Scientific knowledge, by definition, is not easily corrupted by politics—when it is genuinely scientific. The Woke believe that objectivity is neither possible nor desirable, so they reject this entire view, usually by arguing that science is a “social construct,” by which they mean power-politics by specific means.
When dealing with the Woke—that is, devotees of the ideology outlined in Critical Social Justice Theory—one assumption (among many) that is an almost sure bet to make about their claims is that some trick of language is being played. What’s needed to expose the vacuity of the Woke position, then, is not necessarily the ability to bring facts to bear on the matter or even to argue better than they can (as they’ll deconstruct your position and leave you looking foolish to anyone slightly sympathetic to their cause). The best thing to do is expose the trick.
Most often, these language games—as Wittgenstein named them, the postmodern theorists then exploited, and the Woke have appropriated—take one of a rather small number of forms. In nearly all cases, it’s some form of a “strategic equivocation,” in which two ideas are being forwarded simultaneously, allowing the Theorist to play both sides of the argument to his own advantage in any given situation.
One example of these sorts of language games is the “motte and bailey” rhetorical structure, in which a radical position (the “bailey” position) is maintained by defending only a highly defensible (but disingenuous) variation (the “motte”). When the pressure is on, the claim being made is just some perfectly reasonable thing (the motte), like that Critical Race Theory is just an analytical tool that fosters racial sensitivity. When it comes off, the radical position (the bailey)—racism is the ordinary state of affairs in society and thus society requires a revolution to reorder it according to the Critical Race Theory view of the world by empowering Critical Race Theorists—comes back out to play. An extreme example of this style of strategic equivocation are “Troll’s Truisms,” as Nicholas Shackel had it (“deepities,” as named by Dan Dennett). Troll’s Truisms occur when something is trivially true in a banal sense with no real implications and false in a profound sense with serious implications (Dennett gives the example of “love is just a word”).
Frequently, these sorts of equivocations are facilitated by another strategic equivocation common to the Woke: meaning something different by everyday words. Among many possible examples of this disingenuousness—racism, anti-racism, Social Justice, diversity, inclusion, critical, tolerance, and antifascist all spring to mind—its subtlest form occurs when the word being used is very much so technically correct but contains at least one assumption hidden from view by the Woke Theorist. Arguably, diversity works this way in that the hidden assumption is that unless a person has a critical consciousness (i.e., is Woke), they have a false consciousness and therefore do not truly represent their views authentically, which in practice ensures basically no diversity of thought. Far more subtle and effective than this, however, is the idea of “social constructions.”
The Woke are social constructivists, or, more accurately, critical constructivists. A critical constructivist is someone who holds to a strong or strict social constructivism view that is then meant to be analyzed by Critical Theory. Social constructivism is the view that the various features of human experience and our interaction with reality are the products of social interactions, and thus to discuss those features in terms of some underlying reality misses the point of talking about the social processes that has made them what they are.
The most prominent example of this way of thinking is the belief that gender is a social construct, which social constructivists would maintain means that the most or only relevant way to think about gender is in terms of the social processes that define it. In its extreme forms, gender social constructivism holds that male and female biology have nothing to do with one’s gender—or, in queer Theory, even one’s sex—and that it is all a product of “socialization,” which is society brainwashing people to believe their gender is as society believes it should be. More important than something like gender in social constructivism, however, is the belief that knowledge is socially constructed.
Critical constructivism takes this further by adding in a layer of analysis that sees all social processes as also imbued with politics. In Critical Theory, the belief is that the political ideologies of the powerful groups in society set the expectations and beliefs for everybody else, and these are then taken as right and natural and not sufficiently questioned. These hidden political beliefs are always, as a rule, said to be self-serving, and Critical Theory believes that the people pushing them are either unaware of them (false consciousness) or cynical and malicious (i.e., everyone but them is either (willfully) ignorant or evil). This is why Critical Theorists always believe they can read everybody’s mind and divine that their motivations are always something horrible, like racism, or the result of having not “educated themselves.” Under critical constructivism, then, saying something is “socially constructed” automatically means it is politically constructed in the interests and service of the people who had the power and privilege to construct it.