GIVEN the recent events in the United States that led to all-out insurrection and five dead bodies, you would expect politicians to be more careful before parroting the “war on the woke” language that contributed to it.
Boris Johnson’s administration has shown no such restraint.
If anything, the Tories continue to actively relish any opportunity to invoke the far-right rhetoric of Trump’s administration, dismissing legitimate criticism of Britain’s colonial past and everyday racism as if it were a delusional leftist conspiracy.
Racism? In Britain? In GREAT Britain? Impossible.
Culture war rhetoric has always been a staple of right-wing politicians who know fine well that it’s easier to dismiss criticism with a wave of “it’s just common sense” than engage openly with what is being said.
It’s only been recently though, following the rise of the tango tyrant and his merry band of “patriots”, that anti-woke politics has become so mainstream as to become a central part of the Tory Government’s plans to save the Union.
You could be forgiven for thinking that phrases like “woke left view” would be confined solely to the reactionary podcasts of the alt-right, or maybe the smirking debate clubs of Eton. Not anymore.
As part of published plans to bolster support for the UK’s failing political unions, the Tories plan to take on the “woke” view that the Union is a remnant of the British Empire and instead focus on how forward-thinking Britain has become.
The problem, of course, is that the political Union between Scotland and England is quite literally one of the last remaining remnants of the British Empire, alongside the stolen artifacts that reside in British museums and the societal trauma left behind in numerous other nations.
Scotland signed up with gusto to the Empire project, and benefited greatly from it. Much of the stolen wealth our cities are built upon came as a direct result of our role in the Empire. Understanding our past is an important part of understanding our present.
That being said, when the Conservative Government cites the threat of the “woke”, it’s rarely because they have a good faith argument to make, and this latest invocation is no different.
While the destruction of whatever is left of the racist legacy of Empire is, frankly, an excellent and worthy goal, it isn’t the driving force behind the Yes movement in Scotland. In fact, reactionary elements and bloggers within the Yes movement are as actively hostile to so-called “woke” politics as the far-right (make of that what you will).
This is a straw man argument, designed to push the idea that the case for independence hangs on an irrelevant preoccupation with history, rather than the contemporary elements of Britain that make it an anachronistic hellscape.
I’d sooner point to the House of Lords, stuffed with the kind of unassailable, privileged roasters who think the lives of cancer patients are “less valuable”, as an example of how modern Britain just doesn’t work.
To be woke is to be aware of the structures of power around us and where we sit within that. It’s not unreasonable to ask people to engage critically with the world around them.
With Donald Trump ousted from the White House, Britain is now increasingly isolated in its childish anti-intellectualism. The cost of Brexit may finally have voters questioning whether they have had enough of experts after all.
Tory plans to build a wall of emotional anti-woke antipathy against independence and the left has all the hallmarks of a plan that is likely to backfire. I only hope that it does so in a benign manner.