The Tragedy of Victim Culture
Guest post by Mark Avis. The first person is Mark's voice.
Vcitim culture: the ideology of Wokeism needs victims to survive, and the core of the ideology makes sure that this is a reality. The Woke ensure a perpetual stream of “victims”.
I would like you to imagine a scenario. A coach is in the changing room before a rugby match and gives the team a pep talk before the game begins. Both teams in the match have similar talent and potential. However, the coach’s demeanour is serious and grim-faced. This is what the coach says:
“Well, lads, we are in for a tough one today. The other team have all the advantages. They have been better trained, have the best kit, and are fit and ready to win. Even worse, and more importantly, their coach is on the rule-making body for rugby and has set up the rules to favour their team. Added to this, the referee is completely biased in favour of our opposition and will make sure the other team wins. We don’t really have much chance in this match, given all of this. It is all weighted so heavily against us that we are pretty well done before getting onto the field. Still, get out there, and take the beating that is coming. Then, when we lose, know that it is not your fault. It is just the system is against you from the start. It’s all unfair, and you should be really, really angry about it.”
Given this pep talk, what chance do you think the team will have to win the game?
The talk, of course, will send most of the team out onto the field with a highly negative attitude. A small number of team members will have personality traits of resilience, optimism and grit and will thus go on to the field determined to win. People with such positive traits are relatively rare people in any given population. The majority of the team will go on to the field dejected and make a token effort towards winning. With so few players even trying to reach their potential, they will inevitably perform poorly; the team will be soundly beaten.
The ideology of Wokeism makes a fetish of the victimisation of minorities. It claims that all systems are against them and that most of the population is against them. At every point in their lives, minority groups are bombarded with messaging about the hopelessness of their position; the Woke tell them that they are destined to fail, as all of the odds are against them. It is a message of despair.
If we return to our coach and rugby team at the end of the match, the coach gives a debrief on their poor performance:
“Well, lads, that was a terrible disaster. Still, what can I say…I did tell you that there was no chance that you could win. Of course, you lost. The entire game was rigged against you. You should be really angry about that. With your support, if you follow me, I will work to fix the problems. I will demand that we are given a fair shot at our next match. We cannot win under the current rules as they work against us. The only way we will ever win is to level the playing field. I will petition the rule-making body and demand that they make the game fairer for us. First, I will demand that the opposing team only play with 13 players instead of 15. Without some rebalancing, we can never win. But, even with the reduced opposition of 13 players, I am still not sure we can win. Not sure at all. Everything is so rigged against us that I don’t believe we can ever win. Not unless we tear down the entire structure of rugby. The entire game, the system, is rigged against us.”
Given the debrief and a similar pep talk as at the previous match, what chance do you think the team will have to win the next game?
The answer to the question above should be obvious. The team will likely fail a second time. And, when the game appears weighted in their favour with only 13 players in the opposing team, the failure will be even more debilitating.
It is an obvious point to say that society is not a rugby game and that society is far more complex than a rugby game. However, the fundamentals of human psychology are universal, and it is a very relevant analogy when viewed this way. Continually telling people that they will likely fail, for whatever reason, will become a self-fulfilling prophecy – creating and ensuring a victim culture.
The Woke will claim that it is not their message that is the problem but the state of society. They will point to adverse outcomes for minorities and claim these result from systemic issues in society, that this is due to systemic racism, anti-homosexuality, etc. However, the claim of systemic causes of problems comes despite all Western Liberal Democracies enacting legislation and systems to ensure minorities enjoy equal treatment. In other words, the “system” is systemically working against issues such as racism and anti-gay biases. As such, the foundation of the Woke argument is weak. Their core argument relies on inferring racism from outcomes, not from identifiable acts of racism or any identifiable problems in systems.
By contrast, we can actually point to the endless negative messaging of the followers of Wokeism as an actual fact and make a reasonable claim that their negative messaging makes failure more likely. The negative messaging is a real and identifiable cause. If the Woke were to deny their role in poor outcomes, they would need to explain how negative outcomes will not follow from endlessly telling people that they have the world against them and have little chance of success. Such a claim would rightly be seen as risible.
So whilst the Woke make their hand-waving and unsubstantiated claims of systemic problems, they are undoubtedly a cause of the problems they claim they are fighting. This is just one of the great ironies of the ideology of Wokeism, but it is also a very significant one.
None of this is to say that the “system” is perfect. Indeed, the Woke have systemic power in many institutions (e.g. universities) and use systemic power to promulgate their negative messages to minorities. They are therefore using systemic power to harm the outcomes of minorities. This is another irony.
In addition, society is not perfect. Racism and other biases remain in society, but these have long since become the attitudes of a fringe minority in society. Such biases are so fringe that they have less and less impact on outcomes. Of course, the little remaining prejudice should remain a concern but must be kept in proper perspective. The Woke, of course, do the opposite of providing proper perspective; instead, they exaggerate the impact of biases such as racism with their claims of “systemic” problems. Again, we can see this as ironic because it will harm minorities and thus cause the unequal outcomes they claim as their evidence for “systemic” problems.
Also, there may be tangible negative legacies for minorities from past societal problems. For example, one legacy might be that minorities may, on average, be more likely to be born into poorer economic circumstances. Regardless of issues such as race, being born in more impoverished economic circumstances can sometimes mean poorer prospects. In these cases, the worst thing to happen is for the Woke to bombard the relatively poor minorities with messages that they have little chance of success. It is adding a severe handicap to an existing handicap. Indeed, the Woke’s negative messaging will help ensure that negative legacies persist. Once again, we have yet more irony.
When we think of the analogy of the coach and rugby team, all of our commonsense psychology tells us that the coach is the problem. Formal psychology would back up our commonsense psychology. Indeed, we could very cogently argue that we should remove the lousy coach from the team. The coach has been destroying ambition and hope and replacing them with hopelessness and pessimism. These, we should be able to agree, are major drivers of the failure of the team.
Despite seeing what is obvious with the coach, at present, we have an influential and vocal part of the population, the followers of Wokeism, acting just as the coach acted. Many of the Woke are senior people in our institutions, in politics and are in leadership roles in other parts of society. We can see what to do with the coach. As for the Woke leaders, why would we not treat them in the same way as the lousy coach? In other words, it is time to recognise the societal harm of Wokeism and sideline the Woke from leadership roles in our society. After all, we can all see the impact of a lousy coach on a rugby team. Why can we not recognise the same with the Woke and minorities?