The Failure of the Would-be “Woke Revolution”

The French philosopher Albert Camus once wrote:
“Every revolutionary ends by becoming either an oppressor or a heretic. ” His point being, that every single revolution in the history of mankind may be considered a failure, in that it never respects its original limits–it, by its own blind inertia, becomes the very thing it seeks to revolt against. In his book-length essay The Rebel, Camus further states:
“Freedom, “that terrible word inscribed on the chariot of the storm,” is the motivating principle of all revolutions. Without it, justice seems inconceivable to the rebel’s mind. There comes a time, however, when justice demands the suspension of freedom. Then terror, on a grand or small scale, makes its appearance to consummate the revolution. Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. But one day nostalgia takes up arms and assumes the responsibility of total guilt; in other words, adopts murder and violence.”  

To this we place the lens of modernity, specifically the so-called “Woke Revolution spun out of Black Lives Matter. Camus’s words are easy to see in this total suppression of differential opinions. These protesters have already forgotten their limits–they scream for equality in a voice that tolerates no other, they demand economic equality with demands of racial reparations, they seek to have their ideologies heard by silencing all others, they want justice by instilling terror. Though they cannot see it, their revolution is already lost. And it is they, themselves, who have defeated it.

In Wall Street Journal opinion piece written by Ayaan Hirisi Ali, who herself is an African immigrant to America, the Black Lives Matter’s intolerant absolutism is called into question by one of the persons it purports to represent: “I have no objection to the statement “black lives matter”. But the movement that uses that name has a sinister hostility to serious, fact-driven discussion on the problem it purports to care about. Even more sinister is the haste with which academic, media and business leaders abase themselves before it. There will be no resolution of America’s many social problems if free thought and free speech are no longer upheld in our public sphere. Without them, honest deliberation, mutual learning and the American problem-solving ethic are dead. Will they now turn on Ms. Hirisi Ali too?

Remember, Camus also wrote:
Absolute freedom mocks at justice. Absolute justice denies freedom. To
be fruitful, the two ideas must find their limits in each other.