Scott’s recent post, Gay Rites are Civil Rites, helped a lot of different threads I’ve had bouncing around cohere into a manageable whole:

  1. Civil religion is religion, it just doesn’t have the god part
  2. Our civil religion is Woketianity
  3. Civil religion exists to justify the rule of the upper class
  4. It does so by claiming to care about the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, etc
  5. But of course never in a way that would challenge the rule of the upper class

This explains a few things, like

  1. why SJW pile-ons and their approach to social relations look like cult behavior (because they literally are),
  2. why the entire society has suddenly come out in support of Pride Month (because this is the new chief rite of the civil religion),
  3. why companies like Goldman Sachs are making an effort to be publicly associated with Pride Month (to justify their egregious money piles via Woketianity),
  4. Why so many Woke pile-ons actually target poor and powerless people, like shop keepers and janitors (because they did not serve the Elite Wokeist with sufficient defference)
  5. and why so little of this Woketianity involves things that actually improve the lives of poor people (because that’s not the point).

If some poor people do better because of Woke policies, Wokeists won’t be disturbed, but the primary purpose of their beliefs is to justify their position in the ruling class.

Woketianity can be seen as a heretical co-option of whatever ideas people originally had about helping the poor and downtrodden.

Memes can be roughly divided into two forms–those that spread horizontally, (ie, across society) like viruses, and those that are transmitted vertically (ie, from your ancestors), like mitochondria. Mitochondrial memes tend to promote your health and well-being, because if they didn’t, your ancestors’ children would have died and never made you. Brushing your teeth is a mitochondrial meme, most likely taught by you to your parents in order to improve your chances of not dying of tooth decay. Viral memes do not need to improve your health to spread; in the short term, at least, they only need to spread faster than people die from them.

Woketianity is a viral meme, and in the minds of anyone not in the elite, it is functionally a parasite, convincing them to accept elite rule on the grounds that it is “good for the oppressed.”

There are three responses to the Woke argument for supporting the elites to help the oppressed:

  1. “I don’t care about the oppressed.”
  2. “Your proposal doesn’t actually help the oppressed.”
  3. “Fuck you, you hypocritical grifter.”

Option two has the most potential for turning into quicksand, since even if you happen to be correct on some particular issue, you are arguing against people who are trying to raise their social status by holding the Right Sort of Views, not actually deal with icky poor people.

If you actually want to help the poor and/or oppressed, the Woke are good targets for funds, but don’t expect them to come up with good ideas. They have no idea what it’s like to be a teenage runaway, homeless, ugly, crippled, or hopeless, so if anything, you will have to prevent them from instituting bad ideas that actually harm the people they want to think they are helping.

You’d like an example? Okay, here’s one:

IQ tests are actually the only reliable way we have right now of identifying bright kids who come from underprivileged backgrounds. Anyone trying to do away with IQ tests is not interested in helping poor students.

If you want to actually do good:

  1. Be sincere.
  2. Be realistic.

11 thoughts on “Woketianity

  1. “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

    “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” -Matthew 6:1-5

    My Dad lives in a very nice suburb with nice liberal neighbors. I should ask them if they think welcoming Somali refugees into our country is a good idea. If they say yes, I’ll say, “Good, because I was thinking of renting my Dad’s house to Somali refugees after he dies, and wanted to make sure you guys were OK with it.”


    • They’ll probably say something about being just fine with it.

      Now, I noticed today (because he told me) that a neighbor was letting two formerly homeless people live in his house while they got back on their feet. (“Oh, so that’s who those folks are.”) I think people have to really see something close up before they process it as real.


  2. Am amused by Alexander’s implication (“The Bud Light float should be your cue that this is less about gayness and more about generic summer holiday Americana”) that participants are not sufficiently devout. He doesn’t mean for it to come out this way but he can’t help himself.

    More to the point, some of the initial premises in this post are wrong. The fifth premise, that civil religion can’t challenge the upper class seems false. Those aspiring to the upper class frequently accuse the current upper class of insufficient devotion in an attempt to take their jobs. Sometimes they succeed. As a religion, social justice propagates itself. Its devotees hang on in the hopes it will drag them along. They didn’t create it (not directly) and it doesn’t serves (also not directly).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, but using IQ tests to help smart poor kids escape their dumb communities doesn’t make society any better off either. It makes the communities even dumber and more hopeless than before and it very frequently turns the smart kid into a neurotic, antisocial adult. Case in point: black America and its post-desegregation polarisation into dysfunctional murder zones and rich resentful blackety blacks like Michelle Obama.

    Anyway, I think Scott Alexander’s post can be summed up as “Actually Moldbug was right, America is a communist country and, on balance, I’m cool with it.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Removing smart kids from the company of dumb kids don’t make them neurotic. Being stuck around violent morons who can’t understand you and bully you for being smarter than they are makes people miserable.

      Society benefits from smart people getting training so they can get jobs doing smart people things, and getting kids into the correct courses for their intellects requires some kind of assessment of what they’re capable of.


      • Removing smart kids from the company of dumb kids don’t make them neurotic.

        Removing smart kids from their families makes them neurotic and if your family are uneducated and poor, and you are educated and well off you will find it exceedingly hard to maintain a relationship with your family. *As a Jew* I have seen this in dozens of cases in people of a certain age for obvious reasons. The gap is even bigger if your family are not only uneducated but actually dumb.

        Being stuck around violent morons who can’t understand you and bully you for being smarter than they are makes people miserable.

        This is the American TV tripe, but I don’t think it’s true. Ugly, socially awkward, physically weak people get bullied. Attractive, socially adept, strong people don’t.* This is true whether you are clever or dumb, but dumb people are definitely more likely to be bullied, if only because they are no good at thinking up strategies for avoiding it. I don’t think I have ever seen one real life example of someone being bullied for being smart, I’ve seen plenty if examples of them being bullied for being dumb.
        *One of the stereotypes that is actually false is that intelligence is correlated with being ugly and weak.

        Society benefits from smart people getting training so they can get jobs doing smart people things, and getting kids into the correct courses for their intellects requires some kind of assessment of what they’re capable of

        Well, that’s definitely true to an extent, but it’s also not true. Society is better off in as much as intelligent blacks can become computer programmers, engineers etc. but it’s worse off in as much as they can become journalists, politicians etc. Social mobility is good for the economy, but bad for other important social goods.


  4. As societies become more secular and more diverse regarding religions, it makes sense that “civil religious” ceremonies increasingly replace the religious ceremonies, and that ceremonies of religious origin such as Christmas and Easter become largely non-religious. In Australia, Christmas falls in the long summer holiday and is seen (particularly by the retail sector) as primarily a present-giving famliy get together. I understand that another largely non-religious holiday, Thanksgiving, assumes similar importance in the USA.

    Australians typically get Good Friday and Easter Monday as holidays, but many get longer (around a week) as do school children, and Easter falls in late summer/autumn and is largely another secular holiday now. I was surprised to find out that Americans don’t get public holidays for Easter, despite being a much more religious society.

    Patriotism has become fetishized in the USA as a civil religion and in Australia Anza Day (a day of remembrance for the war dead) has also become a quasi-religious event and woe betide any heretic who makes an anti-war or anti-military statement around that day.

    I was recently reading various articles discussing why Trump supporters simply don’t care that he constantly lies and appears to have limited ability to reason or to make a coherent argument. And the light bulb came on when I read one commentator who argued that politics has become a religion for many people, a badge of tribal identity as religion used to be in many societies. I would take the argument a little further to say that when you get a political religion led by a strong man whose followers “worship” him, believe what he tells them, even when it conflicts with evidence or truth, then you have a cult. And cult leaders almost always use their power in the end to abuse their followers.

    And I guess the SJWs who have gone off the deep end with identity politics also behave in cult-like ways, particularly in the no-platforming and cancelling of people who offend the beliefs of the religion.

    So the question is how to have healthy community-building public ceremonies and celebrations without veering into the unhealthy territory of identity politics of the right and left.

    Liked by 2 people

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