Communism is, in many ways, a cult, and a dangerous one at that. In China, to this day, the cult of Mao still carries significant weight. Across the country, young people are still drawn to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a vicious cult led by Xi Jinping.
Meanwhile in America, wokeism has formed into a cult of its own. Like communism, it threatens to destroy the very fabric of American society. The writer Max Funk calls the woke movement a “new religion,” comparing it to a tidal wave ripping “through every facet of western culture, shaping and redefining society.” The writer Andrew Sullivan famously described wokeism as “a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical.” Meanwhile, linguist John McWhorter, one of wokeism’s biggest critics, has labeled the movement, “profoundly religious” in nature. In “Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America,” due for release in October, McWhorther, a linguist and associate professor at Columbia University, sets out to reveal “the workings of this new religion.” There’s just one thing, though: wokeism is not a religion. It’s a cult.
Before going any further, it is important to state the following: from now on, when discussing religion, I will use Christianity as a reference point throughout. This is a little narrow, you might say. Not quite. There are more than 2.5 billion Christians worldwide. Although it doesn’t speak for all religions, Christianity certainly speaks for a large number of believers. Also, with more than 4,000 religions worldwide, I dare not speak for all of them, nor would I ever want to.
Separating the Sacred From the Silly
A traditional religion like Christianity is a social-cultural system of belief, replete with designated behaviors and practices, traditions, teachings, and philosophies. Although wokeism has its own set of practices and beliefs, it’s not a religion. Karate has its own sets of practices and beliefs, and no one calls it a religion. No, wokeism is little more than the weaponization of personal grievances. Unlike Christianity, there is little, if any, room for empathy. In fact, the entire woke movement appears to be underpinned by a high degree of narcissism, the antithesis of empathy. Christianity, in its purest form, is about being at one with God. For this to occur, ego dissolution, or the death of the ego, must occur. In other words, an individual must offer himself up to a higher power.
Traditional religions and the woke movement do, however, share one common characteristic. They are both tribal. Although the very utterance of the word ‘tribal’ conjures up images of heated exchanges, vindictiveness, and even warfare, it is important to remember that a tribe is little more than a group of people with very specific links. Hostility is optional, not mandatory. So, yes, even if Christians are to some degree tribal, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Most Christians are united by a devotion to a higher power.
With wokeism, on the other hand, many of its members are united by a mutual disdain for the other. A non-conformist can ask for forgiveness, but it’s rarely, if ever, granted. Christianity, in stark contrast, offers the chance of redemption.
If religion, in its purest form, is the “sigh of the oppressed” then wokeism, in its purest form, is the sigh of the ostensibly oppressed. A self-indulgent pastime for the privileged, the woke movement’s followers are mostly affluent Millennials.
How to Speak Cult
In her new book, “Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism,” linguist Amanda Montell explains the ways in which cults immerse themselves in technical jargon. Although the author refrains from discussing wokeism, the woke glossary is filled with words like “heteronormativity,” “gender presentation,” and “cisgender.” Acronyms abound: A.F.A.B and A.M.A.B., for example, stand for “assigned female at birth” and “assigned male at birth.” Meanwhile, the “C” in C.A.F.A.B or C.A.M.A.B stands for “coercively.” Oh, and it would be remiss of me not to mention the acronym T.E.R.F., which stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” When the woke speak, they usually speak in tongues. In fact, according to Steve Eichel, a psychologist who researches cults, speaking in tongues is a common feature of cults. Wokeism has a number of other cult-like qualities. For example, it prospers by further dividing people. As Eichel writes, cults have “a polarized us- versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society.”
Moreover, cults regularly make their members read assigned texts. The NY Post’s Karol Markowicz recently discussed the ways in which wokeism has infiltrated schools around the country. In New York City, teachers have been told to read “the book ‘Stamped’ by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds.” According to Markowicz, “as part of the Teachers College curriculum in the fall, students in grades seven and eight will read the young-adult edition of ‘Stamped.’ Students in grades three to six will be reading the junior edition of this title by Sonja Cherry-Paul.” Markowicz calls the woke movement an agenda.
As history has taught us, every cult has an agenda. These agendas tend to be radical in nature. Wokeism, most definitely radical in nature, has successfully infiltrated every aspect of American society, from school classrooms to the highest echelons of American politics.
John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the likes of The New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, The American Conservative, National Review, Public Discourse, and other respectable outlets. He’s also a columnist at Cointelegraph.