Air Date 3/14/2022
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: During today's episode, I'm going to be telling you about a progressive show I think you should check out. It's the Laura Flanders Show, which you may have heard of because they've been doing their good work for a long, long time now. So keep an ear out mid-show when I tell you more about it. And now, welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we shall take a look at the rise of woke capitalism, or more specifically, the war on woke capitalism, which is the cudgel now being wielded against any corporations who dare to seek profits by appealing to the majority of potential customers who prefer progressive social positions to that of Republicans. Clips today are from Shanspeare on YouTube, The Bradcast, After Hours from the TED Audio Collective, More Perfect Union, The Dollemore Daily and The Couch Report from Vice News, with an additional members-only clip from Unf*cking The Republic. And stay tuned to the end where I will do my best [00:01:00] to explain better than others have been, where woke capitalism came from.
Dissecting the War on Woke | Part One - Shanspeare - Air Date - Air Date 1-13-23
SHANIYA - HOST, SHANSPEARE : In recent years, there has been a political undertaking of a word quite familiar within the Black community, "woke". The term started as slang and was more often spoken aloud than written down, making the exact etymology unclear. What we do know is that I can be traced back at least to the 1920s and was used as a Black vernacular variant of the term woken or awake. As language evolved, it became synonymous with social change. To be "woke" effectively meant to be aware. Ishena Robinson further defines wokeness as, "an in-group signal urging Black people to be aware of the systems that harm and otherwise put us at a disadvantage." In notes that it later came to encompass overarching diversity, inclusion, empathy, and to this day, Blackness.
Now, if we believe the 1920s to be the decade of wokeness, it would do us some good to contextualize the environment. This was after [00:02:00] the Civil War and a few decades removed from the reconstruction era, slavery had just been abolished a couple decades prior, and the United States was trying its hardest to work towards equity for every man regardless of race.
Obviously that didn't completely work out, so I can see how the term evolved into the social justice cornerstone that it did. Despite the system of slavery being terminated, Black people still had to reckon with the fact that they were not seen as equal in the eyes of some individuals as well as some systems. George Lipsitz speaks of housing discrimination, educational discrimination, and, as we're probably more familiar with, discriminatory judicial systems, police, and Jim Crow laws. It would make sense to try to be aware of this reality. If you're unaware, you're unable to fight against it. James Baldwin, one of my favorite writers of all time, once noted that White Americans have been encouraged to continue dreaming, and Black Americans have been alerted to the necessity of waking up.
In 1962, William Melvin Kelly published a New York [00:03:00] Times article titled, If You're Woke, You Dig It, and in it, Kelly describes the co-opting of Black language by White beatniks, the younger, more hip demographic of the 1950s and early 1960s. According to Wikipedia, White beatniks borrowed popular slang from jazz and hipster subcultures for their own use. Words like cat and dig, and yes, even woke became frequent visitors to their lexicon. Kelly was something of a prophet it seems, because this popular co-opting of Black vernacular by trendy, oftentimes White subcultures, persist today.
AAVE has its own grammar systems and definitions. It can be used to make complex thoughts and sentences much like English or any other language. If people outside of the dialect are going to use it, it must be used appropriately. This is significant to the war on woke, which is what I'm calling it, because the term has recently been appropriated by people outside of the Black community to speak on issues [00:04:00] antithetical to the purpose of the word. Conservatives have been increasingly using the term woke to refer to the enemy of their political beliefs. Elon Musk calls woke a mind disease that's ruining comedy. Marco Rubio, a Florida Senator, consistently calls wokeness, progressive craziness, cultural issues that tear at our nation's, fabric, and toxic nonsense. Even everyone's favorite pwning, owning, liberal-destroying conservative Ben Shapiro wrote a book titled If It Ain't Woke, Don't Fix It.
And yet, despite their prolific use of the term, not a single conservative seems to understand what it truly means. Alan Smith et al note that, of the conservatives they interviewed for the publication of their article, very few understood the word or had a cohesive grasp of definition. A Republican senate aide stated that it's just instinctual. You know it when you see it. An arguments so popular, it made it all the way to the Supreme Court, and so uninspired that the person who said it wishes he never did.
And [00:05:00] despite his constant use of the word woke, Marco Rubio stated, "I don't know when I became aware of it. That's more of a clarion call to Republicans who have been tied to the sort of libertarian view of the economy that we shouldn't be playing a role in that." Is that even a sentence? Not even Ben Shapiro, who wrote an entire book on the subject and who made condescending remarks about Ibram X Kendi's apparent lack of defining structural racism, didn't define wokeness in his particular book. But trust he'll find a way to incorporate the term into another the way he does with Woca Cola and wokabulary. Those are kind of funny, I'm not gonna lie.
The importance of a clear definition cannot be understated. If you're unable to explicitly define something, how will you organize an effective movement against it? Well, little like this.
GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS: We fight the woke in the legislature. We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never, ever surrender to the woke [00:06:00] mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.
SHANIYA - HOST, SHANSPEARE : Shapiro makes an interesting point in his book concerning how the "woke, liberal, leftist, lecturing mob often broadens out the meaning of a word" to reach their agenda. His example is how leftists apparently consider anything incitement, so long as it elicits strong emotions. And I found that intriguing—the emphasis on strong emotion.
Steven Pinker, who is a well-known, albeit controversial, Harvard professor also notes how words have two meanings when it comes to politics. He speaks of euphemisms and disphemisms and how a word can have its literal meaning, but also a more emotionally charged meaning that can be utilized in political rhetoric. Of course the left does this, but so do conservatives. The war on Woke doesn't need a definition because the word itself has become a curse word. It gets people emotionally charged, especially people who understand the underlying [00:07:00] meaning of that clarion call, as Marco Rubio described it as.
It's not that conservatives are unable to define what they're against. It's just that the game of politics is to never say what you actually mean. It's easier to wink, nudge, and imply it to your constituents than to ever outright say it. That way, when an armed group of your supporters storm the capitol, you can feign innocence...allegedly.
The inconsistency of defining the word they're essentially crusading against makes it harder to tell what conservatives are opposing, if you don't know how to recognize patterns. The war on woke is left intentionally vague so that conservatives may list anything under the label, so long as they don't like it, without having to name the various phobias and isms that plague their movement. For instance, despite not knowing exactly what woke is, they all managed to rally around similar topics. The constant attack of transgender healthcare and basic human rights, the continual dismissal of critical [00:08:00] race theory and systemic racism, the weaponization of "groomer" against LGBTs and drag queens. Though they don't say what woke is the pattern in which they attack certain groups makes it clear what they mean.
But that still doesn't answer a crucial question I had before researching this video. Knowing the history of the word woke and how words can change meaning based on emotion or political agenda, I still wondered why conservatives adopted this specific term as a rallying cry. What is so evil about a word that once meant progress, equality, and Black awareness? We could chalk it up to mirror antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, and racism, because there were many, man, many cases where that is their purpose—to harm others they view as inferior or unfairly protected.
But I think another aspect of the conservative hate train stems from an impending doom within conservatives and people who relate to them. And this doom is expressed as and oftentimes exploited by moral [00:09:00] panics. Therefore, the word of the date dearest viewers is fear. Conservatives and the people who may not be conservative, but definitely feel seen by them are afraid.
CRT, ESG: Don't fall for the Right's pretend 'Culture Wars' - The Bradcast w/ Brad Friedman - Air Date 3-2-23
BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: ESG, in case you did not know as I did not, as The Times describes, it, "is shorthand for prioritizing environmental, social, and governance factors, ESG, "a strategy that has been adopted," they say, "by major corporations around the globe." For many years now, as Desi notes.
"Now, Republicans around the country say that Wall Street has suddenly taken a sharp left turn," you know, as major Wall Street corporations do, those lefties, with Republicans now, "attacking what they term "woke capitalism" and dragging businesses, their one-time allies, into the culture wars." reports Gelles.
"The rancor escalated this week," notes Gelles, "as Congress entered the fray. [00:10:00] Republicans used their new majority in the house on Tuesday to vote, 216 to 204, to overturn a Department of Labor rule that allows retirement funds to consider climate change and other factors when choosing companies in which to invest." It does not force them to do so, it allows them to do so.
DESI DOYEN: It does not require it in any way whatsoever, it just allows money managers to consider these things if they want to.
BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: Frankly, I would be fine if they were, forced to consider climate change and other factors like that when choosing companies in which to invest, but that is not the issue here. They were simply allowed to do.
So that passed in the new Republican Majority House, and then the Senate followed on Wednesday, with two Democrats, Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and John Tester of Montana, both joining Republicans to send this [00:11:00] resolution to President Biden's desk.
DESI DOYEN: Both Tester and Manchin are up for reelection in 2024.
BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: "The White House has said that Biden will block the resolution, it could be the first veto of his presidency.
And as if to underscore the issue's sudden visibility, former Vice President Mike Pence," who is probably going to be running for president, he, "let loose on Twitter on Tuesday. 'Disappointing that President Biden is putting ESG and woke policies above hardworking Americans retirement accounts! We will keep fighting until we put a stop to ESG once and for all!" Well, gosh, I hope so. I mean, think of the children. But of course, that is what they're decidedly not doing in this case.
Back to The Times here. "ESG investing has become routine on Wall Street for years. Most companies issue extensive reports about [00:12:00] their efforts to combat climate change and commitment to workplace diversity." And now they do so whether they actually carry out those efforts or not, but you know, they gotta pretend.
"In recent months, conservatives have increasingly attacked the practice, arguing that it promotes liberal priorities ranging from renewable energy," oh, God forbid, "to the Black Lives Matter movement." And of course those things sound terrible—clean energy, renewable energy that doesn't kill people and helps to save humanity. That must be stopped. And of course, the abhorrent idea that Black lives actually matter.
Gelles notes, "and while ESG applies to everything from diversity among corporate leaders to corruption controls, it's the E in ESG —the idea that the private sector needs to consider its impact on the environ—that has emerged as the top target of Republicans." aha! Now, we are [00:13:00] finally getting to the heart of the matter here.
"Officials in Republican-led states argue that it would lead to disinvestment in fossil fuel companies..." well, there you go, "...making it a top target of right-wing commentators and politicians." Is this all starting to make sense now?
"Alexandra Mihailescu Cichon, executive vice president at RepRisk, a company that helps corporations track their ESG goals.' Yes, there are companies that have been created to do exactly this for years, and there was no war about it until now. Cichon told The Times, 'ESG has been caught in the culture war crosshairs in the US.' 'It's become a liberal versus conservative, Democrat versus Republican issue.'" Actually, it's become a Republican issue, end of story. And by calling it a war, we are somehow conceding that those of us who don't watch Fox all the time are in some [00:14:00] kind of war over, this " culture issue of ESG". Is a livable planet for humanity now, simply a debate about culture?
"Republicans plan hearings this year at which," The Times calls the, " conservative lawmakers likely to grill executives from some of the nation's biggest banks on their views about climate change, social issues, and more. And The Times also notes that there are indications that this pushback is gaining traction. "Vanguard, one of the world's largest investment firms, recently withdrew from the Net Zero Asset Manager's initiative, an effort intended to get institutional money managers engaged in the fight against climate change." And that, of course, is the entire point.
" BlackRock, world's largest asset manager has been going out of its way to [00:15:00] remind politicians that it still invests in fossil fuel industries,". Please don't harm us, please don't hurt us! "As the Securities and Exchange Commission considers a new rule that would require corporations to disclose their carbon emissions," not to cut them, mind you, just to disclose them, to disclose what their carbon emissions are each year. As the SEC is considering a new rule to require that industry groups, 'fossil fuel companies' and Republican lawmakers have been pushing to limit that. Don't tell anyone how much you're killing the planet, that's an outrage. And that's what this is all about. Not even letting people know what the carbon emissions are, what the carbon output is of any various company. We can't have that.
"Around the country, Republicans state treasurers have been withdrawing billions of dollars in the meantime from firms [00:16:00] like BlackRock that they deem to be ' woke'." Even while BlackRock is still saying, wait, we love deadly fossil fuels. Don't take your money away from us.
"To the ranks of wonky risk management professionals who have toiled over the minutiae of ESG reports for decades now, the political fraus is perplexing. ' Until very recently it was both obscure and also just accepted as a general part of investing,' said Josh Lichtenstein, a partner firm Ropes & Gray who is tracking the ESG backlash. The term ESG was first introduced in a 2004 report prepared by the United Nations and 20 financial firms, including," you know, those woke lefties at "Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and UBS." not exactly the most lefty woke organizations in the world.
"The current ESG backlash can be traced to Texas, where in 2020 [00:17:00] oil executives began complaining that big banks like JP Morgan had stopped lending them money." Got it. Is it beginning to come together for ya now? Republican legislators in Austin took up their cause. "If ESG is not put in check, not only will future retirees face challenges in the years ahead, but we could see record bankruptcies and layoffs in the energy sector," said Wayne Christian, one of the Texas energy regulators back in 2021. Nevermind that investment in renewable energies and technologies, let's say, oh, I don't know, electric vehicle maker, Tesla would've netted huge gains for those future retirees that Wayne Christian is so worried about. Nevermind that the so-called energy sector is much larger than just the oil and gas [00:18:00] industry, and that renewable energy is, by the way, far more promising for future investment gains than is fossil fuels. Nevermind that, the Republicans in Texas wanna help their billionaire donors in the fossil fuel industry, period, end of story, and so they have invented this new pretend so-called culture war on ESG.
Who Is Afraid of Woke Capitalism? - After Hours - Air Date 11-2-22
DOLLY CHUGH: You know what's funny? What's being labeled by some right now as woke capitalism is what we were calling stakeholder capitalism, not too long ago. Woke capitalism is clearly meant to be derogatory, but I think there's actually pretty broad support.
MIHIR DESAI - HOST, AFTER HOURS: I think it's fascinating. By attaching the word woke to the stakeholder capitalism debate; people have been able to very quickly demonize, in the eyes of some, that whole idea of stakeholder capitalism.
So I think that was a master rhetorical move. The word woke is so evocative and provocative, it [00:19:00] immediately makes people think a certain thing about what stakeholder capitalism is. I happen not to be the biggest fan of stakeholder capitalism but what's interesting to me is by doing it this way, it's somehow galvanized people.
The other interesting thing to me about your story is that, wasn't really clear that the customers cared that much. The negative reaction wasn't really representative of their customers. Which seems to me like a broader issue, I think this is a debate carried out on the margins by very vocal people. Who have very strong feelings. Then there's a mass of people in the middle, who don't really care.
DOLLY CHUGH: Don't really care.
FELIX OBERHOLZER-GEE - HOST, AFTER HOURS: Maybe this is part of the problem, the marginal nature of many of the activities. I remember, this is now a couple of years back, when the Business Roundtable officially said goodbye to shareholder only concerns and adopted stakeholder capitalism.
We have colleagues at the law school who then looked [00:20:00] into this decision. You would think, if this is real, if it's a fundamental change in how we think about what the company is supposed to do; you would've expected lots of board discussions. What that research found is that almost no one talked to their boards about it. Which then also gives it a little bit of flavor, maybe this is pretending.
So a change in the brand, ultimately you can tell it as a very successful story because not that many people got upset. Many people felt much better about the brand. As you have pointed out, it seems like a win-win. Maybe the win-wins occur because we're doing marginal things.
We're doing things that no one really cares about that much. It's more like window dressing as opposed to substantial reform.
DOLLY CHUGH: That's really interesting. There's research on moral licensing. Which is the notion that we do a good thing, even if it's performative. It's like you eat [00:21:00] the salad, then you have the ice cream... here's the counter on that. Societal leadership is now a core function of business. McKinsey summarized it as a paradox of, the public has low trust but high expectations of business right now. It's an awkward position to be in.
MIHIR DESAI - HOST, AFTER HOURS: Let me make sure I understand where you're going: one view is Felix's view, which is that it's really performative. There's another view, that actually this whole emphasis on stakeholder capitalism is old wine in new bottles. It's the same thing that we've always been doing. The way you build a good business is you serve your constituents. By the way, that turns out to be good for shareholders too.
Then there's the third view, where you're going, which is this is really different. People expect business to solve societal problems and business can solve societal problems. Is that where you're at?
DOLLY CHUGH: To me, that's what's emerging as the quandary here. Maybe businesses are, in a shallow way, accepting the [00:22:00] role. Not in a deep way, but the expectations seem to be there.
MIHIR DESAI - HOST, AFTER HOURS: The other critique is that, once you start to expect business to do this, it becomes polarizing in a way that somehow business was not before. Then maybe somehow we have let corporations start to mediate public problems. What do you make of those kinds of critiques?
DOLLY CHUGH: I think they're legitimate critiques, especially with the polarizing point you made. When a business aligns with our own personal values and takes a stance, we're like "Yeah! Go for it, I love it, I wanna work there".
Then when they don't, we're like "How dare they impose their values on me?" We definitely have this asymmetric perspective on when business should get involved and when it shouldn't. I think the days of businesses thinking they can just be businesses are over, [00:23:00] rightly or wrongly. I'm not saying that prescriptively, I'm saying it descriptively. I think those days are over.
FELIX OBERHOLZER-GEE - HOST, AFTER HOURS: Dolly one of the things I really loved about your book is: in all of these corporate decisions, even in many of the personal decisions that we make; we now have a sense that these decisions are really big because they're emblematic for choosing a site. Either I really love my country, and there's nothing wrong with it. All of history is really wonderful or, I cannot believe what the history of my country was. The perennial injustices that are now embodied in institutions that basically make it almost impossible to see anything right about the country.
One of your arguments that really spoke to me was; that's a false choice. Some of the decisions that seem really big because you feel like you're taking a side, you're choosing a camp, are actually not [00:24:00] that big because you can hold both of these ideas in your mind at the same time.
DOLLY CHUGH: Felix you described that beautifully, that's the research on paradox. The idea that when we have a paradox mindset, we can hold two truths that appear to contradict each other. We can hold both of those at the same time. It can be true that there are elements of our history that were brutal.
It can be true there are the elements of our history that were beautiful. Rather than having to chose one or the other, we can accept that both coexist with each other. When we do that our brain kind of unlocks. Businesses are there to be businesses and, at this point in society, they're also gonna be a major institution in society.
Why Are Republicans Obsessed With “Woke” Corporations? | The Class Room With Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò - More Perfect Union - Air Date 7-7-22
OLÚFÉMI O. TÁÍWÒ: I wanna explain what I mean by identity politics, term which is often misused.
GREG GUTFELD: Identity politics is not about solutions, it's about undoing civilization; especially capitalism in America. Anti-fa's a red herring.
OLÚFÉMI O. TÁÍWÒ: It was originally coined by [00:25:00] Black feminists in the seventies. They'd been shut out of the Black Power Movement, and the Women's Liberation Movement. They wanted to fully participate in both, and political life more broadly. Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor at Princeton explained, "one could not expect Black women to be wholly active in political movements that neither represented nor advanced their interests".
Identity politics were essential as entry points for Black women to engage in politics. In modern political jargon, identity politics are often referred to as an antithesis or distraction from class struggle.
CHARLIE KIRK: They've made a decision to no longer try to have class warfare, they want racial warfare.
OLÚFÉMI O. TÁÍWÒ: The Combahee River Collective, who created the term identity politics, were socialists who believed recognition of people's needs based on different identities was part of cultivating more power for the working class. The whole point was that their identities in their class position was intertwined. The needs of oppressed communities [00:26:00] aren't obstacles in the fight for worker power.
There are ways to build solidarity which begets more power, like the 1980s Lesbians and Gays Support Miners movement. Where a group of queer Britons rallied together for miner labor rights. In the 1930s through the 1960s, labor unions were some of the most powerful voices against racial segregation; a solidarity increase between working people across race. Movements for workers' rights, women's rights, gay rights, and civil rights won big victories.
In response, conservatives launched new efforts to destroy the solidarity of the working class. The right to work movement; a collection of laws helping companies destroy unions, was started by Vance Muse, a Texas businessman in the early 20th century. Muse said of unionization, "From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with Black African apes, whom they will have to call brother or lose their jobs".
Today the wealthy and powerful use the term identity politics to [00:27:00] mean anything they consider too Black, queer, or feminine for their taste.
ARCHIVE NEWS CLIP: Identity politics. Tribal racial identity politics. That never ending stream of identity politics.
OLÚFÉMI O. TÁÍWÒ: So how did the form of politics created by Black radical feminist socialists become a favorite of Pepsi and Starbucks?
The answer is elite capture. In most societies there are elites who have advantages over other people in some specific area of life. Who have more land, resources, or even skill at something than the people around them. How much control over how we work, where we live, or how we talk can elites get by some more narrow kind of advantage?
That depends on how unequal things are, how big the inequality is between elites and non elites, and how effective non elites can be at demanding fairness across different aspects of social life. The elite few redirect resources and institutions that should serve the many towards their own interests. What was once all of ours becomes theirs.
That's the norm in hierarchical society. Elites capture [00:28:00] identity politics for largely the same reasons and in the same ways as they capture everything else: from natural resources, to government subsidies, to labor. The CEO of JP Morgan took a knee at a bank branch without addressing systemic problems of capital and loan access, or investments in companies that benefit from racial inequality.
Washington DC opened Black Lives Matter Plaza while the district's police were shooting black residents, harassing protestors, and violently enforcing the racial status quo. In every Pride Month major corporations, and the military, post messages claiming to care about the LGBTQ+ community. Corporations captured identity politics because they saw how valuable it is. They understand it changed how people felt about themselves and each other, so they found a way to make it work for them.
Imagine our society is a house. It's got a number of rooms in it. Some of those rooms are only accessible to certain people based on their race, class, or [00:29:00] other factors. There are plenty of rooms of power like this in our real society.
At the top of the house is the nicest room. Resources from the rest of the rooms flow there because of how the house is built. There, elite members of the house make decisions on how the house is run. The elites in this room might feel pressure from the people in other rooms to, at least, acknowledge that the way things are being run is unfair and unequal.
The elites don't wanna lose wealth and power, but they won't appear like they're recognizing the humanity of the people in the other rooms. To stay on top without giving up anything, they take the language of identity politics. They recognize other people in the room who represent marginalized demographics.
They don't change the structure of the house. They just change who appears in the nicest rooms. They might even pass the mic to those people. They might choose to take up less space or center the most marginalized. It's easy for the elite. Just make it seem like they are elevating new voices or creating space for [00:30:00] people who were previously denied it.
I call that deference politics, because it's based on asking us to defer to others in the room who come from more marginalized identities; and to believe the act of listening to the people who represent those communities in the room is the solution. Lifting up marginalized voices and making space for others can be a useful step, but deferring to more marginalized voices within the room of power, on its own, does nothing for all those other people in the house who will never access wealth or power.
Sometimes claiming to care about marginalized voices can be a way to maintain wealth and power for the elite. Listen to this clip from an internal REI podcast.
REI CO-OP PODCAST CLIP: Hi REI, my name is Wong Wallace and I serve as your chief diversity and social impact officer. I use she/her pronouns and I'm speaking to you today from the traditional lands of the Ohlone people.
OLÚFÉMI O. TÁÍWÒ: The same podcast then goes on to implore employees not to unionize.
REI CO-OP PODCAST CLIP: One of the top questions that must be on people's minds is why REI [00:31:00] doesn't think unionization is the right thing for the co-op or for the employees.
OLÚFÉMI O. TÁÍWÒ: They used progressive language to union bust. Starbucks made a PR push for their program, expanding healthcare benefits for trans employees in 2018. Then threatened to take those benefits away during the current union push. Amazon even used charities meant to support black business owners to argue against antitrust laws, which would support small businesses. If we really want to change how life works for working people and others towards the bottom of the social structure, we can't just focus on matters of representation of who is speaking. We need new rooms and a new blueprint for the house that they're in. Yes, it is valuable for individuals to learn how to understand their privilege, and to organize with others who share our identities; but forms of deference politics that ask identity privilege people to take up less space, and feel bad about themselves will never threaten the global financial and political elite who control our society.
[00:32:00] Instead of identity politics, which can be easily co-opted by corporate America, we need to work together for constructive politics; focusing on positive outcomes for working people. To get there, we can start with identity, but however we start, we have to arrive at solidarity.
We need to recognize the way we are different, but to actually challenge the elites who dominate wealth and power in our society; the working class also needs to connect to our similarities. That's solidarity. Solidarity recognizes our mutual interests and shared humanities, and identifies our shared adversaries.
It's about accepting that our faiths are intertwined, instead of allowing those in power to exploit our differences to divide us. Solidarity is a key principle for successful labor union organizing.
AMAZON WORKER, MINNESOTA: You know, it takes a whole freaking village to win. You know, one voice is not gonna count.
CHRIS SMALLS: We wanna represent all people. We wanna make sure that it's all inclusive and putting workers in the driver's seat, that's the ultimate power.
MARK ASHTON: It's quite illogical to actually say, "I'm gay and I'm meant to defend in the gay community, [00:33:00] but I don't care about anything else". It's ludicrous. It's important that if you're defending communities, that you also defend all communities and not just one.
OLÚFÉMI O. TÁÍWÒ: Solidarity unites working people against the corporate elite; and isn't satisfied with symbolic victories, or the mere appearance of justice.
Solidarity fights until a more equitable distribution of wealth and power has been won. We can't achieve true solidarity until we identify and acknowledge what is really dividing us; far-right media, establishment, politicians, and big corporations united in the cause of capturing more power and wealth for the elite.
As Dorian Warren says, "the goal is not a rainbow oligarchy, but a truly equitable, multiracial democracy". Once we collectively realize who is trying to divide us, we can work towards solidarity and real economic justice for everyone. Not just this symbolic identity politics facade created by the ultra wealthy.
Republicans Encouraged SVB Failure - Blame it on 'WOKENESS!' - The Dollemore Daily - Air Date 3-13-22
JESSE DOLLEMORE - HOST, THE DOLLEMORE DAILY: James Comer, the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, a serious post, a [00:34:00] serious job with a committee that has a serious duty to the American people: oversight and accountability.
James Comer was on the news this weekend and was talking about how this bank, SVB, you're hearing it called, Silicon Valley Bank, was a woke bank, a woke financial institution. Apparently that's why it failed. And then you're finding that the same people who battle against woke are now complaining that Biden's not bailing out the bank. It all makes a ton a sense if you close your eyes and bury your head in the sand.
Nonsense. The reason this bank, what happened happened, is because of deregulation. It's once again another indicator that Donald Trump and his flagrant deregulating of many industries is [00:35:00] causing harm. Here is James Comer talking about woke banks.
REP. JAMES COMER: And then we see now coming out that they were one of the most woke banks in their quest for the ESG type policy and investing. You know, this could be a trend and there are consequences for bad Democrat policy and I think we need to keep an eye on all the banking sector right now.
JESSE DOLLEMORE - HOST, THE DOLLEMORE DAILY: Again, if you need any more evidence that they're not serious, just play that clip. If you need any more evidence that they'd have no idea what woke is, play that clip. If you need any more evidence, that woke is just anything that can give them a click, watch that video.
In 2017 was the movement when finally Donald Trump had a majority of Republicans in the house, that they started doing the damage to the country and our financial institutions under the guise of deregulating. Let them regulate themselves. It stymies creativity, it [00:36:00] stymies investment. The same people who passed an irresponsible and unpaid for massive set of tax breaks for the wealthy that created one and a half trillion dollar deficits just about every year of Donald Trump's presidency, these same people were calling to deregulate, apparently if you pay attention to them, with no understanding of what the ramifications would be. Here's Kevin McCarthy in the lead up to rolling back these regulations, talking about the need to roll back these regulations.
LISA LAMBERT: Lisa Lambert from Reuters. Given that we're talking about regulation and economic growth, are there any financial regulations or banking regulations that you feel are impeding economic growth and that you might put through the CRA on January 30th?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: Uh, speaker and I have sat down with Jeb Hensarling just last night, talking about his Choice Act and looking at [00:37:00] where capital is king, jobs are created. So, much as what happened in Dodd-Frank, you push capital in other places, you try to eliminate all risk, where you eliminate growth, when you make that happen, you create an agency that's outside of accountability of government. When I say with the people, because of the funding, I think there's a lot of areas there you're gonna find some big reforms and I firmly believe you'll get a lot of bipartisanship on that. Um, because if you wanna see the country grow, you gotta have people willing to take risks, people willing to have investments.
JESSE DOLLEMORE - HOST, THE DOLLEMORE DAILY: If you wanna see growth, you need people willing to take risk. Well, apparently people took so much risk that the bank failed. That's okay with Kevin McCarthy though, because it lines up with the Republican agenda to buttress massively wealthy people from any consequence against their bets, their bad [00:38:00] bets. Now, the problem lies in the fact that there are several little people who are affected by this. People who are employees of companies who are now unable to make payroll because of this bank.
So it puts the government, and people who actually care about people, in a bad spot. Where capital is king, jobs are created, he said. That's why we need to deregulate the banks. Is anybody surprised that this is taking place right now? If you haven't been paying attention, you might be surprised, but there were people who were calling this years in advance of what was gonna take place. Here's Bernie making a prediction that here we are once again. Bernie called it.
ANDERSON COOPER: There's legislation in the Senate that would roll back provisions on Dodd-Frank. It's got bipartisan support. They say it's gonna help community banks, it's gonna help credit unions be more flexible in lending. You're opposed to it.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I am strongly opposed to it. What this [00:39:00] legislation would do is deregulate 25 outta the largest 38 banks in this country. It amazes me how short memories are in the United States Congress. In 2007-2008, this country was hurled into the worst economic downturn in the modern history of this country because of the greed and the recklessness and the illegal behavior of major financial institutions.
And what's happened since the deregulation, since Dodd-Frank, I should say, is we have seen the largest banks become even larger. What the CBO, Congressional Budget Office, reported just the other day, as you recall, is they said, this moves us closer to the likelihood of another bank failing. Why would we want to do that? Banks are now making, in general, they have made in the last two years, record-breaking profits. Yes, we want to help credit unions and small. But banks that are worth 200-250 billion dollars in assets, [00:40:00] those are not small banks.
ANDERSON COOPER: Do you think a collapse like we saw in 2008 could happen again?
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Of course.
ANDERSON COOPER: Are there enough stop gaps in place?
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, there, but that's just precisely what they're doing. They're removing some of those stop gaps, and according to the CBO, it will make it more likely that some of these banks may fail leading to a massive taxpayer ballot. But let me ask you this. I mean, I gotta ask you this, all over the country there are issues on people's minds. You know, whether it's guns, immigration, healthcare, it amazes me that this is the issue that the Republican leadership has put on the floor of the Senate. And you know why? Last year the financial institution spent $200 million in lobbying. Over the last 20 or 30 years, they have spent billions of dollars on campaign contributions. This is the corruption. What you're seeing is the corruption of the American political system, big money rules and the needs of ordinary people gets ignored.
JESSE DOLLEMORE - HOST, THE DOLLEMORE DAILY: And here we are. And in recent days, two banks have failed. Twenty five of the [00:41:00] largest 38 banks deregulated. It's interesting the comment that he makes about how short the memories of members of Congress are and in that way he was talking about looking back, like, Oh, we're gonna put this in place because they forgot what happened as recently as 2008, ten years prior to this comment he's making. But really, we should be talking about the memories of people to look forward, look into the future, because there were people out there who were calling this, saying this would happen. And there were even Democrats who voted for this. It's an irresponsibility on the part of mainly Republicans because they push for this kind of thing, but it's also a failure on the part of every Democrat who voted for this. There needs to be regulations, guardrails, rules in place for financial institutions who have a tendency to imbue risk into their portfolio, imbue [00:42:00] risk into their normal operating procedure, and that risk doesn't come without impact on regular, hardworking people and their paychecks and their bank accounts, and the economy in general that jeopardizes us all. That's why the government has a responsibility to regulate responsibly. And to roll back regulations is anything but responsible.
Republicans Loved Corporations…Until They Got ‘Woke’ | The Couch Report - Vice News - Air Date 5-10-21
SENATOR TED CRUZ: Woke corporate America is based on lies.
SENATOR JOSH HAWLEY: A bunch of woke corporatists running this country.
SEAN HANNITY: The woke corporate cowards, it's now hitting, if you can believe it, new levels of derangement and psychosis.
GREG WALTERS - HOST, THE COUCH REPORT: The GOP is fighting with one of its oldest friends, corporate America, but it's just business. Let me explain.
Take a moment to feel sorry for the US Chamber of Commerce. It may be hard to sympathize with the biggest, most powerful lobbying group in [00:43:00] America, but it's going through a tough time. It's not sure who its real friends are anymore. For decades, the answer was simple. Republicans, sure, businesses have given a lot to both parties, but with the GOP it was special. They bonded over hating taxes and slashing regulations and seeing corporations as more than the sum of their cubicles.
SENATOR MITT ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend.
GREG WALTERS - HOST, THE COUCH REPORT: But now they are protesting Georgia's new voting restrictions, which is why this beef really got going. The bill, which was signed into law in March, was blasted by Democrats as a brazen attempt to make it harder for Black people to vote, by limiting access to mail-in ballots, reducing the number of drop boxes, and making it a crime to give somebody a glass of water when they're waiting in a massively long line to vote.
Two Atlanta-based corporate titans, Coca-Cola and Delta, condemned the law and Major League Baseball moved the All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver, Colorado. And that got former President Trump to fire back. [00:44:00] He called for boycotts on all of the "woke companies" who've spoken out against the law, which is a big step for a guy who drinks 12 Diet Cokes a day...
COMMENTATOR: twelve Diet Cokes!
GREG WALTERS - HOST, THE COUCH REPORT: ...and had a special Diet Coke button on the Resolute desk. He must have meant, you know, a boycott on everyone who doesn't make his favorite beverage. But the woke companies weren't just popping up in Georgia, because new restrictions on voting rights weren't limited to the Peach State. Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 360 laws in 47 states that would in some way or another, limit access for voters to the polls. Texas-based American Airlines and Dell Technologies came out against a state bill that would limit voting hours and get rid of drive through voting. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick took it personally.
LT. GOVERNOR DAN PATRICK: Let me tell you what, Mr. American Airlines, I take it personally.
GREG WALTERS - HOST, THE COUCH REPORT: Corporate America didn't back down. Hundreds of companies, including Amazon, Google, Starbucks, and GM, issued a public statement vowing to oppose any discriminatory legislation that makes it harder for people to vote. [00:45:00] Of course, some Republicans strongly agree with this outpouring of corporate activism.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: The fact that more people are speaking out is a good thing for America, not a bad thing. Under the First Amendment, every corporation in America should be free to participate in the political process.
GREG WALTERS - HOST, THE COUCH REPORT: Wait, wait, wait, wait. No. That's Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell from a decade ago praising the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United, which let businesses spend unlimited funds on elections. Now that companies are fighting Republicans on voting rights, 2021-Mitch sounds a little different.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: My warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics.
GREG WALTERS - HOST, THE COUCH REPORT: Wow. Mitch McConnell doesn't even want their money anymore. Mitch McConnell doesn't want their money anymore. Mitch doesn't even want their money anymore. Mitch McConnell doesn't even want their money anymore? I just don't even know. Everything we've been told about politics is wrong.
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: I am not talking about political contribution.
GREG WALTERS - HOST, THE COUCH REPORT: Ah, okay. Well, nevermind then. To recap, companies can say whatever [00:46:00] they like about politics as long as they're speaking in Benjamins when they want to actually speak about politics, corporations need to shut the fuck up.
Of course, this fight over voting rights isn't the first rough patch for the former BFFs. Back in 2016, companies backed away from North Carolina after the state passed a law that forced transgender people to use the wrong bathrooms. And last year another cabal of corporations promised to slash donations to 147 congressional Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election.
So when you think about it, corporations becoming people really did pave the way for them to become activists, organizers, movement leaders. Or maybe not, in case you forgot. There are reasons to become a corporate social justice warrior that don't involve social justice, like sniffing a profit. Blue America is where these companies are making money. Counties that voted for Biden made up 71% of the economic activity in the US. Customers and employees are generally younger and more diverse than the [00:47:00] Republican base, which is mostly White and over 50. One recent academic study found respondents were 25% less likely to buy from a company they were told had conservative values and more than 40% less likely to apply for a job there. If a company had liberal values, respondents said that didn't really change their opinion. Taking a liberal stand to protect the bottom line would hardly be new. Back in 1914, Henry Ford blew everyone's minds by jacking up wages to double the national minimum to an astronomical $5 a day. He wasn't just being the original best boss ever. He wanted a way to retain workers despite the mind numbing drudgery of his new assembly lines, and he wanted to turn his employees into his new customers. Ford profits exploded. And corporations might not actually be the leftist guardians of Wokestan that Republicans now say they are.
SENATOR TED CRUZ: We're seeing big corporations becoming the woke enforcers of the Democratic Party.
GREG WALTERS - HOST, THE COUCH REPORT: Take Delta, the airline only came out swinging against Georgia's voting law after it passed and [00:48:00] five days earlier, Delta had issued a statement that praised parts of the bill. Delta CEO Ed Bastian tried to clear all this up by explaining that even though the company's lobbyists engaged extensively with state lawmakers writing the bill, it was just to get rid of the really, really terrible parts. If you hate this bill, you should see the one they tried to pass.
ED BASTIAN: The early versions of the proposed bill had some really toxic and very suppressive elements to it.
GREG WALTERS - HOST, THE COUCH REPORT: George's governor, Brian Kemp wasn't buying it, saying Bastian's criticisms were "a stark contrast to our conversations with the company". And the State House fired off a warning shot, voting to revoke a multimillion dollar jet fuel tax break before the idea died in the Senate. Which probably tells us that this beef is kind of overhyped, because there's not much either side can do to each other.
Republicans can't slap on new regulations that companies hate or raise national business taxes since they're not running the federal government anymore, and opposing regulations and taxes is like their thing. [00:49:00] Right?
CEOs will probably keep speaking up as long as they think that's what their customers want. But what would be truly shocking would be a big company taking a stand on a social issue that actually hurts their bottom line. When that happens, then maybe something really will have changed. Anyone on the left welcoming new allies should remember where their real interest lies, maximizing shareholder profits. After all, it's not personal, it's just business.
BlackRock: The Devil's Banker. Do as I say, not as I do. - Unf*cking The Republic - Air Date 9-17-22
MAX - HOST, UNF*CKING THE REPUBLIC: One of the only two times we've referenced BlackRock on Unfucking the Republic was in our Conscious Capitalism episode. In that show, we were highlighting the rampant greenwashing on Wall Street with firms claiming ESG initiatives, which stands for environmental, social, and governance. Essentially calling bullshit on the trend of large companies that do bad things to society and the environment, but spend their way to absolution through programs like carbon offsets, energy efficiency, and charitable donations. Here's what we said, " Let's look at BlackRock, huge firm, [00:50:00] top of the top. They too have an ESG fund. So let's see. Performance, key facts. Ah yes. Top 10 holdings. We've got Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, Alphabet class C, JPMorgan Chase, Tesla, Nvidia, and Johnson and Johnson".
Here's what BlackRock itself had to say about its ESG efforts: "Environmental, social, and governance investing is about investing in progress and recognizing that companies solving the world's biggest challenges can be best positioned to grow. It is about pioneering better ways of doing business and creating the momentum to encourage more people to opt into the future we're working to create. Our investment conviction is that climate risk is investment risk, and that integrating climate and sustainability considerations into investment processes can help investors build more resilient portfolios and achieve better long-term risk-adjusted returns. We believe that societies on the cusp of transformational change towards sustainability. [00:51:00] Companies, investors, and governments must prepare for a significant reallocation of capital. BlackRock's sustainability strategy focuses on two structural themes driving this change: transition finance and stakeholder capitalism".
Here's where it gets a little tricky, and we find some strange bedfellows. The dark money group, Consumers' Research, is running ads against corporations that perform what it calls "woke capitalism". Yep. Grievance-obsessed culture war evangelist Republicans are coming after capitalism. Welcome to the fold. Or maybe not. Groups like Consumers' Research are specifically targeting BlackRock for purportedly betraying their clients by calling for divestment in fossil fuels and other ESG activities. In a so-called consumer warning released in August, the group inexplicably blamed BlackRock and its CEO Larry Fink for rising energy prices, saying "using trillions in investors' money CEO Larry Fink [00:52:00] waged war on America's energy company", the message reads, "pushing a progressive climate agenda that has crippled US energy production and left consumers with a hefty bill".
This anti-ESG culture war comes as more than a dozen GOP states claim BlackRock is violating its fiduciary responsibilities. Two states, Texas and West Virginia, have effectively banned BlackRock and other ESG companies from doing business with them. West Virginia's band includes five firms, including BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase. This is particularly hilarious considering that JPMorgan Chase continues to be the largest financier of fossil fuels out of any major bank in the world, to the tune of more than 380 billion between 2016 and 2021. But as for our friends at BlackRock, let's just say that we're not the least bit surprised that when the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom, reported on a meeting BlackRock executives had with [00:53:00] Texas Oil and Gas "regulator", yes, I'm doing air quotes, amid criticisms of its ESG efforts. Here's what the outlet reported. "In January, BlackRock senate team of senior staff, including Dalia Blass, it's Head of External Affairs, to meet Wayne Christian, a former Republican legislator who is chair of the state's oil and gas regulator since 2016. In his follow-up email to Blass, Christian noted the BlackRock team had said their environmental, social and governance initiatives had been misrepresented by the media and that the company was supportive of the oil and gas industry and merely offers ESG energy related investments because of client demand. He questioned BlackRock on the contradictions between these reassurances and its public stance on climate issues. Blass had already written to Texas officials to highlight BlackRock's support for the fossil fuel industry. "We are perhaps the world's largest investor in fossil fuel companies", Blass wrote. "We want to see these companies succeed and prosper".
Now, [00:54:00] among the most outspoken opponents of ESG is none other than Florida Governor Ron DeathSentence. The unofficial spokesperson for the GOP'S culture war army, DeSantis was responsible for the Florida State Board of Administrator's decision earlier this summer to prohibit "furtherance of social, political, or ideological interests in investment policy matters". Here's what he had to say after his proposal was adopted. "With the resolution we passed today, the tax dollars in proxy votes that the people of Florida will no longer be commandeered by Wall Street financial firms and used to implement policies through the boardroom that Floridians rejected the ballot box".
Let's just say that we're not buying Ron's war on Wall Street. Why? Well, let's look at his campaign contributions. What's this from Politico? Top Wall Street executives are pouring tens of millions of dollars into the Florida Republican's upcoming reelection campaign, the outlet reported in August. Wall Street is [00:55:00] obviously hedging its bets in the event that DeSantis becomes Trump's heir apparent. As with so many idiotic culture war clashes that bleed into the political discourse, ESGs have become the new way for officials on both sides to prove their ideological bonafides.
Apparently owning the Libs on climate is now more important to this era's brand of Republican politics than the free market principles that they fetishized for so long. As we mentioned, more than a dozen states have moved to erase corporate ESG policies. Now, Democrats on the other hand, have been bullish on the idea of having pension systems divest from fossil fuels, with Maine's state legislature becoming the first to do that with its move in 2021 to divest 1.3 billion in such investments over five years.
Now, maybe take this one with a grain of salt, but a Morgan Stanley white paper published in 2019 found no financial trade off when embracing ESGs. Morgan Stanley compared sustainable funds, or [00:56:00] ESGs, to traditional funds from 2004 to 2018, 10,723 in total. Here's what they found. "Sustainable funds provided returns in line with comparable traditional funds while reducing downside risk. What's more, during a period of extreme volatility, we saw strong statistical evidence that sustainable funds are more stable. Incorporating environmental, social, and governance criteria into investment portfolios may help to limit market risk". The analysis also found sustainable funds to be less risky, noting "sustainable funds experienced a 20% smaller downside deviation than traditional funds. This was a consistent and statistically significant finding".
ESG funds have steadily gained in popularity over time. Between 2004 and 2018, sustainable funds grew 144% according to Morgan Stanley. To believe the GOP's line of thinking, so-called woke investing would've [00:57:00] existed well before the term was bastardized by Republicans and well before the Paris Agreement in 2016. That they led with Paris as a jumping off point for such investment decisions is belied by the data. Whether money managers like BlackRock are actually committed to such ideals, or whether ESG is even that real, is another matter entirely.
Final comments on how the left really brought about woke capitalism
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today starting with Shanspeare explaining the history of woke and why the right doesn't bother to try to define it accurately, or at all. The Bradcast explained ESG and how maintaining a livable planet is just a culture war. After Hours pointed out that woke capitalism is just another word for stakeholder capitalism and that it has been uncontroversial because it's more window dressing than substantive. More Perfect Union explained the elite capture of identity politics, which is why our focus must be on solidarity politics across identity and economics. The [00:58:00] Dollemore Daily looked at the deregulation behind the failure of the Silicon Valley Bank, which the right is blaming on wokeism, no surprise there. And The Couch Report from Vice News warned that woke capitalism is entirely about capitalism and not so much about being woke. So, while they're seeking profits, don't be fooled into believing that they've become true progressive allies. That's what everybody heard, but members also heard a bonus clip from Unf*cking the Republic, digging a little deeper on ESG greenwashing and why it's actually good for their bottom line.
To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support or shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information.
And now I have just a couple more thoughts on today's topic. As part of our research, we heard a few pretty bad attempts to explain the origins of woke capitalism, [00:59:00] or socially conscious capitalism, or ESG, or whatever you want to call it. Basically, how did we get to the point where corporations started speaking out on social issues, particularly speaking out on the left side of those social issues? And since other people were doing a poor job, I thought I would take a stab at doing better. So here's my take.
First of all, this is not new. I read Rules for Radicals recently published in 1971, and here's a passage from near the end of the book. "The corporations must forget their nonsense about private sectors. It is not just that government contracts and subsidies have long since blurred the line between public and private sectors, but that every American individual or corporation is public as well as private. Public, in that we are Americans and concerned about our national welfare. We have a double commitment, and corporations had better recognize this for the sake of their own survival. [01:00:00] Poverty, discrimination, disease, crime, everything is as much a concern of the corporation as is profits. The days when corporate public relations worked to keep the corporation out of controversy, days of playing it safe, of not offending Democratic or Republican customers, advertisers, or associates, those days are done". And just in case you didn't know, Rules for Radicals is a very famous book about organizing for progressive goals.
As I said, 1971, they said the days of corporations being able to ignore the social good are over. So you could take that a couple of ways. One, this is not a new idea, so anyone who's claiming it's new clearly doesn't know what they're talking about. For instance, one person who got famous by being anti-woke on Fox News and who is now running for president as a Republican, but it's someone you probably never heard of, name is Ramaswami, he said that he felt wokeness and woke capitalism started back [01:01:00] in the financial crisis of 2008. So, swing and a miss.
But number two, you could say, see, I told you the left has been trying to bend corporations to their will, and this just proves it. This is the plan. It was in the book, to which I would say, sort of. But, here, listen to the line that came immediately before that paragraph in the book. "The revolution must manifest itself in the corporate sector by the corporation's realistic appraisal of conditions in the nation". In other words, corporations are always going to follow their financial best interests, and so we need to change the conditions in the nation enough so that corporations find it more profitable to follow us than to fight us.
Corporations aren't infected by a woke mind virus. They're responding to the demands of the market and trying to maximize profit. But there's another [01:02:00] talking point in the anti-woke argument I wanna address. They say that the left is trying to get done through the corporate sector what we weren't able to get done through the ballot box, and I must admit, this is actually a pretty clever talking point. The implication is that if you can't get a given policy passed through the government, then it must be an unpopular policy because we live in a democracy and anything that's popular gets passed, right? And so that strongly implies that progressive policies are unpopular, and then taking that as a premise, given our inability to pass our unpopular policies through the government, we have resorted to using some sort of black magic to convince corporations to do our dirty work for us, even though it would presumably go against their financial interests.
Like I said, it's a clever talking point that makes the left sound both unpopular and vaguely deceitful. And, as all the best lies are, [01:03:00] it's based on a partial truth. The reality is that our government on both the federal level and in a majority of the states, is totally hamstrung by anti-democratic forces that prevent even wildly popular policies from passing. These forces include the corrupting influence of money in politics, gerrymandering, voter suppression, the filibuster, the lasting impacts of the Powell Memo, Robert Bork's theory on antitrust legislation, the fact that one party has devolved into a cult of personality, among other things. So it's true actually that the left has been stymied in our attempts to pass progressive legislation, but it's not true that the reason is because our policies are unpopular. It's because our system is broken to the point that it no longer even resembles a democracy. I mean, I know it's hard to imagine, but back in the seventies, Ralph Nader and his merry band of activists were making real progress in demanding the [01:04:00] regulation of corporations. But then the era of neoliberalism set in, standards changed, and that door was largely shut to the left. And so, given that reality, it's only sensible that the left would've shifted its focus. If we can't get progress through the government, then we must look elsewhere. And so in the seventies, you know, the Civil Rights movement had just come and had inspirational success and there was still energy for social change. So, it's only natural that energy would shift from government, where we began hitting a brick wall, to social revolution, demanding equal rights for all, such as the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, the gay rights movement, which had just been sparked by the Stonewall rights in 1969, and the continued push against racism.
So, it's true that the left has been stymied by government in recent decades. I mean, the Equal Rights Amendment failed, same-sex marriage remained illegal until 2015, and even then, it wasn't passed through Congress, but [01:05:00] through the Supreme Court, and I'm pretty sure we didn't solve racism, but what power we lost in government was shifted to a campaign of public persuasion, which is now showing its impact in the form of even corporations coming to our side.
So, the war on woke capitalism should be understood as a continuation of the same conservative campaign that broke our democracy, because conservatives generally believed in democracy until their views made them unelectable. And then, just like in the Jim Crow era, rather than update their views, they began to change the rules of the system to keep themselves in power illegitimately. Well, similarly, they used to believe in corporate freedom to pursue profits until it became more profitable to support progressive ideas than conservative ones. Now, Republicans are changing the rules again in an attempt to stop them by force.
So, there has been a conscious campaign from the left [01:06:00] going on trying to manipulate the political and corporate landscapes. But the only real plan we had was let's convince everyone we are right. Whereas on the right, the campaign has been, Well, if people won't vote for us, then we should use the power of government to make it harder for them to vote at all. And if corporations disagree with us, then we should use the power of government to punish them and control them any way we can. And that is pretty much politics and capitalism in the United States.
As always, keep the comments coming in. You can leave us a voicemail or you can now send us a text through SMS, WhatsApp, or Signal at 202-999-3991. Or keep it old school by emailing me to [email protected].
Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show, and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our Transcriptionist Trio, Ken, Brian, and LaWendy, for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to [01:07:00] Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and often funny bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content, no ads, and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. And don't forget that you can join the conversation by joining our Discord community. A link to join is in the show notes.
So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.