Is wokeness a running-through-treacle dream?

A vegan Green explained to me over Christmas why eating eggs is bad. The problem, it seems, is that poultry bred for egg-laying is sexed at a day old, and the males, being non-productive, are mostly culled for animal feeding or fertilizer. This denies them the right to a meaningful life, which cannot be justified on animal welfare terms. Ergo eating eggs is immoral.

Now the UK Green Party is, to put it mildly, sympathetic to veganism, but also has a policy for de-criminalising abortion up to birth. So I asked why the “right to life” argument doesn’t also apply to human embryos. It appears that the woman’s right to choose trumps that animal right to a meaningful life.

Maybe that’s because the human child, unlike the chicken, has not yet been hatched, though that seems rather arbitrary. If automated in-egg machine sexing is successfully introduced for chickens soon (as seems likely) then logically vegans would then be OK with eating eggs, but somehow I don’t think that change will happen. It will still boil down to a human having absolute rights over the life of another human, but not over a newborn chicken. The moral distinction there is rather conflicted, it seems to me.

J. K. Rowling is both a feminist, tweeting on abortion rights, and a vegan. I don’t know how she resolves those two issues, but it was another ethical clash that got her into trouble over Christmas: that between feminism and transgenderism. A female charity worker, Maya Forstater, lost an industrial tribunal for saying that men cannot change into women, and the tribunal judge echoed the less-trumpeted case of the Christian Doctor David Mackereth, whose case was earlier this year, in saying that such views are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

Rowling tweeted:

Dress how you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with whatever consenting adult will have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for saying that sex is real?

The predictable Twitter firestorm (and Amnesty UK and the Human Rights Campaign) have turned her overnight from a woke ikon to a Neo-nazi. Notice that her tweet did not even dispute the existence of the fashionable infinite varieties of gender (“call yourself whatever you like,”) but simply asserted (as a question!) the indisputable biological fact of sex. That distinction did not save her, and I was amused that her gainsayer on the BBC news accused her, and others agreeing with her, of “science-denial.”

Not that that matters, when in David Mackereth’s case, though he presented his case both on the grounds of his faith, and his relevant scientific training as a geneticist, the judge still deemed belief in two sexes as outside the law. Nobody at the BBC challenged that bizarre conclusion. It appears that science is incompatible with democracy – so before recent hate speech laws democracy did not even exist in the world.

A number of observers have already noted the increasing antagonism between third-wave feminism and transgenderism because of the threat to the former from the latter. Superficially this is about the threat to women of having burly XY individuals invading their toilets and women’s refuges, and literally muscling in on their sports.

But at a more fundamental level, there is a philosophical clash between the feminist idea (dating back to Simone de Beauvoir) that since all distinctions between male and female abilities are cultural, women can do anything that men can; and the transgender case that one can be a woman trapped in a man’s body or vice versa, which entails that psychologically the sexes are fundamentally different at even the deepest level.

But there is an even less noted, though comparable, conflict between transgenderism and the more recent concept of gender fluidity (which leads to those escalating lists of possible genders, each with their preferred pronouns to be learned and compulsorily used by others at risk of prosecution or job-loss). For those with classical gender dysphoria (or to use the latest buzzword, “incongruency”) commit to a whole range of treatments from surgery and sex hormones to speech therapy and so on, all specifically designed to reconfigure one sex as the other, both physically and behaviourally.

These men want to become women, and the women to become men. So many of these do not take kindly to the idea that gender is an entirely free choice, to which the body is more or less irrelevant. If that is true, what has their iatrogenic suffering been about?

In this bear-pit, is is almost a footnote to add the resentment that many intersex people, who cope, usually unproblematically, with genuinely medical ambiguity of sex, feel to being lumped together (usually last) in the activists’ alphabet soup.

Within the gay lifestyle, Douglas Murray (himself homosexual), in his important book on the current moral insanity The Madness of Crowds, points out further conflicts. The underlying causes of same-sex attraction remaining unknown (and under-researched) the same logical contradiction noted above is found between the idea that sexuality is a question of biological determinism, and the equally prominent but contradictory notion (as in “Gay Pride”) that sexuality a matter of radical human social liberty.

But additionally to that, Murray points out that, very often, gays regard lesbians as “dowdy and boring,” whist conversely lesbians regard gays as “silly and displaying a failure to grow up.” They don’t, commonly, socialise with each other. Both, in turn, tend to regard bisexuals as betrayers of some kind, perhaps as being gays in denial. This year has seen a number of news articles about discrimnation gainst bisexuals by the gay community.

But it doesn’t stop there. If you were paying attention you may also have noted recent news items about gays regarding gender reassignment as a brutal, or even genocidal, assault on them. This is based on the genuine observation that the vast majority of young gender dysphoric people will, after puberty, become content with their bodies if left untreated, but will often have same-sex orientation in adulthood. On this basis, the indoctrination of primary-age children into gender-fluid ideas (in Britain by activist groups like Mermaids UK, with the blessing of educational authorities and even of Anglican dioces) may be perceived to be just as abusive by gays (as “homophobic”) as it is to traditionalists or those of us trained in science (as “insane”).

Finally (though I’m sure much more of this internal conflict within “wokeness” might be found), remember that the one group that has been most publicly opposed to their children being initiated into the gender studies roundabout has been Muslims in Birmingham. These concerned parents have been roundly condemned in the liberal press as reactionary, even though “Islamophobia” is part of the lexicon of progressive ideas which are supposed to fit together with feminism, LGBTQIA (“A”, I gather, is either for “ally” or “asexual” depending on your mood), climate alarm and all the rest.

Actually, that wasn’t quite my final point. Let’s return to J. K. Rowling, whose impeccable progressive credentials have not only been tarnished by her “TERF”ness (I can’t even be bothered to look up that acronym for you!), but by somebody’s noticing that the goblins in the Harry Potter films bear an uncanny resemblance to Jewish bankers. So she is now being accused as a closet anti-semite too… which only serves to remind us that there is something of an incongruence between antisemitism and Islamophobia too, given the chants of “death to Israel!” so often heard in middle-eastern states.

I haven’t even touched on the inconsistencies of racism here. Any conservative black in the US will tell you how often they’ve been called “Uncle Toms” or even “White Supremacists,” analogously to the way that in Britain the two Conservative women prime ministers we have had don’t count, because only the right kind of feminists are real women. Even one drop of blood makes a Mexican coloured, whether descended from Aztecs or Spanish Conquistadores, whereas the wrong voting pattern renders a person of pure slave descent “white.” The genealogical science I filched from Steve Olson for my Genealogical Adam book doesn’t even get a look in once progressive ideology taks root.

The truth is that progressive morality is actually both internally incoherent nonsense, and changeable from moment to moment according to some obscure magical process dictated by shady academics in some institution. A bit like what happens in J. K. Rowling’s stories, really.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
This entry was posted in Philosophy, Politics and sociology, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Is wokeness a running-through-treacle dream?

  1. Robert Byers says:

    It happens again and will keep happening. Same in North America.
    I think the establishment is hurting itself as most people or many do not like thought/speech control.
    I insist it shows that since WWii there has been a movement to control thought and speech because they believe it led to wwii and problems. Then they decided everything they sincerely think is morally right must prevail and opposition must be stopped.
    the only answer can be the demand that we have the right to the truth . Then we are free men and so must be free to seek the truth amnd so must have free speech to same ends.
    Its not just the “left wingetc” that censors but because they have this power they DECIDE what is right and wrong. As in one of your quotes.
    They must be defanged.
    We must demand truth belongs to us and freedom to seek it/proclaim it, and freedom of speech to stop anyone stopping us.
    THEN make agreements about censoring offensive evil speech. However they use the offensove/evil speech thing just to stop opposition to thier passionate causes.
    I don’t find anyone mad about zillions of insults on our looks or anything while driving.
    To beat them we must beat them with guns. this harry potter women has a chance to be articulate about her right to think this and that. We shall see if she is crushed by the black magic.

  2. Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

    To beat them we must beat them with guns.

    Well – metaphorical guns maybe. I had military weapons training in my youth, but have no intention of using them in culture wars. I prefer the Sword of the Spirit as the suitable offensive weapon in the Christian armoury.

    Besides which, whilst my air-rifle is pretty lethal to squirrels, it would be likely simply to annoy an Antifa activist into using his bicycle chain or pickaxe handle on me.

    • Robert Byers says:

      Sorry. I never meant real guns!! I only meant powerful arguments
      I mean to beat them with moral and intellectual blasts. I always try to make a excellent foundation for resistance to control on thoughts and words.
      Just military analagy. in fact a favorite one of mine is how social conservatives etc need to attack the GUN OF NAVARONNE (the famous movie) I say the enemies gun(s) are effectively knocking us about and we need to concentrate on it. I try to start with TRUTH belongs to us, then freedom to seek truth, freedom to speak/express truth, and thus take out thier GUN of how speech is dangerous and offensive or evil and must be punished/controlled.
      No real guns are meant. Sorry about the analagy and spook you.


      • Avatar photo Jon Garvey says:

        Point taken! In fact the post was suggesting that in the end the internal inconsistency of “wokeness” will make it fall apart on its own (wait long enough and one of the shells in the Guns of Navarone will blow up in the breech!).

        The problem is, of course, the damage that can result before and during that to the hard-won values of the last two thousand years and more. If we insist on moving all the boundaries, we no longer have any assurance that anything we value will be left, and that includes obvious things like stable government, personal liberty, or even gains from science.

        • Robert Byers says:

          thats a good point6 a funny about the breach blow up. yet I do think we need to climb the wall and knock some of the guns. both are welcome.

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