Open Manuscript Notes, #4
The woke creation of the apex-oppressor
As noted previously, I provide notes and excerpts of my current manuscript-in-progress for the really kind people who have become my paid supporters here on substack. If you are not yet a paid supporter, you’ll regardless be able to read a portion of this, and if you want to become a paid supporter, you can do so at the end of this preview.
Thanks for your support, by the way. You folks are how I eat.
The manuscript is due for submission 1 April, 2022, for publication by a UK leftist publisher towards the end of 2022. More details about its publication will be announced after I’ve submitted the manuscript.
Also, special thanks to Constance Davis, who just reminded me about Pierre Bourdieu.
The Woke Creation of the Apex Oppressor
No radical attempt to critique the woke ideological constellation can begin without first acknowledging the truth of what this movement is reacting against. Regardless of how absurd the positions may seem and how contorted the logics appear, the “systems of domination” which they sense absolutely exist. However, just like a conspiracy theorist may have truthfully identified that there are larger political, economic, and social forces affecting and limiting the actions of individuals, yet inaccurately named those forces as ‘the Jews’ or ‘the aliens,” the woke have similarly misunderstood the objective dimensions of the structures against which they fight.
Nowhere is this misunderstanding clearer than in the form of the apex-oppressor class within the woke oppression hierarchy: the “white heterosexual able-bodied cis-man.” Within the woke cosmology, it is he for whom all the world has been made, all institutions founded, all laws designed, all wealth accumulated, and all exploitation affected. As in the ecological understanding of the wolf as the apex-predator in an ecosystem, he preys on others while being uniquely privileged to fear no predation. Yet unlike the wolf and other natural apex-predators, all of whom have an overall balancing and positive effect on the ecosystem (keeping herbivore populations in check and thus benefiting the survival and growth of forests), the white heterosexual able-bodied cis-man is seen as having no purpose within the social order except to dominate.
His existence and the attributes which describe him define the rest of humanity by division and opposition. He is white, and thus the opposite of all the people in the world who are not white. He is heterosexual, and thus possesses the only identity not included in the LGBTQIA+ formula. Being a man, he is thus in opposition to all woman, but even more so being cis-, he has been endowed with the great fortune of never questioning his birth assignment. And unlike the sick, the diseased, or those with mental and psychological illnesses, there are no societal or natural limits to the capacities of his body.
Such men undoubtedly exist, but their physical or material existence is much less relevant to the category than his symbolic existence, or rather his existence as a symbolic container. Into that symbolic container are placed all manner of lacks and absences which compose him in negation: he is not woman, nor disabled, nor black, nor gay nor queer, nor is he trans.
From these negations comes his supposed power of dominance. As a not-woman, he does not suffer as women do but rather causes them to suffer. He has no disabilities, and therefore moves throughout the world without obstacle while creating obstacles for others. He feels no internal need nor societal pressure to hide his sexual attraction for his binary counterpart, and thus makes miserable the lives of all those whose desires manifest differently. He lacks any sense of incongruity between the man others see him as and the man that he feels himself to be, and thus oppresses trans and non-binary people by the naturalisation of his experience upon the rest of humanity. His skin is light, absent the darker hues of others, and by this lack he rules over all others.
He is the normative, the rule against which all other people are measured and found lacking. He creates this world, and it is he for whom the world has been created. He is the elect, the chosen son, the architect of all oppression and the master of all dominance.
The problem is that he doesn’t actually exist, or at least not in the way the woke understand him to exist. He is their creation, in the same way that the proletariat and the bourgeoisie were creations of Marx and the Christian and the Heathen were creations of the Catholic Church. That is, he is a symbolic construction crafted through ideological pastiche and bricolage, sewn together from loose historical and mythological threads along a pattern mapping him to physical reality only through collective belief.
The woke correctly understand that there are social constructions underpinning economic and societal oppression. Absolutely, some people have more wealth than others, and the people who compose those groups engage in social and political struggle not only to maintain that wealth, but also to guarantee their continued access to further wealth creation. The pre-capitalist aristocracy in Europe, for example, employed both physical and social or symbolic violence to ensure their large landholdings were secure and that they would have a continued supply of landless peasants who could be compelled to labor on their land. Trade guilds restricted access to specialized crafting skills to guarantee higher wages and continued demand for the labor of their members. Protestant town dwellers employed in specialized labor (medicine, law, academia, and accounting) adopted and propagated specific social codes and signifiers to ensure the new professions they quickly dominated would not be open to those outside their religious and political sensibilities. The early “captains” of capitalist industrial production likewise learned quickly to accumulate not just economic capital but symbolic capital, influencing the legislative politics which formed our still-current forms of private property and wage labor.
That is, every group which finds a way to accumulate wealth exerts social, political, and economic force to ensure not just that the group can hold onto that wealth, but that it also attains a monopolistic or at least exclusionary access to the means of that accumulation. Woke ideology does not just posit the white heterosexual able-bodied cis-man as yet another of these groups, but rather an esoteric category which binds all these other groups together and extends into the pre-modern past as a historical force.
One can even suggest without any risk of absurdity that the woke have merely retooled the formula from The Communist Manifesto with different actors. That is, rather than “the history of all hitherto existing society" being “the history of class struggles,” it is the history of race struggles, or gender struggles, or struggles of sexuality, or of ability. In the woke cosmology, it is not the limited bourgeois class against the innumerable proletariat, but rather the white heterosexual able-bodied cis-man against everyone else in the world.
The economic, political, and social system that the bourgeois class created has a name: capitalism. The white heterosexual able-bodied cis-man is likewise said to have created systems: white supremacy, cis-heteropatriarchy, toxic masculinity, and countless other sub-systems (homophobia, ableism, and so on). He has supposedly constellated a symbolic order at the top of which he alone sits, accumulating wealth and preventing all others from accessing his proprietary secrets. His systems are the reasons for which black people are poor, why trans people commit suicide at very high rates, why people with “invisible disabilities” struggle to hold regular jobs, any why many gay teenagers struggle with meth addiction or are bullied at school.
Here we must recognise that woke ideology is engaged in the very same mechanism of symbolic ordering in which Marx and Engels engaged. Whether or not there is “such a thing” as the white heterosexual able-bodied cis-man is just as irrelevant as is the question of whether or not the world can be divided between bourgeoisie and proletariat. What is important here is that the white heterosexual able-bodied cis-man is a symbolic category which woke ideology is attempting to manifest as a physical reality.
In other words, or more precisely in the words of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, woke ideology is attempting to institute the white heterosexual able-bodied cis-man into the constellation of radical political struggle: