Over the past decade, the woke agenda has crested like a giant tsunami, covering virtually the entirety of academia, the media, the corporate world and even the military. The Gramscian concept of ‘the long march through the institutions’, embraced by 1960s radicals like Germany’s Rudi Dutschke, has achieved overwhelming success.
Yet there are signs that the woke progressive model may be losing its appeal, even among some liberals. The bulk of public opinion is not in progressives’ favour. In the US, activist progressives, notes a recent study, represent eight per cent of the electorate – barely half the size of moderates and barely a third of the size of conservatives. What they lack in numbers, however, they make up for with single-minded determination; progressive whites, notes the Atlantic, are the most intolerant of all Americans, led by those in the Boston area, while people in smaller towns and cities seem far more open.
The scalps of those targeted by the woke are strewn across the landscape. There’s the cancellations of ideologically unacceptable speakers, the delisting of books and the increasingly selective media coverage, evident particularly in the 2020 election and its aftermath. Yet the very vehemence of progressives, their lack of humour or grace, may prove to be their undoing.
Among Republicans, wokeness drives them further away from the mainstream media, as many of them now regard certain outlets as little more than vehicles for proselytising progressivism. But it’s not just the nutjobs of the far right. A recent Rasmussen survey found that 58 per cent of likely voters ‘at least somewhat agree that the media are the enemy of the people, including 34 per cent who strongly agree’.
‘Cancel culture’ is no more popular than the rest of the woke agenda. More millennials oppose than support cancel culture, notes a recent Morning Consult poll. The older generations are much more firmly against it. But most heartening is that those in the younger generation, the so-called Zs, are the most hostile to cancel culture, with 55 per cent disapproving of it and only eight per cent supporting it.
Simply put, what progressives are offering the populace does not much like, particularly on social issues. There’s been a record-breaking surge of violent crime, but some progressive politicians and media enablers have refused to combat disorder. Some have even embraced riots, particularly the looting, and backed defunding or even abolishing the police. This has not worked out well for the progressives. In the New York City mayoral elections, a black ex-cop won the Democratic nomination against candidates sympathetic to the ‘defund the police’ approach. Even left-leaning constituencies are horrified by crime, disorder and massive homelessness, as demonstrated when Austin voted overwhelmingly to end camping on the street.
Read the rest of this piece at Spiked.
Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.