Comedian Konstantin Kisin Takes On Woke Culture

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During a debate at Oxford Union Society, Comedian Konstantin Kisin takes the side that “This House Believes Woke Culture Has Gone Too Far” and hits a grand slam.

Oxford Union says about Wokeism: Initially used as a term to empower awareness of systemic inequalities in society, wokeism is now a deeply divisive term. The media’s perpetuation of woke culture has made this term a buzzword. For some, being woke is part of the antidote of acknowledging the instruments of oppression. For others, it is a dangerously absolutist ideology, a sort of reverse McCarthyism, corroding liberal society and encouraging self-imposed victimhood. Is the ‘war on woke’ a legitimate phenomenon, or a reactionary distraction from the real problems being ‘woke’ addresses?


Konstantin Kisin: You will not know this, but I was supposed to be the first non-student speaker for the proposition. I’ve now been the fourth which means that I now have to thank all the previous speakers for making my best points for me, and I find that the reason, the main reason now that I have left to be in support of the motion is that I am so tired of talking about work culture. That’s why it’s gone too far, more than anything else. And I thank the other speakers for making the points for me, because it means I don’t have to reiterate the point that no, no free speech is not some right-wing reframing of whatever, it’s the foundation of western civilization, upon this civilization is built and then enlightenment values that led to it. I don’t have to make the point that has been made by far better people in the past, but the only way to deal with the problem of racism is to treat people on the content of their character and nothing else. And the fact that woke culture seeks to overturn that is a new form of racism that we must all oppose. It means, also, I will not use this opportunity to say I told you so as someone who spent the last five years warning people in the west that if we continue to erode our culture, if we continue to undermine our confidence in Western values, our enemies, enemies like Vladimir Putin, will seek to capitalize on it. I will not make any of those points tonight at all. Instead I’m not going to talk to those of you who already agree with me, which I imagine is most of you. I’m not going to talk to you because I imagine after everything you’ve heard tonight, you’re going to vote for the proposition. I’m going to confess, I will take your vote for granted. Tonight I am the labor party and you are the red wall.

Now, I want to talk to those of you who are woke and who are open to rational argument, a small minority I accept, because one of the tenants of wokness is, of course, that your feelings matter more than the truth. But I believe in you. I believe there are those of you here who are woke, who are open to rational arguments, so let me make one.

We are told that your generation cares more than any other about one issue in particular and that issue is climate change. We’re told that many of you suffer from climate anxiety. You wish to save the planet. And for and tonight only, I will join you. I will join you and worshiping at the feet of St Greta of climate change. Let us all accept right here, right now that we are living through a climate emergency and our stocks of polar bears are running extremely low. I join you in this view, I truly do. Now, what are we to do about this huge problem facing humanity? What can we in Britain do? We can only do one thing, you know why? This country is responsible for 2% of global carbon emissions, which means that if Britain was to sink into the sea right now it would make absolutely no difference to the issue of climate change. You know why? Because the future of the climate is going to be decided in Asia and in Latin America, by poor people who couldn’t give a s*** about saving the planet. [Point of information.] No thank you, [Point of information.] no thank you. It’s going to be decided by poor people in Asia and Latin America who don’t care about saving the planet. You know why, because they’re poor, because they’re poor.

I come from Russia which is not a poor country, it’s a middle income country. Twenty percent of households in Russia do not have an indoor toilet. What they have is an outdoor toilet, and I don’t mean one of those nice Portaloos that we get here. I don’t even mean a Glastonbury Portaloo. I mean a wooden shack with a hole in the ground the holds are collected fermented memory of the last 10,000 visits. How many of you are going to go home tonight and say let’s rip out our bathroom and erect a Siberian s*** house in the back garden, and if you’re not why should they.

One hundred and twenty million people in China do not have enough food. I don’t mean that they don’t get dessert. I mean they suffer from malnutrition. That means that the immune system is breaking down because they don’t have enough food. You’re not going to get them to stay poor.

Imagine your Xi Jinping, the leader of China. Ehen you are 10 years old there was a revolution, a cultural revolution in your country, and people came and they through your father in prison. Your mother had to denounce him. Your sister killed herself and you, no longer enjoying the protection of your formerly powerful father, was sent to village where you lived in a cave house. And here you are, decades later, you have clawed your way up the bloody and greasy pole of Chinese politics, to be the undisputed supreme leader of the very Communist Party that destroyed your family. And you know that the main thing you have to do to survive and to stay in power is to deliver the one thing that the people of China want, prosperity, economic growth. Where do you think climate change ranks on XI Jinping’s list of priorities? A third of all children who live in extreme poverty in the world live in India. That means they are starving and dying of preventable disease.

Now, about 15 months ago my wife got pregnant. Not me, because we’re old school. And for 9 months we talked about what our boy would look like, what he might do when he grows up. We looked at baby scans and videos on YouTube about what the fetus looks like at 9 months [weeks] and 12 months [weeks] and 20 months [weeks] and eventually he was born and he is this cute little bundle of joy. He’s cuter than about 80% of puppies. Now if you said to me that I had a choice, either my son had a serious risk of starving or dying from a preventable disease in the next year, or I could press a button and he would live. He would go to school. He would bring his first girlfriend home. He would go to university and graduate and become a woke idiot. And then get a job, and get married and have children and become a man. But all I have to do is press this button, and for every day of my son’s life a giant plume of CO2 is going to get released into that atmosphere. Now you’re all very young and most of you are not parents. Let me tell you something, there is not a parent in the world who would not smash that button so hard their hand bleed.

You’re not going to get these people to stay poor. You’re not even going to get them to not want to be richer. And so, I put it to you ladies and gentlemen, there is only one thing we can do in this country to stop climate change, and that is to make scientific and technological breakthroughs that will create the clean energy that is not only clean, but also cheap. [Point of information.] And the, no thank you, and the only, I want is for everyone to get home on time today, which is not going to happen. And the only thing that wokeness has to offer in exchange, is to brainwash bright, young minds like you, to believe that you are victims, to believe that you have no agency, to believe that what you must do to improve the world is to complain, is to protest, is to throw soup on paintings. And we on this side of the house are not on this side of the house because we do not wish to improve the world. We sit on this side of the house because we know that the way to improve the world is to work, is to create, it is to build. And the problem with woke culture is that it’s trained too many young minds like yours to forget about that. Rhank you very much.

About Konstantin Kisin

Konstantin Kisin is a Russian-British comedian, podcaster, writer and social commentator. He made international headlines in 2018 by refusing to sign a university “behavioural agreement form” which banned jokes about religion, atheism and insisted that all humour must be “respectful and kind”. Read More

About The Oxford Union Society

The Oxford Union is the world’s most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. Since 1823, the Union has been promoting debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.

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