Woke true believers (statistical %%%)
FbF (Fisted) enquires on Twitter how many members of the US elites are “true believers” in progressive liberalism (aka “wokeness”)—he speculates that perhaps very few really believe, says that he partly believes no one really believes. His speculation is a bit insincere, it’s part of the human game where other people only do things for money or power whereas you do things for pure and noble reasons—people say it about Hitler’s Germany all the time “none of them believed it, they were all just psychos and madmen out for power”. It’s splitting and minimisation, in psychological analysis.
But the question is interesting in its own terms—and perhaps we should first consider what we mean by “believe”. After all, if you check out the latest surveys vast percentages of the population claim to approve of interracial marriage and gay relations—often up in the 80% to 90% bands—but surely these people are not all believers, let alone “elites”?
I’ll take “believer” to mean someone who is prepared to be an activist for an idea, a condition we can measure by whether or not they are willing to join a political party to advance that idea—the actual “activist activist” core, the people who do most of the legwork and are “fanatical believers”, will be smaller than that; but I take that if you’re prepared to pay money to join an organisation and turn up to the odd meeting and canvass for it at elections that you “believe” in what the party proclaims. Interest in politics correlates with IQ, so that people who become activists or join a political party can be reasonably included in a broad definition of “elite”—which I’ll take to mean “able to participate in higher technical activities or management roles”.
Beliefs can change quickly. I knew a Russian boy at school who was in primary school when the USSR fell. The teacher came in one day and said, “Communism, all this [gestured to the Soviet flag and Lenin portrait] forget it.” And that was it, everyone in the class forgot it (more or less). Unless you really care about an issue you’ll go with the flow, just follow the class instruction sheet—and, of course, many people really did care about the USSR and there were suicides around the world when it fell, just like with Hitler’s Germany, because people made an idea their life and they didn’t see any point going on without “the idea” in the world. But most people aren’t like that.
The Soviet Union provides us with a useful way to gauge how many people “really believe” in progressive liberalism because after the USSR fell the Communist Party was banned and then reformed as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) under Gennadey Zyuganov. KPRF membership in the early 1990s was about 500,000 at a time when the Russian Federation’s population was 148M—so 0.33% of the population. Let’s apply the same figures to the US, if we imagine the progressives fell from power and all the George Floyd tributes were pulled down by exultant MAGAites—current US population is 333M, so that gives us 1.9M progressive activists to carry on the “good fight” when the “forces of evil” have taken power and progress has stalled.
Of course, such a crude numerical analysis only gives us a rough idea as to a post-woke world—there are many differences between America and Russia, between progressivism and Marxism-Leninism. But it gives us a flavour, I think—and it feels roughly right. Don’t you think there are probably about 1.9M Americans who really believe in progressive ideas? That figure probably accounts for almost all people who work in higher education, secondary and primary education, the progressive media, the labour unions, the intelligence services, and the various guilds for lawyers and civil servants—and such people would doubtless join a progressive party “post-woke”, just like the old-time nomenklatura joined the successor Communist parties, like Germany’s Party of Democratic Socialism, post-89, not so much to fight for Communism but to protect their pensions and fend off attempts to “lustrate” them.
As an additional check, it should be noted that the Socialist Reich Party, successor to the NSDAP in post-war West Germany, had about 40,000 members in the 1950s when Germany’s population was roughly 70M—so 0.05% of the population. However, the difficulty here is that post-war Germany was subject to a systematic campaign to “deNazify” it—that didn’t exist in the USSR, and is unlikely to exist in a post-woke America; hence the “believer” core is much smaller—and perhaps reflects how many people are “woke fanatics” in America today, assuming that only fanatics and true believers would persist in activism under conditions where everything is done to make the social atmosphere hostile to them (denied work opportunities, mass media campaigns against them, semi-criminalisation etc). In America, this means the hardcore progressive cadre is about 166,500 strong—and these could be taken as the “true believers” and activist core, as opposed to lay members or fellow-travellers.
Of course, what a person “really believes” is always a slightly imponderable philosophical question—with many people who express ideas via memesis because they hear them repeated all the time by high-status people in the media, so that your “belief” is almost a factor of your social network and is often kept implicit to garnish your status in that network (“Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” Nudge nudge, wink wink—how can such a person be said to “believe” in anything?). However, for this exercise in “social science” we don’t need to consider such imponderables—and there certainly are people who consciously believe in religious and political ideas, and the above schema reasonably accounts for them.