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Umut Özkirimli — How the Left Can Make Its Way Back From Woke

Cancelled: The Left Way Back from Woke (book cover)

Shermer and Özkirimli discuss:

  • cancel culture: Left vs. Right forms
  • Left vs. Right denial of cancel culture
  • identity politics
  • woke, TERF, anti-fragility, anti-racism
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): $8 billion/year in corporations yet “I did not find a single study that found that diversity training in fact leads to more diversity” —McKinsey report by Iris Bohnet
  • Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo; examples of racism v. BIPOC p. 82
  • Loretta Ross, rape, retributive vs. restorative justice
  • Woman’s March, Pussy Hat 2017: by 2018 transphobic (not all pussies are pink, not all women have pussies); white women excluded; pro-life women excluded, Jewish women excluded
  • Why didn’t anyone at Johns Hopkins University, who officially defined a lesbian as “a non-man attracted to non-men” see this as a bad idea because it erases women?
  • the retreat from liberalism
  • leftism, progressivism, democratic socialism, liberalism, classical liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, populism, nationalism, white nationalism, authoritarianism, tyranny
  • moral panics
  • MAGA, Trump, white identity politics, blood-and-soil romanticism
  • Douglas Murray: The Strange Death of Europe, The War on the West, The Madness of Crowds
  • inside fighting in social movements
  • book burning (J.K. Rowling)
  • coddling of minds?

    • culture of victimhood vs. culture of honor
    • culture of safetyism
    • generational differences and life history theory
  • trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, speaker disinvitations
  • What Went Wrong?

Umut Özkirimli is a senior research fellow at IBEI (Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals), a professor at Blanquerna, Ramon Llull University, and a senior research associate at CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs). His writings appear in the Guardian, openDemocracy, Times Higher Education, Huffington Post, among others. Find him on Twitter at @UOzkirimli and

About the Book

Right now, someone, somewhere is being cancelled. Off-the-cuff tweets or “harmless” office banter have the potential to wreck lives. The Left condemns the Right and the bigotry of the old elites. The Right complains about brain-dead political correctness. In reality, both sides are colluding in a reactionary politics that is as self-defeating as it is divisive. Can the Left escape this extremism and stay true to the progressive ideals it once professed?

In this provocative book, Umut Özkirimli reveals how the Left has been sucked into a spiral of toxic hatred and outrage-mongering, retreating from the democratic ideals of freedom and pluralism that it purports to represent. Exploring the similarities between right-wing populism and radical identity politics, he sets out an alternative vision. It is only by focusing on our common humanity and working across differences that the Left will find a constructive and consensual way back from “woke.”

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This episode was released on July 5, 2023.

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