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Vivek Ramaswamy: How to Dismantle the Woke-Industrial Complex | CPAC 2022

“We want the people who run the government to be the people who we actually elect to run the government—not the managerial elites who ultimately pull the strings from behind the scenes,” says entrepreneur and commentator Vivek Ramaswamy.

Appointed leaders and bureaucrats—from the executives of Google and Blackrock and Facebook to the heads of “alphabet soup agencies” like the FDA, FBI, and SEC—have undue power and influence over the workings of American democracy, says Ramaswamy. He’s the founder of a multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company and author of “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam.”

This merger of state power with corporate power has created a “modern form of fascism,” Ramaswamy says. In this episode, filmed at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he breaks down his vision of how Americans can ultimately force large corporations to abandon woke ideology.

“It is time, as I say, to reset the Great Reset.”


Jan Jekielek: Vivek Ramaswamy, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.

Vivek Ramaswamy: It’s good to be back.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, so it’s been probably about half a year since we talked about “Woke, Inc.” when the book came out. I remember I started thinking, “Wow, this is a really important addition to the picture of how this woke,”— what you describe as a woke religion. Frankly, many people, John McWhorter, others, describe it as a religion, is taking shape in America, the corporate aspect. How is this such an important part of what large American corporations, not just American, internationally are doing today? So, where we at here?

Mr. Ramaswamy: So, where we are is that people have begun to see what’s going on and I think we’re ready for a counter movement. The question is, what way we channel the counter movement. In a productive direction or in a direction that actually further divides the economy into two economies like the rest of our culture. At a high level, that’s where we’re at.

Now, just to sort of pick up where we last left off and how we got here first, look, I think that this new woke part of woke capitalism represents a new currency. It is a new currency through which crony capitalism works. What do I mean by that? Well, back in the early 2000s, the ways that companies exercised governmental influence to gain competitive advantages in return was through dollars. They wrote checks through the front door, campaign contributions, they reported them, hired the lobbyists, did it the old fashioned way.

What you’ve now seen is a new left post Citizens United that emerged and said that, “We’re skeptical of those kinds of donations and wielding influence that way,” so corporate America got smart. What they decided was actually, if you’re Goldman Sachs, instead of writing the check, instead of appointing even your alumnus as treasury secretary or whatever it is they used to do, now we tithe to the new temple in a new currency by declaring that they won’t take a company public in the United States unless its board is sufficiently diverse, as determined by the combination of Goldman Sachs and the neo-progressive left. When did they do that? When Elizabeth Warren is the front runner in the Democratic primary [and] when she says she wouldn’t accept corporate campaign contributions.

So, this is a new currency is what it’s become and that creates this new version of an arranged marriage between big business and the woke left that used to represent the threat to big business. What big business realized is they could defang the left by bringing them along for the ride. That’s actually created a new mechanism for the left to effectuate its agenda, not through someone they love.

This is not a marriage of love, it’s mutual prostitution. Let’s call it what it is, but has recognized that the person they’re hired to provide their services, corporate America, has actually been able to be a more effective vehicle for advancing their agenda than even government itself. So that’s how we got to where we are.

Now, I think moments like this at CPAC that only the conservative base, but I would say grassroots populist uprising across the political spectrum has recognized that, that’s created a new managerial class in our country that’s actually running the show. Not the people and the puppets we elect to run the government.

The people we elect to run the government, aren’t actually running the government. It’s a bunch of other people who are appointed classes of leaders in the private and public sectors that together represent this managerial layer that’s actually running the show. People are beginning to wake up to it.

Truckers in Canada are beginning to wake up to it. There are counterparts in democracies  abroad like the United States or Western Europe or Australia—even India is waking up to it. Now that brings me back to the first point I made, which is, how do we channel that energy? Do we channel it in a way that it could drive positive change and get something done politically and in our private sector? Or do we channel it in a way that really takes us to a point of even greater fissure and greater division? I think that’s good energy, but it needs to be channeled in a direction that drives positive change. That’s what I’m focused on.

Mr. Jekielek: Okay. That’s super interesting. So the kind of movement you’re just describing, to some extent it actually reminds me a bit of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was a more left movement, but it wasn’t entirely a left movement. There were tea party type people involved. There were basically people who were against massive corporate overage, which would be in my mind precisely the kinds of people that the corporations would be interested in somehow nullifying, get rid of your voice. So is there any connection to this Occupy Wall Street and how it suddenly got snuffed out at some point?

Mr. Ramaswamy: It’s a great question, Jan. So I think that you’re really onto something here. The Occupy Wall Street movement represented a threat to Wall Street. If you’re Wall Street, you don’t like Occupy Wall Street very much. That’s why they used the woke movement born in the post 2008 era to defang Occupy Wall Street, to say that actually the real problem isn’t economic injustice as Occupy Wall Street called for it. It really wasn’t those government bailouts of the big banks, of bankers who made a ton of money when time was good and got bailed out by the public when times were bad. That wasn’t the real problem, no.

It was systemic racism and misogyny and bigotry and we’ll talk about systemic racism all day long, as long as you don’t make us talk about systemic financial risk. Actually that’s ultimately how you had this new marriage of woke millennials together getting in bed with big banks, together birthing woke capitalism and using that to put Occupy Wall Street up for adoption. So they blew woke smoke to deflect accountability of the kind that the Occupy Wall Street movement wanted to bring to bear.

Now that the woke smoke has begun to clear, people are seeing a clear picture again. It’s still the same managerial class that’s in charge. This is not a left-wing point or a right-wing point. It is a point about restoring the voices of everyday Americans and everyday citizens of democracies around the world, including Canada, including Western Europe, who are saying that, “Okay, woke stuff aside, maybe some of us got distracted by that along the way, the ones on the left,” but even they’re coming back and the ones on the right certainly weren’t distracted by it at any point along the way. 

But at the end of the day, how are our voices being represented in the governments that we’re supposedly participants in as citizens, in the institutions that we’re supposedly part of as shareholders and as workers, and we still demand answers to those questions.

That’s what we’re beginning to see, a modern version of that tea party a decade later, asking the questions of the institutions that they’re a part of to say that, how are our voices actually represented? This time I think we’re past the woke smoke offering a sufficient distraction. Mark my words, they’re going to offer other distractions through the temple of scientism, which appeals to scientific authority as it relates to COVID-19 or something else to try to deflect attention.

But I think that those deflection strategies are wearing thin. Things are coming to a head where we’re going to have to decide at the end of the day, do we actually live in a democracy where the people who we elect to run the government, be they Democrats or Republicans or whoever? Are the people who we elect to run the government the people who actually run the government? Or are they going to be these managerial bureaucrats, both in the private sector and in the alphabet soup of the public sector, the FTC, the SCC, the FDA, the FBI, and the alphabet soup of the private sector, the MSFT, the AMCN, the FB and the GO OG. Are they the ones who are in charge of our democracy or is it going to be the people who we actually elect to run the government?

That’s the question that I think people on the left and the right are asking, and this is coming to a head in the next three years as we determine the answer to that question of whether we live in a modern monarchy in American soil, or do we actually live in the democracy that defected from the old world way of a small group of managerial elites telling the rest of society how to live? That’s the question of our time?

Mr. Jekielek: So monarchy, oligarchy, I guess, that’s what you’re talking about. Yeah.

Mr. Ramaswamy: It is monarchy, lowercase M monarchy, but we live in a monarchical society where a combination of corporate kings and bureaucratic kings that constitute the same people by the way, who occupy corporate boards of directors, who become ambassadors abroad, who become associate deans of universities, it’s the same people.

Mr. Jekielek: They call it a revolving door, right? Yeah.

Mr. Ramaswamy: They call it a revolving door, but it’s really a horizontal, let’s just say flow of the same type of managerial elites that are crushing the will of everyday people: be they consumers in the private sector, be they students in the university, be they citizens in a democracy. The moment we live in is, are we ultimately going to be a society governed by we, the people, or are we going to be a society governed by the managerial elites?

This is not a right-wing issue. It’s not a left-wing issue. It is an issue that actually both parties are going to need to grapple with and this is coming to a head in the next few years.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, it’s really interesting because I’m just remembering a chat I had with Batya Ungar-Sargon. Her perspective is that, this whole woke thing, and this is frankly what I think you’re describing, it’s a class war masquerading as an identity war or a cultural war. Right, does that ring a bell?

Mr. Ramaswamy: Yes, it does. I think that the use of identity politics as a deflection from the class discussion, I think is something that the left should actually be incensed about. I’m not a big class warfare guy myself actually. I’m a conservative. We can talk about what underpins that worldview, but this is a different point, it’s that, I actually would rather have a robust intellectually, well grounded left that talked about economic class because at least that’s a universalist vision.

You could be rich or poor, whether you’re gay or straight, black or white, Democratic or Republican for that matter or man or woman for that matter. They have deflected the discussion away from economic class to being about this modern group identity-based disempowerment narrative that says that, you’re nothing more than the characteristics you inherited on the day you were born that determine who you are and what you can become—that actually is actually far more toxic and far more divisive. I think that it’s a good deflection mechanism, but a consequence of that deflection is that it has left us more divided as people in the end.

She’s done great work. I’ve written my book, a lot of people have been focused on these issues over the last few years, that I think we’ve actually passed the peak woke moment. So woke-ism’s ability to today serve as the deflection tactic that it has for the last five to six years, that moment is slowly passed. I think that’s good news, because it’s going to force us to answer the hard questions underneath it, of whether actually the managerial elites that we’re using it as a deflection tactic are really the people we want to have in charge or not. That’s the conversation we need to have.

Mr. Jekielek: And so, all these companies now, I’m personally aware of a number of, even people that are involved with this directly. It’s been described as DEI commissars that basically end up having very real power to influence both how everybody needs to be educated to be acceptable, to be in the company and of course, it’s around woke principles and so forth. Also, who gets hired, who doesn’t get hired. Is there anything in here that might suggest that you might not be woke enough? These structures now exist in, is it every major company? I don’t know.

Mr. Ramaswamy: Yes. I think it’s most major companies. It’s part of what I call deep corporate. It’s the counterpart to the deep state. It’s the managerial bureaucracy that actually was set up to administer, I use that in quotes, “the civil rights statutes.” So the civil rights statute said you couldn’t discriminate in the base of race, sex, religion, or national origin. 

As of last year, the Supreme Court read sexual orientation into sex, but they created a bureaucracy that on the back of a lot of case law jurisprudence that began to say that actually any disparate impact on one of those tectonic group identity plates, a disparate impact to a racial group or whatever could be a basis for inferring discrimination.

So what does that create? It’s a bureaucracy to administer so-called anti-racism, the woke agenda, that ironically on created the very conditions for rampant political discrimination that we see in those very institutions while leaving political discrimination unprotected as a civil right. So, what I actually say is, to these DEI initiatives that are actually a response to the lineage of the civil rights statutes, you can’t have it both ways, okay.

Either we make political belief a civil right in this country, just like race, sex, religion, and national origin, and sexual orientation. To say you can’t fire somebody or deplatform somebody for that matter because they’re black or gay or Muslim or white or Christian or Jewish or whatever. You also can’t fire somebody or deplatform somebody just because they’re an outspoken conservative either.

Maybe the free market can work this out and we get rid of protected classes altogether, or we have the protected classes, but we apply the standards even handedly. But we cannot create the conditions for political discrimination while leaving political belief unprotected. So, that’s a big part of one of the solutions that I see to this problem.

Not all the solutions are through politics and policy, but that is one that’s through policy that can create the conditions for, I think, a robust private sector that doesn’t use the bureaucracies of DEI and the deep corporate apparatus to create the conditions for political discrimination that we see today.

Mr. Jekielek: Just very briefly, you’ve been able to explain what this whole DEI system really means because it sounds good. Diversity, equity, inclusion…

Mr. Ramaswamy: Equity, inclusion, yeah.

Mr. Jekielek: Equity sounds like equality. We know it’s not, but can you give us a super quick overview of what this means?

Mr. Ramaswamy: Yes. It’s a secular religion, which what it’s managed to do is a bit of what Fyodor Dostoevsky had in mind when he wrote the story of The Grand Inquisitor in “The Brothers Karamazov.” It was the chapter where Christ is back on earth in the middle of the Spanish inquisition, walking the streets of Seville and The Grand Inquisitor, the head of the church in Spain, spots him and has Christ arrested.

And the peak of the chapter is the dialogue between Christ and The Grand Inquisitor, where The Grand Inquisitor tells him that, “We, the church, don’t need you, Christ anymore. In fact, your presence here impedes our work and that’s why we’re going to sentence you to death.” That’s what the church of diversity, equity, and inclusion has done.

In the name of diversity, we have actually sentenced true diversity of thought to death. You can’t say certain things in a diversity, equity, inclusion based environment. In the name of equity, we’ve actually sacrificed true equality of opportunity where you don’t discriminate against somebody on account of their race or their sex or their religion or their national origin. In the name of inclusion, we’ve created this exclusive culture where certain points of view just aren’t welcome.

So it’s a religion where in the name of those values, it’s actually held those very values hostage and sentenced them to death, much as Dostoevsky envisioned at the time he wrote centuries ago. And so, I think that that’s what’s going on in corporate America today. I think that there’s an opportunity, however, and it’s not just through politics. I talked about making political belief a civil right. I write about that in my book. I talked about it earlier this morning to a group here at CPAC. However, I think there’s an even bigger opportunity through the front door of the market. What do I mean by that?

Mr. Jekielek: Front door?

Mr. Ramaswamy: The front door of the market itself, exactly. It’s a wide open opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to step up and capture it and here’s the opportunity. Because of the DEI agenda in corporate America and elsewhere, there are over 100 million Americans today, and by the way, their counterparts abroad in countries like Canada, in Western Europe, in France, in England, in Australia, even in India, who are put off by the places where they shop, or they bank, or they invest, or they work. Who’ve said, they’ve actually had enough of this new culture of exclusion in the name of capital “I” inclusion.

What they’re saying is that, “You know what? We want alternatives. We don’t want cheap, reactionary right-wing alternatives. No, we want robust, universalist American alternatives. Alternatives that stand for, for example, the unapologetic pursuit of excellence. 

You know what? I don’t want a right-wing alternative, but I do want companies that tell me that the American dream is alive and well. That capitalism is the best system known to mankind to lift people up from poverty. It’s not a racist system and we will not apologize for it with three letter acronyms. And that, you know what? You should be free to speak your mind without fear of putting food on the dinner table, because America is that country that allows you to enjoy both of those freedoms at once.”

That’s what this new movement stands for, is unapologetically pursuing excellence, to say that, “Yeah, diversity might be a great thing, but it is a means towards the end of pursuing excellence. It is not an end in itself.” To say that, actually, that’s how we’re coming to market with consumer products, with financial products, with social media and technology products, and say that, that’s what we stand for in what I call, Jan, the excellence economy, which is different from the ESG economy, which is different from the DEI economy, which is different from the Great Reset economy.

It’s an excellence economy, an economy centered on the pursuit of American excellence and excellence in other countries as well that, you know what, here’s the business part of this, the customers who find those messages resonant happen to be the best customers of any business. They’re net savers, they’re hard workers. They don’t lie on their insurance or their credit card applications. They are loyal customers with a lot of buying power that comprises, I think, the fourth largest economy in the world, if you just count the Americans. I think it’s the largest economy in the world, if it comprises the equivalent consumers and citizens in other countries.

And so, I want to see a parallel cultural movement and economic movement that reaches out to those consumers, just as I want to see new conservative leaders reach out to those citizens to say that, actually we’re giving the voice of the people back. Both with their first vote, with their votes at the ballot box, as well as with their second vote, with the pocketbook dollars and their investment dollars and their buying dollars to say that actually we, the people do deserve to be heard, but we’re not going to do it with a grievance culture. 

We’re going to do it by actually exercising our voices, our buying power, our consuming power to say that we deserve to be respected. That’s an opportunity for CEOs and businesses and entrepreneurs who today are brave enough to capture it.

Now, the first movers are going to have to be pretty brave because that hasn’t been done yet in a high quality way. But guess what? The market rewards those who are bravest first and it’s actually a value investing principle timeless in the words of Warren Buffet for that matter, who famously said, “Actually, markets reward those who are fearful when others are brave. It also rewards those who are brave when others are fearful.” I think this is a moment for those who are brave when others are fearful to reap the rewards of actually their courage.

Mr. Jekielek: So many things I want to talk about right now. I’ve read a number of reports that have talked about how over the last two years of COVID or Covidian, some people call it, policy has resulted in a mass bailout again for this fusion managerial…

Mr. Ramaswamy: It’s a great point.

Mr. Jekielek: … government class. Right, yeah.

Mr. Ramaswamy: Absolutely right. Yes. It’s a great point. I actually had not thought about the 2008 analogy until you just mentioned it. I think it’s spot on.

Mr. Jekielek: Is this economy that you’re describing, okay, is it something that can counter this sort of activity which seems to happen in times of the biggest crisis? This group that you’re describing is the one that gets away with what’s effectively a massive redistribution of wealth. Right?

Mr. Ramaswamy: Absolutely.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s unbelievable.

Mr. Ramaswamy: I think that is absolutely possible.

Mr. Jekielek: Yeah.

Mr. Ramaswamy: That is absolutely right. If the right business leaders step up to capture the opportunity, the consumers in this country and in Canada and in Europe and in Australia are waiting, saying, “We are here to reward you with our buying power. Can you step up with high quality,” and quality is important here, but, “high quality alternatives that ultimately come to me with a message that I deserve to be respected with?”

If the right class of business leaders and entrepreneurs step up, I think it is the defining economic opportunity of our generation and we will look back… Companies like Facebook were born not out of technology. They were born on fundamental human insights about human psychological frailties, okay. Where they said that, we can prey on someone’s envy or their lust or their insecurities, their psychic insecurities to open up a lens into their deepest wants and desires that prove to be the treasure trove of the last two decades, to build a digital advertising economy that ended up creating the greatest economic force in modern human history.

It was a turning point. I don’t think it was a turning point for the better, but I think it was a turning point nonetheless. I think we’re at one of those turning points where there’s a good way this plays out and a bad way this plays out. I’ll tell you both ways it plays out. 

There is a hunger for a cause, for meaning, for purpose, for identity that are not being served up through our politics or through other institutions that could be accessed through… The left has done a good job of this in creating a blue economy that tells young people that they can go to Ben & Jerry’s and order a cup of ice cream with a cup of morality on the side and say that it’s left-wing morality that gives you a fast food answer to that moral hunger. There’s an opportunity across the rest of the country too.

Here’s what I don’t want to see happen. It could happen and I think it’s a business opportunity and people could capture it. Here’s what I don’t want to see though, personally, as a citizen is a right-wing alternative to say that, we’re going to create the right-wing alternatives to that and sell a lot of goods by ultimately offering the red economy in response. 

Why don’t I want to see that? A, I think it’s cheap even for satisfying that moral hunger. It doesn’t really do the job. It’s just the equivalent of french fries and fast food, but I also don’t want to see it because once we get to a red and blue version of everything, of coffee as we have today, of pillows as we have today, if we get to baseball and football and basketball, I think that’s the beginning of the end of the American experiment as we know it, or at least it could be. I don’t want to see that.

However, I think the better business strategy and even more importantly, the better strategy for our culture and our country is business leaders who step up and offer a universalist vision. To say that, “Actually we don’t want to mix up politics with business. That we want to just pursue excellence unapologetically. That, that is our agenda.” People are hungry for that message and I think that that message will be more successful because actually I think a lot of people on the center left and in other parts of the populace left will come along too.

But I think that more importantly, it will have the effective swinging the pendulum back because once you then steal a million customers at a time from the Nikes and Airbnbs and BlackRocks and JP Morgan Chases and American Expresses of the world, that’s what’s going to cause them to then wake up and say, “You know what? Our approach to diversity and inclusion over the last 10 years might not have been as diverse and inclusive as we thought it was.” 

Guess what? They’re going to have to come back and win back those customers with a more depoliticized approach. That’s to me what the end state looks like. That’s what the promised land in the next step looks like for us.

I think we’re probably more likely to get there through our culture and through our economy than we are through our politics. I have some views on how we can get there through our politics too. But I think that this is actually a more promising path that I’m more optimistic on.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s super interesting. So you mentioned the ESG agenda and the Great Reset agenda, which are of course connected. I think it’s ESG is originally-

Mr. Ramaswamy: Different words for the same thing.

Mr. Jekielek: … Klaus Schwab’s state of vision.

Mr. Ramaswamy: Stakeholder capitalism, ESG, corporate social responsibility, call it what you want, it is the apologist model of capitalism that merges state power with corporate power to create the modern form of fascism. That’s what I think it is.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, okay. Lay it out for me.

Mr. Ramaswamy: So, I think fascism is by definition, the merger of governmental power with corporate power. Some of them may have begun in well-intentioned ways. I’ve never met Klaus Schwab. I’ve every reason to think that actually he’s probably a goodhearted man. I read his book. I reviewed it for the Wall Street Journal last year. There was a certain naivete to it that actually led me to think that he wasn’t some conspiratorial puppet master behind the scenes.

I think there are business leaders who are running with his philosophies who are, but he’s a gentle elder man who had a world view that I think was wrong and off the mark and not terribly well argued. But I have no reason to think that he’s a cynical world conqueror. He’s a man who offered an innocent philosophy that happened to be misguided that was co-opted by other cynical forces that are using it to achieve their own ends.

Now, what this new movement is about, is about using private power to accomplish through the private sector what government could not do through the front door. In return, private companies using government to gain competitive advantages that they couldn’t have actually gained in a true free market. So I’ll tell you what I mean.

There’s a Green New Deal that never got passed in Congress. Well, guess what? Who needs the Green New Deal when you have the ESG agenda, where John Kerry goes around to one bank after another and gets them to sign the so-called Climate Pledge that says that they won’t lend to projects that the party in power disfavors. Well, guess what? That’s using governmental power to do through the backdoor what government couldn’t do through the front door.

I will tell you, Jan, I think you know this, banks are not charitable institutions. So when they sign that Climate Pledge, what are they getting in return? That is the question we need to be asking. Big tech censorship, you have a party in power, in the House, in the Senate, in the White House that is coordinating with technology companies to censor content that government could not censor directly under the first amendment.

I say that if it’s state action in disguise, then the constitution still applies. But what do these firms then get in return is they get favors through the black door. I called it black door because of BlackRock. It’s probably a slip of the tongue, but BlackRock has half their alumni up and down staffing the Biden administration. They get to be the administrator of the COVID-19 relief stimulus packages.

Guess what? They’ve managed to grow themselves now to becoming the world’s largest asset manager in the process while preaching the ESG gospel at every step of the way. So that is the new form of crony capitalism, but people in new firms need to call it out and tap into I think an energy that is demanding change. It is time, as I say, to reset the Great Reset, and I think we are hungry for doing it and that’s what I’m looking to play a role in doing as well.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, okay. So, there’s a lot of buzz about the Great Reset. Frankly, there’s a lot of discussion about ESG as well so I want to touch on that. But what’s the Great Reset?

Mr. Ramaswamy: The Great Reset is the use of COVID-19 and other catastrophes to be able to achieve something that people would have otherwise never accepted, which was a merger of power across the different institutional spheres of our lives. You had the universities over here, you had an economy over here, you had a government over here. The Great Reset is all about dissolving the boundaries between those institutions to give the managerial elites in charge of each of them power over, not just one of them at a time, but over all of them at the same time. That is what the Great Reset is all about.

The question is what everyday citizens are going to be able to do about it before it’s too late. I personally think there’s a lower case R Great Reset going on in the other direction to say that actually… Those are the truckers you see in Canada who smell what’s happening and they know that they see, not just a political movement, but a pan-institutional movement that is set up to permanently exclude them in the name of inclusion, and they’re not going to stand for it.

These two great resets I think are coming to a head, not quite in the 2022 election cycle, because that’s about Joe Biden’s poor policies and the “Let’s Go Brandon” agenda in response. I, frankly, I’m kind of bored by that. I don’t find the 2022 election to be terribly interesting. I know that’s what a lot of the Republican politicians either say or are supposed to say that they’re excited about it, take back the House and Senate. I find that boring because at the end of the day, I think it’s probably going to happen.

The question is, what does that conservative movement actually stand for? We need real answers to that question, but I think that once that moment has passed, I think the two years that come after that are going to be all about these two forces coming to a head. The great institutional reset taking education and the economy and the governments in power and democracies around the world and dissolving the boundaries between them. 

The lower case R reset in response to say that, no, no, no, we, the people in democracies defected from old world Europe, we came to the new world because we rejected the idea that a small group of managerial elites decide behind closed doors, what’s good for the rest of us in society at large.

Those two forces are coming together and they’re coming to a head and there’s going to be a great realignment between November 2022 and probably November 2024 or January 2025 in the private sector and in the path of the next U.S. presidential election that determines which vision wins. 

Is it the vision of European monarchy or is it the new world vision of capital D democracy in a democratic republic? That is the question. I come out on one side of that. Klaus Schwab’s capital G capital R, Great Reset comes out on the other side of that. The next two years after we’re done with the 2022 election distraction is going to actually answer that question.

Mr. Jekielek: Okay and that’s fascinating. So what is this realignment that you’re envisioning?

Mr. Ramaswamy: So, I could break in one of two directions. The realignment I would like to see is a dissolution of the managerial layer that intermediates what an institution stands for and the people who that institution is actually supposed to serve. Let’s talk about the government. Here’s my biggest criticism of President Trump.

He had some of the right intentions to drain the swamp. He didn’t actually do it because at the end of the day, he resorted to incremental reform. Okay, and I’m sympathetic to him because these are hard decisions to make. But at the end of the day, we don’t need Republican leaders or conservative leaders to incrementally reform a government agency by saying that we’re going to put a different person in charge and we’re going to cut its budget and starve it. That’s old school conservative solutions that resort to, I would say superficial ideas about saving money, and then we can lower taxes.

Look, I’m all for those things too, but the question for the conservative movement to ask right now is, why is it we want to do those things? Is it because we want to save money and grow the size of the economic pie, which great stuff I love it? Is that the main reason why though? Or is it because we actually care about the integrity of a democracy where the will of the people are ultimately represented? The people who we elect to put in charge are actually the people who are in charge rather than a bureaucratic layer that is insulated from political accountability.

If that’s the reason why you stand for reducing the size of government, then there’s one solution. When you get in charge of the alphabet soup from the NIH, to the FBI, to the FTC, to the SCC, the answer isn’t to incrementally reform those bureaucracies. It is to shut them down and to replace them with something new, because there’s a managerial cancer that’s insulated from political accountability, that those very people, you can’t treat one metastasis at a time. You can’t treat the symptom by treating a cancer with a Tylenol and a bandaid.

If you want to treat a cancer, you need to ultimately get rid of the tumor itself. I think we’re going to need Republican or, I don’t care if they’re Republican, conservative, or I don’t even care if they’re conservative, American leaders with the gall to be able to actually dissolve the institutions that are the source of the managerial cancer and problem in the first place.

By the way, we’re going to need the same thing in the private sector, but they are more optimistic of being able to get there through market competitive forces if we have entrepreneurs and business leaders who are brave enough to capture the opportunity of serving the truckers for lack of a better description, because I’m speaking to the line of news the last couple weeks, who have different demands. That’s the realignment.

Is it going to be the trucker realignment who ultimately says that, “We, the people ultimately need to have our voices heard and represented?” Or is it going to be the Great Reset realignment that says that, “We need to dissolve the boundaries between the managerial elites in charge of our universities and our companies and our governments to be able to work together to dissolve those boundaries, to reset in a different direction horizontally?” Is it a vertical Great Reset, or is it a horizontal Great Reset? That is the question of our time.

Mr. Jekielek: Are you suggesting that you’re expecting democracy to disappear with version one?

Mr. Ramaswamy: With the capital G Great Reset, I think that’s the disappearance of democracy as we know it. It is the institution of modern monarchy where we don’t have one king, we have kings that together work. We have a bureaucratic layer that collectively represents a technocratic king. That’s what that looks like. That is Klaus Schwab’s vision. That is the Great Reset.

It is what Larry Fink implements through BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, which aggregates capital from everyday Americans and votes those shares in corporate America in ways that would make the ultimate owners of that capital, actually would make their blood boil if they actually knew what was going on. That’s what that one model looks like.

The other model is to say that we returned the power back to the people who ultimately created those institutions in the first place. In the private sector to tell BlackRock and other institutions like it and State Street too for that matter, that it’s not your money, it is our money. We will vote our shares in the ways that we believe those shares ought to be voted, not in the way that you, king, decide they should be voted. By the way, to tell the people in government the same thing.

They say that it might be Joe Biden, it might be Donald Trump, it might be somebody else in the future, but we want the people who run the government to be the people who we actually elect to run the government. Not the managerial elites who ultimately pull the strings from behind the scenes. As I said, that was my major criticism of President Trump is not that he didn’t have the right vision, but he didn’t do enough to actually fire Anthony Fauci. He could have done it.

Shut down the FBI that did not want to vet his own nominees for the government. He didn’t do it and I think that at the end of the day, we’re going to require… At least, it’s hard because you get advice to say all the adverse consequences and here’s a million reasons why you can’t do it. You’re going to have leaders who ultimately say that, “Yeah, I hear that, but I’m going to do it anyway and to the extent we have needs that need to be fulfilled, I’m going to create something new to fill its place.” That’s the only way we’re going to actually accomplish this.

Mr. Jekielek: What you’re describing feels like such a tall order.

Mr. Ramaswamy: It is. I mean, I think that our times call for great leaders who are willing to do extraordinary things. If those great leaders don’t rise to the occasion, then I think it’s the beginning of the end of the American vision. However, I think that it is moments like these that select for great leaders to emerge.

Ronald Reagan was a product of the late 1970s. Ronald Reagan would’ve never risen to power at the end of the ’80s, because we didn’t need Ronald Reagan then, we needed Ronald Reagan at the end of the ’70s. Now, we need the Ronald Reagan of our moment, not just in the public sector, but in the private sector and education too, to rise to the occasion at a moment where we need those leaders today. Not to recite slogans we memorized from Ronald Reagan in 1980. We need to meet the unique solutions of our time. That’s what Reagan did in 1980. That’s what we need new leaders to do in 2022.

I’m hopeful, Jan, that we’re going to see it. If we don’t, I think the consequences are going to be very bad, but I am hopeful we’re going to see it in the next three years.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, and it’s interesting because what you’re describing, also the whole, let’s say fallout of these COVID policies. When you mentioned realignment earlier, there are all sorts of people that there’s a bit of political alignment there. But there’s a whole lot of people that found themselves suddenly thinking, “I don’t know if I like this policy,” and they were not right-wing at all. Right?

Mr. Ramaswamy: Right.

Mr. Jekielek: For example. Do you see that? I think there is this realignment or some people have called it the great filter or something. Yeah.

Mr. Ramaswamy: I was on Bill Maher’s show a couple weeks ago. Bill Maher and I disagree probably on a lot of issues in conventional policy, but we both agree that the way we should work out those questions is through free speech and open debate in the public sphere. I think that we’re at this moment where Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic candidate for president of the United States in the last election was a featured speaker here at CPAC. I’ll be seeing her later this afternoon—sitting down with her myself.

At the end of the day, we’re in a moment where labels matter less than actually the movements that call for, either the everyday people being heard or the institutional elites ultimately wielding power. That’s the real defining struggle of our time. Whether it’s the woke movement or the left versus right question, those are distractions to the real question of our time, which actually goes to the inherent true power of a democracy.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, Vivek Ramaswamy, it’s such a pleasure to have you on again.

Mr. Ramaswamy: Thank you, Jan. Good to see you.

Mr. Jekielek: We live in an age of censorship and disinformation, where some of the most prominent voices, most important voices aren’t actually being heard because they’re being suppressed. I invite some of these people onto the show, onto American Thought Leaders so to stay up-to-date on the most recent episodes in our exclusive content, you can actually sign up for our newsletter at Just hit the checkbox for American Thought Leaders.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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