28.12.2021
The Right to Insanity: A New Ideology of “Woke” Western Elites and Its Consequences
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Alexander V. Lukin

National Research Institute–Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Head of the International Affairs Department,
Head of International Laboratory on World Order Studies and New Regionalism

AUTHOR IDs

SPIN RSCI: 6899-4298
ORCID: 0000-0002-1962-2892
ResearcherID: L-4986-2015
Scopus AuthorID: 7102949872

Contacts

E-mail: [email protected]
Address: Office 404, Bldg. 1, 17 Malaya Ordynka, Moscow 119017, Russia

New ideological trends that have evolved among the American and European elites are gradually spreading to the rest of the world. They differ, but we can already talk about the emergence of an ideological system different from the one that prevailed in these countries just recently. It assumes the form of both new ethical concepts and rules, and pseudoscientific theories, and can be found in all spheres of life from scientific research to mass culture.

In ethical terms, this sum of new ideas and rules is known in Russia as “new ethics.”[1] It establishes the rules of communication between men and women, members of different peoples, races, and social groups. In terms of pseudoscience, they form whole areas such as neo-feminist, gender, post-colonial, LGBT studies, critical racial theory, and others.

 

IDEOLOGY

Unlike structured ideological systems such as Soviet scientific communism or socialism with Chinese characteristics, the ideology in question is not yet fixed in textbooks and official documents (although some of its components are). Let us consider the key elements of the concept in the order of their appearance. But let me first define ideology and its differences from everyday knowledge, on the one hand, and from scientific knowledge, on the other.

In Western political science, ideology is usually understood as a set of political programs or the general orientation of close political movements that express aspirations of part of society, such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, fascism, and the like. In the Marxist tradition, ideology means the entire cultural superstructure of society as a whole, which is characterized by common features and legitimizes the system of government.

I am more inclined to accept the definition of ideology as a modern myth, which grew out of the Marxist tradition and developed in the 20th century within the framework of semiotic and structuralist approaches. In this interpretation, a myth is a symbolic system that allows a person to comprehensively explain the world using images and representations. It differs from disparate ordinary ideas precisely by being systemic, and attempts to understand life and space as a whole, not their separate parts and phenomena. Ideologies differ from traditional myths by claiming to be scientific. They are modern since they arose in the Western world after the Age of Enlightenment with its cult of scientific progress and draw justifications for their projects from the achievements of scientific knowledge.

However, they are fundamentally different from the latter in two ways.

Firstly, ideologies seek to absolutize a limited set of numerous life factors established by a particular field of science and make it universal and eternal. In this regard, Marxism is an ideology as it absolutized class struggle incited by social inequality. Likewise, Freudianism focused on certain psychological complexes and fascism based on the biological inequality of races are ideologies as well. But singling out one factor as the main one does not yet make the system an ideology because it can characterize a simplified and one-sided pseudoscientific theory.

Secondly, an ideology is characterized by utopianism, that is, it calls for action to change the world by eliminating the identified main factor of contradictions or solving the main problem of humankind so that it could achieve an ideal state. For Marxism, this means elimination of exploitation in order to build a classless society; for Freudianism, this means liberation from the problems of personal and social subconscious; for fascism, the destruction or subordination of the lower races by the higher ones. The fallacy of an ideology is not the point here. In fact, a scientific hypothesis may also be incorrect, and the very concept of ‘correctness’ in science (the correspondence of certain knowledge to some objective reality) is debatable. Max Weber meant this when he said that social sciences should formulate «a logical distinction between ‘empirical knowledge,’ i.e., knowledge of what ‘is,’ and ‘normative knowledge,’ i.e., knowledge of what ‘should be.’” [2] Based on certain scientific conclusions, ideologists and publicists call for “changing the world.” Incidentally, the same person can often act simultaneously as a scientist and an ideologist. Karl Marx is a vivid example.

The desire of many people to change the world for the better is quite natural, but it has nothing to do with science. A danger arises when, in order to achieve ideological goals, elites begin to take measures that violate the rights of individuals or groups of people, and call for ignoring the laws of nature. In this regard, orthodox Marxism-Leninism, colonial racism, and fascism are extremely dangerous and were rightfully rejected by humanity. We think that the current new ideology has already acquired the features of such a system dangerous for humanity.

 

ORIGINS AND CONSTITUENT PARTS: SOME DEFINITIONS

Based on this definition, let us analyze some concepts of the new Western ideology.

Feminism. Like all ideologies, modern feminism arose out of the need to solve a real problem, that is, social inequality of women, but took it to the extreme. Equality has largely been achieved in all spheres of life and activity in developed countries. But, starting by ensuring the necessary equality before law and guaranteeing full opportunities and security for women, feminism at some point began to turn into an ideology of violence and lawlessness, pursuing an absurd and biologically unattainable social ideal.

Feminist movements have ensured that laws and corporate rules on rape and harassment are drafted in such a way that in many cases the prosecution of a man does not require witnesses or evidence, only the victim’s statement. This destroys such a fundamental principle of Western law as the presumption of innocence. Ten European countries have adopted “consent laws” which introduce the concept of ‘negligent rape,’ according to which rape is any sexual act before which a woman did not express explicit consent or the man misinterpreted her signals that can be given or changed at any time during the act. This practice transforms the complex relationship between a man and a woman into a banal legal contract, and, from the point of view of justice, introduces the presumption of guilt for men. Such cases can easily be used for prosecuting undesirable persons. It is no coincidence that a similar law was used by Sweden against journalist Julian Assange, who had published materials compromising U.S. intelligence agencies.

The #MeToo movement has shattered yet another principle of law, namely that “the law has no retroactive effect.” As a result, when the first accusations appear on social networks (often they concern events that took place decades ago), people lose their jobs and even get prison sentences which cannot be contested in court because judges tend to pander to public opinion.

In the field of public administration, quotas are introduced for women in government and public bodies. This runs counter to both the idea of equality (women receive more rights than men) and the principle of meritocracy since selection is not made according to one’s abilities. In the academic field, radical feminists have put forward a theory claiming that there is rooted inequality and oppression of women in social norms and even language. There is nothing wrong with the theory itself, and in many ways it can be justified. The problem is the conclusions that are drawn from it, such as absurd demands that social norms of communication must be changed: for example, women should not be let go first when entering the room or offered seats on public transport, and so on because this allegedly offends them, indicating their weakness.[3]

The real experience of countries where all or most of the social obstacles for women have long been eliminated show the infeasibility of a feminist utopia based solely on the social justification of sex differences in mentality, thinking and, in the most radical form, even in physical strength. Thus, research proves that even when social barriers are removed, provided that the freedom of choice is preserved, women are more likely than before to choose traditionally “female” professions related to communication and servicing other people, such as teachers or nurses. Fewer girls want to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in countries with greater gender equality (Finland, Norway, and Sweden) than in Albania or Algeria.[4]

Radical feminism does not recognize such studies, considers them an expression of misogynism and justifies itself by claiming that the state of universal welfare in Sweden does not increase, but reduces the freedom of women’s choice.[5] Under these conditions, it is proposed to limit such freedom and forcibly impose unpopular roles on women, as well as “re-educate” them from early childhood, changing their language and views, using Chinese Cultural Revolution methods. Thus, the realization of the only true principle is placed above the rights and interests of concrete people who can be sacrificed, which turns radical feminism into a totalitarian ideology.

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LGBTism. LGBT issues should be divided into two parts, since the issue of homosexuality differs significantly from the issue of transgenders. The struggle for the rights of homosexuals has a real basis since they were persecuted and deprived of some rights for a long time. However, as in the case of feminism, the current struggle for equality in Europe and the U.S. has led to discrimination against other categories of people and runs counter to the laws of nature.

The modern ideology of homosexual rights activists is based on the assertion that homosexuality is a norm. The World Health Organization (WHO) excluded homosexuality as a mental illness from the International Classification of Diseases in 1990. In other words, sexual attraction to a partner of the same sex is not a mental illness (unlike attraction to corpses or exhibitionism). But this does not mean that homosexuality is a biological norm. In biology and medicine, a norm (for example, for an organ or organism) is usually defined based on the performance of its natural function, “as that which functions in accordance with its design.”[6] But in addition to biological, there are at least two other approaches to normality: statistical (normal is what most people do) and value (normal is what is considered normal in a given society).[7] They cannot be used in biology or medicine: it is impossible to treat a person on the basis of statistics or values because they can change, but the functions of organs in this particular species remain unchanged (extremely slow evolutionary changes are not taken into account). The recognition of homosexuality as a norm basically replaces biological normality with value normality.

Needless to say, legal prosecution of homosexuals simply for the very fact of same-sex relationship is unacceptable, if they do not violate anyone’s rights. But society has the right to limit the spread of practices if they have negative consequences for its members, and may as well limit the propaganda of homosexuality, refuse to recognize homosexual families and deprive homosexuals of the right to adopt children if society believes that this destroys the traditional family, and creates demographic and moral problems.

The promotion of homosexuality and attempts by feminists to make women assume social roles they themselves do not accept are a typical intrusion into the laws of nature. Attempts to change these laws have always produced disastrous consequences.

As for the view that sex change is a normal practice, it is the largest fraud and crime of the 21st century. The idea itself is nothing more than an ideological deception, because every biologist knows that the difference between the sexes is not phenotypic and not even hormonal, but determined at the chromosomal level. Therefore, no body change surgery or even hormone therapy can turn a woman into a full-fledged man and vice versa. Of course, there are special cases when people are born with unusual sex chromosomes, gonads or genitals, but according to statistics, these account for less than one percent of the total. In exceptional cases, when psychological problems arise (which is not always the case), medical intervention can be possible.

The current advancement of transgenderism has nothing to do with medical considerations. It spreads anti-scientific theories about gender identity in individuals that is different from the biological one. The theory stemmed from ideologized psychology, namely Freudianism. Sigmund Freud put forward the idea of a certain pregenital phase in the development of the infant, at which the child, being bisexual and not distinguishing between the sexes, draws libidinal satisfaction from oral and anal zones. How exactly a baby can draw satisfaction and from what, the outstanding psychologist did not tell, but this Freudian “discovery,” like all others, gained great popularity. Then, bisexuality becomes “repressed” (displaced) and heterosexuality arises, which leads to the Oedipus complex and other psychological problems, which Freud proposed to fight by lifting psychological and social restrictions.[8]

In the 1960s, American psychoanalyst Robert Stoller came up with a new theory: mental problems develop in an infant because each person has a gender identity in the subconscious that may not coincide with his/her biological sex.[9] These problems should be addressed not by bringing a person’s perception of his/her sex into line with biological reality, but by changing the biological sex. So while Freud’s teachings can be called anti-cultural and anti-civilizational (any culture implies prohibitions), then Stoller’s theory is anti-biological, as it calls for bringing biological reality into conformity with a person’s vision of the ideal in much the same way the advocates of eugenics, popular in Nazi Germany, sought to do.

This theory has now become prevalent in the WHO, too.[10] Thousands of people undergo sex reassignment surgeries on the strength of this theory. If even greater psychological problems arise after them, in most cases it is almost impossible to restore the previous state. A new terminology is used to justify this ideological madness. For example, biological sex is now called “assigned” to emphasize that it does not exist objectively, but was imposed by doctors, authorities or parents, perhaps contrary to the true “gender identity.”

Non-existent sexes are invented such as non-binary, intersex, genderqueer, gender-expansive, agender, and gender-void. In some cases, there can be as many as twenty of them. Parents, doctors, and psychologists are strongly advised not to impose “stereotypes” on children, but from an early age (one or two years old) pay close attention to what toys a child plays with and what clothes he/she prefers to wear. If it turns out that a girl likes to play with cars or wear pants rather than a skirt, she is diagnosed to have “gender dysphoria,” that is, distress caused by a mismatch between her “gender identity” and the “assigned gender,” and she herself is considered a potential transgender.[11] So, parents are advised to allow their child to try out the gender role of a boy by changing the hairstyle, clothes, name, and the form of self-address. In the vocabulary of the new ideology, this is called “social transition”[12] (unlike the medical one). And then, if the child likes it, steps will have to be taken towards a sex reassignment surgery.

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Clearly, a child may easily take all this as a fun game. Some doctors express concern: “Children do not know enough about themselves to allow them to make correct, irreversible decisions; they are not developed enough to cope with this. Nowadays more children have doubts about their sex because this is popular in society or discussed more often in the press and on social networks. We cannot allow them to cause potentially permanent harm to themselves while being in a potentially temporary state.” However, doctors-ideologues are fighting such natural concerns,[13] and the aforementioned mythology becomes part of sex education programs in school.

Serious studies indicate that the propaganda of transgenderism leads to a suspiciously explosive increase in the number of adolescents diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” and seeking to change their gender (especially girls).[14] Why girls? This can easily be explained by another theory which considers gender a social construct that is not determined by biological factors. So, the WHO website says that “gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed… Gender is hierarchical and produces inequalities that intersect with other social and economic inequalities… Gender inequality and discrimination faced by women and girls puts their health and well-being at risk…”[15] Naturally, if it is women who are discriminated against, and gender is only a social construct, many more people will not want to remain women and will want to change their identity, and consequently biological sex.[16] By the way, someone will make good money on these surgeries. In most countries, sex change is recommended from the age of eighteen, but in some it can be done earlier, and activists in alliance with interested doctors are pushing for lowering the age limit.[17] At the same time, there are a growing number of people in the world who are trying to restore their original sex.[18]

Transgenderism is not just a funny thing, but an ideological cover for criminal practices. Thousands of children and adolescents in different countries sustain psychological and often physical injuries. As a result, the fundamental rights of people to live the way they were created by nature are violated under the absurd slogan of ensuring the freedom of choice on gender.

Postcolonial studies. The methodology based on “postcolonial theory” does not call for an objective study of postcolonial societies, as one would assume from the name. This is a “critical” theory in the modern, not traditional, Kantian sense. Criticized is not the methodology per se but the object of study, that is, society that needs to be changed for the better. According to one definition, “postcolonial theory takes many different shapes and interventions, but all share a fundamental claim: that the world we inhabit is impossible to understand except in relationship to the history of imperialism and colonial rule… Over the course of the past thirty years, it has remained simultaneously tethered to the fact of colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century and committed to politics and justice in the contemporary moment.”[19] This is a classical definition not of science, but of an ideology that absolutizes a limited set of fundamental contradictions in world development and tries to change the world by eliminating these contradictions.

Postcolonial theory argues that the main global dissonance is colonialism, and tries to detect its catastrophic consequences for society and consciousness around the world in order to eradicate it in the political and social systems, art, literature, thinking, and so on. Dissenters are considered supporters of colonialism and must be re-educated. The question of how postcolonial theory grew out of the activism focused on fighting colonialism is well studied.[20] The founding father who theorized postcolonial thinking, Edward Said, was a Palestinian activist and a fighter against Zionism. In his most well-known work, Orientalism, he voiced a reasonable, but rather banal idea that the very concept of the East had been introduced into the non-Western world by Western theorists, and immediately proposed a theory according to which the East is subjected to global suppression by the West which is imposing its intellectual and cultural forms that supposedly justify exploitation.[21] Another champion of postcolonialism, Frantz Fanon, became the main ideologist of Algeria’s National Liberation Front, and advocated a worldwide anti-colonial uprising and liberation from colonial mentality.

Although postcolonial studies contain some interesting works on culture, art, and worldview in non-Western societies, the vast majority of modern postcolonialists are extremely engaged politically and quite aggressive in imposing their projects to rebuild an unjust society.

Critical race theory (CRT) is the newest of all considered above. It was announced at the first annual CRT seminar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (U.S.) in 1989, but its intellectual roots go into “critical legal studies”―an area that is based on Marxist interpretations of law and that proclaimed that legal systems consolidate the oppressed position of certain groups of people in the interests of the ruling elite.[22] CRT supporters singled out the main oppressed group―people of color in America (and then in the world as a whole), applying the Marxist theory of class contradictions to races. However, like the ideologists of transgenderism, they tried to move away from the biological understanding of race by viewing races not as groups of people who differ biologically (for example, body build or skin color), but as a social construct imposed by society and used to oppress and exploit a minority. According to their logic, the legal systems of the United States and other developed countries are inherently racist and designed to maintain the system of social, economic, and political inequality between whites and non-whites.

Among the main concepts put forward by the CRT are “systemic racism,” supposedly existing at all levels of the state and society, “white privileges” allegedly enjoyed by the white population, often “unconsciously” (radical feminism also holds that many men are sources of “unconscious sexism”), and the resulting need to “fight whiteness” in legislation, public administration, and consciousness. In this regard, the CRT opposes the liberal understanding of the fight against racism, which calls for equality before law, regardless of race, which CRT supporters have dubbed “color blindness.” Instead, the CRT pushes for extending privileges to people of color in order to compensate them for their oppression in the past (up to reparations for slavery).

The goal of the CRT is to build an ideal society by eliminating “systemic racism.” There is no doubt that racists of all stripes exist on a personal and psychological levels in the United States and other countries. But the concept of ‘systemic racism’ implies something else that is difficult to formulate. As far as institutional racism in the United States is concerned, active steps to eliminate it began to be taken back in the 1960s with the launch of the John Kennedy administration’s reform plan. Currently, there are numerous privileges (for example, quotas) exactly for people of color, including job placement or university enrollment practices and the like. The same benefits have been created for women, LGBT people, and others. Similarly, there is no institutionalized white racism in other countries. Its last remnant was the apartheid regime in South Africa, which fell in the early 1990s.

This is funny, but one’s belonging to previously oppressed minorities now gives real advantages as borne out by claims to non-white ancestry.

The U.S. press regularly publishes new names of politicians (including senators), professors, and social activists, who have made a career on alleged non-white ancestry, but who have been exposed by vigilante watchdogs guarding the purity of the new ideology. Some of them received prestigious positions, grants, contracts or prizes intended only for members of minorities.[23] This also happened in the USSR, where people sought to record their social origin as a worker or peasant, and in fascist Germany, where representatives of all nationalities claimed they were ethnic Germans.

The CRT remained marginal for a long time, but its hour of triumph came in 2020, when the hitherto little-known Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement had become a leading political force in America in the wake of public protests against police brutality. At the same time, Democratic Party leaders took advantage of anti-white sentiment to fight Donald Trump’s supporters. The term ‘systemic racism’ has become an inalienable part of American leaders’ discourse, including President Joseph Biden,[24] whose administration has hired several CRT adherents[25] amidst the rising popularity of the BLM movement. As a result, this theory has become almost an official ideology: mandatory courses are opened (sometimes only for white people), where they are taught to squeeze “whiteness” out of themselves; calls for employing mainly people of color and other “oppressed” people have actually become normal and legal; the leading international magazine Nature has recently published an advertisement inviting a black candidate as a trainee.[26] A group of medical companies in the UK is looking for black interns as part of the Black Health Data Scientists campaign under a British program called Ten Thousand Black Interns.[27] This practice obviously contradicts the fact that racial discrimination is prohibited by law in all Western countries.

The entrenchment of the CRT ideology does not lead to equality, but to the spread of another form of racism―this time anti-white―under the slogans of establishing ultimate justice and universal equality.

 

ORIGINS AND PRINCIPLES

What gives one the right to combine these separate theories and approaches into a single ideology?

Firstly, they are being brought together by supporters themselves, who are called “progressives” in the U.S. and “the liberal left” in Europe and who make up the major part of the elite: politicians, media top managers and employees, university professors, school teachers, and people of other intellectual professions. For example, during the U.S. presidential election, in addition to the routine left-wing calls for a new economy and education and health systems accessible to all, the Progressives for Biden program also pushed for strengthening racial justice, equality for women and LGBTQ+ people, and environmental justice, which is part of the new ideology but requires a separate analysis.[28]

Secondly, all of the considered systems of views have common origins and principles, that is, they are integral parts of the same strand of thought. Their intellectual roots are in Marxism and partly in Freudianism. Both strands of thought shared the belief that the cultural and ideological superstructure of society did not exist all by itself, but was a tool and an expression of some real processes: social for Marx, and psychological for Freud. Both of them wanted to correct reality by bringing it into line with their own speculative-abstract ideal.

In the Marxist tradition, particularly important is the theory of ideology as a “false consciousness” imposed by the ruling class on individuals through a cultural and educational system in order to maintain a privileged position. It was developed in the 20th century by philosophers György Lukács, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Louis Althusser, and others. However, in the modern world, their constructs have become extremely simplified. While Karl Marx believed that true, objective consciousness will emerge at a certain stage of economic and social development, and Sigmund Freud insisted that psychological therapy was needed for that, today’s proponents of critical theories simply suggest changing a person’s thinking to that which is considered correct by making legislative adjustments, banning unjust and spreading fair opinions, or through surgery. So, instead of imposing wrong and repressive perceptions it is necessary to impose free and true ones. If this is Marxism, then it is rather leftist as interpreted by Mao Zedong with his Cultural Revolution and reform schools for intellectuals, not the teachings of Karl Marx or the Frankfurt school.

The new ideological trend seeks to bring not only power, but also personal consciousness under control; hence the parallels with Soviet socialism: the submission of the individual to the public interest, and the subordination of the formal law to justice. In this regard, modern critical theories were greatly influenced by French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s ideas about the “deconstruction” of law in accordance with justice, which he considered to be the human’s impulse or desire for the impossible.[29] There is nothing unique about the idea of contrasting the formal right with ideal justice: it was characteristic of all utopians from Plato to Lenin. But attempts to translate ideal justice into reality have always led to the creation of a repressive system, because it is impossible to force all members of society to follow a speculative idea without resorting to violence.

The supremacy of abstract justice and the subordination of legislation to it are contrary to the traditional liberal idea proclaiming the rule of law and the equality of all before it, regardless of affiliation with a particular social group.

The term representing this idea in the modern American vocabulary is ‘equity,’ which can be translated as “justice expressed as the equality of the final result,” in contrast to the justice of formal law expressed as the equality of opportunity.

Another theoretical source of the new ideology is yet another trend of 20th century theoretical leftism, namely, the late existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre, who transplanted the idea of a personal individual choice from the transcendental field of consciousness to earthly being.[30] As a result, he himself opted for leftist revolutionism, supporting the student movement of the 1960s in Europe and even the Cultural Revolution in China. There is just one step from the binding political choice in favor of socialist progress to the new ideological slogan “silence is violence,” according to which the lack of a correct choice or inaction means conciliation.

To denote new goals, a whole new terminology has been created, which includes concepts that, similarly to Soviet ideology, are quite tricky. For example, “diversity” in an ordinary language means the participation of representatives of different forces and groups, but in the new ideology it justifies the introduction of privileges and quotas for some of them. “Inclusivity” (for example, in education) in reality has the same meaning. “Intersectionality” is not just a study of distinctive features of personal experience and perception by people of mixed descent (who, for example, combine the cultures of several countries), but an intersection of “‘interdependent phenomena’ of oppressions, whether based on race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, nationality, or other social categories,” that is, identification of interconnections between various types of exploitation in order to combat them more effectively.[31]

There are also terms denoting measures to ensure the dominance of the new ideology, for example: ‘cancel culture,’ meaning a boycott of a dissenter on social networks, in the media, and in society, ‘deplatforming’ or ‘no-platforming’ meaning a ban on their public appearance (often by disrupting such events). Under the slogan of cleaning up “white privileges” and “misogynism” schools ban classical literature books. Those who have been reeducated and have become obedient are called “woke.”

Two social factors led to the wide spread of these previously marginal approaches and their transformation into the subject of forced global dissemination: the Western university and academic elite has been joined by matured leftists of the 1960s and intellectuals from former colonies, who brought with them post-colonial mythology based on the accusation of the former colonizers of the political and economic inadequacy of the former colonies. While people like Edward Said are a characteristic example of the latter trend, Angela Davis―well-known in the Soviet Union, a disciple of Marcuse and Adorno, a former member of the Black Panthers movement, and a member of the U.S. Communist Party, who was charged with complicity in hostage taking and a murder―is an excellent illustration of the former. A respected professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a guru of BLM supporters, Davis insists in numerous interviews that she has always upheld the now triumphant principles of the new ideology.[32]

 

PROSPECTS FOR A NEW IDEOLOGY AND RUSSIA

The new ideology is capturing the Western world and, like all fashionable cultural trends, spreading from there to other parts of the globe. Historically, Western society has always fought the state’s attempts to limit civil liberties and learned how to defend itself from the government diktat. Having given public opinion full freedom, it has come to what the founding fathers of the United States warned against, for example, in the famous Federalist Papers: the tyranny of an uneducated and unrestricted majority, or rather of an activist public minority when a silent majority remains passive. In the new atmosphere, one can berate the government as much as he likes, but just one careless word against the prevailing social ideology can easily turn a person into an outcast.

An interesting recent example is the case of Maya Forstater, a British business and international development researcher, who was fired for her tweets in which she said that there were only two biological sexes and they could not be changed. In 2019, she lost the first hearing at an employment tribunal, but then won the appeal. However, this decision (not yet final) cannot be considered a defeat of the new ideology. It is rather a clash of its two parts: feminism and transgenderism.[33] After all, Forstater is a feminist, for whom the recognition of female ephemerality calls into question the very existence of women. It is no coincidence that she was supported by another famous feminist―the author of Harry Potter books, Joan Rowling, for which transgender supporters tried to “cancel” her.

Political elites have begun to actively interact with the new ideology and its adherents, trying to harness the new movement and, with the help of its supporters, finish off the traditionalist conservative camp. However, flirting with totalitarian ideology is dangerous. The development of a totalitarian movement always brings to the surface its most radical part, which, having dealt with external enemies, begins to destroy former allies and companions. Historical experience shows that Western politicians who try to use the hype around the fight against “systemic racism” to divert attention from the need to solve real problems of society (poverty, social stratification, migration, the crisis of education, etc.), as well as Internet oligarchs who help the “woke” establish severe censorship, are digging their own grave.

For the outside world, this means that we will soon see a closer merger between the new ideology and the state and an assertive policy to impose it on other societies and countries.

The decision adopted by the Barack Obama administration in 2011 to protect the rights of homosexuals abroad and grant financial assistance or political asylum depending on the sex minorities’ rights in a particular country, and the hanging of a rainbow flag on the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow indicate the beginning of this trend. As always, the West is going on the offensive by imposing the “woke” ideology upon the whole world.

Countries already dominated by the new ideology are opposed by states with different types of traditional, mostly authoritarian, regimes. Their people, as a rule, do not accept the new trends, but their governments and elites are passive because they have no global ambitions. Russia and other post-Soviet and post-communist states could initiate a discussion on the dangers of the new ideology simply because in the 1920s they already experienced a similar period, albeit in a slightly different form, and the destructive nature of the new ideology, and understand its unacceptability much better. Our ancestors went through the abolition of the family, faced radical feminism (suffice it to recall Alexandra Kollontai), saw bans, supported by Lenin’s wife Nadezhda Krupskaya herself, on fairy tales and other literature, experienced new “progressive” methods of schooling, and most importantly, an attempt to build a society based on the ideal of equality of the final result, while the principle of equality before law was trampled upon in the name of revolutionary expediency. It is therefore up to us, people who live in these countries, to remind the world of what this has once led to. Outside the Western world, many are in no hurry to criticize the new ideology, fearing to look “non-progressive” or to be ostracized by “developed countries.” However a critical discussion on the new ideology is extremely necessary; a silent majority of people in various parts of the world is clearly waiting for it, and if Russian scholars initiate it, this can boost their intellectual position in the world.

Naturally, it would be great if researchers who initiate such discussions represented countries with moral authority and a high level of freedom. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. And yet, traditional authoritarianism is somewhat less dangerous than the “woke” Western society. The problems of authoritarianism are known and well described. As a rule, it does not seek to impose its orders on others (the Soviet regime was not authoritarian, but totalitarian and ideological) and destructive mainly for its own population. However the risks of the new ideology are barely realized by its advocates. They think they are moving forward, but we understand that they are actually going back to our tragic past.

We must strive for what the West renounces―greater freedom based on the rule of law and the supremacy of formal institutions over principles and ideals.

We can look at today’s Western society in the same way it looked at Bolshevik Russia a century ago: a bizarre horde of savages who, under the slogan of universal justice, have ruined their own country and established a brutal ideological dictatorship on its remains.

The article was written with the grant support from the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs of the National Research University–Higher School of Economics in 2021.
First published in Russian: Lukin, A.V., 2021. Pravo na Bezumiye. Rossiya v Globalnoi Politike, 19(5), pp. 172-192. Available at: https://globalaffairs.ru/articles/pravo-na-bezumie/
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References

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[26] Clark, C., 2021. Nature Magazine Requires Summer Interns To Be Black. The Daily Wire, 28 May [online]. Available at: www.dailywire.com/news/nature-magazine-requires-summer-interns-to-be-black [Accessed 23 August 2021].

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[32] George, N., 2020. Angela Davis Still Believes America Can Change. The New York Times, 19 October [online]. Available at: www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/19/t-magazine/angela-davis.html [Accessed 23 August 2021].

[33] Faulkner, D., 2021. Maya Forstater: Woman Wins Tribunal Appeal over Transgender Tweets. BBC News, 10 June [online]. Available at: www.bbc.com/news/uk-57426579 [Accessed 23 August 20211].

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