Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The opposite of woke capitalism is still capitalism

By Joel Mathis, The Week

It’s a sign of how much the Donald Trump era has scrambled our politics that the American right — which not so long ago reflexively and joyfully defended capitalist prerogatives — is now actively considering whether big business has become so powerful that it poses a threat to individual liberty.

Such arguments used to belong almost exclusively to progressives. But at a recent debate hosted by the conservative Federalist Society, attorney Ashley Keller argued that the government should use its antitrust power to crack down on Big Tech corporations that censor conservatives, businesses that subject their employees to diversity training, and companies that put “woke” messages out to the public. “Seemingly overnight corporations have almost uniformly abandoned Milton Friedman’s shareholder primacy model of the firm,” Keller despaired.

As Keller went on to explain it, Friedman “had this crazy idea that the purpose of a company is to make money, not to take shareholder resources to support social agendas.” And while that “doesn’t mean that CEOs can’t support political causes … they should do it with their own money, not the official infrastructure, brand, and massive treasuries of the companies they run.” Otherwise, Keller stressed, “corporate agents can do whatever the hell they want. And what do they want? Why, to virtue signal to the woke, of course.”


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