Sean Thomas

What if wokeness really is the new Christianity?

We could be in for two thousand years of madness

(photo: Getty)

Have you had a conversation about The Wokeness recently? If you’re anything like me, you’ll have had a few. And they generally go the same way. First someone leans close, with a kind of guilty expression, then they whisper something outrageously unwoke like “actually, I do believe only women have cervixes”, or “I’m not entirely sure they should have banned The Tiger Who Came To Tea”.

​Sometimes the conversation ends there, with sidelong glances, in case anyone has overheard, and you quickly move on to less contentious topics. Occasionally, however, it goes further, and someone says, with a pleading hint of uptalk in their voice: it’s going to end soon, isn’t it? The madness? Surely it has to end. The pendulum must swing back to sanity.

Until very recently, I’ve agreed. Yes. It will end soon. Has to. Because I have always perceived the Wokegasm, the Great Awokening, the Statue-Toppling Book Burning Cultic Rule of Woquemada – whatever you want to call it – as a Western version of the Cultural Revolution, in 1960s China. That is to say: Wokeness is a brief but intense political-emotional spasm, complete with the same public shamings, struggle sessions and earnest XR-supporting urban teens, AKA The Red Guards.

Maybe Woke is Forever

The other day, however, things changed. I was hunched in the darkest corner of a bar, having another of those whispered, dissident conversations, like two poets in 1930s Leningrad daring to discuss Stalin. My friend was describing the latest lunacy in his world, the banning of the word ‘spooky’ by the National Theatre for Scotland (on the grounds that someone somewhere for some reason used it as a racist epithet, and someone else might now get offended. Somewhere).

After rolling his eyes, and sighing deeply, my theatre-world friend then went on to add the usual, pleading, reassuring words.

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