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There's No "Woke Capitalism." Only Capitalism.
As illustrated by this octopus.
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“In Florida, our policies got to be based on the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musing of woke corporations” - Ron DeSantis
“Woke Corporate Capitalism — What is the antidote to this ‘corporate wokeness’ infiltrating our largest American companies?” - The Heritage Foundation
“Historian Niall Ferguson just outlined six reasons why woke capitalism will fail: underperformance among them. Don't be filed by its facade of diversity, inclusion and equity, allied with "sustainability." - Jordan Peterson
There are a thousand more quotes I could add, but you get the point. “Woke capitalism” is the new boogeyman of the international Right. And like most things the Right complains about, it doesn’t exist.
Capitalism is the private ownership of the means of production (the things that make things). It has no variations, ulterior motives, or secondary goals. Capitalism has one priority, of which everything else is sacrificed to achieve: it exists only to create profit for owners.
To illustrate this, here’s a video of an octopus squeezing through a 1-inch hole. Just like a Capitalist company trying to profit, the octopus will take any shape to achieve its goal of escaping into the ocean. Compressing itself into a 1-inch blob is not what the Octopus wants, but what it recognizes as the best path toward its only focus.
Just like the octopus doesn’t care about contorting itself, Capitalist companies don’t care about being “woke.” They also don’t care about being “anti-woke.” They care about maximizing profit. And they will do anything, say any phrase, make any logo, and shift to any form to achieve this goal.
What Conservatives mistake as “woke Capitalism” is just companies reflecting the social progress of society. Gay marriage is legal and mainstream, so Disney movies and Coca-Cola commerce show same-sex couples. There’s a great concern to remedy America’s legacy of White Supremacy, so BIPOC people are increasingly featured as main characters in popular shows and movies.
There isn’t more diversity because the financial entity of The Walt Disney Company “cares” about equality. It’s because Disney wants to get as many viewers as possible for their movies and shows, so they depict a reflection of the reality viewers expect, which is increasingly diversifying among race, gender, and non-traditional lifestyles.
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For a long time, TV shows, commercials, and movies predominantly only showed straight, white couples, as that was what was considered “acceptable” in the culture. As the culture evolves, companies will follow suit as that is their best chance of maximizing profit.
But just because Conservatives deride “woke” companies, that does not mean we should celebrate them. Again, their only concern is profit. Disney doesn’t give a shit about fighting White Supremacy. It doesn’t air Abbott Elementary because it cares about Black stories. Abbott is a funny show set in a relatable environment. People will watch it.
This isn’t to say we should scorn companies for increasing diversity (there are plenty of other reasons they deserve our ire), but rather we should recognize them for what they are and what they are trying to do.
If the octopus’s escape route was a star-shaped hole, it would become a star. But that doesn’t mean it’s a starfish.
Companies seek profit. Everything else is just a means to an end.
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