Sunday, September 23, 2018

Wokeness As A Social Status System. Really ???

I wrote this right after the comment by a fella named John Mason, but it was free standing, i.e. not a response to his comment:

.... I have not read the thread comments save for John Mason’s just preceding mine. 

I see in this essay for the most part twinkling in four eyes, each bro having two, and I see two tongues pushing hard against two facial cheeks, as the bros, as I read them, had a good time kibitzing around while making a few points.

I don’t understand why a social status system is necessarily “inexpansible,” if I understand what the bros contend by that. Maybe my social science background, which is non existent, literature and then law my areas of study, fails me here. If a social status system is inexpansible, then does that mean no one who’s not in it can join it? But that’s flatly self refuting. Does it mean that fixed criteria for belonging to that system can never blend into, mix with, adopt or adapt to other such criteria? That seems rigid to a point of sheer reductionism, and, so, missing the complex ebbs and flows and mixings of social dynamics. 

The analogy undergirding this piece to the great religious movements dotting American history seems to me to be a clue to the pervasive kibbitz, a way of poking fun at the self righteous zeal and earnestness of our new woke preachers. But the limit of the analogy speaks to (me at least) a conceptual weakness in the argument that tracks the seeming (to me at least) incoherence of social status systems as inexpansible. 

The attempt to fit the complex phenomenon of what might metonymically be called wokeness into the bros’ conception of a social status system—the very idea of a social status system suggests (to me at least) trying to build a social construction unable to contain what it’s meant to house, like trying to fence in the wind—suffers from fitting it, wokeness, into a Procrustean bed, a social status system. There are some insights to be gained from that fitting no doubt, but finally wokeness as a thing gets descriptive short shrift in that fitting. There’s so much more to it behaviourally then that fitting allows for. 

One final comment on a jarring note in the bros’ conclusion:

....The preceding analysis, although it may deflate some of the pretensions of the most extreme preachers of the Woke faith, does nothing to impugn its accuracy or urgency....

I understand the bros’ point: their social science analysis need not and does not entail any judgment about the content of wokeness: their analysis only is concerned with dispassionately seeing in it the operation of a social status system.

My problem with this is that the essay is filled with so much obvious playfully exuberant derision of both the pretentions and much of key content of wokeness, that the bros are guilty of having it both ways—attacking and mocking that content along the way but then in conclusion disclaiming any substantive judgment of it as irrelevant to their argument. In this I fear, the bros do not sufficiently know what they are about here. 

For with that disclaiming, the twinkle is gone, the exuberance has been leached out and the two tongues have been placed squarely back in the position they normally occupy in the bros’ mouths...

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