Has Woke Won? And why would that be a problem?

The Leeds Salon has invited writer Joanna Williams to discuss her new book How Woke Won: The Elitist Movement That Threatens Democracy, Tolerance and Reason

The term ‘woke’ has been at the centre of many of the fiercest political and cultural debates over recent years. To be seen as woke is either to be praised for being awake to social injustice or derided for Mao-style awareness-raising.

Writing in her new book, How Woke Won, Joanna Williams is under no illusions: “Woke has conquered the West. Identity politics, cancel culture and trans ideology reign. Censorship and public shaming are the price you pay for dissent”, as seen in the proliferation of workplace diversity training and language codes, in the cancellation of artists and entertainers, and in high-profile cases of dismissal and even arrest for expressing views deemed contrary to the values of diversity and inclusion.

However, many who champion social justice causes argue that the idea of woke’s victory is largely exaggerated or imagined, citing continued cases of discrimination and rising hate crime based on people’s protected characteristics. In fact, some argue that those most likely to use the term ‘woke’ are those on the right, indifferent to the plight of the marginalised, claiming victim status for themselves and trying to whip up a ‘culture war’.

So, if woke has won, how and why has it been so victorious? Or is woke just a stick used to beat those who promote social justice values?

Come along and join the discussion!


Thursday 6 October 2022


Doors open 6:45pm (for 7pm start) to 8:30


£5 cash only to pay on door to Room 1 (or in advance via the PayPal donate button on the home page)


useful reading:

A brief history of woke, Joanna Williams, Spiked, 27 May 2022

What does ‘woke’ mean? Origins of the word, and how the meaning has changed, Benjamin Butterworth, iNews, 26 July 2021

Scared to be ‘woke’? It’s time for progressives to take a stand in the culture wars, Nesrine Malik, Guardian, 21 February 2022

How the word ‘woke’ was weaponised by the right, Steve Rose, Guardian, 21 January 2020

salon partners:

Battle of Ideas 2022 is two days of high-level, thought-provoking, public debate organised by the Academy Ideas, held on Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th October at Church House in Westminster. Visit www.battleofideas.org.uk