Is the Russia-Ukraine war the inevitable outcome of the West’s obsession with Woke?
Is the Russia-Ukraine war an inevitable outcome of the West’s obsession with Woke? If so, must we expect ‘more of the same’ in future years as the World’s ‘authoritarians’ and ‘militarists’ are encouraged by a Western world that is now visibly past it’s sell-by date? [ profound Western population decline and ageing, reduced commitment to democracy , paradigm-shifting inwards-migration ]. And how does a Christian understand these things?
Let’s start with the first question: is the Russia-Ukraine war “Woke War 1”? (We might add, will it be followed by “Woke War 2”? And might Woke-War morph into World-War?). The ‘Woke’ mindset seeks to be alive to (or ‘woken-up’ to) injustice in varying forms. But it’s definition of ‘injustice’ is on an ever-widening scale. In Britain today to teach the old nursery rhyme “Baa-Baa Black Sheep” is to court controversy and possibly a legal challenge.
‘Woke’ is an adjective conveying the idea “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination” and it originated in African-American Vernacular English. Woke has today, however, come to be a descriptor and anticipator of all things ‘progressive’ in Western politics where ‘injustice’ is seen to embrace the dynamics of ‘sexuality’ (especially gender dysphoria, and ‘orientation’), of ‘climate’ (in the sense of climate justice) and even of ‘animal rights’.
Woke is a post-industrial mindset. It is notable that the World’s manufacturing nations and those involved in primary industries and in Manufacturing – hence China, Africa, South America, are not dominated by the Woke agenda.
Woke is principally a Western preoccupation, in places where heavy industry, manufacturing and extractives has given way to what might be considered the ‘cissy industries’ of public service, big government, arts, media, pharmaceuticals (light manufacturing) and financial services. In the latter they speak, without a blush, of so-called “financial products”! In reality they mean varying ways of lending money! These Western businesses are ‘industries’ where workers essentially sit on their bottoms and ‘think’! The polite term is ‘knowledge-based’ workers, but the impolite is ‘post-industrial’ economics.
Whilst the Covid situation was not principally a ‘Woke’ question, the response to it undoubtedly was. The Western political and media mission/obsession shifted to the protection of health services (not unreasonable, at a basic level) and especially in the UK to the protection of the NHS. (“We must protect our wonderful NHS” was far more than a mantra. It became the locus of the entire nation during the years 2020-21).
None of this would ‘matter’ much in a geopolitical sense, except that it projected to the world’s authoritarians that the West was in convulsive terror (and it was!) of an illness that, no matter how horrible, was less dangerous than the 1918 Spanish Influenza. In 1918 and beyond, the world largely shrugged its collective shoulders and got on with life. In 2020 the West all but disappeared. The unmistakable signal? The West is terrified!
Authoritarians took note. A society that cannot define its gender, pursues through ‘legal’ process people who say (or think) the wrong things, that cannot or will not defend its external borders, that teaches its children to doubt who they are, and whose future socio-economic trajectory entails the defenestration of economics and industrialization in the name of ‘climate justice’, has looked increasingly irrelevant to the world’s bad boys. A veritable push-over.
Woke War 1
The West sent unmistakable ‘signals’ to Russia that it would cave-in to any significant demonstration of military virility. It quickly forgave Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 (a trial-run for Ukraine?). Germany, as Europe’s political engine and financier, has spent the last ten years demonstrating that it could not possibly exist without Russian gas (Nordstream 2). At the same time Germany destroyed its domestic civil nuclear energy capacity. France has derided America (as it always seems to) of late because of what might be described as Woke issues, so underscoring that the West is divided.
In January 2022 The US Biden administration poured cold-water on the proposed East Mediterranean gas pipeline to Cyprus and thence to Europe mainland. Earlier, In July 2020 President Trump had approved this proposed pipeline which meant that US investment and military protection would be forthcoming. Biden’s incentive in reversing Trump’s policy decision seems to have been driven by a determination to trash everything that Trump had stood for, whilst pursuing a palpably anti-Israel agenda. No matter the reasoning, the decision in January 2022 came just weeks before Russia hit Ukraine on 24 February. The subliminal message Biden sent was to reinforce Russia’s belief that switching- off Nordstream 2 was absolutely impossible. Enough said!
In the past five years Western governments were in thrall to a Swedish teenager suffering Asperger’s syndrome. The sight of Western leaders falling over themselves to be seen in the presence of this post-Christian “saint” must have bemused the world’s bad boys. These were yet more signals of loss of focus, loss of collective virility, and of sheer abject fear.
Russia projects and image, 2022
Europe projects an image, 2014 (the year Russia invaded Crimea)
Payment in blood
Over the past ten years (arguably longer) signals of the West’s progressive decline were myriad. And we have only scratched the surface here! We could speak about the feminisation of schooling, of the military, of the church.
We could speak of the West’s ‘femi-men’ who now spend as much on makeup as their female counterparts. We could speak of the inability of Western politicians to define ‘man’ and ‘woman’, not because of a failure to ‘follow the science’, but because of abject fear of Media reaction. If Ukraine 2022 is not ‘Woke War 1’, then it might be cited as ‘Media War 1’.
Every signal of Western loss of virility, loss of self-belief, self-confidence and moral certainty has been measured and weighed by the World’s authoritarians. The time is surely ripe for a change of the old-guard, for a sea-change. The new boys are coming ……. A huge danger at a point like this, is that he West overreacts, or simply reacts too late (arguably its position viz a viz Ukraine).
Is the current war in Ukraine Woke War 1, a direct result of the West’s signals that it is preparing to hand hegemony to a China/Russia nexus? Will we pay in blood and treasure for the Western Media’s almost universal worshipping at the altar of Wokeism?
A Christian viewpoint
When it comes to “woke,” Christians need to keep three things in mind:
First, we acknowledge that racism everywhere results in shame, injustice, and, at some points in history, appalling violence. Further, no clear-thinking person believes that all remnants of racism are erased by e.g., by the American civil rights movement, or the UK Race Relations Act. We acknowledge that more needs to be done, to be achieved. In that sense, alone, we should be ‘awake’ to the reality of evil that persists.
Second, Christians must understand that, while good legislation can guard the principle of equal rights, no law can change the heart. Someone filled with racial prejudice will not suddenly overflow with love simply because a new law has been passed. Unlike some who pursue change only at the legislative level, Christians understand the evil of the human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Real justice is possible only when individuals have been justified in Christ. Real change comes ONLY when a person is born anew (John 3:16). Only when ‘Saved’ can we people fulfil the mandate “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Jesus obliquely addressed racial divides, among other things, in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37 ).
Third, Christian must accept that true reconciliation in the Church occurs only when we prioritize our identity in Christ over our belonging to a racial ethnicity. Members of the body of Christ should feel more at home in their Christian family than even in their own ethnicity: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Praise God indeed!
Being Woke the right way ….
As Christians, we should be “woke” to the love of God for our family in Christ: “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them” (1 John 2:11). We should be “woke” to the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4)! We should be “woke” to the fact of temptation in the world (Matthew 26:41).
We are reconciled to God and united with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18), allowing us to be truly reconciled with one another. Real change, and real answers to the reality of racism, injustice, and other societal evils are found ONLY in God’s Word and in the shalom that He gives.
Avoiding Woke War 2?
It is not clear that we can avoid Woke War 2, which could well be China attacking Taiwan. (The day I wrote these words, (23-05-2022) President Biden spoke openly about military defence of Taiwan, so ending 50 years of valuable ambiguity on the subject. Western overreaction? Or too little, too late?). Jesus said there would be wars and rumours of war, until He returns (Matthew 24:6).
We must be realistic that our collective future holds tension and tragedy, summarised in one word – tribulation. Yet it is possible that, in the short term at least, we might avoid some obvious traps we set for ourselves. Right now, it can surely be argued that Woke leads to war.
Peter Sammons is commissioning editor at Christian Comment. His recent book “Last Days and End Times, Making the Connection” is available here:https://www.christian-publications-int.com/Last_Days_and_End%20Times.html . Note there is a video interview on the book at the same location.