For ‘Wokism’ to Live, Free Speech Must Die

And that means the First Amendment must die.

“Wokism” is the “highest stage” of Marxism, to borrow Lenin’s phrase, the final descent of that malign, murderous ideology into intellectual degradation and absurd triviality. After all, “wokism” is, like communism, a mash-up of radical secularism, scientism, technocratic tyranny, and a ruthless “any means necessary” modus operandi. Hence like Marxism, for “wokism” to succeed, coherent arguments, empirical evidence, common sense, and truth itself must be discredited, distorted, and demonized, at the same time alternative authorities––God, the Constitution, real science–– subjected to tyrannical elimination or refashioning.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that for decades the left has targeted the First Amendment and silenced dissent. Especially after the collapse of Soviet communism, which its last president Mikhail Gorbachev facilitated with his policy of glasnost or greater freedom for public expression, the “new left” children of communism were not going to make the same mistake. Hence, they have for decades doubled-down on their intolerance for dissent manifested in “political correctness” and censorship.

And that means the First Amendment must die.

Leftism has two bad ideas that from its beginning have programmed it to be tyrannical. The first is to deny the reality available to common sense and experience. The natural world and human nature––the latter’s corruptibility empirically verified on every page of history––cannot be allowed to compromise the utopian outcomes promised by communist theory.

British historian Thomas Carlyle in 1857 identified this leftist sacrifice of reality to theory as it appeared among the radicals of the French Revolution, the precursors of the Bolsheviks: “Formulas, Philosophies, Respectabilities, what has been written in Books, and admitted by the Cultivated Classes: this inadequate Scheme of Nature’s working is all that Nature, let her work as she will, can reveal to these men. . . . [T]hey will do one thing: prove, to demonstration, that the Reality will not translate into their Formula; that they and their Formula are incompatible with the Reality: and, in its dark wrath, the Reality will extinguish it and them!”

Thus the truths of nature must be subordinated to the revolutionary’s fanciful imagination and will to power. For example, biological sex, an unchanging fact of nature, must be altered into “gender,” a mere preference from an endless catalogue of invented manifestations––no matter that this preposterous belief is obviously unscientific.

Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson points out this patent truth: “Trans is clearly identifiable as a fad, comparable to preceding fads, or ‘transmissible psychological diseases,’ like outbreaks of alleged multiple personality disorder, hysteria, self-mutilation, and anorexia. The typical victim is a young female with an underlying neurosis that seeks a socially acceptable form of expression. These forms of expression vary with the times.” But no matter the form, the facts of biology must be denied in order for an illiberal political ideology to undermine reality in order to aggrandize political power and control.

As for human nature, its tragic reality also is denied, and its inevitable improvement simply asserted as our birthright stolen by the wicked oppressors du jour. These villains profit from forbidding humanity the boons of the collectivist paradise it will enjoy once its good and noble nature is restored by the revolution. Achieving this impossible goal entails a rejection of the tragic nature of human existence, the permanence of suffering and misery that follows from our destructive passions and interests.

Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky described this outlandish socialist paradise: “Man will make it his goal . . . to create a higher sociobiological type, a superman . . . Man will become incomparably stronger, wiser, more subtle. . . . The average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, Goethe, Marx. And beyond this ridge, other peaks will emerge.” This perfected “new man,” the culmination of social and political progress, has remained the justification for leftist radical disruption and wide-scale violence–– and in our time, the crippling of unalienable rights like free speech.

To sell this fairy tale, the promise and the means to achieve it have been presented as the fruits of “science,” a product of reason and empiricism rather than a cultish fever-dream. As Friedrich Engels said at Marx’s funeral, “Just as Darwin had discovered the law of development of organic nature, so did Marx discover the laws of human history.” Those who resist or criticize the vision, then, are irrational or evil, and silencing them becomes a political cordon sanitaire protecting politics from contagion.

So we’ve heard the “woke” describe their enemies’ Constitutionally protected political and professional speech as “hate speech” and dangerous “disinformation,” a form of verbal “violence” from which its victims must be protected. That’s why during the Covid pandemic the wicked or stupid, who just happened to also be the political enemies of the “woke,” had to be compelled not just to keep silent, but to get vaccines, wear useless masks, and stay “locked down” in order to protect everybody else.

Of course, these ineffective mitigation protocols benefited the left during the last presidential election by doubling the number of easily corrupted mail-in ballots. But saying so is just a “conspiracy theory” fomented by the “woke’s” political enemies ––even though efforts have already begun to repeat those protocols for the next election.

The second foundational bad idea of leftism follows from the first: the necessity of violence, which is what leftists imply when they say “by any means necessary.” Indeed, violence and terrorism were frankly admitted by Marx and Lenin––as the latter said of complaints about the vicious murders of priests and Kulaks, “When we are reproached with cruelty, we wonder how people can forget the most elementary Marxism.”

This Marxist preference for violence and violations of basic rights and freedom were pointed out by Winston Churchill in his “crazy speech” of 1945, so-called for its frankness about socialism: “No Socialist government conducting the entire life and industry of the country could afford to allow free, sharp, or violently-worded expressions of public discontent. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo — no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance — and this would nip in the bud opinion as it formed.”


Bruce S. Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an emeritus professor of classics and humanities at California State University, Fresno, and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is Democracy’s Dangers and Discontents: The Tyranny of the Majority from the Greeks to Obama.

September 6, 2023 | Comments »

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