Woke-ness as a U.S. soft power weapon

Enemies of the woke?

The economist Tyler Cowen says the U.S. government should use the “woke” movement as an instrument of U.S. soft power.

Although Cowen himself deplores the excesses of woke-ism, he pointed out that it is a genuinely popular movement, which has taken hold in large corporations, private universities and the mainstream press, and is spreading around the world.

Why not take advantage of this? he asked.  Almost every country has some group of people who are oppressed, or feel oppressed.  Point this out, identify with this group of people and you have a movement that looks to the USA for inspiration and help.

I think he underrates the degree to which this is already being done, and the degree to which the world is already polarized around woke-ism.

This wouldn’t be new.  In the old Cold War days, it is said that the Central Intelligence Agency promoted logical positivism and abstract art in order to discredit the Soviets’ historical materialism and socialist realist.

Look at the campaign against Hungary for being anti-immigration and suppressing pro-gay educational materials in its school system.  Look at how foreign aid is used to pressure African governments to be less anti-gay, just as the G.W. Bush administration used aid funds as a lever to suppress birth control and abortion.)

Then look at the nations that attended the recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  One thing Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have in common is that they are anti-woke.

China, for example, has cracked down on portrayals of effeminate men in the entertainment media.  RT News ridicules American social liberalism.  The governments of Iran, Pakistan and India are committed to religious nationalism—different religions, but united in being anti-woke.

Putting the merits of these issues to one side, I think anti-woke patriotism is a source of national unity and woke identity politics is a source of disunity.  A completely cynical government would export identity politics to its rivals and enemies while emphasizing national unity at home.

Conflicts over wealth and power can be compromised, but not questions of religion and ideology.  But that’s the point.  It is easier to get people to fight in your interest if you can convince them they’re fighting for their religion and their ideals.


Woke entry in Wikipedia.  I myself define woke-ness as a civil rights movement in support of ethnic identity and the sexual revolution.

Woke Movement Is Global, and America Should Be (Mostly) Proud by Tyler Cowen for Bloomberg Opinion.

Eurasia takes shape: How the SCO just flipped the world order by Pepe Escobar for The Cradle. 

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One Response to “Woke-ness as a U.S. soft power weapon”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    Social justice warriors incessantly focus on how evil America is but fail to focus their wrath upon countries where the racial, ideological, gender, and religious oppression are many times harsher. Very much a “sucks to be you but you’re on your own” attitude. They will never go for using the “woke” card anywhere but here. I think they have a visceral fear that affirming that most of the world is far worse than we are will dilute their efforts.

    If truth is their enemy, I don’t have much use for them. Most of the world is an absolute cesspool. In comparison, we need a good housecleaning. Recognizing this is NOT a reason to delay cleaning the house. Rather it is an affirmation of goodness that WE are willing to clean house.

    In large areas of the world, the George Floyd protests simply would not have happened. If someone tried, there’d be hundreds of dead in the streets. Yet executions of the sort by private and public parties are a daily occurrence. What Trump tried to do was a hiccup compared to what Putin does on a massive scale in every election. And China makes discrimination against effeminate men official doctrine, monitors private behavior in a manner Big Brother would be jealous of, and imprisons religious groups in concentration camps and uses them for slave labor.

    But… too much nternational “woke-ness” would probably make enemies out of 3/4 of the world’s population. We need to be selective against the very worst cases.


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