“The binds that confine.”
The devastating consequences of “wokeness.”
Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one. —C Charles Mackay
A la lanterne! —Popular slogan during the French Revolution
18 MAY—Wokeness, “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)” according to Merriam–Webster’s 11th edition, is everywhere these days. The CIA going woke? The Pinkertons, long-time nemesis of labor unions, flying the Rainbow Pride flag? Raytheon pushing critical race theory? What is going on? Has the U.S. “left” finally triumphed over its foes and it’s some kind of brand new day?
Not even remotely. In fact, “progressives” are circling the drain to measure by their influence. Medicare for All is going nowhere, the minimum wage remains $7.25 an hour, unions while making gains recently, most prominently, at an Amazon warehouse in New York, are still on the verge of extinction—impotent Twitter protestations by Bernie notwithstanding. But so are the ruling class elites who have routed progressives for decades. The vaunted “Squad” in the House just voted unanimously in favor spending $40 billion more to pour weapons into Ukraine. Bernie Sanders went along for the same ride in the Senate.
Why this, and how is it so?
My answer comes in two parts. These developments have their roots in 1) the state-sponsored battle against civil unrest in the U.S that began in the 1960s, and 2) intellectual concepts discovered by polymath thinker Gregory Bateson—in this case the idea he called schismogenesis. We need to get our minds around this exotic-sounding notion if we are to get our minds around our current social and political crises.
As is well-enough known, if not vividly remembered among some of us, the U.S. erupted into a high-pitched domestic rebellion during the 1960s, manifest in the civil rights movement, the feminist revolution, organized labor, political opposition to the C.I.A., and the antiwar movement. Notably enough, prominent leaders in these movements were assassinated ( King, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, the two Kennedys) or died under mysterious circumstances (Walter Reuther, civil rights leader and president of the United Automobile Workers). These movements threatened the status quo very profoundly. Taken together, they might have altered our republic’s course—and the world’s—greatly to the good.
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