From Woke to Awake: An Intersectionality of Perspective

Mark FischlerCognitive, Editor's Picks, Ethical, How should we relate to the social justice movement?, Integral Justice Warrior, Moral, Perspectives, Politics, Values, Video, World Affairs, Worldviews 4 Comments

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atch as Mark and I have a rich and far-reaching discussion about our present political realities and challenges. As we often do, we dedicate the first half of the discussion to current events, going through some of the major headlines from the last few weeks: the Texas freeze, President Biden’s recent cabinet nominations, military action in Syria, the murder of Jamal Khasshogi, and the ongoing response to COVID.

Then we turn our attention to the main theme of the episode — finding ways to elevate “woke culture” into a genuine “post-woke” sensibility that attempts to build a stronger bridge from postmodern identity politics to a more integral intersectionality of perspective, rescuing the babies of the woke movement from the bathwater of regressive ideology.

Topics include:

0:00 — Introduction
3:46 — The Texas Freeze
15:57 — Biden’s Nominations
31:24 — Bombs Over Syria
47:42 — Is the Left Responsible for Tribalism?
56:36 — The Khashoggi Murder
1:06:02 — The COVID Response
1:14:01 — From Woke to Awake
1:30:40 — An Intersectionality of Perspective

This discussion is an opportunity to invite more “post-woke” (as opposed to “anti-woke”) conversations. It surfaces some of the really-real realities and multicultural challenges that wokism is legitimately trying to respond to — while also showing how limited their interpretations and prescriptions tend to be.

Yes, LL cultural biases get encoded into LR systems (for example, this article explores how different cultural idioms and preferences become systemized into music theory itself, which then gets encoded into music-making software, which can then limit the expressions of people using the software who may come from a different cultural with different preferences and selection methods). And yes, oftentimes these biases go unnoticed until that LR system is dropped into a new LL cultural context. Some things that are commonly described as “universal” or “worldcentric” still retain some residue of regional/cultural bias.

But no, these are usually not intentional efforts to colonize or oppress. In the case of the article above, it is just the inevitable result of local cultural expressions (and technologies) finding their way to the world stage and rubbing against each other. The growing pains of multiculturalism.

I think this post-woke context (again, in contrast to “anti-woke”) is very important. If anything, it invites more people to play, while reminding us that here are some very real babies the need to be saved from the bathwater of illiberal overreach.

As I like to say these days, I think we need to elevate the idea of “intersectionality of identity” to a genuine “intersectionality of perspective”, where “identity” is just one of many layers in the stack.

Integral IS intersectionality. It just does it better.

Where woke intersectionality tends to focus on one single axis, associating “privilege and oppression” solely with these various identity-types, it generally doesn’t apply this axis to our overall development, to state-training, to multiple intelligences, to interior/exterior and individual/collective polarities, etc. Which is why it tends to reduce people to types — because the story of development is not one that has saturated our culture. 

And this tends to yield anti-progressive views, because the notion of “developmental progress” goes out the window. “Oh, you’re the type to have said something like that 20 years ago? That means you are still the type who would likely say the same thing today.” This thinking has become common in many (not all) progressive circles, despite being anti-progressive in every way.

An intersectionality of perspective, on the other hand, would view “privilege and oppression” as just one of many important lenses, and would apply these lenses across any number of quadrants, levels, lines, states, types, and polarities, while simultaneously locating and reintegrating “identity” in the self-stack and lowering its opacity.

In other words, postmodern intersectionality is purely an intersectionality of “types” (race, gender, orientation, etc.), while integral intersectionality brings all the other major factors to bear, so that we end up with a rich interconnected latticework of Kosmic Addresses.

Healthy “wokism” invites us to take a closer look at the Zone-4 waters we are swimming in — waters that are typically very difficult to notice before we get to the green altitude — and to clean up that water when we need to. Unhealthy wokism, on the other hand, imagines that the other 50% of the country are deliberately dumping poison into the water, when more often than not they are just swimming in waters they themselves cannot yet see.

Let’s go post-woke my friends.

What do you think about the idea of a post-woke project? What needs to be included, and what needs to be left behind? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

If you enjoy this episode, be sure to check out more episodes of Integral Justice Warrior. Watch them all for only $1!

Written and produced by Corey deVos

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Mark Fischler

About Mark Fischler

Mark Fischler is a Professor of Criminal justice and current program coordinator for the criminal justice and criminology programs at Plymouth State University. Prior to joining the Plymouth State faculty, he practiced law, representing poor criminal defendants for the New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office. Mark has worked extensively with alternative theoretical models in law, constitutional law, and higher education, and has published on integral applications to teaching, being a lawyer, and legal theory. His focus in the classroom is ethics and criminal procedure, and is well respected for a teaching philosophy that emphasizes recognizing the humanity and dignity of each student. Professor Fischler was awarded the outstanding teaching award at his university in 2014. He currently offers a weekly Spiritual Inquiry class through Satya Yoga Studio.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is editor and producer of Integral Life. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.