological contamination by critical constructivism, whether you know it or not. You believe important aspects of the world are socially (politically) constructed, that power is the main variable, etc.
    More importantly, you believe that perception (of unjust power) combined with (that) interpretation of reality is a more faithful description of reality than empirical fact or logical consistency, which are "reductionist" to critical constructivists.
    This wackadoodle (anti-realist) belief is a consequence of the good-ol' Hegelian/Marxist dialectic that critical constructivism imports wholesale. As Kincheloe explains, his worldview is better because it knows knowledge is both subjective and objective at the same time.
    He phrases it that all knowledge requires interpretation, and that means knowledge is constructed from the known (objective) and the knower (subjective) who knows it. It isn't "knowledge" at all until interpretation is added, and critical constructivist interpretation is best.
    Why is critical constructivist interpretation best? Here comes another standard Marxist trick: because it's the only one (self)-aware of the fact that 'positionality' with respect to power matters, so it's allegedly the only one accounting for dominant power systems at all.

WE COULD GO ON AND on about this, but you hopefully get the idea. Critical constructivism is the real name for 'Woke.' It's a cult-ideological view of the world that cannot be challenged from the outside, only concentrated from within, and it's what you 'wake up' to when Woked. [A different name for 'Critical Constructivism': Cognitive Onanism.]
    Critical constructivism is an insane, self-serving, hermetically sealed cult-ideological worldview and belief system, including a demand to put it into praxis (activism) to recreate the world for the possibility of a 'liberation' it cannot describe, by definition. A disaster.
    There is a long, detailed academic history and pedigree to 'Woke,' though, so don't let people gaslight you into believing it's some right-wing bogeyman no one can even define. It's easily comprehensible despite being almost impossible to grok like an insider.
    People who become 'Woke' (critical constructivists) are in a cult that is necessarily destructive. Why is it necessarily destructive? Because it rejects reality, and attempts instead to understand a 'reality' based in the subjective interpretations of power .....
    Furthermore, its objective is to destroy the only thing it regards as being 'real,' which are the power dynamics it identifies so it can hate them and destroy them. Those are 'socially real' because they are imposed by those with dominant power, who must be disempowered. Simple.

To conclude, Woke is a real thing. It can be explained in great detail as exactly what its critics have been saying about it for years, and those details are all available in straightforward black and white from its creators, if you can just read them and believe them.


1 comment:

Libertyscott said...

This is truly excellent, critical constructivism it is, I was always struggling as to which strings of post-modernism tie it all together.