The decentralized religion that persecutes heretics

Eric Kaufmann writes,

Viewing wokeness as a highly decentered liberal religion helps us understand the movement’s extremism, its witch hunts, and its awakenings. It explains why high-status people and elite institutions mouth its mantras, why its moderates can’t stand up to its fundamentalists, and why it is both the product of, and an engine of, polari­zation.

It is a powerful essay, difficult to excerpt. One of his themes is that liberalism may have once been a set of principles, but it is now a quasi-religious identity. Another theme is that a decentralized religion tends toward radicalism, as extremists “outbid” moderates in the contest for emotional support from those who identify with the religion.

At this point, I am going to call this the best essay I have read this year.

By the way, American Affairs is the publisher of the essay. This journal does publish some real nuggets. But it also publishes a lot of essays that toss around “neoliberal” and “market fundamentalist” as epithets. Also, it has a paywall that kicks in after one article (I think), so you have to choose carefully when to click through to read. Note that I have a couple of forthcoming posts that reference other interesting essays, but I do not recommend those essays as highly as Kaufmann’s.