Benevolence and Malevolence: How will our woke revolutionaries be remembered?

British author Douglas Murray once shared a platform with Iranian-born activist Maryam Namazie as part of her One Law for All campaign. The two were there to discuss the illiberalism encircling British society—particularly with respect to Islamism and Sharia—including the leftists who seemed ever willing to open the gates for it.

A major problem with the progressive Left, Murray suggested, was that the most terrible manifestation of its ideological presuppositions—namely, murderous and totalitarian communism—never had a Nuremberg. When the Second World War came to an end, there was celebration and there was relief, but there was also a reckoning. High-ranking Nazi officials (too few, mind you) were tried and executed in front of the world. Perhaps even more consequentially, generations of Germans thereafter bore the guilt of the horror their parents and grandparents had inflicted on the world. Fascism was forever discredited as a political ideology. But after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was no reckoning—not really. There was celebration. There was elation. The Cold War was finally over. But there were no public trials. No shame was affixed to those enthralled by an ideology that had killed tens of millions. Communism still drew breath.

Despite their shared interest in protecting Britain’s secular and universal legal system, Namazie was (and, as far as I know, still is) an avowed communist. She said so publicly and proudly, as do many with a far-left political bent. It is difficult to fathom the cognitive dissonance required to identify as such, but still it persists. As Murray said at the time, “the twentieth century had two dreadful totalitarianisms: fascism and communism … well, I’m sitting on a platform with a communist. That would mean I could never again speak in public if there was any sense to this debate, but there isn’t.” His point, in case it isn’t clear, is that no one who associates with (let alone identifies as) a fascist can show his face within a hundred miles of polite company, but communists can and do. No one proffers the argument that while fascism inspired great acts of evil, the ideology itself was liberating in its essence. But communist tyrannies are still rationalized as aberrations—bastardizations of an ideology that is pure in spirit, if not necessarily in practice.

[Related: “Medical Education Is Infected with DEI”]

I’ve thought about this a lot over the years, as I’m sure many readers have. The casual whitewashing of communism’s brutal history is widespread. Anyone who went to university in the last twenty years will know someone with a poster of Che on the wall (often juxtaposed with another of ‘Tank Man’ at Tiananmen Square) and an affection for “anti-imperialist” guerillas past and present. We’ve all seen the hammer and sickle proudly on display at rallies, while the American flag (let alone the Nazi one) is spat on and trampled. I think about all of this now, too, as every institution I once admired is systematically devoured by ideological locusts brandishing the same tired slogans and employing the same authoritarian tactics as their predecessors. And I wonder: What happens when the woke menace is finally beaten back? Will there be a reckoning? How will history remember these revolutionaries?

A physician friend of mine recently sent me a picture of a highly progressive colleague we both know. The doctor in question, who is gay, was at a Pride march and was adorned with all the requisite bedazzlement. So far, so normal. Bad makeup and general shirtlessness has always been standard fare, and before they started banning gay cops and pretending assless chaps were henceforth to be rated G (rather than G-string), I was among the many who thought Pride was a heartening, if slightly lewd, time of year. But as we all know, the Pride that celebrated the right of consenting adults to do as they wish in the privacy of their own bedrooms is long since dead and gone. And so, it came as no surprise that this doctor’s message, his sign, included the euphemism “gender affirming care.” This is where we are—same makeup, same partial nudity, same enviable abs, but instead of a cry for equality, gay rights, and a plea for compassion, we have a demand for equity, 2SLGBTQIA+ impunity, and a requirement to pay for juvenile phalloplasties, lest we be accused of abetting a genocide. Instead of signs that plead “we are your children,” we have chants of “we’re coming for your children.”

In response to the photo of our out-and-proud colleague, full of glee at the prospect of saving all those newly gender-dysphoric preteens, I asked, “when the revolution crumbles, what do we do with people like this?” Obviously, I don’t think we should be guillotining our woke colleagues. But as with any period of societal upheaval, there are questions about what to do with former tyrants once they’ve been vanquished. Specifically, will we treat our woke ideologues like fascists or communists? When it’s demonstrated beyond a doubt that 99.9999% of our current interventions for alleged gender dysphoria were useless at best and psychologically and physically harmful at worst, what will become of the zealots who pushed them? What of their fellow travelers? Will there be collective shame or collective denial? Will there be justice or obfuscation?

My friend—who was, as usual, more measured than I—replied that he thinks such people will have to be given a pass because of how entrenched woke ideology has become, within medicine and beyond. Gender-bending, top surgery-loving, debate-averse medicine has long been the water in which we all swim. How is the average doctor to know that the water is sulfurated if he knows little else? “He thinks he’s helping people,” as my friend lamented.

[Related: “It’s Not the Standard. It’s the Double Standard.”]

Well, that may be, but I would just point out that as a gay man, our colleague might have taken a moment to consider how his life would have gone if, at the first sign of flamboyance, his doctors had told him that he was, in fact, a girl, and had convinced him to make some changes downstairs. I would also submit that, as a human with a (partially) working brain, he ought to have had some questions about the rapid and aggressive emergence of the trans phenomenon (to say nothing of woke hysteria more broadly), whose dissemination of propaganda is matched only by its determination to shout down anyone remotely skeptical of its precepts.

Just as the journey leftward eventually leads to the darkest recesses of the Right (the so-called horseshoe theory of politics), so, too, does a quest for benevolence eventually lead to the pits of malevolence. The woke have staked their revolution on a narrow view of consequentialist ethics that sees intentions as irrelevant and “impacts” (usually subjective ones) as paramount. As far as I’m concerned, this is a destructive and ignorant way to look at the world; intentions matter to us in everything we do. But you can’t rewrite the rules of the game and expect that no one else will play by them. So no, I don’t think it matters if that doctor believes he’s helping people if, in fact, he’s promoting a pernicious ideology. Just like I don’t think it matters if some communist apparatchik thought he was ushering in utopia while he was actually facilitating the Holodomor—there is a point at which willful ignorance renders moot any supposedly “good” intentions and becomes malice.

Depending on the day, our woke revolutionaries display traits of both fascism and communism, and there is certainly much overlap between the two. But how will they be remembered? Will they be rightly disgraced? Used as a byline for evil and mass hysteria? Or will they shirk true justice, keep their heads down, and wait to emerge anew? Who knows, but for the sake of our kids, I hope the woke are never able to show their faces in polite company ever again.

Image: Adobe Stock


  • Anonymed

    Anonymed is an early-career physician from Ontario, Canada who writes about medicine, culture, and the decline of civilization. He thinks his anonymity is unbecoming. Follow his Woke Medicine essays at

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3 thoughts on “Benevolence and Malevolence: How will our woke revolutionaries be remembered?

  1. The other thing to remember is that the Holocaust put an end to the Eugenics Movement.

    I don’t know what happened to those advocating it, and some of them would have naturally retired due to advancing age, but it just quietly evaporated in a way that communism hasn’t.

  2. I am reminded of what I wrote yesterday — when this all collapses, as it inevitably will, higher education is going to need an army of occupation to ensure that the purge is successful. There is going to need to be a purge, and it is going to need to be enforced by persons outside academia.

    The problem of Bill Clinton is that he inherited a victory without any understanding of the price that was paid to obtain that victory and hence no appreciation of what he had inherited. That is what I fear in any victory over academia — that it will be like Germany after WW-I where they just rearmed and came back a generation earlier.

    Maybe salting the earth is going too far — I actually hope it is — but something needs to be done to prevent the tenured radicals from ever reassuming power….

    1. Unfortunately, we also have to contend with the entrenched administrators. At my university the president, provost and the myriad of VPs are fully woke. Not sure how that purge will take place. But it needs to.

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