The United States and the UK cannot afford to indulge in the Left’s “painful woke psychodrama” that is weakening the West just when it is confronted with severe external challenges, the chairman of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party has warned.
In a speech hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Oliver Dowden dubbed “woke” ideology as a “dangerous form of decadence” at a time when “our attention should be focused on external foes.”
“Rogue states are seeking to challenge the international order,” he said. “And at the precise point when our resolve ought to be strongest, a pernicious new ideology is sweeping our societies.”
“It goes by many names. In Britain, its adherents sometimes describe themselves as ‘social justice warriors.’ They claim to be ‘woke,’ awakened to the so-called truths of our societies. But wherever they are found, they pursue a common policy inimical to freedom.”
Dowden said that the West should not be “obsessing over pronouns or attempting to decolonise mathematics.”
One of the perversities of the “woke” world view is that “the imperial West is always at fault,” he said. “If all we hear is that our societies are monstrous, unjust, and oppressive, why on earth would anyone fight to sustain them?”
Dowden said “woke” ideology is now everywhere. “It’s in our universities, but also in our schools. In government bodies, but also in corporations. In social science faculties, but also in the hard sciences.”
He called it a “dangerous form of decadence” that the West cannot afford.
“Just when our attention should be focused on external foes, we seem to have entered this period of extreme introspection and self-criticism. And it really does threaten to sap our societies of their own self-confidence.
“Just when we should be showcasing the vitality of our values, and the strength of democratic societies, we seem to be willing to abandon those values for the sake of appeasing this new groupthink.”
Dowden said the West had become “obsessed by what divides us rather than what unites us.”
“We conservatives are on the side of people who believe that we are a force for good in the world. The U.S. and the UK may certainly be very different societies, but we are joined by the same fundamental values. Neither of us can afford the luxury of indulging in this painful woke psychodrama.”
He added: “Too many people have already fallen for the dismal argument that standing up for freedom is reactionary or that somehow it’s kind or virtuous to submit to these self-righteous dogmas. Well, it plainly is not.”
Dowden pledged that the UK government “will stop the sinister phenomenon of academics or students who offend Left-wing orthodoxies being censored or harassed” amid the spread of cancel culture on university campuses.
“Today, a social media mob can cancel you merely because you have dared to challenge one of the Left’s fashionable nostrums. So conservatives themselves must find the confidence to mount a vigorous defence of the value of a free society,” he said.
PA Media contributed to this report.