Friday 9 April 2021

Be Woke - Or Go Politically Broke.

Conventional Wisdom? The Republican Right is convinced that to “go woke” is to “go broke”. It simply does not believe sufficient Americans feel strongly enough about social justice to make any kind of boycott remotely effective. Clearly, the Boards of Directors of more and more American corporations disagree. 

RECENT MOVES by large American corporations to distance themselves from Republican Party voter suppression initiatives signal a profound historical shift. For the past 100 years, most political scientists have worked on the assumption that no political party cares more for the welfare of American capitalism than the Republican Party – and vice-versa. To hear Republican presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio come out swinging against Delta Airlines for its criticism of Georgia’s new voting law is, therefore, both confusing and disconcerting. If “woke” capitalist corporations have joined the ranks of the Republican Party’s enemies, then who the hell are its friends?

Before answering that question, however, let’s sample just a little of Rubio’s invective. According to the left-wing American periodical, Mother Jones:

“In a strange line of logic, the Florida senator seemed to argue that the law, which among other restrictions bans non-poll-workers from distributing water to waiting voters, was not as bad as genocide against Uighur Muslims in China, where Delta also does business, and therefore should not be subject to the company’s reproach. ‘They make billions of dollars in a country that doesn’t even have elections…and they don’t say a word about it,’ Rubio argued, ‘but in America they’re prepared to boycott a state and condemn them publicly…They’re hypocrites.’”

Not that they would stoop so low, but Delta Airlines could have responded that Georgia’s Republicans and the Chinese Communist Party have all the appearance of political brothers, given that in both jurisdictions only one party is allowed to win.

The airline might also have pointed out that, while a boycott of China by Delta would have not the slightest impact on the fate of the Uighurs, a boycott of Georgia would greatly assist the efforts of black voters in that state to defend their hard-won civil rights. Certainly, the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56 had that effect!

The Republican Right is, however, absolutely convinced that to “go woke” is to “go broke”. It simply does not believe sufficient Americans feel strongly enough about voter suppression to make any kind of boycott remotely effective. Clearly, the Board of Directors of Delta Airlines disagree.

And, they’re right. The demographic structure of the United States population is undergoing a profound transformation. It is becoming younger and browner and, worse still, from the Republicans’ perspective, it is becoming “woker”. If this were not the case: if the ‘natural home’ of a clear majority of American voters was the Republican Party; then what possible interest would GOP-controlled state legislatures have in making it harder for young, brown and black Americans to cast their ballots?

Capitalists, both in the United States – and here in New Zealand – are rightly focusing their attention on the workforces and consumers needed to generate profits in the future. Far-Right political strategists refuse to acknowledge this. Unfortunately, for them, the terrified and angry whites upon whose slumping shoulders Donald Trump built his 2016 victory, are growing older and sicker and deader. Their political dominance can only be maintained by keeping voters who do not look and think like themselves away from the polling booths. But, that way lies the suppression of democracy and civil war – neither of which is particularly good for business. The last thing intelligent capitalists ever want to see is blood in their own streets.

Donald Trump’s Republicans must be getting ever-so-slightly panicky about how many of the party’s friends and allies are abandoning them. They are right to be worried. By alienating corporate capitalism and making bitter enemies of the mainstream media and universities, the Trumpists are, if they only knew it, corralling their followers into a socio-economic and cultural dead-end.

When all is said and done, it is corporate capitalism that manufactures the future, the mainstream media which decorates it, and the universities that pass out the credentials entitling their holders to live in the nicest parts of it. By shutting themselves out of liberal capitalism’s Emerald City, Trump’s poorly educated munchkins are slamming the door on their own and their children’s best chance for a happy and prosperous future.

“Go woke, go broke!”, the Far-Right gurus bray. They should pay more attention to history. For more than 250 years, Capitalism has avoided going broke by consistently putting its prodigious energies behind those widest awake to the future’s most profitable possibilities.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 9 April 2021.


John Hurley said...

Open immigration and asym­metrical multiculturalism support global capital’s bottom line as well. Dissolving borders allows greater access to low-wage unskilled labor. It also helps businesses that rely on high-skill workers avoid supporting the schools that educate them, the families that rear them, and the communities in which they grow up. Anti-majoritarian politics, mean­­while, undermines the ability of any demos to form and wield democratic power against business. Thanks to these shared interests between intellectuals and investors, left-modernism has combined with capitalism’s “four freedoms”—the free movement of goods, services, capital, and labor across borders—to become the ruling ideology throughout the West. It is hegemonic in English Canada—Kaufmann analogizes left-modernism there to the status of Islam in Iran!—and was so in the United States prior to the election of Donald Trump.

Immigration patterns combined with larger demographic trends show that whites will become a minority in all English-speaking countries by 2100. Kaufmann projects “unmixed whites” will make up just 40 percent of the U.K. and only 20 percent of Canada by that time.

The Democrats are bringing in voters.
The other thing is that the Republicans want voter ID (same as drivers licenses).
Corporates hate a countries ethnic base. Both National and Labour/Green want to keep us divided. Notice Nationals absence in the culture wars?

John Hurley said...

TVNZ can call returnees from India and China "Kiwis" as much as they like and cast them in that role for their propaganda but it doesn't alter the fact that we perceive ourselves belonging to some group or other. I feel no strong affiliation to multicultural New Zealand. Whose country is it? A question I keep asking is "who is in charge?" which really means "what holds us together?". Apart from living here and having citizenship we are a collection of "peoples" managed by media and bureaucrats. I don't know why but intuitively in such a situation corporates will be partners: divide and rule.

Sam said...

Fucken Florida man.

Barry said...

Where did you get the idea that Trump represented conservatives/the right. Trump simply targeted the pissed off who were disadvantaged by globalisation and/or had been ignored by the democrates.
The big companies will bend with the social wind. When it changes direction so will they. Their only intetest is dollars.

AB said...

Yes. But the Republican right knows one thing that the 'woke' corporations don't seem to - that once people start voting they are harder to control than when they never vote. What would corporate America do if these enfranchised young black and brown people start to view themselves in class terms, and threaten to put whomever is the next generation's Bernie Sanders into the White House? Then you would see corporate America rapidly re-align with the Republican right. In this sense, the Republican right is being less ahistorical than the 'woke' corporations.

David George said...

Aside from the unedifying gloating there's a bit of truth bending about this essay Chris.
Voting reforms to ensure legal compliance, and to avoid disputed results being described as "voter suppression initiatives" is more than a stretch. Perhaps the Dems manic embrace of racialism as their ticket in perpetuity to the White House has more than a few fatal flaws

"Companies like Coca-Cola now impose expensive racial ‘diversity training’ on their employees. Other businesses, like Uber Eats, have gifted free delivery for African-American-owned firms only, while Oakland has initiated a $500-a-month basic-income programme for poor people, funded by rich non-profits, but with the proviso that whites need not apply.

Racialism also holds short-term political benefits for Democratic politicians. Every Republican move now made – getting rid of the Senate filibuster or challenges to electoral laws – has morphed into a ‘return to Jim Crow’. A discussion of controls, whether at the voting booth or the border, is immediately labelled as racist. Anyone suggesting otherwise risks being sent into the digital gulag by the dominant oligarchy."

"The vast majority of all races, noted a 2018 survey, reject the political correctness increasingly embraced by the billionaire class as well as corporate HR departments. Indeed, the most extreme people on racial issues are not Blacks and Hispanics but radicalised whites, whose Antifa shock troops well represent the lunatic fringe.

The woke may be winning in cyberspace and the corporate suite, but economic factors may prove more decisive in the long run. By 2032, minorities will constitute the majority of the American working class. They did better in terms of income under President Trump than previous administrations from both parties. This was one reason for the shocking move of Latin voters, devastated by the lockdowns, to Trump last year." Well worth a read in full.

Joel Kotkin:

Guerilla Surgeon said...

It's interesting that that should be their slogan, considering that when you look at the figures, the Democrats seem to look after the economy a damn sight better than the Republicans. My American Internet acquaintances get quite sarcastic about how Republicans suddenly 'rediscover' the deficit whenever there is a Democratic administration. Because – they claim at least – Democrat spending is skewed towards productive endeavour rather than tax cuts for the rich.

David George said...

What are these so called " voter suppression initiatives"?

Biden condemned Georgia’s law recently, writing in a statement that: “Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.”
The Washington Post’s fact check section recently gave the president “Four Pinocchios” after he said the law “ends voting hours early.” The AJC corrected its article and noted that the new law, signed by Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, doesn’t “limit voting hours.”

“A previous version of this story said the new law would limit voting hours. On Election Day in Georgia, polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and if you are in line by 7 p.m., you are allowed to cast your ballot. Nothing in the new law changes those rules,”

Quoting Governor Brian Kemp re the outright lies regarding changes to voting in Georgia: “I’m glad to deal with it,” the governor said about the cacophony of corporate criticism.

“If they want to have a debate about the merits and the facts of the bill, then we should do that,” Kemp said. “I would encourage these CEOs to look at other states that they’re doing business in and compare what the real facts are to Georgia.”

The SB 202 bill, signed into law March 25, formalized the distribution and handling of ballot drop boxes, set up a voter fraud hotline and required counties to tally up ballots without pausing count. It also expanded early voting access.

“This legislation mandates that every county have at least one drop box.”

Additionally, the governor rebutted the assertion that voters waiting in line to cast a ballot cannot be provided with food and water under the new bill, a measure that many claim was meant to suppress minority voters.

“That is not true. People can serve and hand out bottles of water and food, as long as they are outside the 150-foot boundary from polling locations,” Kemp said. This will presumably protect voters from being “harassed, intimidated or electioneered.”

Unlike in New York, Georgians do not need “an excuse to vote absentee,” Kemp said. Also, Georgia’s voters have 17 days of early voting access, compared to New Jersey where there are nine days. “We’re not going to back down when we have a bill that expands the opportunity for people to vote on the weekends in Georgia,” Kemp said.

Patricia said...

There was an American group in the 1940s, post Bretton Woods, who were against Roosevelt’s New Deal and who argued that the Federal government should not be responsible for anything other than Police and Defence. That there should be ‘economic liberty’ - for the very very rich of course. For instance there should only be a low flat tax not a progressive one, no minimum wage, people should not have automatic voting rights and certainly not any welfare or social rights. Every man woman and child must be solely responsible for themselves. No Federal government should be able to force the state governments to do anything they didn’t want to do. In particular they wanted segregation to continue. They were, and still are, a very powerful group in America. They set up groups and societies to promote their views and were and still are financed by the very very rich in the World and in particular the American Koch brothers. They are now are international group. Every senator or member of the House of Representatives is lobbied by companies who support these views who also write the legislation for them. The interesting thing is they have a very very long term position and maintain that change must happen very very slowly and be like building a house brick by brick. The change in America since its heyday of the 1960s shows how much they have achieved.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

“This legislation mandates that every county have at least one drop box.”
That doesn't take into account the very different nature of the counties in Georgia, some of which are quite large, which might mean you need a two hour or longer round-trip to get to your dropbox. Or perhaps in the inner city where minorities mostly live, there might be one dropbox among many thousands of people, which might mean you have to queue for a very long time to vote. Republicans have a history of creating laws that seem on the surface to be – if not fair – then at least disinterested, which in fact discriminated against people of colour in particular. It's not rocket surgery. When's the last time you had to wait for longer than about 10 minutes to vote in an election? I don't think I ever have.

Chris Morris said...

I thought many of the billionaires club gave their and their companies support to the Democrat party.
It is interesting that in the latest corporate protests against the Georgian law, Coke and Delta have been absent. I suspect the blowback is starting to hit their finances.