“Team america: world policeThe comedy-puppet movie, “I’m a Puppet,” makes fun of America’s self-importance. The theme song boasts what the country has produced. McDonald’s, nfl and rock’n’roll. Also, less likely, freedom, Christmas, and books. New research by David Rozado of Te Pukenga–New Zealand Institute of Skill and Technology suggests something else Americans didn’t invent: an ‘awakened’ phenomenon.
The term loosely describes a set of ideas that changed the worldview of educated leftists. All disparities between racial groups are evidence of structural racism. That norms of free speech, individualism, and universalism are a camouflage for discrimination. And that injustice will continue until the privilege system is dismantled. Conventional wisdom holds that awakened ideas began in the social science departments of American universities, moved to national newspapers, and spread elsewhere.
This has always been a partial story. The godfathers of awakening ideas, such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, philosophers who argued that all social relationships are actually about power, were largely based in France. Rozado’s new paper takes things further. He analyzes his 98 million news articles, tracking words like “transphobia,” “racist,” and “sexist.” This phenomenon does not appear to have originated in the United States (see chart). In fact, countries such as Australia, Canada and Sweden took the lead.
Why has America fallen behind? Real prejudice may have suddenly worsened outside the United States, but this seems unlikely. The US recovery from the global financial crisis of 2007-2009 was faster than other countries. Anger at the system could have been more acute elsewhere. A third possibility concerns politics. America has historically not been very receptive to left-wing ideas. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the awakened idea was slow to take hold.
Researchers will question this methodology: It is difficult to rigorously quantify something as slippery as arousal. That said, the phenomenon is undoubtedly global. Wherever you go, it’s hard to escape social justice warriors. World police. ■
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https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2023/04/13/where-did-woke-ideas-start-to-spread Where did awakened ideas begin to spread?