The Origins of Woke: Civil Rights Law, Corporate America, and the Triumph of Identity Politics (Hardcover)
Richard Hanania has emerged as one of the most talked-about writers in the nation, and in this book, he puts forward a stunning new theory about the culture war that could turn our debates upside down.
Richard Hanania has come out of nowhere to become one of the best-known writers in the nation in the last few years. In this book, he directs his attention to the culture war that has driven society apart and presents a stunning new theory about what is going on.
In a nation nearly-evenly split between conservatives and liberals, the left dominates nearly all major institutions, including universities, the government, and corporate America. Hanania argues that this is as much a legal requirement as it is an issue of one side triumphing in the marketplace of ideas. Culture has its own independent force, but the state has, since the 1960s, been putting its thumb on the scale.
This book answers many of the puzzling questions about modern society, such as:
• Why does more and more of life seem like a competition to see who is the most oppressed?
• Who is really behind the sudden proliferation of woke ideas?
• How did ideas that seem so intellectually bankrupt achieve hegemony over elite culture?
• Which laws and regulations have helped the left rise to power everywhere?
• How did workplaces come to be the main enforcers of political ideology?
• When and how did Pakistanis, Samoans, and Koreans all become the same "race" (AAPI)?
• Why did America become so obsessed with inequalities based on race but not religion?
For those angry about wokeness and what it has done to American institutions, this book offers concrete suggestions regarding policies that can move us back to being a country that emphasizes merit, individual liberty, and color-blind governance.
About the Author
Richard Hanania is a research fellow at the University of Texas and the president and founder of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology. He was previously a research fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. He is also the author of Public Choice Theory and the Illusion of Grand Strategy. Hanania earned his PhD in political science from UCLA and is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School.
“Richard’s book is the definitive account on the origins of one of the most extraordinary social transitions in modern American history. To understand the cultural revolution sweeping the US and how to fight it, you must read this book—it is as simple as that.” — SAAGAR ENJETI, cohost of Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar and author of The Populist’s Guide to 2020
“Richard Hanania is a daring and engaging writer who cuts to the heart of the modern civil rights regime, which has had a profound but often hidden impact on American life. He explores the problems, absurdities, and unintended consequences of this form of governance—and outlines a path for reform.” — CHRISTOPHER F. RUFO, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of America’s Cultural Revolution
“DEI will never d-i-e from words alone—Hanania shows we need the sticks and stones of government violence to exorcise the diversity demon.” — PETER THIEL, entrepreneur and author of Zero to One
“Richard Hanania is unafraid to transcend the Overton Window on issues of race and gender because he is grounded in irrefutable facts and history. This book delivers a devastating kill shot to the intellectual foundations of identity politics in America. A must-read for liberals and conservatives alike.” — VIVEK RAMASWAMY, cofounder of Strive Asset Management and bestselling author of Woke Inc., Nation of Victims, and Capitalist Punishment
“Richard Hanania is one of America’s most important iconoclasts. The Origins of Woke is a pathbreaking analysis of how law has helped to create the culture wars of recent times. Not everyone will like it, but it is one of the most important books of this year—and everyone should read it.” — TYLER COWEN, professor of economics at George Mason University and author of The Complacent Class
“Richard Hanania is one of the most insightful, original, and provocative thinkers I follow. With meticulous research and Hanania’s distinctive style, The Origins of Woke offers an illuminating and refreshing perspective—a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the intricate interplay between culture, law, and institutions.” — ROB HENDERSON, Founding Faculty Fellow at the University of Austin and author of Troubled
“Most people think of ‘wokeness’ as a recent and purely cultural phenomenon. In this deeply researched and historically detailed book, Hanania traces its origins to distortions of civil rights law imposed by judges and bureaucrats over many decades, and he offers conservatives a playbook for fighting woke ideology in the fields of law and politics, where they can actually defeat it.” — DAVID SACKS, entrepreneur and host at All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg
“Many pundits ridiculed Ibram X. Kendi, the high priest of wokeness, when he proposed creating a ‘Department of Anti-Racism’ that would censor ‘racist ideas’ and outlaw racial disparities. But what if such an agency already exists? In this trenchant and well-argued book, Richard Hanania shows how an ostensibly new phenomenon has its roots in a fifty-year-old legal regime—one that has strayed very far from the color-blind ideals that created it.” — AARON SIBARIUM, associate editor at the Washington Free Beacon
“Why is corporate America so woke? Combining social science and legal scholarship, Hanania provides a compelling answer: Not being woke is almost illegal. Elastic definitions of ‘discrimination’ expose the whole business world to incessant politically correct shakedowns. Instead of wasting energy refuting woke absurdities, Hanania advises a laser-like focus on curtailing civil rights litigation. Wokeness has triumphed in the marketplace of ideas with thinly veiled government backing. Take that backing away, and the woke threat will crumble.” — BRYAN CAPLAN, professor of economics at George Mason University and author of The Myth of the Rational Voter
“Hanania has it exactly right. The woke phenomenon isn’t going to go away until the legal system that brought it about undergoes serious correction. For decades, our civil rights laws have been subject to deliberate misinterpretations and ill-considered, sometimes incoherent, extensions. The incentives those laws created pushed the country into the situation we’re in now. We need to get back to fundamentals: Equal protection under the law.” — GAIL HERIOT, Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law