Sobriety and Wokeism are Diametrically Opposed to Each Other
Why 12-step Recovery and Social Justice Warriors Collide
***This is from October 2022. It is one of my most popular posts. Somehow I just realized that despite this being the case, it weirdly only got sent out to 136 subscribers. So here it is to all 1,189 of you.
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On October 22, the Substack podcast (which I highly recommend) “Blocked and Reported” interviewed Clementine Morrigan, a young leftist who is pro-prison abolition but who was brutally cancelled by her own tribe not long ago for crimes against the left (she didn’t agree with 100% of the Woke views; gasp!) The interview was fascinating. I disagreed with some of Morrigan’s bigger lefty claims but I found her to be intelligent, articulate, insightful and intellectually honest. She now runs a podcast called “Fucking Cancelled.” It was a breath of fresh air to hear a young lefty calling out the BS on her own side. Rare in 2022.
But what really stuck out to me, more personally, is the fact that she’s sober and in a 12-step program and that she understands these two concepts—recovery from alcoholism and Wokeism—to be fundamentally at odds with one another. This struck me so deeply, of course, because I am 12 years sober myself, and am in AA.
I decided, on 10/22, to comment on the Blocked & Reported Substack. My response garnered a LOT of likes, which made me decide to write this post. Here was my original comment:
“I loved this. The abolition ideology is absurd, in my opinion, but I very much cherish civil debate. On a personal note: Morrigan’s sobriety matters a huge amount here. I’m sober 12 years myself. Our national discourse feels very ‘alcoholic’ right now. Twelve-step recovery helps you grow up and become less narcissistic and self-involved. You begin to mature and sort your life out and help others and genuinely connect to reality. Victimhood is not supported in AA; taking responsibility very much is. Social justice warriors are all about victimhood and immaturity and shutting down dissenting opinions. The two cannot coexist very well. So, good for Morrigan on getting sober and seeing through the lies and woke bullshit!”
And I vehemently stand by my comment. It’s the truth. I am almost 40 years old now. I got sober in 2010, just shy of 28. A kid, really. I started drinking and getting wild in my lurid teens. It lasted throughout most of my twenties. Besides the hard-drinking, absurd, angry, violent, fast lifestyle I lived back then, I was also, politically, very far to the left. I was never Woke; I knew people back then who fit this label and I never trusted either them or their overly simplistic ideology. Coming from a highly educated family and parents who were both teachers was probably much of the reason; I was taught to THINK, and do so critically.
That said: I was on the left. I remember protesting George W. Bush in San Francisco in 2004 with my “anarchist black-bloc” friends, many of them wearing black bandannas over their mouths and causing havoc. Several of them were arrested at various protests frequently back then. (They were also, many of them, vegan bike messengers who later moved to Brooklyn, Philly, Portland, etc. Aka: post-punk hipsters.) My father and I, when I was young, would often fight about politics. We were roughly on the same team (Democrat) but Dad was a Boomer Centrist and I was a young, angry radical who supposedly hated capitalism and thought of America as the most evil racist nation on Earth.
Then I got sober. It was 2010. I was 27. I hit hard rock bottom and just couldn’t do it anymore. I started going to AA. I got a sponsor. I did the 12 steps. I read the AA “Big Book.” I started to believe in a Higher Power. I did amends with dozens of friends and family and ex-girlfriends from the past. My life, slowly, started to change. And in the process I began to grow up. This happened in all areas of my life—some more slowly than others—and it also happened with regards to my political and cultural thinking.