While American big business had traditionally served as a free-market-loving shield against the long, leftist march for control of the institutions of Western civilization, that’s changing as businesses are on track to becoming a more powerful economic version of the “woke” college campus, author Stephen Soukup told The Epoch Times’ “Crossroads” program.
Soukup, author of the book “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business,” said that what today manifests in moves such as Facebook and Twitter banning former President Donald Trump from their platforms or Disney ousting actress Gina Carano, star of the show The Mandalorian, is part of a century-long process that kicked into high gear several decades ago.
“It is a story of two very powerful philosophical streams that began in different parts of the world, but yet met in the United States in the late 1960s, that focused on taking over the institutions of the West, primarily the cultural institutions, education, religion, entertainment,” and others, Soukup said.
While America’s big business was the last refuge of those committed to free-market values, that’s changed over the past several decades, with the left embarking on a long march through this remaining bastion of freedom, Soukup said. He argues that they “began the process probably most earnestly during the 1970s and effectively took over business within the last decade.”
Socially responsible investing had its beginnings on college campuses about 35 years ago, Soukup said, driven by students upset that their universities had investments in South Africa, which was then governed by a racially segregationist regime. Students pressured administrators to divest from South Africa, which Soukup said was a simple idea with a narrow objective that could be accomplished relatively easily.
That later morphed into socially responsible investing, where, for example, investment advisers set up screens to block companies that didn’t align with the investor’s values.
“Within the last 10 years or so, though, the new version of socially responsible investing, which goes by the initials ESG—which stands for environmental, social, and corporate governance—began to be slightly more aggressive and has grown more and more aggressive as time has gone by,” Soukup said.
Where formerly, socially responsible investing meant “avoiding companies that clash with your values, now it’s about changing companies. Now it’s about forcing companies to align with your values,” he said.
He said that once a critical mass of such activist investors builds, “they can impose their will, through the shareholder proposal and shareholder proxy process to change the way companies behave.”
“And this has become sort of the de facto way to achieve social ends within this community of professional investors who have moved significantly to the left over the past quarter-century,” he said.
Besides social justice interests becoming an increasingly powerful force in America’s big businesses, their actions are often in alignment with the aims and wishes of the Chinese Communist Party.
“When Disney produced Marvel’s Doctor Strange, the Ancient One, who is a Tibetan monk in the comics, suddenly becomes a middle-aged English woman,” Soukup said, adding that this was because “the Chinese did not want a Tibetan monk to play a heroic part in this movie, and Disney went along with it.”
Another example he gave was that in the credits to the movie Mulan, which was filmed in China, “Disney thanks the provincial government of Xinjiang Province, which is where … all the Uyghurs are kept in these concentration camps,” he said.
Other examples of conditions imposed on the film industry by the Chinese Communist Party include expressing support for core socialist values and not showing the Chinese Communist Party or Chinese police in a negative light.
“So essentially, what you have is a company that is in control of a great deal of American media, and that dominates American culture, bowing to the Chinese over and over and over again, and allowing them to make decisions for what Americans will see,” Soukup said.
Under President Donald Trump, the effort to make America’s economy less dependent on China gained steam, which included moves to reshore parts of supply chains. However, under President Joe Biden, that has “faded away,” Soukup said.
“There was a lot of talk, particularly among medium to large American businesses about decoupling, especially decoupling supply lines from China. And over the course of probably the last, say, six or seven months, all of that talk of decoupling has essentially disappeared,” he said.
“We’re definitely in up to our necks with the Chinese Communist Party,” he said. “And at this point, or at some point in the near future, we’re relying almost entirely on their goodwill, which, you know, when dealing with the CCP, their goodwill is not something you want to be dependent upon.”
Soukup said conservatives must take action to save American big business from falling into the clutches of the “woke” movement.
Joshua Philipp contributed to this report.