When I was in high school every morning I’d hit the alarm clock for a completely worthless nine-minutes of sleep. I still had to get up. I couldn't stay in my dreams. I was an idiot but at least this was my personal problem. Today people are trying to hit the snooze button on history. What do you think the opposite of ‘woke’ is? It’s literally going back to sleep.
The entire argument against ‘wokeness’ is “shut up, you’re annoying, everything is fine the way it is.” SNOOZE, SNOOZE, SNOOZE. Racism’s not real, sexism’s not real, climate collapse is not real, just go back to sleep. But shit is real. Colored people are really getting killed, women are really getting raped, and the Earth is really on fire. What do you want to do about this? Sleep through it?
You think non-white people aren’t going to wake up and realize that we’re the global majority? You think women are just going to take this shit forever? You think climate collapse isn’t going to throw literal cold water over every major city on Earth?
The snooze button sadly works, politically, but it doesn't actually solve anything. The cultural analogy for people sleeping through tumultuous times is totalitarianism. When the state takes over your very reality and making life but a dream. As Hannah Arendt wrote, totalitarianism works by taking isolated people (dreamers) and giving them a comforting fictitious reality (a dream). She wrote:
“The reason why the totalitarian regimes can get so far toward realizing a fictitious, topsy-turvy world is that the outside nontotalitarian world, which always comprises a great part of the population of the totalitarian country itself, indulges also in wishful thinking and shirks reality in the face of real insanity just as much as the masses do in the face of the normal world.”
This is how the snooze button works in political practice. Even in less total form, the current western empire (undefeated Nazis to billions of colored people) operates the same way. They create a fictious world where they're fine, everything is fine, and everybody just needs to shut up and go back to sleep. We live under violently enforced delusions that certain races are inferior. Violent coercions that certain genders deserve no controls of their bodies. The violent illusion that we can keep lighting shit on fire without it getting hot. For the people in first-class it’s all row, row, row your boat, life is but a dream. For everybody else it’s just a nightmare.
What solution do these snoozers offer to any of the real problems facing the world? Nothing. The great response to ‘wokeness’ is banning books, preserving decrepit columnists, and getting college students to shut up. Great. The world is crumbling and they want to prop up the whitest of ivory towers. How the fuck does this solve any real problems? It’s literally just smashing the social snooze button and hoping it all goes away. I tried this for four years of high school. It doesn’t just go away.
Trump was trying to go back to a dream where it was cool to be a violent, racist, asshole and Biden is trying to do the same shit while just lying about it. We're faced with big problems requiring big, fundamental change, and the response from elites is just laughing at anyone talking about. The people saying we can’t abolish prisons, we can’t just stop fossil fuels, we can’t beat COVID, we can’t do fucking anything, these people are hitting the snooze button while our beds are on fire. As the song blaring on the clock radio goes,
How can we dance
When our earth is turning?
How do we sleep
While our beds are burning?
That's an amazing song talking about how Australia needs to give land back to indigenous people. That's the actual scale of response required to a wrong-turn as terrible as collapsing the fucking climate. We actually need to give America, Australia, and Canada back to indigenous people and put Europe under administration. And these ideas are just laughed off. It's not funny.
How is ‘woke’ even an insult at this time when we obviously need to open our eyes? This is about as mature as high-schoolers insulting ‘geeks’ in the 1990s. Who’s laughing now? Geeks run the world. You think the future is going to remember the people who are proudly asleep right now? The ones shirking responsibility and calling names? It’ll remember the people that woke the fuck up, and it’ll remember them with pride. Where I grew up the football team was called the Buckeyes, an insult people used to call people from Ohio. That's what the 'woke' denigration will be in decades. A point of pride.
The opposite of being woke is being asleep. It's hitting the SNOOZE button on history, and—as the saying goes—you snooze you lose. The people attacking ‘wokeness’ are—to return to my high-school language—just losers. They’re fucking snoozers.