The Woke Are Coming to Britain

It seems that even the vast Atlantic Ocean isn’t enough to keep wokeism from spreading across the UK. For the past two months, prominent American political strategist and pollster Frank Luntz has been conducting public opinion research in Britain to explore the extent of this phenomenon. “Our surveys and focus groups,” he wrote a few days ago in the British newspaper Daily Mail, “covered a range of topics, from politics to business, from society to culture, in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Studies, the think-tank co-founded by Margaret Thatcher. We had a simple mission: to listen to what all Britons truly think and feel -- not just the loud ones with their social-media-enabled megaphones -- and then report the information.”

The polling found that when asked to choose between the statements “The United Kingdom is a nation of equality and freedom” and “The United Kingdom is an institutionally racist and discriminatory nation,” 37 per cent of the British public say that this is a racist country, while if you ask whether British society “gives people a fair chance to get ahead if they work hard and take responsibility,”  or “is full of injustice and inequality that holds too many people back,” 42 per cent -- and 58 per cent of Labour voters -- say the country is full of injustice and inequality.

But once you dive into the findings, says Luntz, an even more alarming picture emerges, in particular when you break down the country by party, community, and age. Britain “is increasingly voting according to culture, not economics,” for one thing.  For another, the people who think that Britain is institutionally racist and discriminatory are overwhelmingly the young. Moreover, Labour voters are much more likely to say that Britain is “racist, unequal and generally broken.” They are deeply convinced that the political and economic system are stacked against them -- among those aged 18 to 29, 57 per cent felt that way, 20 points higher than any other age group. “They see the world around them entirely differently from those who are older,” writes Luntz, and while a majority of the public believes that “white privilege” exists, they are the only group who agrees that it “must be addressed directly with specific education, training, and public policy,” and that “white people need to understand that their whole lives have been easier because of the color of their skin,” rather than that “our focus should be on the people who need help regardless of skin color.” Very interestingly, young people as a whole are more likely to feel their country is systematically racist than the non-white community…

As a result of the rise of wokism, faith in the principles of economic freedom and meritocracy is at an all-time low in the UK. Public confidence in democracy itself is being eroded.

Although similar research has not been conducted in other European countries, there is no reason to think that things are different in the rest of Europe. At least judging from what we have seen recently during the just concluded European soccer championship, where the woke pantomime of “taking the knee” became very popular and received official consecration.

At the same time, it’s true that the overall political climate in Europe has been trending rightward for some time. In fact, while both Conservative prime minister Boris Johnson and France's moderate centrist president Emmanuel Macron would likely be re-elected if the election were held today, in Italy the right-wing coalition of Matteo Salvini’s Lega, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Giorgia Meloni’s  Fratelli d’Italia party would most likely win the next general election. Even in Germany, after  the current Große Koalition (Grand Coalition), that brings together the center-right Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) bloc and Social Democratic Party (SPD), the next government may be a “Jamaica coalition,”  a term in German politics that describes a potential coalition among CDU/CSU, the center-right Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Green Party. And this is to say nothing about the rise of nationalist and extreme-right alternatives to the mainstream -- Alternative for Germany, National Rally in France, UK Independence Party, Freedom Party in Austria, Vox party in Spain, New Flemish Alliance in Belgium, Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, etc.

Strange enough, isn’t it? But perhaps this is only an apparent contradiction, not a real one. Unfortunately,  Luntz survey group didn’t address this specific issue.

Be it as it may, as Luntz puts it, the real problem we have with woke culture is that it is just as intolerant as what it claims to oppose. “It tells me that my voice should not be heard simply because they define me as being ‘privileged’ in certain ways. That I can be dismissed, dehumanized. Delegitimized. Instead of lifting up those in need, it seeks to tear everyone else down.”

How can we accept that in 2021, in a country like the United Kingdom, 28 per cent of people have stopped talking to someone, in person or online, because of something political they once said? “But among 18 to 29s, that rises to 53 per cent, a majority.”

“I’ve seen where it leads,” says Luntz. “Wokeism doesn’t just destroy friendships or the quality of debate, it also undermines respect for the past, faith in the future and a commitment to economic freedom for everyone.” It says that “you didn’t succeed in life through hard work, effort and perseverance.” No, you succeeded “because you exploited others, even if you didn’t realize you were doing so and even if that exploitation took place decades or even centuries ago.”

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere, a Bostonian silversmith, engraver, and Patriot in the American Revolution, rode through the night to deliver his countrymen a simple warning: “The British are coming! The British are coming!” Today, as an American pollster, Frank Luntz is bringing the Brits an equally urgent warning: “Woke is coming!”

Samuel Robert Piccoli is a blogger and the author of the books Being Conservative from A to Z (2014) and Blessed Are the Free in Spirit (2021). He is Italian and lives in the Venice area.

Image: Public Dmain Pictures

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