The Elite/Woke Alliance #5
Wokism differs from Marxism in how it determines the difference between two closely related but functionally antagonistic classes: the proletariat and the lumpenproletariat. Both are comprised of members of the lower social order, economically speaking. The difference is that the former is informed by a class consciousness that renders them the progressive historical vanguard. The latter, lacking this consciousness, is exploited by the ruling class, coming to act as a counter-revolutionary force.
To be “woke” is to have class consciousness.
It is the un-woke lumpenproletariat that Hillary Clinton famously cast into her “basket of deplorables”. Some years earlier, Barack Obama identified these same people as those rural Americans bitterly clinging to their God and guns, cultural obsessions which rendered them insensitive to progressive class consciousness, and even – if they could only understand – their own best interests. Since 2016, the lumpenproletariat has been increasingly identified as the “white working class”.
In Marxism as understood by Lenin, these deplorables could join the historical vanguard by the enlightenment of class consciousness. Here lies another significant distinction between the Marxism of Lenin and the Marxism of the Woke. For Woke Marxists the white working class can never directly participate in historically inspired class consciousness. At best, they might become an *ally* of it, vicariously participating by amplifying the voices of the truly historically marginalized.
This boundary, while significantly racial, is not, thanks to the logic of Intersectionality, entirely so. It may not, therefore, be entirely correct to say that the white working class, or white people generally, cannot join the Woke Vanguard. Sexual orientation, and especially gender identity, the further from heteronormative the better, serve as side entrances into historical centrality. So it is, for example, that trans-identity offers a final refuge for those oppressive white dudes willing to sacrifice their identities to hold on to status as cultural arbiters. Thus also the especially exalted status of black trans women as the vanguard of the vanguard of the historically oppressed.
The identification of the lumpenproletariat with the white working class, though long established within Academic Wokism, only became popularized in response to the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in 2016, in the guise of “Bernie Bros” and the Deplorables.
Clinton partly walked back her lumpenproletarization of 1/2 of Trump supporters in deference to the fact that she was approaching an election where she might need votes from some of them. The furor caused by those remarks tended to obscure the fact that she had made them before an audience for whom it was a given that not half but all of Trump supporters were beyond historical redemption. Clinton’s meaning within that context was the opposite of how it played to the general public. Rather than condemning millions of Americans according to a radical new standard, Clinton’s point in calling half of Trump’s supporters deplorable was to offer the moderating notion that half of them might not be.