I’m a professor of engineering at a large progressive university. I’ve written and just released a short book with James Lindsay called Counter Wokecraft: A Field Manual for Combatting the Woke in the University and Beyond. I’ve written it to help academics who believe in traditional liberal values to counter and overturn the Woke juggernaut at whatever level of academic machinery they can.
For over a decade I watched as my department, faculty, university, and funding agencies were overtaken by the Critical Social Justice, or Woke, perspective. I began consciously working against the perspective six years ago.
Since that time, I have observed the strategies and techniques used by the Woke to advance their agenda. I have also tested strategies and techniques to thwart their advances, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, sometimes alone and sometimes with like-minded allies.
By 2019 I came to appreciate the degree to which the Woke juggernaut had consolidated its power over the academy, and this forced me into a different level of action.
I devoted enormous resources to researching the CSJ perspective and its historical and philosophical antecedents. I was especially interested in documentation on how the perspective could be challenged. Unfortunately, I came up empty-handed with respect to the latter and felt compelled to share what I had learned.
As a result, I began blogging every week for six months with the intention of compiling the blog posts into a book—the book that became Counter Wokecraft.
The book is designed for readers who recognize that there is a problem in their university but who don’t understand what that problem is, or what to do about it. As such, the first part of the book serves as primer on the Woke perspective. It simply and clearly explains the Woke worldview with a focus on the Woke ethos (overturn and replace the traditional liberal view of the university) and political project (the retributive redistribution of resources from “oppressor” to “oppressed” identities—or equity).
An important implication of the Woke ethos is a fervent belief in activism as a central role for academics, as well as the belief that the ends justify the means when seeking to advance Woke goals. This section also describes the different types of participants encountered in university environments, from the Woke to Woke Dissidents.
The second part of the book analyzes the collection of principles, strategies, and tactics used by the Woke to entrench their perspective—in other words, wokecraft.
The success of the Woke relies primarily on three things. First is the weaponization of positive-sounding, commonly understood words that have double meanings, or Woke Crossover Words. These words (e.g., critical, diversity, inclusion) are brandished like Improvised Explosive Devices. They are slipped into documents and decisions, justified by their commonly held meanings, but are later used to justify Woke interventions based on their radical Woke meaning.
Second, there is a general insistence on informality, which is then exploited to manipulate decision-making by preventing, for example, secret ballot voting.
Third, there are a number of woke bullying tactics that are used to prevent people from resisting Woke advances. These range from coercion through consensus to cancel-culture attacks. Together, these tactics are used to exaggerate support for, and quell dissent against, Woke advances. They are used to further entrench the Woke perspective in academic departments, faculties, universities, funding agencies, and governments through the Grand Tactic: Woke Viral Infection.
The crux of the last chapter is how to counter wokecraft. This involves disarming Woke tactics that quell dissent and manipulate decision-making, and thereby preventing the Woke perspective from becoming entrenched.
Essential to this whole process is recognizing who is Woke in any given situation, which is explained in the first part of the chapter. This makes it possible to identify allies and to work with them to have the largest impact. Working together involves a double-column offensive. The first column seeks to sow doubt in participants about the Woke perspective, particularly its prescriptions. The second involves amplifying and enabling dissenting opinions, while at the same time instituting the formalization of decision-making processes that allow all participants to voice their opinions.
Counter Wokecraft can surely be enriched and expanded—and perhaps someday it will be. For now, I think it is an important starting point for academics who want to take back their universities from the jaws of a caustic, anti-liberal, and anti-scientific worldview that is destroying them. I hope you will agree.
This article has been republished with permission from Minding the Campus, where it appeared on November 26.