Woke, feminized CIA sentences to ponder

From River Page:

The CIA, likewise, has been most successful in its own kind of culture war, whether it be through the CCF, anti-Soviet propaganda, or the lead-up to the Iraq War. Regardless of their failures, both the CIA and the professional class use their adeptness at culture war as a means of self-justification. The CIA utilizes the new dialect of power because it grants the agency legitimacy within the ruling elite; the Left and its professional-class van­guards cry foul because they do not want to admit their own involvement in the credentialing and reproduction of this elite.

Right-wing critics acknowledge the power of wokeness but, like leftists, mistakenly believe that it is a bona fide political project capable of changing institutions rather than merely reifying them. The conservative commentator Sohrab Ahmari’s dystopian fantasy about a future Kamala Harris presidency, in which America is in danger because, among other things, “the vast majority of our spooks spend their days analyzing their identities along intersectional lines of race, gender and sexuality,” presupposes a level of competence in the pre-woke CIA that is far beyond what it deserves given the historical record—the pre-woke spooks hardly kept America safe from danger. There is, however, an illuminating portion of Ahmari’s hypothetical that reveals an essential truth about “wokeness.” In the future imagined by Ahmari, the Ameri­can military is ill-prepared to execute its mission, having been busy naming and renaming bases. When discussing Guantanamo Bay—now appropriately called Naval Base Mumia Abu Jamal—a staffer passively notes that the mission of the base hasn’t changed. This suggests that even the most aggressive right-wing critics of “wokeness” question its ability to change anything beneath the surface of American politics; it can change appearances, not purposes.

And this:

As the public face and self-understanding of the CIA has changed, sympathetic popular culture depictions of the organization have relied on similar themes of feminism, wokeness, and self-actualization to por­tray the agency’s work as morally complicated but necessary.

Here is the full piece, and for the pointer I thank a loyal MR reader.


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