The “Woke” …?

First of all, for context, I freely confess that I’m a confirmed, left wing democratic socialist in the style of Albert Einstein, Noam Chomsky, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc., and thus an anti-interventionist pacifist, but not an isolationist.  I’m a non-globalist, non-neoliberal, non-neoconservative internationalist.  I’m an independent, disdaining both the GOP and the Democratic Party, but feel the Democratic Party is the greater evil.  I do not vote for lesser evils though.

Another confession: many people that I’ve cared for over the years, some whom I’ve loved, and even some after whom I’ve lusted, are among the “woke” who are the subject of this reflection.  I don’t like Donald Trump (who I’ve only met once).  I find him a childish, egocentric buffoon, but that doesn’t prevent me from admitting that he’s been treated in an outlandishly unfair manner by the corporate press, the Justice Department, his own appointees, traditional Republican leaders, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and, that, without a doubt, the presidential election of 2022 was manipulated, if perhaps not “technically stolen. 

The foregoing is to contextualize the following perspectives concerning the controversial nature of the postmodern term “woke”, to which I frequently allude.

To me, the term “woke” is a sort of neologism in the sense that during the past decade it has acquired very different meanings depending on who’s using it, in what context and for what purpose.  It no longer merely refers to the opposite of sleeping in a biological sense but has been given political overtones.  It is a self-anointed appellation by those I describe below, who consider it a positive metaphor but, in my opinion and as I use it, the people who apply the term as a self-description instead engage in futile, hubris afflicted self-defeating distortion of progressive values.  Because, as I indicated, I frequently use the term in my reflections, articles, reports and comments, I’m frequently asked what it means, albeit usually by people who clearly have their own opinions on the point and who are usually among those I describe as “woke”.  In any case, this reflection involves an effort to describe the term for both those people (whose minds are already made up as to its meaning), and for those who are honestly curious concerning its use in my discourse.  I note that, apparently, there exists a dictionary definition which identifies them in a manner which their adherents love, in essence, as selfless, well informed, well intentioned humanists.  I assume it was devised by a “woke” lexicographer.  I, find it misleading at best, hence this reflection.

From the foregoing it’s obvious that I’m at odds with those who describe themselves as the “woke”, a group that reminds me of Star Trek’s fictional “Borg” (because to the “woke”, resistance to them is futile).  The irony is that we purport to share the same goals and similar values: a more enlightened world, a more equitable world, one free of racism, misogyny and xenophobia.  A world where justice prevails and impunity and nepotism are minimized, an environmentally sustainable world where everyone is enabled to attain their highest potential.  But we differ on bellicosity.  Bellicosity in every sense (personal, domestic and international).  We differ on tactics and strategies.  And we differ on the essential need for mutual respect and for open minds and the importance of empathy.  “Empathy”, that psychological state of mind which enables us to understand (in a non-judgmental fashion) the positions held by others and the reasons for their actions and reactions.  Which enables us to maintain open minds and to listen at least as much as we preach, and to differ respectfully instead of with animosity.  I believe that only through the use of empathy and respect can we all evolve, changing our hearts and souls as well as our minds in the manner necessary to attain our mutual goals.  I derive great satisfaction from what I’ve learned from others, as well as from the shifts in attitude, especially concerning war and the military-industrial-intelligence complex, of many of the military personnel (both retired and active) with whom I’ve interacted.

In my opinion, politics, on a worldwide, not just United States basis, has not really been the realm of a liberal left versus a conservative right for a very long time.  Those are cultivated delusional illusions.  Rather, it involves a truly adversarial relationship between an alliance of deep states subservient to the primary Deep State (the one associated with the United States but with tentacles everywhere), versus diverse, divided and fragmented populists, “populists” being those who believe that traditional governmental institutions, self-described as “democratic”, are in fact, chokeholds to assure popular democracy is at best a dysfunctional illusion.  The rise in populism is being addressed by deep states though coercive communication-censoring policies, abuse of prosecutorial and judicial systems, and, if all else fails, by facilitation of the development of a capitalist oriented, for-profit market in votes through relaxation of procedures safeguarding against electoral fraud (e.g., identity verification, direct voting, verified ballot collection, etc.), oxymoronically, in the name of “democracy”.

The purportedly “woke”, as I see them, are tools of the permanent government structure owned by the wealthiest among to which I alluded above as the “Deep State”, which is an informal but highly efficient structure comprised of ensconced bureaucrats unresponsive to democratic vagaries, the corporate media, the aforementioned military-industrial-intelligence complex and the newly empowered owners of the Internet’s technocracy, to which, during the past decade, has been added Big Pharma.  The role of the “woke” in that scheme (albeit perhaps a role of which they are not aware) is to distract the attention of liberals and progressives from the goals described above through polarizing identity politics, keeping us divided through wedge issues such as abortion, gun control, immigration, revisionist history and exaggerated racism and divisive gender related issues (using gender in the broadest possible context), all of the foregoing never to be resolved, as resolution would minimize their political usefulness.

The “woke” are characterized by a blend of naivety and hubris, believing themselves morally and ethically superior, better informed, wiser, more erudite and, most of all, entitled.  For some unfathomable reason, they’re convinced that the minds and hearts of those not yet “woke” can best be changed through ridicule and rhetoric, clever distortions, and ignoring past realities through creative fiction.  In essence, they’re intolerant in the name of tolerance (freedom of opinion and of expression be damned!).  Narrative replaces history (well, … okay, …it always has, but much more aggressively), in the belief that the past and even the present are irrelevant to the future, so long as both are presented in a manner that facilitates the belief that the future sought is inevitably preordained, a sort of five story mansion, but without a foundation or first story, just somehow floating closer to heaven.

It’s much easier to win arguments if truth is irrelevant, if it is “relative”, something flexible to be molded as best suits a particular occasion, and easily discarded when inconvenient, discarded to an abyss for those beliefs which, in an Orwellian sense, “never existed, … anymore”.  The “woke” are firm practitioners of that verisimilitudinous art form in the firm belief that the means justify the ends, and thus, as so often happens in those cases, there’s a shift and the means become the ends, the former ends fading into oblivion.

“Merit” is, as I see it, a pejorative to the “woke”, a synonym for racism, and for misogyny, and for xenophobia.  To them, quotas are essential in everything; something glaringly obvious in the entertainment industry where accurate reflections of society and history are irrelevant and every scene must now include non-existent racial and gender balances, with positive attributes concentrated among women and minorities, especially African Americans and those who adhere to sexually alternative lifestyles, and negative attributes are primarily ascribed to Caucasian males older than forty.  Of course, “merit” has always been an elusive concept, especially where nepotism provides an alternative, and, of course, merit has never been all that relevant in the apparently eternal political-favors-based-favoritism-system in which we humans appear to have always lived.

So, the “woke”, to me, are a sad irony involving a diversion of energy and human resources that could really make a difference in the attainment of the values and the world to which they and I both aspire; to which most people aspire., but which, as economist Thomas Piketty’s ground breaking studies and analyses clearly demonstrate, is becoming more and more distant and more and more unlikely as we become more and more polarized, more and more embittered and more and more successfully manipulated by the cynics who joyfully rule as all.

Rule us all as surely as though we were ringwraiths and they possessed Sauron’s once and future ring.

Of course, the “woke” who’ve read my reflections and opinions probably reciprocate my perceptions, believing me to be as delusional as I perceive them.  And that’s fine.

Paraphrasing the refrain used in adds concerning historically black colleges: “An open mind is a terrible thing to waste”.


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently the publisher of the Inannite Review, available at  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  However, he is also fascinated by mythology, religion, physics, astronomy and mathematics, especially with matters related to quanta and cosmogony.  He can be contacted at and much of his writing is available through his blog at

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