There’s No Such Thing As ‘Woke Capitalism’

I've reached an intellectual limit with the comically farcical notion that corporate America is engaged in an attack on the nation's values and cultural heritage via something called "woke capitalism." This is a daily debate and it's part and parcel of the noxious "culture wars" responsible for the fraying of America's social fabric. On Sunday, Bloomberg ran an entire article documenting the "messy breakup" between Republicans and their erstwhile corporate allies. "The incoming GOP majority pl
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23 thoughts on “There’s No Such Thing As ‘Woke Capitalism’

  1. Maybe Americans are also getting tired of being overly “woke”- regardless of the type or political influence of the wokism.

    ‘Strange World’ is a flop and a financial disaster. So it would appear that in corporate America you have to actually deliver a quality and/or good value product first and foremost!
    If corporate America then wants to dress a quality and/or good value product up in “wokism” clothing to extract another bit of profit- so be it- however, corporate America is hopefully learning that Americans won’t buy 100% pure woke. Some US corporations might need to replace certain board members.

    1. What does “100% pure woke” even mean? This is the kind of nonsense I’m talking about. Here’s the reality: America is a pluralistic society in every sense of the word. And it’s going to get a lot more pluralistic going forward. Let’s face it: “Woke” is a derisive term employed by those who haven’t accepted the trend towards ethnic, racial, religious and/or social pluralism for those who have accepted it.

      A little self-reflection is all it takes to stop being aggrieved at that trend. Everywhere you go, every, single day, there will be people who don’t look like you, don’t think like you and don’t share the same values as you. And you’ll just have to get over it. Because guess what? America isn’t necessarily going to be an overwhelmingly straight, white, Christian country forever. In 250 years, it might be a predominately Hispanic nation where people practice a religion we’ve never even heard of in 2022.

      Things change pretty fast. Just ask the real Americans (so, not us). 400 years ago, this country was a thriving, pristine paradise inhabited by people who’d mastered the art of self-sufficiency. They cultivated and respected the land they lived on and the animals they relied on and they took nothing for granted. Then what happened? White people showed up on ships, murdered the native population in the name of Christianity, declared dominion over the entire place, and ran it for a century on the back of imported slave labor.

      So, you know, if it turns out that our 250-year history as a nation of oppressive, genocidal racists is, in fact, giving way to a society of tolerant, inclusive “woke,” “snowflakes,” that might not be the worst thing in the world.

      Finally, something tells me that in the grand scheme of things, nobody is going to view the box office performance of an obscure animated film released over a holiday weekend (a holiday which, incidentally, is a cynical celebration marking that time the natives we murdered saved our lives because we were too stupid to understand the basics of farming), as a watershed moment. Oh, and as far as I remember, Pocahontas was a pretty popular animated film. What if historians eventually discover she was gay? Should we keep that a secret to avoid ruining the good reputation of a well-received cartoon?

      1. To new readers, I should note: This reply of mine isn’t as abrasive as it might sound. I’m a staunch advocate of uncompromising self-reflection, both at the personal level and at the national level for Americans. I started making personal progress in my own life when I adopted that uncompromising approach to assessing my own shortfalls. It’s been all progress, all day since then. I think the same would apply at the national level if we’d just be honest with ourselves about who we really are (which would then allow us to assess whether that’s actually who we want to be). The only progress I ever made prior to committing to uncompromising self-reflection was in the arena of making money. For those of you who’ve never made any money, I can promise you that money doesn’t compensate for a life spent in denial. It helps, but it’s not a cure-all. The best case is self-reflection, honesty and money. Heh.

        America, I think, suffers from a similar delusion to that I once suffered from: We’re a rich, powerful hegemon, so we’re free to lie to ourselves.

      2. “…Let’s face it: “Woke” is a derisive term employed by those who haven’t accepted the trend towards ethnic, racial, religious and/or social pluralism for those who have accepted it.[…] Everywhere you go, every, single day, there will be people who don’t look like you, don’t think like you and don’t share the same values as you. And you’ll just have to get over it. ”

        I seriously doubt a billion Indians are in exactly the same spot on a political, religious, or social spectrum. Same with a quarter billion Indonesians or 200 mil Brazilians or 200 mil Nigerians. There are “conservatives, moderates, and liberals” in every society on the planet, whether or not they “look like like you”. There are also young people and old people; there are those in power and those who want to be in power. Conservatives and moderates across countries and across cultures have always favored keeping what they perceive as valuable in society from those seeking to overthrow the existing order. Sometimes the revolutionaries are from the left (1792, 1848, 1917, 1968), and other times (less frequent) the establishment are leftwing and the revolutionaries are from the right (1815 Congress of Vienna and 1989 Eastern Europe). Usually, agitation from one side prevents the other side from taking things too far. That’s the normal order of things. But I doubt we can categorically assert that one side is always and everywhere correct.

  2. In 1970 Milton Friedman wrote a seminal (and controversial) article with the basic thesis that the social responsibility of business is maximizing profits. Business, he argued is not a social service organization. It is the central engine for creating economic value. We didn’t know “woke” then. Rather, we in those days we called it social responsibility. (I still can’t get over our seeming desire to get attention by making up new words to describe concepts that were named sometimes hundreds of years ago.)

    A good illustration of what you describe here, is the practice of firms to sponsor golf tournaments and pass money to various charity. Why do they do it? Easy, because the cost of this once a year activity makes much more money than the firms spend on these events. It helps in the communities they serve and makes friends in many places. They pander to important suppliers, customers, community leaders, and feed them. When golf stops making firms more money, they will stop doing it.

  3. The republican party has become a party of pretension. Certainly not the Republicans of the atomic age. Ronald Reagan often used the expression “make America great again.”
    When I was young, people that were very old told me I was living in the greatest of times, it has gotten so much better since then. I have no idea what the Republican Party wants anymore. All I know is what they don’t want. Change. Good luck with that one.

  4. I can’t agree that all company CEO’s will look to profit first. The best example is Elon Musk. In his dedication to the right he seems willing to piss off almost every Tesla buyer (past and future) with his Trump-like views and activites. Will the Trumpers step up to buy EV’s when Tesla’s brand is irreparably tarnished on the left?

  5. ironically when Trump announced his re election campaign he embraced being “woke” as a means of reaching out to African Americans…another tidbit tossed into the short term memory dustbin…

  6. Everything you have said in this article is true except in the red regions where guys view the yearly family reunion as a chance to meet women and massresistance.org is the most popular website. Pluralism and self-reflection are nasty words in those red regions of the country that now control the House and half of the Senate and your words are pure heresy there. So, unless someone conjures up an external threat that we can all rally against, the USA is approaching its sell by date. IMHO

  7. I keep hearing the term/label “woke” and I am at a complete loss as to what it means. What criteria does something need to meet in order to be considered “woke”. I just don’t know. It seems to be nothing more than a label that Republicans place on anyone they disagree with. I have no idea whether I deserve or any particular person or organization qualifies as “woke” when I don’t know what it means. Frustrating.

    1. Note that Jamie Dimon goes out of his way at every possible opportunity to list all the things JPMorgan is doing for the world, a list comprised almost exclusively of causes identified as “woke” by the right-most wing of the GOP, but Dimon chafes at the label (“I’m not woke”).

    2. From H’s reply above:
      “ “Woke” is a derisive term employed by those who haven’t accepted the trend towards ethnic, racial, religious and/or social pluralism for those who have accepted it.”

      I have not seen this definition of “Woke” anywhere else. It is positively brilliant. Hits the nail on the head.

  8. H’s writing is terrific, but sometimes, like now, he outdoes himself. This topic is at the heart of what needs to be addressed if this country is going to avoid tearing itself apart. Via this article, it occurs to me that capitalism works because it moderates between citizens and their government. To wit, polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans want some form of gun control. Corporations, directed by the profit motive, are acknowledging this by their policies even as government does little to nothing. Without companies being afforded free speech, government would quickly bring this nation to its knees.

  9. Excellent article.
    This is one the great observations: “What’s notable, though, is the extent to which Republicans seem to be slowly realizing that their positions on a variety of socioeconomic issues are no longer compatible with modernity,” where modernity is the realization and awareness that the America and the world are made up of so much more than “straight, white, christians,” and that the planet is getting warmer.

    To the head-scratcher that just can’t seem to figure out what “woke” means, read this article again along with H’s response posts, and wake up.

    Understanding what “woke” means really isn’t so difficult.
    H, despite your “Nowadays, it’s fashionable to be “woke” — whatever that means,” you know exactly what it means and just laid it all out in no uncertain terms.

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