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Say Hello To The Newest Enemy Of Woke, Inc. [Videos]

Today, major corporations scramble over each other to sell us their woke credentials, in an apparent fading interest in the products they were originally known for. Now, it seems, these companies are more eager to advertise their opinions on voter laws, pronouns, green new deals and whatever else woke activists decide matters most this month.

Working class people aren’t buying it. Increasing numbers of employees view the whole circus with disdain. Consumers are voting with their feet. And now there’s a new enemy of Woke, Inc.

Meet Consumers’ Research, a conservative consumer group that has invested over a million US dollars to tell American AirlinesCoca-Cola and Nike to forget wokeness and start paying attention to their customers again.

In three 30-second ads released by the non-profit this week, the companies’ hypocrisy is made public and their CEOs are called out by name.

“American [Airlines] requires passengers to show ID to fly, but attacks Texas’s popular voter ID law… Doug Parker, American Airlines: serve your customers, not woke politicians,” the first ad protests. The ad also complains of “shrinking legroom during Covid” even as the company received billions in taxpayer bailouts and its CEO received a $10 million salary.

Addressing Coca-Cola, a second ad warns against products that are “poisoning America’s youth and worsening the obesity epidemic” from a company that “benefitted from forced labour in China” while “funding phoney science to minimise the harms” of their beverages.

Nike receives the harshest scrutiny from the campaign. “Nike is constantly political,” the ad asserts. “Why?”:

Cover.
Congressional reports suspect that Nike used forced labour in China. Religious minorities were ripped from their families, sterilised, sold to factories. Nike made shoes in those same areas. Congress tried to ban Nike’s labour practices. Nike fought back with highly-paid lobbyists.

The video ads will be shown on cable TV channels and websites across the US. They will also target local markets where each company is headquartered. “We are giving consumers a voice,” Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, said in a statement. “These companies should be putting their energy and focus on serving their customers, not woke politicians.”

In a press release, Consumers’ Research promised that these three ads are only part of “the first phase of an ongoing campaign exposing companies that have increasingly put politics ahead of their customers.”

This is a welcome move.

It is time for Woke, Inc. to wake up to the interests of everyday people. As I’ve previously warned, what has arisen in recent years is essentially an ecosphere of Communist dictatorships within capitalist empires. Consumers are subjected to the noise constantly, but those most hurt are workers who suffer under “authoritarian governance in [their] work and off-hours lives,” according to political philosopher Elizabeth Anderson.

Left unchecked, what we see to be moving towards is parallel marketplaces — as conservatives, libertarians and the working class boycott woke businesses and patronise companies that remain above the political fray. And this won’t stop at consumer goods: we are already seeing the media and entertainment sectors divide over politics.

In this environment, it is all too common to read corporate statements that begin with, “As a company, we believe…” But since when do companies believe anything? They make products and deliver services.

And if they forget why they exist, the market will eventually remind them, for better or worse.

COLUMN BY

Kurt Mahlburg

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate… More by Kurt Mahlburg.

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Disney’s Embrace of Wokeness is a Mickey Mouse Move

Wokeness is a bottomless pit of virtue signaling.


If there’s a lesson we can learn from Disney of late, it’s this: wokeness is a bottomless pit — its appetite can never be satisfied.

I’ve previously written about Disney’s attempt to purify its film canon by slapping “offensive content” labels on classics like The Muppet ShowThe AristocatsDumbo, and Peter Pan.

I’ve also critiqued their empty attempts at virtue signalling — threatening to boycott Georgia if the state passed pro-life legislation, all the while filming Mulan in Communist China, in the same province as the CCP’s notorious Uighur concentration camps.

Since the weekend, the fearless Christopher Rufo released a bombshell story exposing just how deep the woke rot has spread at Disney. Publishing a trove of whistleblower documents, he wrote:

In the past year, Disney executives have elevated the ideology of critical race theory into a new corporate dogma, bombarded employees with trainings on “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” “white fragility,” and “white saviors,” and launched racially segregated “affinity groups” at the company’s headquarters.

Rufo explained that “multiple Disney employees, who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals” spoke of a training program called Reimagine Tomorrow that has become “deeply politicized and engulfed parts of the company in racial conflict”.

If you’re familiar with critical race theory dogma, nothing in these documents will surprise you. They are full of the usual tropes about the United States having a “long history of systemic racism and transphobia” — along with the need for white employees to “take ownership of educating [themselves] about structural anti-Black racism”.

Even more troubling — but no less surprising — the documents claim that competition, individualism, and timeliness, are “white dominant” values that “perpetuate white supremacy culture”.

Realising that everyday Americans rightly find these ideas toxic, divisive and absurd, Christopher Rufo has been on a mission this year to turn the heat up on schools, corporations and states that indulge them. His exposé on Disney was part of this effort.

The Walt Disney Company obviously realised it was now on the back foot. So several days later, the company released a statement, claiming that, due to Rufo’s reporting:

These internal documents are being deliberately distorted as reflective of company policy, when in fact their purpose was to allow diversity of thought and discussion on the incredibly complex and challenging issues of race and discrimination that we as a society and companies nationwide are facing.

But as Rufo subsequently pointed out, he had merely “published direct quotations, contextual screenshots, and the original source documents in their entirety”. As for the claim that this somehow didn’t reflect company policy, Rufo countered that “the antiracism program was branded with Disney’s logo, endorsed by executives, and disseminated through the company’s internal portal.”

Perhaps Disney’s most Mickey Mouse move was claiming that the purpose of its antiracism program was to “allow diversity of thought” on the topic of race. On the contrary, a fixed feature of critical race theory is its intolerance for any viewpoint that rejects the framework of “white supremacy” and “systemic racism”. Indeed, as part of his original report, Rufo explained that “conservative and Christian employees are actively discouraged from voicing their opinions” at Disney.

Not content with these victories, Rufo held Disney’s feet to the fire even further, launching a series of tweets aimed squarely at the company’s executive team. “Disney’s top executives are four white males with a net worth of $1+ billion,” he announced, “And yet, they encourage their hourly-wage employees to complete ‘white privilege’ checklists and ‘work through feelings of guilt, shame, and defensiveness’ about their whiteness.” He went on:

Disney tells American employees to reject “equal opportunity” and embrace “equality of outcome.” Disney Chairman @RobertIger built a fortune of $690 million, while Bangladeshi workers making Disney t-shirts were paid as little as $0.08 an hour. Woke capitalism is built on lies.

Adding some final nails to the coffin, Rufo tweeted, “Disney’s executive team… [are] fake anti-racists, using buzzwords to deflect attention from their moral transgressions”.

By midway through the week, Disney had removed its entire antiracism program from the company’s internal portal. It turns out that promoting race essentialism and collective guilt — and dividing people by their innate characteristics — is bad for public relations.

The challenge with critical race theory is that it does this with a seductive veneer — buzzwords like “diversity”, “equity” and “antiracism”. But when you peel back the layers, the truth is exposed: wokeness is a fraud.

Disney best stick to making movies.

COLUMN BY

Kurt Mahlburg

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate… More by Kurt Mahlburg

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

How Corporate America Got Woke: A Review of ‘The Dictatorship of Woke Capital’

In his new book “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital,” Steve Soukup’s explores the rise of progressivism as a cultural force and explains why corporations increasingly are taking sides in politics.


How did corporate America, long considered one of the most conservative American institutions, become a lead protagonist in a culture war over all manner of progressive activism?

We now have a routine spectacle of corporate social responsibility seminars and environmental, social, and governance—or ESG—conferences, where widget makers of all kinds commit to promoting climate activism, identity politics, union labor, and sundry other causes. Somehow, selling an honest product at a fair price seems like a secondary concern in a corporate America increasingly focused on an array of stakeholders with such diffuse boundaries as “the local community,” “the global environment,” and “society at large.”

How did we get here?

Finance professional and political analyst Steve Soukup gives us a fascinating and in-depth answer in his disquisition on modern politicized investing, The Dictatorship of Woke Capital.

The first half of Soukup’s book is a high-intensity sprint through about a century and a half of intellectual history that name-checks everyone from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Woodrow Wilson, Theodor Adorno, Saul Alinsky, and Milton Friedman. In Soukup’s telling, the shift began when Johns Hopkins University was founded in the image of Germany’s Heidelberg University in the late 19th century, and progressive political theory began to grow in popularity in the United States. The same trends later accelerated when a new generation of continental Marxism hit the US in the mid-20th century.

These developments brought about a revolution in how left-leaning theorists viewed the functions of government—and other large institutions like corporations.

First, in the progressive view, neither the old aristocracy nor liberal democracy were equipped to achieve the necessary goals of society. Rather, a professionally educated elite of administrators and bureaucrats was needed. This was the progressivism of theorists like Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Croly, and John Dewey. They carved out a large realm of governmental authority for administrators, but still considered their role to be outside of politics itself.

Eventually, however, political scientists and management experts, led by academics like Syracuse University’s Dwight Waldo, decided that expertly implementing democratically chosen policies was no longer enough. A subsequent generation of experts would be expected to substitute their own ethical and philosophical standards for those supported by voters.

“Public servants should become active, informed, politically savvy agents of change,” as one of Waldo’s colleagues would later put it.

This is the recipe for what critics of big government have come to call a permanent governing class—civil servants with effective lifetime tenure, collaborating with like-minded activists outside of government, who place their own judgment ahead of that of the voters and their elected representatives.

Yet, the trend of enlightened university graduates turning institutions toward progressive goals wasn’t confined to government agencies. The same logic would eventually apply to the management of corporations as well.

Soukup also recounts how, at the same time that American scholars of public administration and management were expanding their disciplines, self-proclaimed radicals like Antonio Gramsci in Italy, György Lukács in Hungary, and Max Horkheimer in Germany were attempting to revive Marx’s reputation and influence by explaining away many of Marxist theory’s failed predictions. When the German academics of the infamous Frankfurt School went into exile in the United States during Hitler’s rise to power, they began to exert significant influence on academics and writers in the US, culminating with unlikely pop-culture celebrity Herbert Marcuse.

Marcuse was widely associated in the popular imagination with political movements in the 1960s, from student radicalism on college campuses to free love on communes and beach blankets across America. While Soukup argues that he was less of a direct influence on left-wing politics than some have given him credit for, his ideas about the evils of capitalism and bourgeois society were very much part of the liberation politics that swept much of the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s. When soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell lamented the increasing anti-business influence of radical leftists in his 1971 memo to the US Chamber of Commerce, one of the few people he criticized by name, besides Ralph Nader and Eldridge Cleaver, was Marcuse.

This revolution held that not only was a capitalist economy inherently exploitative, as classical Marxism teaches, but the entirety of modern society is repressive and dehumanizing, with everything from the nuclear family, organized religion, and formal schooling conspiring to circumscribe our essential natures and limit our infinite potential.

With so much of “the system” losing credibility, it was not surprising that public attitudes toward business, ambivalent even in the best of times, turned more hostile. Unfortunately for people with anti-establishment attitudes, there are never enough university fellowships and socialist newsletter editorial positions to go around. Well over 70 percent of Americans work in the profit-seeking private sector, once we subtract everyone who works for government agencies and non-profit organizations. This means that anti-capitalist ideas are coming from inside the building.

This conflict, in which many people—at both the entry-level and management-level—work at companies about which they feel morally ambivalent isn’t entirely a product of progressive ideology, but the academic theory behind it certainly didn’t help. My Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Fred L. Smith, Jr. has written extensively on this problem—business leaders afflicted with an inferiority complex over their chosen profession and feel the need to “buy back” their moral standing in the world with leftist virtue signaling.

The second half of The Dictatorship of Woke Capital catalogs a series of controversial activist campaigns by some of the biggest names of Wall Street: Apple, Disney, and Amazon. The issues are varied, but the overall trend is nevertheless worrying. Rather than concentrating on what they know best and staying neutral in the culture wars, major companies have hitched their brands to one side of a contentious political divide. The verdict on whether this will ultimately be good for business is still very much uncertain.

Specific issues aside, the influence of all of those progressive and Marxist scholars the book documents can be seen in the modern claim that no institution should be outside the political realm. Soukup writes that “this battle is between those who believe that politics is and should be the overriding force in all human interactions and those who believe that politics is just part of the human experience, a part that is best kept as narrow and limited as possible.”

Attempting to turn every corporation in the world into a political combatant will not make the world a better place. One doesn’t have to be a conservative, like Soukup, or a free-market warrior of any description, to appreciate that.

Review of The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business (Encounter Books, 2021), 208 pp.

COLUMN BY

Richard Morrison

Richard Morrison is the Senior Editor at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Coke Gets a Kick in the Can from Consumers

A week into the fiasco over Georgia’s election law, most Americans want to know: just who are these woke CEOs listening to? Not to their shareholders, who can’t make a profit when their companies alienate half of the country. Not to lawyers or legislators, who could set them straight on what the policy actually does. And certainly not to U.S. consumers, who are sending a resounding message that they’re done with businesses who can’t check their radicalism at the door long enough to read a 98-page piece of legislation.

“It’s insanity,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) agreed on “Washington Watch.” Like most people, he can’t believe that Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta, and so many others would put the solvency of their companies on the line to make a political point that — it turns out — isn’t even true! When even MSNBC is telling Joe Biden he “needs to keep it honest,” the Democratic Party has reached a low even the liberal media can’t believe. And yet the White House and its field marshals in Hollywood and Atlanta created such a ridiculous narrative about this law that people like Willie Geist are going on the most radical news outlet in the country and insisting it’s impossible to “square the president’s argument.”

“[D]oesn’t it seem that a lot of people jumped the gun?” Joe Scarborough asked in follow-up. They moved the MLB All-Star Game “before actually either reading the bill or understanding how the bill lined up with New Jersey laws, with New York laws, with laws all across the nation,” he said. Then, astounding even more viewers, he took aim at the lynchpin of the Left’s whole argument. “…When you line this bill up with what the laws were before the pandemic and what the laws are in states like New York, it is not Jim Crow 2.0.”

And what’s happened in the meantime? Countless shoppers are walking away from major U.S. brands because the Left’s dishonesty “whipped up a controversy that left millions of people grossly misinformed, frightened voters, mired major corporations in high-stakes public relations frenzies, distracted the political discourse, and furthered the country’s divisions,” the Federalist’s Emily Jashinsky argues. A new survey just released today found that three-quarters of Americans think corporations should stay out of politics. Another 64 percent of them said they’d be less likely to support those who don’t. And this is a poll, incidentally, that talked to more Democrats (34 percent) than Republicans (31 percent)!

Americans of all stripes are fed up. Once they understand what the Georgia law really does, NRO’s Alexandra Desanctis points out, “a majority — again including a majority of Democrats and non-white Americans — also supported the law’s regulations as applied to ballot dropboxes. Almost 80 percent of those surveyed — including a majority of Democrats and non-white Americans — said they support the law’s ID requirement for absentee voting.” The same was true, she explains, about MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s unilateral decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. “A slim majority said they supported MLB’s decision to move the game at first, but after learning more about the specifics of Georgia’s law, a majority said they were ‘less supportive’ of MLB’s decision.”

As for this loud minority deterring other states from following Georgia’s lead — well, the Left was wrong about that too. An astounding 361 election integrity bills have been introduced in 47 states across the nation this year — and that includes a 43 percent increase since February. If Joe Biden and his party were hoping to scare off other states, they might want to try a different strategy.

“I lay the blame [for this uproar] clearly on these corporations who do not have a backbone. They don’t have the guts to stand up and just accept the truth. They are so afraid of what this Left-wing mob could do to them that they’re alienating their very own customers,” Loudermilk fumed. When Major League Baseball pulled out of Georgia, who do you think they’re going to hurt, he asked? “Well, they’re not going to hurt the other big corporations based there. They’re going to hurt the guy who sells hot dogs at the stadium. They’re going to hurt the server at the restaurant who’s not going to get this business.”

A handful of days ago, he talked with some of those business owners who were trying to come back from the brink after the pandemic. “These are businesses that thrive on having these conventions and sporting events. They were all excited about the All-Star Game.” They wondered if this was the one thing — the catalyst — that could bring their businesses back from poverty. “We met last week,” Loudermilk remembered, “and they were concerned about Major League Baseball. But around the table, everyone said, ‘You know, we don’t [think] that baseball would go to that extreme, because none of this is true.’ And here they go. They’re going off the deep end. It’s unbelievable.”

And of course, these same corporations — whether we’re talking about Delta or others — repeatedly come to these same state leaders looking for special subsidies or tax breaks. Major League Baseball has anti-trust immunity that they’ve enjoyed since 1922. They all look to government — and specifically free-market Republicans — to protect them but now bite the hand that feeds them.

“The last day of the legislative session was the day that Coca-Cola came out and made their announcement [against the election reforms],” Barry explained. “Obviously, the CEO never did read the bill. He just took Stacey Abrams and Nancy Pelosi and the extreme Left’s talking points and came out with this asinine statement that had no truth to it whatsoever.” And the irony, he says, is that when Delta publicly opposed it, the legislature was considering — that day — whether to renew the special tax breaks the airline gets for being based in Atlanta. “How brazen it was for the CEO [to do that], knowing that this [could] cost them millions and millions of dollars… They have totally lost all sense of morality to start with. And I think they’ve totally lost their minds as well.”

Liberals may be brazen now, but Republicans from the Senate on down are sending a message that if corporations want to fuel the crazy policies of the Left, then they need to rely on someone else to protect them from the high taxes and regulations Democrats want to force on them. “You can’t placate to the far-Left mob — especially when they come out and they lie,” Loudermilk shook his head, “and then expect us to… support you the way that we have in the past when you’re just going to turn around and stab Americans — not Republican politicians — but stab Americans in the back.”

EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

A Horrifying Woke Halloween Video Special

The only thing more horrifying than zombies: woke opinions.

In this terrifying Halloween special, people with bizarre, woke opinions leap out of bushes and terrorize you in your workplace to scream their insane beliefs at the top of their lungs. Put the kids to bed before you watch this one!

If you want more bizarre animated videos like this one, head on over to our YouTube channel and subscribe. You (probably) won’t regret it!

EDITORS NOTE: This political satire cartoon by The Babylon Bee is republished with permission. All rights reserved.