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Why This One Simple Chart Will End Wokeism

By describing the psychopathological characteristics of extremist movements, we will reduce their power

Over the last few years, Woke progressives have behaved in increasingly odd ways. Black Lives Matter activists in Washington, D.C., screamed at and hovered over a woman sitting peacefully in a restaurant, demanding that she raise her fist in a salute. Climate activists threw soup at a Van Gogh painting, dumped milk on the floor of a grocery store, and cemented their hands to an airport runway. And transgender activists claimed, falsely, that there was a “genocide” against trans people, even though there’s no evidence that trans-identified people are being killed at higher rates than non-trans people.

Some of these behaviors can be explained by the fact that Wokeism is a religion. Two years ago, the two of us published a chart, “Woke Religion: A Taxonomy,” and an accompanying essay, which described how race, climate, trans, and other Woke activists had created their own versions of original sin, taboos, and myths. We turned the taxonomy into a poster and sold hundreds of copies. Both of us still get emails from people saying that the chart helped them to understand why so many previously secular people appear to be in the grip of a deeply superstitious religion.

But over the last year, the two of us felt that something was missing. Wokeism is a religion, but its religious nature didn’t necessarily describe the madness that seemed to grip its most devoted adherents. Many people believe crazy things but don’t behave so narcissistically or psychopathically, without regards for other people, in the way that Woke activists do. And so we decided to create a new taxonomy, one focused on Woke psychopathology.

“Woke Psychopathology: A Taxonomy” is inspired by the traits that characterize what the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-V) calls “Cluster B personality disorders.” There are four of these personality disorders: narcissistic, anti-social (previously psychopathy), histrionic, and borderline. The traits, which run horizontally across the top of the Taxonomy, are Attention-Seeking, Grandiosity, Emotional Dysregulation, Excess of Empathy, Victimhood Ideology, Impaired Reality Testing, Lack of Empathy, and Splitting. Together, the traits form an easy-to-remember acronym: AGE-EVILS.

Along the horizontal axis are the three major categories of Wokeism: Race, Climate, and Trans. Inside each of the 24 boxes formed by the 3x8 grid are descriptions and examples of these traits. The result is striking. Attention-Seeking explains not only throwing soup on paintings but also Jussie Smollett’s hoaxed lynching and Dylan Mulvaney’s antics. Lack of Empathy (for those designated “oppressors”) explains not only BLM activists demanding fist salutes but also disregard for working-class commuters by climate activists and violence by trans activists against women. And Impaired Reality Testing explains not only the false claims of trans genocide but also the claim that racism is worse than ever and that climate change is making disasters worse.

The result is a crib sheet that we believe will be devastating to Woke ideology. The late Polish psychologist Andrew Lobaczewski, who lived under Nazism and Communism, argues in Political Ponerology that it’s not enough to condemn totalitarianism. We must also seek to explain it. And by explaining it, he meant to diagnose it psychologically. As such, in producing this Taxonomy, we are diagnosing Woke movements and the behaviors of their adherents, if not the individuals themselves, as psychopathological. We recognize that these claims, and the Taxonomy, will be controversial. But we think such controversy is necessary if we are to put an end to, or at least significantly reduce, the narcissistic, psychopathic, and histrionic behaviors that have come to define progressive politics.

Without further ado, here’s Woke Psychopathology: A Taxonomy!

The full video is for paid subscribers

Michael Shellenberger
Peter Boghossian