Woke Is A (Terrible) Religion
There’s only one possible outcome to a death cult
Theophilus Chilton has a recent piece comparing the Church of Woke to Evangelical revivalism, which inspired me to put down some of my own thoughts on the subject. Likewise, see Niccolo Saldo’s thoughts on the Last Pagan Generation.
The collapse of Christianity in the West has left a spiritual vacuum. The Enlightenment proclaimed the liberation of reason from revelation. God’s death was pronounced. Finally, gradually and then all at once, the churches emptied. Yet the soul, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Humans are religious beings; we crave purpose, meaning, participation in something that transcends the grubby banality of our individual lives.
And so the Great Awokening blossomed in the lands denuded of faith of their fathers.
I’m not the first to point our the religious dimensions of Woke, which are manifold and obvious. The ritual obeisance of bending the knee to St. Floyd of the Fentanyl Overdose amidst fervent denunciations of the invisible spectre of White Supremacy. Tithes in the form of carbon credits and subsidies to photovoltaic plantations, wind turbine orchards, and electric vehicles to appease the prophesied wrath of the Carbon Goddess, along with the perpetual lent of plant-based diets. The Saturnalia of Pride, uniting millions in ecstatic celebration of the sacred priesthood of joyous sodomites, who must continue their divine revels day and night lest the ground crack open and Hitler come marching back from Hell. The gnostic doctrine of gender theory, whereby some – or many, or all – have through some numinous mistake had their souls trapped in the wrong body, a belief encapsulated in the unanswerable Zen koan ‘What is a woman?’ The sacrifice of the unborn to the idol of Empowerment. The trappings of Covidianism – injection as baptism, hand sanitizer as ritual purification, mask as hijab.
Years ago I found myself in an argument with my very liberal sister. The subject of the dispute was mass immigration and Canada’s official doctrine of multiculturalism, which I held were suicidal, and she held were necessary and right. Towards the end, as it became clear to her that she was going to lose the argument – an inevitability when a leftist attempts to argue on the unfriendly and alien territory of empirical reality – she grew frustrated, and blurted out “You won’t convince me! This is my religion!”
She was right, of course: I didn’t convince her. She remains wedded to her beliefs to this day. Yet the exchange was interesting, because it suggested to me that, deep down, some of the woke are consciously aware of the religious nature of their enthusiasms.
In any case, the interesting question isn’t really whether or not Woke is a religion, but whether it’s a good religion. And to that, I think, the answer is obvious: it is not.
Religion, considered as a social technology, serves a number of very important functions within a society.
First, it must provide some basis for unity – some story explaining who ‘we’ are, and how we differ from ‘them’. Woke is actually fairly good at this. So long as one mouths the correct slogans, avoids the taboo vocabulary, holds the correct values, one is relatively secure as a member of the cultic in-group. Sure, they feed on one another in their vicious purity spirals, but this is no worse than what the Puritans of Salem did in their witch hunts ... and not even so bad as that, given that no one is literally being burnt at the stake (yet).
Second, it must provide some basis of continuity with the past, acting as a stabilizing influence on society. For most religions, this continuity stems back to the founding figure – what came before their arrival is, more or less by definition, benighted, ignorant, and sinful. After that, though – doctrinal disputes, sectarian splits, and heresies aside – a continuity of belief and practice is maintained that unites the living with their ancestors. Woke, by contrast, is a perpetual revolution. There’s little continuity with what was believed and practised a week ago, let alone by the previous generation. Sure, some of the themes – racism bad! White people bad! Women good! etc. – are fairly stable. But the heroes of last generation’s struggles for social justice easily become the villains of today’s crusade. Witness Abe Lincoln’s demotion from the Great Emancipator to naughty white man who said mean things about people of colour. There is no molehill of sin so minor that it cannot extirpate a mountain of service to the Cause ... and what counts as ‘sin’ is subject to perpetual redefinition. No one considered transphobia to even be a thing until some time in the teens ... and no one can guess what innocuous or even currently praiseworthy (and therefore mandatory) opinion might be anathematized tomorrow.
Third, a religion must provide some ideal for its adherents to strive towards. This is usually symbolically expressed by the life and character of the founder, which then affects the behaviour of the religions that emanate from their influence. Christians aim to emulate Christ, a carpenter become teacher and healer; thus, Christians are productive, merciful, and compassionate; the result is that they spread the faith by building schools and hospitals. Muslims model themselves on Muhammed, a merchant become conqueror; the result is that they spread the faith by the sword. Buddhists attempt to conform themselves to Siddhartha Gautama, a prince who became a recluse; and so, their monks isolate themselves from the world, pursuing peace through compassionate non-intervention. This dynamic is seen in the pagan faiths as well, in which the various deities and heroes offered archetypal forms that followers could model their own lives around.
Emulation can be a powerful force for good if it encourages adherents to adopt virtuous behaviours that both improve their individual lives, and improve the society they live in, whilst simultaneously avoiding destructive behaviours. Christians are enjoined to avoid the deadly sins of gluttony, envy, wrath, pride, greed, sloth, and lust, while cultivating the heavenly virtues of fortitude, temperance, justice, prudence, charity, faith, and love. Imagine a person who avoids as far as possible the seven sins and strives to the utmost to embody the seven virtues; now imagine someone who does the opposite. It’s obvious which will have the better life, and which will be the more pleasant to associate with. Now imagine a population in which the sins are discouraged and the virtues encouraged; and imagine the opposite. Which will result in the better society? A society of virtuous men will self-organize into a prosperous polity regardless of whatever terrible laws, silly customs, or maladaptive political systems it adopts; a society of incorrigible sinners, by contrast, will be a hellish pandemonium beyond saving even by the wisest laws or most carefully designed constitutions.
So what about Woke? They certainly have figures that they look up to: MLK Jr., Harvey Milk, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and the like. None of them really rise to the focal stature of a unitary religious founder. To a degree they’re emulated: the majority of them were organizers and agitators, and the woke follow in their footsteps by organizing rallies, campaigns, and so on. The various founding figures were disruptors, and therefore, the woke disrupt. Contrast this with Christians (who build) or Buddhists (who don’t interfere); it’s hard to see how a stable social order is erected on a foundation of continuous disruption.
Then there’s the effect on their personal lives of the adoption of the Woke faith. Most of us know people who have found Jesus, or Allah, or what have you; while your mileage may vary, the ones I’ve known have almost always gotten their lives together as a result, avoiding the worst evils of drugs and alcohol, putting their finances in order, often losing weight and becoming fit, and usually gaining some degree of emotional equilibrium that makes them much more pleasant to be around (if a trifle dull at times). Have you ever known anyone who went Woke whose life improved as a result? To the contrary: they become fat, soft, ugly, miserable, perpetually angry, wallowing in depression and anxiety. The Woke worship the broken, the sick, and the victimized, not because of redemption from suffering, but for the sake of suffering itself. The oppressed are sacred not because they overcame their oppression, but because they are oppressed. The result is the Oppression Olympics, the constant one-upmanship in which the Woke compete to find ways in which they are more oppressed than their gender-neutral brethren. Since sickness is much more convincing if it is real, they sicken themselves. The Woke become a bucket of crabs which not only drag one another back into the bucket, but dig a deeper hole in the middle, and drag the collective into ever more profound depths of suffering.
The Woke have also inverted the perennial relationship between virtue and vice. Pride is no longer a sin, but the subject of a month-long festival, which is also a celebration of lust. Gluttony is aspirational – you’re beautiful at any size. Greed and sloth are the very root of socialism, and envy the core of sexual and racial politics. The unhinged assaults on infidels and apostates are wrath raised to the level of religious ecstasy. In contrast, the virtues are held up for mockery or simply ignored. The result is that the woke become enslaved to their basest passions, and utterly bereft of those qualities that might liberate them. Useful to the managerial class, to be sure; but less than optimal from the point of view of personal happiness or social harmony.
A society based on such a dynamic can develop in only one direction. By encouraging weakness and dissipation, the inevitable result is what we see around us: everything falls apart.
Fourth, a religion must provide for stable family formation. This is an entirely practical matter. A society that does not renew its population will cease to exist. A religion that encourages people to start families, and to have lots of children, will in the long run out-compete a religion that does not by sheer weight of numbers. In the short term, cults that discourage reproduction can expand and survive through proselytization. The Shakers1 of the 19th century, for instance, were a free love cult that prohibited its adherents from having children (the men were required to pull out). Such a cult can persist for a time by converting new members. However, if such a cult grows to the scale of an entire society, the pool of new members disappears.
Woke is self-sterilizing. Children are encouraged to question their gender, and then to pursue a course of chemical and surgical castration. Others are encouraged to engage in sterile acts of sodomy. Those who persist in their heterosexuality are told to practice ‘safe sex’, by which is meant chemical birth control and condoms. Should a child accidentally result, mothers are prodded to murder it before it can be born. Those who do reproduce are told to postpone it as long as possible – to first pursue their careers, feed their appetites, ‘find themselves’ ... and if they absolutely must have children, to have only one, for there is nothing more displeasing to the Carbon Goddess than the carbon footprint of a new human being.
The result is a birth rate far below replacement levels. For now, Woke can continue growing by converting those born into families practising more traditional faiths. That’s why the left fights so hard to maintain control of the schools: they don’t need to have kids, because they have your kids. In the long run, however, this strategy is doomed to failure. Should Woke come to saturate society to the totalitarian degree it desires, the result will be a population crash.
It’s been suggested by some that drastic depopulation is precisely the aim of the social engineers who have cultivated this new faith. If so, they must surely be aware that this is not a viable strategy in the long run; in that case, perhaps they intend Woke as merely a transitional cult, to be replaced by something more permanent when its dark works have reached their grim culmination.
Putting it all together, the point here is simple. Woke is a religion, yes ... but it’s a terrible religion, a death cult rather than a worship of the living, the vital, and the eternal. It cannot persist for any length of time. Those who adopt it are drawn into mental illness and misery; societies that adopt it are pulled towards failure, dissolution, and extinction. Woke may seem powerful now, but its worship of illness in all its forms is a crippling handicap. Its only possible destiny is to be replaced by a religion that actually works.
I'm informed in the comments that was actually the Oneida community, not the Shakers.