Culture Wars/Current Controversies

DEBATE: Woke v Anti-Woke. Who’s More Authoritarian?

Episode 134 with Adam and Sitch

Jul 28, 2023
∙ Paid

Our “favorite centrist YouTubers,” Sitch and Adam, are back on the pod to answer the question: who’s more authoritarian, the woke or the anti-woke? The recent suspension of a teacher at Texas A&M over critique of the Texan lieutenant governor suggests a flaw in the political analysis of right-wingers like DeSantis: that the woke left is the dominant force to be combated, and that conservatives are the ones under attack. With our guests, we discuss whether wokeness on the left is giving fodder to elite Republicans seeking to ride into power under a message of anti-wokeness; whether or not we’ve reached peak wokeness; and, of course, what’s going on with the UFO whistleblower. Watch below:

From conservative media outlets to the campaign trail, the right wing loves to whip up fear about its ultimate bugbear, wokeness. Their claim is that an obsession with political correctness has veered into authoritarianism — and that culturally, intellectually, and politically, we’re all worse off for it. This allows conservatives to position themselves as the victims, not the perpetrators, of authoritarian political activity. But we think it’s worthwhile to open up a debate about whether or not this rhetorical move actually holds up. Aren’t powerful Republicans the ones moving to restrict abortions, gay marriages, and a host of other basic rights? When leftists attempt to oppose military aid to Israel or criticize right-wing governments, right-wingers in power quickly lose their concerns about censorship, political targeting, and suppression of free speech. Which side can rightfully be accused of authoritarianism?

Our guests argue that our political landscape is characterized by constant pulling from both an extreme right and an extreme left. Mainstream culture is only affected when certain circumstances give one side a significant benefit, and they view wokeness on the left as a benefit for the right, which cynically capitalizes on this political culture to score easy points. We offer another perspective: that the right is constantly shifting the goalposts on what’s authoritarian and what’s justifiable when it comes to limiting free speech. By attacking wokeness, conservatives seek to control culture as well as social liberties protected by law. They’re always going to cry “authoritarian” when it comes to leftist messaging about social injustice. And they’re going to keep refusing to apply that label to situations in which leftist perspectives are repressed.

To enjoy this conversation as a podcast, tune in tomorrow through Spotify, Pandora, Apple Podcasts, and more.

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