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A Detailed Look at Woke Update Mechanics
Dawkins and Dolezal as a Case Study in Culture War Evolution
This week we saw a curious cancellation incident, where the father figure and most prominent member of the atheist secular humanist movement, Richard Dawkins, was cancelled by the American Humanist Association for tweeting about Rachel Dolezal’s prior cancellation. It strikes me that all of the handwaving freakoutery about this cancellation is entirely missing the point. There’s a deeper lesson to learn here than simply bickering about the alleged inconsistency between “identifying as black” and “identifying as a woman,” of which we will spend zero effort in this article. The deeper lesson to learn is about the emerging mechanics within the Woke for rewriting the rules of “basic human decency” in real time.
The Dolezal Affair
The cancellation of Rachel Dolezal serves as one of the best windows into Woke Mechanics one could find. If you’ve been under a rock hiding from culture war dynamics for the past decade, I’ll give a brief summary. Dolezal is a white lady who identified as black for many years, perhaps because she had super curly hair, and become such a prominent Woke Priestess that she rose to the rank of NAACP president in Spokane Washington. Then she got cancelled amidst a Twitter storm, once people realized she wasn’t black.
Dolezal’s behavior stems from the “totem pole of oppression” mechanics within the Woke dogma, as discussed in prior articles. Intersectionality posits a matrix of privilege and marginalization, claims that socioeconomic success is not due to merit but rather your privilege score on this matrix, tries to cure socioeconomic disparity by granting social virtue to those lower on the totem pole and social shame and demonization to those higher up the totem pole. “There’s no such thing as reverse racism” (the Bivol-Pavda stipulative definition) opens up prejudice as a tool for those lower on the totem pole to wield against those higher. But “self-identification” is a loophole in the mechanic, and the Woke have not depreciated it fully yet. The first minor depreciation of it was because of Dolezal. Dolezal adopted the identity of a black person to push her position down the pole, and thereby acquire more social virtue within the system. She further falsely claimed to have been the victim of hate crime in order to become more marginalized, and accrue more virtue. It was Smolleting before Smollet was a thing. This sort of “virtue climbing through marginalization acquisition” leads to behavior like this:
Examine the Twitter exchange. You have a TERF Twitter Anon bringing up the case of an obvious Woke virtue climber for discussion, a disabled Twitter Anon challenging how the virtue climber is basically stealing virtue within the system by self-identification, and a third Woke Twitter Anon accusing the second Anon of transphobia for not strictly adhering to the “self-identification” indoctrination within the Woke program. A racial version of this dialogue spilled through The Woke metabrain during the Dolezal cancellation.
The important thing to focus on with Dolezal is not whether or not someone should be allowed to “identify as black,” as everyone seems to be doing in the past week. The important thing is to examine the chain of events that led to her cancellation. Here’s an extremely abridged, meme version in the interest of brevity:
Dolezal: I’m black! See my black skin and wiry hair! (virtue climbing)
The Woke: She’s black because she self-identifies as black, don’t question her lived experience. (adheres to Woke dogma)
NAACP: (elects Dolezal as president of the Spokane chapter)
Dolezal: I’ve been the subject of hate crimes because of my blackness! (virtue climbing via Smolleting)
Media: (investigates the hate crime claims, finds out the hate crimes are bunk and oh by the way also she’s not black)
The Right: HAHA Holy Shit This Lady Isn’t Even Black (trolls the Woke on Twitter)
NAACP: We think she’s doing a great job and technically your racial identity isn’t a factor for whether you can run a NAACP chapter or not. (*)
Black Folks: BRO, THE FUCK IS THAT WHITE ASS LADY DOING RUNNING THE NAACP IN WHITE ASS SPOKANE WASHINGTON? (note: there really aren’t very many Woke black folks, especially black men, although the Woke like to claim them so they can virtue climb)
The Woke: …
The Woke: (frantically pushes out an update to Woke Dogma differentiating between racial self-identification and all other forms of self-identification, specifically depreciating racial self-identification as a thing “decent human beings” do while leaving other forms of self-identification intact, which filters through The Woke social media metabrain to plug the exploit)
The Woke: You’re cancelled Rachel.
NAACP: You’re cancelled Rachel.
Dolezal: Wait, what? I was a Woke high priestess and following all the rules! You can’t just change the rules! (writes a book defending the depreciated version of Woke Dogma regarding racial self-identification)
Richard Dawkins: Hey y’all remember that Dolezal thing?
American Humanist Association: You’re cancelled Dawkins.
While Secular Rationalist Twitter wants to go back and have the “inconsistencies in the self-identification” argument again, Woke Twitter is having none of it because they’ve already installed the Dolezal Dogma Update and shifted the rules of basic human decency. They just call Dawkins an asshole, which may in fact be true. And everyone misses the most interesting thing going on, because they’re too mired in the culture war to realize that this thing is a window into an entirely new culture war mechanic.
Evolution of Human Decency on the Feed
The Woke don’t say they’re woke. If you ask them whether they’re woke or not, they’ll say “there is no such thing as Woke. We are just following the basic rules of human decency.” But Dolezal was following the rules, and then the rules shifted underneath her, and she was nailed to a Woke Cross for violating a rule that wasn’t a rule until it was.
This, to borrow a term, is problematic.
It’s unassailably true that cultures evolve over time. Slavery was a part of basic human decency until it wasn’t. Genocide was practiced by cultures across the globe until the 20th Century, and was practiced several notable times during it, sometimes eliciting a global response and sometimes a blind eye. Human sacrifice was practiced as recently as the 1500s here in North America, and if you challenged the “basic human decency” of human sacrifice you were likely to get hauled up on a pyramid. Maybe one day we’ll start applying the same principles to war, and it will become indecent to do that too, but currently war is still totally within the Overton Window of acceptable behavior for most cultures. Just ask Jungle Recon:
I do not object to the process of cultural evolution. I think it’s necessary for cultures to evolve, especially with technology evolving at its current pace. I think that the greatest drawback to classic religions is that they can’t evolve quickly enough to keep pace with technology. I think this system The Woke have developed, which amounts to a crowdsourced guru-less pseudo religion with plausible deniability that it isn’t a religion, is a very robust system for propagating “rules of basic human decency.” And the fact that they can push out updates to the dogma on the feed makes it anti-fragile. The anti-Woke culture warriors are stuck in a prior mode of culture war, where they pick apart particular dogmatic elements and fight them individually to gain intellectual ground, without realizing that all the Woke have to do is push out an update to the dogma on the feed to bypass the ground “gained.”
In a way, Wokeism is an adaptation of fourth generation warfare (“4GW”) concepts to the culture war. And you simply can’t beat 4GW with 3GW. See: Afghanistan.
The biggest and most terrifying flaw with the Woke’s approach to Dogma updates is that there’s no guiding force determining what direction the winds will blow it. The Woke Overton Window, defining which thoughts are acceptable or not within Woke culture, moves rapidly and without apparent cohesion. Follow the gender self-identification update tree:
2011: 2 genders
2013: 3 genders
2016: 37 specific genders, each with their own designated pronoun and gender symbol, and not memorizing the pronouns and symbols is an act of transphobia, and Tinder must add them or else be transphobic.
2018: infinite genders, and “his royal majesty” is an acceptable pronoun
2020: “trans women are women,” which is basically just a way to re-adopt the two-gender norm
In the span of a decade the rules of “basic human decency” went from 2 to 3 to 37 to infinite to 2. At any time in this circular evolution path you could be cancelled for disagreeing with the current rule for basic human decency. A strict 37 gender adherent in 2018 was transphobic, even though they were the cutting edge of Woke Cool two years prior.
“Crowdsourced” things in software are great because they distribute effort and bring more brains into the room to solve the problem. “Crowdsourced” morality could be better described as “mobsourced,” because any time a mob gets a hold of righteousness and torches, bad things happen. Having morality fixed to a book, any book, even the Aztec book, is itself a feature because it provides a bedrock for human interaction where everyone knows what will and won’t invoke the wrath of the mob. People outside the Woke sphere of influence can’t even keep track of what the “basic rules of human decency” currently are, because they change so frequently. During the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings, she referred to “sexual preference” instead of “sexual orientation” during a question, and the Wrath of the Mob extended all the way up to congressional representatives, when the only sin she committed was not being up to date with woke lingo. Not even Webster’s was up to date, because they went back and changed the dictionary to Wokeify it after the freakout.
Nobody who isn’t Woke can keep up with whatever the Woke have changed this week. And sometimes the Woke themselves get put through a meatgrinder if it changes out from underneath them. Like Dolezal.
This article is obviously Woke Critical, but I have no public stake in the Woke War as long as they leave my children alone, so I think the article should be treated purely as observational. It should be instructive to both Wokes and Anti-Wokes who don’t see the broader picture of what’s going on because they’re too busy punching babies in their culture war.
If you’re Woke, the biggest problem lies in how quickly the Overton Window moves, and the lack of a central group to determine a fixed set of rules instead of gathering behavioral scripting from the feed. You need a Woke Council of Nicea, who can slow this thing down and act as a central repository for Woke Dogma. You must also adopt an understanding that transgressions against Current Wokeism are forgiven if they happened under prior versions of Woke. Otherwise you’re all going to end up cancelled sooner or later as the window moves, just like Rachel.
If you’re Anti-Woke, you need to get your head straight about what you’re fighting. Attacking Woke Dogma piecemeal may get you Twitter followers or Patreon money, but it does nothing to diminish the Woke. In fact, it gives them ideas about where to evolve their thing next, like with Dolezal. In order to fight this thing you need it’s clone, your own 4GW program with its own means of establishing controlled updates to “basic human decency” that doesn’t have the inherent flaws in the Woke’s beta test. Without that, you’re just going to get overrun.