Susan Neiman on Why Left ≠ Woke

Yascha Mounk and Susan Neiman in Persuasion:

Yascha Mounk: Your last book has the thesis in its title, it’s called Left Is Not Woke. What do you mean by that?

Susan Neiman: Well, I could also say that Woke Is Not Left. I wrote this book partly to figure out my own confusion. But it was a confusion that was reflected in conversations I have been having with friends in many different countries, all of whom, their whole lives, have stood on the side of the Left, and suddenly felt and said, “What is this? Maybe I’m not Left anymore.” And that struck me as wrong. But no one had quite teased out what the difference is and what the problems are. I didn’t want to give up the word “Left.” And I wanted to write a short book setting out what I consider to be left liberal principles as two different things and distinguishing them from the work in a nutshell. The very short thesis is that woke is fueled by traditional left-wing emotions, having your empathy for people who’ve been marginalized, wanting to correct historical discrimination and oppression. As you know, there’s a German saying that “your heart is on the left side of your body.” But the woke are undermined by what are actually very reactionary theoretical assumptions. And you do not have to have read Carl Schmitt or Michel Foucault in order to share those assumptions. Those assumptions have gotten into the water because every journalist went to college and picked up certain claims coming from these quite reactionary sources that are now often transmitted in the media as if they were self-evident truths. So, I wanted to show the gap between genuine left-wing philosophical assumptions and the premises that the woke are often acting on.

More here.