Column: Why Is This Small Group Known As ‘Woke’ So Powerful?

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If you’ve spent any time on the internet over the past few years, you’ve probably read the word “woke.” Though the meaning has changed over time, detractors mostly use the term to describe those who adhere to a progressive ideology that demands perfection from the opposition and that attempts to eradicate history. You’ve seen this group online. Perhaps they’ve cost your favorite former host his or her job. Of course, they have.

Pop culture and corporate America cheerfully promote “wokeness,” as we’ve come to call it, which then influences consumers. The way progressives have taken over American culture is brilliant. These peasants have used athletes, CEOs, actors, and musicians to over-index a movement of fear tactics that few Americans support.

A recent Spiked study found that Americans who align with the “woke” make up only 8% of the electorate, barely half the size of moderates and a third of the size of conservatives. So how is such a shorthanded militia this influential? The answer says more about the group’s targets than it does about its membership.

Progressives have capitalized on the cowardice of the country’s influencers and decision-makers. The far-Left may be small in size, but they possess destructive ammunition in the form of messaging. They’ve trademarked terms like racist, sexist, transphobe, bigot, and middle-aged white guy and made them so poisonous that they have the power to ruin almost anyone.

It’s telling that wealthy individuals in society are more fearful of these terms than the working class. A welder knows that few people can perform his craft well. Meanwhile, the CEO of Nike is aware of his mediocrity. Thus, America’s most replaceable employees have the largest megaphones to bow and obey. Don’t worry, they always do.

Corporations, celebrities, and executives are afraid of labels, which tech platforms then amplify. Therefore, the culture paints an image that suggests that this 8% is of far greater size.

“Over the past decade, the woke agenda has crested like a giant tsunami, covering virtually the entirety of academia, the media, the corporate world and even the military,” Spiked columnist Joel Kotkin wrote. “The Gramscian concept of ‘the long march through the institutions,’ embraced by 1960s radicals like Germany’s Rudi Dutschke, has achieved overwhelming success.

“What they lack in numbers, however, they make up for with single-minded determination; progressive whites, notes the Atlantic, are the most intolerant of all Americans, led by those in the Boston area, while people in smaller towns and cities seem far more open.”

Journalists on both sides claim political alignment divides the country, but fear is the greater source of division than affiliation. Cancel culture comes for everyone, after all. Even you.

Most liberals don’t support tearing down statues of George Washington, forcing workers to admit their whiteness, or separating school children by skin color. However, moderate liberals are afraid to push back against their radical counterparts.

Often, the smaller far-Left and far-Right groups are the only two speaking up. And while mainstream outlets have banished right-wing conspiracy theorists, the equally-dangerous liberals continue to share their messages without interference. Further, the media has neutralized leftward radical viewpoints, even as most Americans consider them horrific. 

“Wokeness” has had an impact on society, clearly. The question now is whether the push has a shelf life. Kotkin believes it does:

“There are signs that the woke progressive model may be losing its appeal, even among some liberals. The bulk of public opinion is not in progressives’ favour.”

The destruction levied by such a minuscule, unimpressive group is staggering. It’s also deflating. Cancel culture is clearly vulnerable, yet so few companies have the backbone to expose it. Executives render their freedom instead.

It takes an unimaginable sense of weakness to allow a niche group to control mainstream messaging. Meaning, the woke takeover isn’t about its supporters. The movement is merely the story of how society surrendered itself to a shallow group of radicals who have exceeded their own expectations

In other words, the same Americans who despise woke liberals are the very ones who have grown the movement — by curling up in a ball of fear. 

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics..

Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.


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  1. If FOX hadn’t bought Outkick, you would be thr premo writer. Good broad vision and ability to articulate it to a diverse sports oriented audience in a clear and powerful way. Now get the fuck out of here and go to where you can really say what you want. You are way too watered down. Get that FOX editor
    monkey off your back.

  2. It’s a bunch of different reasons:

    1. The paradox of intolerance.

    This is the same reason why almost all food in the US is halal. Orthodox muslims will not eat non-halal food but almost everybody else has no problem eating halal food. Thus to maximize their potential customer base, most restaurants choose to make their food halal.

    You don’t have to be a majority group to get your way, you just have to be more intolerant than the majority. Leftists, being more hateful than conservatives, are thus more likely to get their way. Conservatives may be disgusted by Ben & Jerry’s anti-semitic policies, but will they really stop purchasing their ice cream? The answer, unfortunately, is no. Leftists on the other hand will gladly walk off their job to protest the fact that a comedian made a joke.

    2. The difficulty of measuring sentiment.

    Companies struggle to get a feel for the cultural zeitgeist because it’s expensive to conduct rigorous surveys to gather market sentiment. Twitter; however, makes it really easy to learn people’s opinions because it’s all publicly posted and searchable. The problem is Twitter is only used by a tiny minority of the population so what companies learn from Twitter is wildly distorted from what the average person actually thinks. And since Twitter actively censors conservative views, companies get an even further distorted view of the world.

    3. A political imbalance of free time.

    Leftists are more likely to be both unemployed and tech-savvy than people on the right. As a result, there are thousands of leftists who sit on their computer all day posting on social media, emailing CEOs, and harassing their political opponents. This further distorts corporations’ understanding of their clientele. When an employee gets in a controversy for espousing a leftwing view, the CEO may get a few emails and see a few posts on Twitter. If that same employee were to instead espouse a rightwing view, that CEO would get deluged with thousands of emails. Corporations are run by humans who are subject to all the data-analysis flaws of humans. They see a thousand emails and automatically assume they have a huge problem on their hands even if that’s not the reality.

    4. Inherent personality differences between conservatives and leftists.

    Conservatives, as their name reveals, are risk-averse. And loudly voicing your political opinions is a risky behavior. It could result in you getting denied a promotion, getting fired, or getting ostracized from social circles. Conservatives are thus less likely to voice their opinions than leftists. The result is politicians see far more leftists out in the streets protesting various policies and get the false idea that those policies are less popular than they actually are.

    Also note, my choice of language here is deliberate. I never use the term “liberals” to refer to these people because they are not liberals. They are leftists. Liberals would be disgusted by lockdowns, vaccine mandates, statue tear-downs, socialism, and internet censorship. Leftists, being the authoritarian wing of the Democratic party, have no problem with these policies.

  3. Can we get that study by Spiked shared with every corporate boardroom in America? They need to know that they are making decisions based on the opinions of 8% of the population. At some point this has to hit their bottom lines, and I look forward to a return to rational thinking, and rational policies.

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