Published August 19, 2021
As the Taliban prepared to retake Afghanistan, American military leaders pushed wokeness on the troops and the American embassy in Kabul tweeted out the rainbow flag. As the Taliban conquered, the Biden team was producing a campy video with a gender-bending social media influencer.
These actions speak loudly about where the administration’s priorities lie. Instead of delivering basic competence, Democrats have stoked the culture wars and ushered in crisis after crisis, from rising crime to rapid inflation to an overwhelmed southern border to the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.
There is ordinary incompetence here — Biden was a buffoon even in his prime — but adding extreme social leftism to the usual political greed and stupidity has been catastrophic, from the military to education to border security. The adherents of this ideology are not deterred by policy failures and political setbacks, allowing radical leftism to become the dominant ideology in the Democrat Party and among the institutions that support it.
A Reality-Denying Make-Believe World
This ideology is a substitute religion to which they are determined to forcibly convert the rest of us. It’s also a childish, narcissistic, self-indulgent ideology that results in incompetence and destruction.
For example, California has begun housing men in women’s prisons, and the inmates are reportedly “being prepared with free condoms and guidance on how to obtain an abortion in prison.” One woman concluded the government had “given the okay for them to rape us, cause you have a plan to take care of the aftermath.”
This is leftism in action. The problems of male prisoners who claim to be women could have been addressed without giving male sexual predators access to women’s prisons. But transgender ideology proclaims “trans women are women,” so fully intact men are being put in women’s prisons.
Ideology is obscuring reality, and leftist ideologues are acting according to the logic of a self-constructed fantasy world. In their world, critical race theory is part of military readiness, men can give birth and women can have penises, and lowering education standards and re-segregating public schools is anti-racist.
Godless Answers to Religious Questions
This is the decadent fulfillment of the leftist project of radically reordering the world. Since the French Revolution, leftists have sought the revolutionary remaking of man and society. They believe what is primarily wrong with the world is not, as Christianity teaches, human sin nature, but disordered social arrangements from which we can liberate ourselves. They view themselves as the prophetic vanguard of human liberation.
Marxism made obvious the ersatz religious nature of this perspective. Adherents believed not because they were convinced by the details of Karl Marx’s economic analysis, but because Marxism provided a godless answer to religious questions — what is wrong with the world and what is to be done about it? Acolytes thrilled to communism’s promise of apocalyptic class struggle (with its concomitant revenge against the oppressor) followed by an idyllic paradise.
This vision proved false, and murdered tens of millions before collapsing. But the fall of the Soviet Union did not end leftist dreams. Marx’s promise of liberation from economic inequality has been supplemented by other analyses of oppression and liberation. American leftists are now far more concerned with race, sex, and gender than with poverty and economic inequality.
The Commodification of Human Relationships
The liberation they seek goes far beyond freedom from material deprivation. Their struggle is against the given, finite nature of human existence itself, and the obligations it places upon us. They seek freedom from tradition, place, commitment, family, and even physical embodiment. Hence, the American left now easily coexists with woke capitalism, preaching a gospel of personal liberation via the self-creation of indulgence and consumption.
Woke leftism does not dream of the proletariat seizing the means of production. It endorses big government out of vague humanitarianism, as a means of support for marginal members and as liberation from relational responsibility. It seeks to commodify, professionalize, and subsidize work that used to be primarily done by families, churches, and communities. It aims for a society in which everyone is taken care of, but no one is personally responsible for anyone in particular.
The adherents of this petty and narcissistic creed can claim power and wield it, but they cannot achieve the ends they seek. For example, radical medical school students can intimidate professors into denying the reality of biological sex, but this will only produce bad medicine; it will not alter the sexual dimorphism of the human species.
This dynamic extends across our government and elite institutions, as woke advances only deepen our decadence. In the end, the woke creed will fail, but it might bring our nation down with it.
Even as they lost Afghanistan to the Taliban, the Biden administration announced plans to revisit the contraceptive mandate. It seems that, whatever else happens, Democrats are determined to win the war on nuns who don’t want to pay for birth control.
Nathanael Blake is a senior contributor to The Federalist and a postdoctoral fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.