When I first saw the word “woke” in connection to a leftist cause, the Black Lives Matter movement, I had that panicky sensation of the madman in the wilderness who’s been screaming about an oncoming danger nobody wants to hear about, but finally has the first sign to prove what he’s been saying. “There it is! That’s the Gnosticism I’ve been talking about!”
For several years now I’ve been warning about the rise of Gnosticism in America. Much of my argument is subtle and calls for an in-depth understanding of traditional Christian theological categories and a careful reading of American culture. This “woke” language is like the first hint of the wizard blatantly revealing himself, the first sight of the iceberg.
And it is Gnosticism. Classic Gnosticism. That will make sense once you read on, and in the process discover how wrong and dangerous this philosophy is, as well as its practical effects. Here’s how it works.
The Gnostic Mind
The Gnostic mind sees the entire material world as imprisoned by a dark overlord and his subordinate archons. Famous depth psychologist and self-proclaimed Gnostic Carl Jung would call these characters archetypes, explaining archetypical realities universal to the human condition. They represent the ruling cultural symbols, institutions, and systems that shackle our minds. These include everything from the economic system to traditional family systems.
One’s birth in flesh localizes his mind within these systems and calcifies a person’s perspective, giving him a false ego or false consciousness. Yet within each person is a latent, not-flesh-bound self waiting to emerge. Salvation occurs as the Gnostic—an elite few—awakens (ahem!) to the prison house he is in and breaks free (violently if need be—ahem!) from his prison.
So, being “woke” is an essential component of Gnostic salvation. Once one is woke to the systemic oppression of this world order, he sees things differently and no longer conforms slavishly to the acceptable manners and behaviors of “the system.” He becomes antinomian, rejecting all law, because the laws only support the oppressive system.
On these terms, violence against the system is not aggressive, but a defense of his emerging self. Who would fault an innocent man for violently breaking free from his prison? That violence also extends to language, because language animates the constructs making up the system. The archons use language to craft the structures by which the un-woke mindlessly view reality. Not only language, but all the communicative icons constructing the psychic architecture of culture are slated for iconoclasm (ahem!).
‘Woke’ Arises from Leftist Contradictions
One of the components of my madman-in-the-wilderness routine has been that conservatives waste their time when they try to apply logic and rationality as they debate leftists. That paradigm of epistemology—using rationality and logic to prove a point—is one of the constructs of an un-woke world order, a tool of the phallocentric, patriarchal past.
Because Gnosticism has no use for logic or rationality, it has no toleration for language that is “linear,” or explanatory. Such language only transmits information about a fundamentally corrupt world order. Instead, Gnosticism celebrates poetic, metaphorical, mythological, and paradoxical language that lifts the mind into the realm of the phantasmic, the world of imagination.
The Left’s head-slapping paradoxes in discussions about gay marriage, transgenderism, feminism, multiculturalism, and so forth have bedazzled conservatives for several years. But once you understand the Left’s inherent Gnosticism, it makes perfect sense, particularly in the context of gnosis—the “woke” moment. Consider two of the big paradoxes of current leftism.
1. ‘Women’: a Social Construct or Something Essential?
Why is “18 percent of tech jobs are occupied by women” a thing if “women” is a social construct? Or, for that matter, why are any of the stats on “Women in field X” a thing? No women presidents so far? That’s only a problem according to the old construct that gender is biological. By the new, woke view, there’s no essential, at least biological, distinction between George Washington and a woman. Dude could be a lady.
Gnosticism sees flesh-based gender as one of the many oppressive features of a material world, one more shackle to break free from. A sex-less “self” is all that matters. This is why Gnostic movements throughout history have always had a homosexual and transsexual component. (The word “buggery” for instance, comes from a Gnostic movement in early medieval Bulgaria.) Transsexuality and homosexuality were antinomian and violent rebellions against the biological world order in which marriage and family traditions are rooted.
Insofar as women, feminists even, still focus on biology—for instance, talking about their woeful periods as proof of their true woman-ness against Bruce Jenner’s Gnostic emergence of his inner, imprisoned Caitlyn—they are un-woke. Likewise do women who celebrate the choice to stay at home and raise children remain sadly un-woke, not understanding fully their oppression. It’s because any understanding of “woman” understood as biology-based or tradition-based makes sense only according to a corrupt world order.
Herein is the paradox: why does gender play so important a role in leftist thought if the Gnostic ideal is sex-less? Because once one is woke he realizes gender distinctions are not biological but metaphorical. It’s not male biology versus female biology; it’s the Yaltabaoth archetype (the dark, patriarchal overlord) versus the Sophia archetype (a Gnostic redeeming character); it’s the god versus goddess; it’s the Age of Pisces giving way to the Age of Aquarius.
It’s the patriarchal, linear, reasoning, logical, competing, power-hungry, individualistic, egotistical paradigms of the past versus the matriarchal, aesthetic, caring, sympathetic, collectivist, feeling, intuiting paradigms of the new world order. (And I guess, in Caitlyn’s case, the latter is best represented by a Glamour cover girl.)
But wait, you say, those are all stereotypical traits, recognizing which should get you fired. Cue head-slap and understand why that sage cultural oracle Marilyn Monroe said, “Madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” That is the Gnostic way, to thrive on such paradox.
2. Everything Boils Down to Culture Unless You’re Woke
Multiculturalism is a theological tenet in the leftist religion, for which the insights of sociology are canonical. Sociology has concluded that culture is the basis for the beliefs, values, behaviors and norms of any people.
Multiculturalism is the basis for the original use of “woke,” in the Black Lives Matter context. The idea is that there are systems of oppression that no one can really perceive until he is woke. These systems of oppression are cultural, the prevailing white culture setting up the cultural architecture by which it sets the rules favoring whites and oppressing everyone else.
But this brings up a paradox. Did culture produce the science of sociology from which the “woke” terminological universe arose? Is the “science” of sociology itself culture-based? What are the “beliefs, norms, and values” that fed the birth of sociology? It’s a variation of the liar’s paradox. A Cretan says “All Cretans are liars.” Is he to be believed? Similarly, a culture-bound person—there isn’t any other kind—says, “All thought is culture-bound.” Is that thought culture-bound?
The resolution to the paradox is that certain enlightened elite thinkers are able to see reality sub specie aeternitatis, or “from the perspective of eternity.” That is, scientists are unencumbered by the elements of culture as they view reality as it is, not through the lens of their particular cultures. They’re just special that way, I guess. They’re “woke.” It’s classic Gnostic elitism.
So, the woke individual realizes culture is a determinant thing, but he himself is not subject to that determination. But here again is the paradox. If the woke black is the one who imports the ideology of multiculturalism into his mind, but the ideology of multiculturalism arose from western culture along with all the other sciences, is he truly woke to the effects of western enculturation on his mind? Cue head-slap again as you process that ad nihilo feedback loop.
What ‘Woke’ Is Really All About
The big paradox of “woke” is that it’s wholly anti-scientific, but leftism thrives on the illusion that it’s scientific. Of course, that ad nihilo loop of paradoxical feedback is, as I’m arguing, part of the essence of Gnosticism.
So, for instance, how will a woke woman who understands science as a tool of patriarchalism then use science to cry about climate change? Or how can someone woke to cultural differences in, say, monochronic versus polychronic time, then impose on polychronic cultures (like black and Hispanic cultures) western scientific ideas of time—where time is highly managed and expected to be efficiently used—in the fields of education or the military, both fields where political correctness reigns?
It’s the same paradox arising from the question whether nineteenth-century British governors in India should have tolerated the practice of sati, where a widow was thrown onto her husband’s funeral pyre. Would it have been cultural imperialism to impose western respect for the dignity of women on such a highly patriarchal practice?
“Woke” ideology will always ultimately be a house of cards that topples to the ground, as all Gnostic movements have throughout history. That requires us to ask what “woke” is really all about? Are there any consistent principles unifying the leftist agenda? What ultimately unites the Left as a positive end state?
It’s simple: anything that’s not white, patriarchal, capitalistic, and Christian. Leftists would say they’re anti-power, anti-archon, anti-fa. But notice this is a negative, not a positive. But that, too, is the nature of Gnosticism. As long as the world is material, the womb of un-woke minds will be at work, giving rise to an endless supply of systems and institutions of power to oppose. Likewise will the end state ever remain just out of reach, dreamy, phantasmic, and utopian.
That is the fuel of the Left. To be ever against and never attain. To beat one’s fists against the nature of reality because it’s what will never be. Sad, really.