Resisting wokeness: Andrew Doyle and Douglas Murray in conversation
American physicist Steven Weinberg famously remarked that ‘with or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil – that takes religion’. Many commentators argue that the social-justice movement is a kind of cult. These new ‘woke’ activists are generally decent people with good intentions. They have an unshakeable certainty that their worldview is correct. They feel the need to proselytise and convert as many of the fallen as possible, while at the same time insisting that redemption is not possible. And even though they are capable of the most horrendous acts of public shaming and bullying behaviour, they think they are the good guys.
Douglas Murray’s fifth book, The Madness of Crowds, addresses the difficulties of resisting a movement that would rather cry ‘bigot’ than engage in serious debate. Titania McGrath, the satirical intersectional feminist created by comedian Andrew Doyle, is the embodiment of this movement, a hyper-privileged young woman who is nonetheless obsessed with her own victimhood. She, too, has recently written a book on the subject, Woke: a guide to social justice.
In this conversation, Murray and Doyle will consider their respective approaches to tackling the problem of woke activism, and its infiltration into the mainstream through politics, higher education, social media and the law. Murray’s approach has been to write an overview of the ways in which the predominance of identity politics leads to a kind of collective ‘madness’, whereas Doyle has taken the satirical route. Given that the social justice movement is seemingly impervious to reason, will either of these strategies have any impact?