BY KEER LONSDALE
Here’s a fact for you. It is impossible to win a debate against a woke person. Not, of course, because they have the better arguments: woke people believe stuff that is indefensible tosh, all sane people know that. No, you won’t win because the woke person will immediately question your ethical motives and, from that point on, you won’t have a leg to stand on.
Whether you are telling them you believe that humans are best understood as being divided into two biological sexes, or whether you’re explaining that race relations are not best served by kneeling in obeisance to Marxist yobs, or whether you’re aiming to show that cancel culture is a threat to our basic freedoms, you’ll get the same response. You will be called a bigot, a racist, a transphobe, a hate-monger. And there won’t be a damn thing you can do about it.
You’ll try, of course. You’ll stammer out something like: “Hang on, that’s not fair. I happen to believe in Enlightenment values, and those Enlightenment values, about the content of character rather than some immutable characteristic, values which were outlined by Dr Martin Luther King, are under threat because people won’t ….” But everyone’s eyes will have glazed over. Your attempt to explain everything from first principles will fail. Quickly your enemy will have got his next barb in and, after that, you’ll be flummoxed. Believe me, unless you’re an orator of prodigious talents, with learning oozing from every pore, you will lose. And lose badly.
Because the smears are indelible. Once accused, you can’t escape the taint. You might argue for what you consider to be reasoned, liberal, humanistic beliefs, but there’s one problem with that. We don’t live in a reasoned, liberal, humanistic age any more. The woke – especially the young woke – have hardly ever heard of it. They think what you believe in is a smokescreen for intolerance.
What can be done? The answer is obvious. We need to ditch the long-winded waffle about Enlightenment values and Dr Martin Luther King and all that. And to do it we need to take a tip from the world of advertising. Because those canny advertising guys, the smartest operators in the world, know one thing, which is this: every product needs brand recognition. Or, to put it simply, a name.
We have no name. Can you believe that? We are trying to get people to buy into our brand and we don’t even know what to call it. No wonder the consumer-savvy youth aren’t siding with us.
No name. Only ‘anti-Woke’, which will be immediately caricatured as ‘anti-black’ or ‘anti-gay’ or something similar. Sure, there has been the odd half-hearted attempt to make up a name for us. ‘Based’ has its supporters. But that word, culled from the crazier corners of the internet, has no mileage. And don’t give me ‘conservative’, because us folk who are against wokeness aren’t all conservatives by any means. We’re a diverse coalition with still sane Lefties (like Paul Embery, author of Despised) and feminists (like Kathleen Stock, author of Material Girls, and Julie Bindel) fighting alongside us. We’re a broad church.
And we need a name. We need brand recognition. We need be able to simply say “I am ……..” and everyone will know pretty much where we’re coming from. A name that includes conservatives and gender-critical feminists and renegade leftists and all good people who make up our army of folk who know that the divisive doctrines of wokeness are poison in disguise.
May I make a tentative suggestion? That the word we need is universalist. It’s a fine word, a positive-sounding, inclusive word. It sums up our position. Universalism means everyone. All together. No special victimhood groups, no ‘lived experience’ that only some people can have. Everyone. The universe. All humans. Without tribalism, without identitarianism. The ultimate Enlightenment position to take. Universalism, a philosophy where all lives matter.
We should do this – and quickly. We simply can’t go on without a name. To do so is to be the victims of endless smears, endless accusations of bigotry. But once we embrace our name we will have made a start towards giving the public a choice: wokeness, or universalism? (I think I know which they’ll choose ….)
If we don’t get our skates on, we won’t only lose the culture war, we’ll lose our own identity too. We’ll be squeezed out by people who are haters of universalism, but not the woke sort of anti-universalist. No, the REAL racists, transphobes, ultra-nationalists and race-baiters will eventually become the opposition to wokeness. Such forces are tiny at the moment, but as things stand they are destined to grow. They will be wokeness’s mirror image, just as angry, intolerant, irrational, divisive, anti-science and anti-human as the cohorts of woke are. Maybe even worse. And we’ll be squeezed out. The legacy of the Enlightenment will die and the future will be hell.
Universalism. We all know what it means. Use it, and soon everyone else will know too. And when they do, the impossibility of arguing with woke people will vanish. No longer will we get flummoxed in arguments as we try to plausibly outline an inclusive anti-woke philosophy. We will say: “I am a universalist. I believe in universal human values” and our enemies will be on the back foot immediately.
It’s simple marketing. If our product has no name, no one will buy it.
Keer Lonsdale is a teacher, writer and countryman based in the north of England. He loves the rural life, fishing for trout and following a pack of hounds. As a small-‘c’ conservative, campaigning against the excesses of the intersectional Left and their divisive agendas takes up an ever-growing percentage of his time. As a teacher, Keer has seen first-hand how mad ideas can flourish in the state sector. But he is a confident believer in the innate common sense of both the kids he teaches and the wider British public.