“We should openly embrace liberal, tolerant but common-sensical positions on the “culture” issues, and emphatically reject the “wokeism” of a small though vocal minority.” So says Tony Blair in The Times today
For Tony Blair to use use the facile term “wokeism” suggests we truly are lost. To glue together liberal attitudes under the simplistic insult “woke” is what the Express and Mail reading illiterati do. The lack of precision and the clear intent of the use of the word – to abuse – ought to be avoided by someone of Blair’s eminence.
Oversimplification kills discourse. Our beliefs and attitudes ought to be complex, changeable and distinctive. I subscribe to nobody’s manifesto but my own and that is a moveable feast. Some of my views may be describable as “woke” others certainly not. I follow no template nor bible.
Years ago Blair debated with Christopher Hitchens about Christianity. The battle was in part about Faith. Blair approved of it, Hitch didn’t. Hitchens was rational man, Blair bought the fairy tales. The presumption that you can group attitudes together into some woke guidebook is a very religious one which is perhaps why Tony Blair apparently believes it.
The problem , of course, is that the use of “wokeism” is of our binary age – the Age of the lack of nuance you might call it. Are you for us or against us ? The middle ground, the admittance of uncertainty are condemned. It’s black and white innit ? So we have reductio ad absurdum all around us. The premise is that you can group views together under a composite label which you then stick on people you don’t like.
Blair’s descent into populist insult damages his mostly sensible advice to Labour. He rightly regrets the swing to the ideological Left that happened under Corbyn. But to condemn “wokeism” is a cheap shot. He ought to be above it.