The denunciation of a so-called "woke ideology" depoliticizes injustices and violence, especially sexist and racist ones. It also puts any discussion of inequalities in French society offside.
While an Ifop poll of March 2021 underlined that the term "wokism" was very little known in France, with only 14% of the panel having ever heard this word, the denunciation of an alleged "woke ideology" occupies a greater place in the media and political space day by day. Referring to the need to awaken to injustices, first in the face of racism in the United States, the semantics around wokism has become a means of discrediting the analysis and denunciation of injustices as long as they do not concern economic and social inequalities and/or are not limited to the stigmatization of deviant individual behavior. The construction of wokism as an enemy of the Republic and of social and national cohesion justifies staging a crusade in which it is nothing less than a matter of defending the values of the Republic and, more universally, of saving the world by finding "a vaccine against wokism", to use the words of Pierre Valentin, a master's student at the University of Panthéon-Assas, editor of the Fondapol notes and co-director of the youth section of the "Laboratoire de la République" [Laboratory of the Republic]. In the note published in September, written by the psychoanalyst Ruben Rabinovitch and the communicator Renaud Large, the Jean-Jaurès Foundation uses a more sarcastic than martial tone in castigating “the excitement of omnipotence in omnipotent-guilt”, the "social justice warrior (who) hunts down, with drooling lips, any "slippage" that he might denounce".
In a cross-party synergy based on the defense of a conservative conception of the Republic, the so-called wokism is brandished as the main political enemy in order to disqualify, in the sense of taking out of the game, the analysis and the denunciation of sexism, homophobia and racism by making them seriously subversive, because taxed as anti-republicanism. The double discrediting of this term, towards the academic world and the mobilizations against injustices, has the objective and effect of defending the French Republic against those who hold it up as a horizon to be built so that it can live up to the principles of equality, freedom and fraternity that it proclaims. The belief and the refusal of dialogue and pluralism are thus not on the side of the so-called wokism, but of this fantasized republican conception making irrelevant the debate on the means to be implemented so that the French Republic can be the thing of all, each and everyone. It is indeed significant that to say oneself at the same time for equality, feminist, anti-racist and to denounce the fights against inequalities, sexism, homophobia, racism, islamophobia is not considered as illogical or contradictory.
Wokism does not exist, but it speaks. It says the persistence of the denial of inequalities and injustices as structuring the history and the present of the French society. It speaks of the fear of thinking of a future where equality would be a "common" to build and not a sacred achievement to preserve. So that it is not a means of paralyzing the debate, but rather a part of it, let us take the time to analyze this narrative. By depoliticizing injustices, violence, especially sexist and racist, accusations of wokism sanction the discussion of the possibilities of collective and individual emancipation as offside. In order not to reduce the public debate to a division into camps in the face of a posture of authority distributing good points and anathemas on who and what is in conformity with the French Republic, let us discuss the frameworks of the debate. The richness and complexity of analyses and mobilizations against injustices deserve better than diversions.
 This article was first published in Libération Link.
* Réjane Sénac. Political scientist, author, among of other works, of L'égalité sans condition. Osons nous imaginer et être semblables (Rue de l'échiquier, 2019). [Unconditional equality. Let us dare to imagine ourselves and be equals]. Her new book Radicales et fluides. Les mobilisations contemporaines [Radical and fluid. Contemporary mobilizations], was published by the Sciences Po Presses on October 14. It addresses the possibility and modalities of a shared emancipation by analyzing what is common and controversial between commitments for social and ecological justice, against racism, sexism and/or speciesism, commitments often apprehended as a sum of particularistic claims. To do this, she conducted a qualitative survey of 124 association leaders and activists.
 Translated from the French by Andrea Balart-Perrier.