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Susan Neiman on why left is not woke

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Susan Neiman on why left is not woke .[embedded content] As argued by Susan, the universalist ideas of the Enlightenment are still relevant, despite the numerous criticisms that have been levelled against them. The Enlightenment was characterized by a spirit of exploration that led to new discoveries in both science and culture. Rather than promoting a narrow worldview, it encouraged people to question assumptions and religious beliefs. It still provides a framework for addressing some of the most pressing problems facing society, such as climate change and social inequality. Susan rightly criticizes deliberately slippery philosophers like Foucault and other ‘postmodern’ thinkers. And she obviously also has a beef with the woke obsession

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Susan Neiman on why left is not woke

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As argued by Susan, the universalist ideas of the Enlightenment are still relevant, despite the numerous criticisms that have been levelled against them. The Enlightenment was characterized by a spirit of exploration that led to new discoveries in both science and culture. Rather than promoting a narrow worldview, it encouraged people to question assumptions and religious beliefs. It still provides a framework for addressing some of the most pressing problems facing society, such as climate change and social inequality.

Susan rightly criticizes deliberately slippery philosophers like Foucault and other ‘postmodern’ thinkers. And she obviously also has a beef with the woke obsession with victimization. Woke adherents focus on collective victimization rather than the individual. They classify individuals based on their belonging to identity groups and assign them a victim status according to these criteria. This approach reduces individuals to their group identity and undermines their autonomy and ability to realize themselves as unique persons.

Wokism also tends to promote censorship and restrict freedom of speech. Woke adherents often adopt a mentality of cancel culture, seeking to silence any dissenting voice or opinion. Instead of fostering diversity of opinions, wokism favours narrow ideological conformity where only accepted thinking is tolerated.

Wokism tends to essentialize differences between groups, thus creating a simplified and stereotyped view of society. It denies individual diversity within each group by assuming that all members share the same experiences and perspectives. This excessive generalization can lead to prejudice and reverse discrimination, where certain groups are simply favoured based on their identity.

While wokism may be motivated by a desire for social justice, it is crucial to examine its problematic implications. Collective victimization and intolerance towards dissenting views hinder progress towards a more inclusive and just society. It is important to engage in open dialogue and promote a more nuanced and balanced approach to social issues that values both individual autonomy and a genuine pursuit of justice.

We should discard the ‘woke’ concept of identity. We should find new terms that prove to be concrete and useful politically and socially in people’s coexistence — and not just as symbols in a language game that ultimately serves at best the distinction of some intellectuals.

Lars Pålsson Syll
Professor at Malmö University. Primary research interest - the philosophy, history and methodology of economics.

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