Nick Cave is completely right about woke culture

The singer-songwriter has criticised the ‘suppression of contrary systems of thought’.


Australian musician Nick Cave is increasingly the most sane, liberal and open-minded voice in popular culture today.

The legendary singer-songwriter, who recently released a new album, Ghosteen, has in recent months stood up to intolerant anti-Israel boycotters, has said Morrissey’s music shouldn’t be dispensed with just because of his controversial views, and now he has taken aim at woke culture more broadly.

Cave regularly responds to questions from fans on his blog, ‘The Red Hand Files’. In a recent entry, responding to questions about his political leanings and how ‘woke’ he considers himself to be, he penned a thoughtful, elegant riposte to the self-righteousness and illiberalism that he sees as underpinning the woke movement.

‘I tend to become uncomfortable around all ideologies that brand themselves as “the truth” or “the way”. This not only includes most religions, but also atheism, radical bi-partisan politics or any system of thought, including “woke” culture, that finds its energy in self-righteous belief and the suppression of contrary systems of thought. Regardless of the virtuous intentions of many woke issues, it is its lack of humility and the paternalistic and doctrinal sureness of its claims that repel me.’

He goes on to describe how equally dogmatic ideological enemies, be they antifa and the far right, or New Atheists and devout religious people, feed off one another’s inflexibility and self-righteousness:

‘Antifa and the far right, for example, with their routine street fights, role-playing and dress-ups, are participants in a weirdly erotic, violent and mutually self-sustaining marriage, propped up entirely by the blind, inflexible convictions of each other’s belief systems. It is good for nothing, except inflaming their own self-righteousness. The New Atheists and their devout opponents are engaged in the same dynamic. Wokeness, for all its virtues, is an ideology immune to the slightest suggestion that in a generation’s time their implacable beliefs will appear as outmoded and fallacious as those of their own former generation.’

This man is a treasure. Read the whole thing here.

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Andrew Clark

18th October 2019 at 4:10 pm

Nietzsche would be a little displeased. Atheism isn’t an ideology; it’s just the rational philosophical consequence that occurs when the spiritualist assumptions that underpin every mythical narrative and every metaphysical system are questioned. That’s not to say that the New Atheists are right about everything – especially their tone, and especially everything moral and political. But like Richard Rorty, any pragmatist is an atheist when comes to a practical assessment of seeking after a post-religious society. That’s not to say that religion should be destroyed; but rather, confined to museums as a token to remember humanity’s past lives.

Reginald Monnet

21st October 2019 at 2:51 pm

Comedy gold. The number of assumptions in your diatribe took my breath away especially comical was you achieved it by kindly dispensing the assumptions of others while seemingly unawares of your own, implied and explicit. I always snigger when the oh so” rational” betray a profound irrationality, but then again, what would this mere pleb know? Let us know when the comedy dvd comes out.

Andrew Clark

23rd October 2019 at 4:46 pm

Feel free to list the assumptions and irrationalities. Or is that too much like hard work for you?

Tom Hilton

26th June 2020 at 10:46 am

The really frightening people are those who cannot see their own assumptions. Like you.


18th October 2019 at 9:21 am

I’m sorry, but not not holding fixed/strong views on anything is moral and intellectual cowardice, the product of a feeble mind. Does Nick Cave actually believe in anything or does he just spend his time sneering at people who do?

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