This is a great overview of the genealogy of woke supremacy.
I disagree with James Lindsay on three points though:
1.) First, I do not believe that race is a social construct that was invented in the 16th century to justify slavery and colonialism. Slavery wasn’t abolished by Spain and Portugal until the late 19th century and then it was largely because the British were pushing for abolition.
It was also the Catholic Church that provided the religious justification for the conquest, division and settlement of the non-European world by Spain and Portugal. The Caribbean was considered “beyond the line” in the 16th and 17th centuries. European treaties and codes of conduct did not apply there even between rival European powers. European international law did not apply outside of Christendom. The idea of universal natural rights and international law was still in the distant future.
Europeans developed racial theories to explain racial differences. Specifically, the old environmental theory which explained racial differences in terms of climate failed to explain the observations that Europeans made during the Age of Discovery. American Indians did not vary in color from Newfoundland to Tierra del Fuego. Africans didn’t change color when brought to Europe or the Americas. American Indians didn’t change color when brought to Europe. Europeans didn’t change color when transported to Africa, Asia and the Americas. In such a way, it quickly came to be understood that race was hereditary.
2.) Second, James ends up jumping in the podcast from the 16th century to Weimar Germany in the 1920s because it was during this period that the Frankfurt School was developing critical theory. The very concept of “racism” was only invented and came into circulation in Far Left circles in the 1920s and 1930s. “Racism” first emerged as a problem for the Far Left which saw it as an obstacle to class struggle. You could say that “racists” were invented as an object of study by the first “anti-racists.” The idea had been in the air for over a century though. Liberals had previously talked about “prejudice” when they meant “racism.”
3.) Third, James isn’t being completely honest in presenting liberalism and critical theory as being totally opposed. Is the Center Left really opposed to the Far Left or are they political allies? Are they opposed to each other in places like Portland where violence is taking place? Didn’t the Center Left borrow and mainstream the idea of “racism” from the Far Left in the first place? Didn’t the Frankfurt School return in triumph to postwar West Germany and work with liberals there during Denazification? Why is this garbage flourishing in bastions of liberalism? It is because progressive liberals and leftists have always had a cozy relationship on campus and in the media far more so than either have ever had with conservatives? The radical leftists have always pushed their ideas into the bloodstream of progressive liberalism and so what is happening now with the redefinition of “anti-racism” isn’t that unusual.