Authored By Karl Stahlfeld
April 01, 2021
David Azerrad is an Assistant Professor and Research Fellow at Hillsdale College’s Van Andel Graduate School of Government in Washington, D.C. and a YAF speaker. The following is an excerpt from an interview about Woke Capitalism and how corporations can embrace the power of the government for their own ends.
YAF: How would you define woke capitalism?
Dr. Azerrad: I would define woke capitalism as the phenomenon of big corporations taking active sides in the cultural wars and pushing a divisive, left-wing, social agenda on identity issues. It goes without saying that not a single big corporation is actively pro-life or defends the second amendment. So, it’s always on one side. I would distinguish it from corporate social responsibility— should a corporation donate to a little league or focus on the bottom line? That is not deeply divisive in the same manner.
YAF: Why do you see all these major corporations always taking the same side?
Dr. Azerrad: I think it’s a complicated phenomenon that has multiple explanations. One is, who runs these places? People who went to elite universities. An elite university in America today is just indoctrination into the pieties of the woke Left.
Another dimension, to look at it more cynically, is that woke capitalism allows wealthy, oligarchic corporations to, so to speak, morally launder their corporate nature and use their wealth to become the good guys at very little cost to themselves. So, from a business point of view, it makes sense.
Finally, the Left mobilizes, not just as voters and as activists, but also as consumers; they boycott. The Right largely does not. So again, it makes sense from a business point of view, since it turns out that if you go woke you don’t go broke. By contrast, as my friend Darren Beattie has observed, if you go Anti-Woke, you will get broken.
YAF: Do you think conservatives should look at starting to boycott businesses?
Dr. Azerrad: Absolutely! It’s perfectly compatible with free market principles—you control your dollars. It’s perfectly compatible with the principles of social conservatism—why would you support people who are actively trying to harm you and the things you hold dear? And it in no way violates any principle of sound limited constitutional government.
Look, it’ll be difficult, let’s be honest. I don’t think boycotting is a panacea, but it can begin to level the playing field and put some pressure on woke corporations. Ideally, we could see neutral capitalism, where large corporations don’t weigh in on the cultural wars and instead sit them out.
YAF: One of the concerns people raise about boycotting we would create companies that only appeal to one half of the country. Do you think that’s the likely outcome of conservatives boycotting?
Dr. Azerrad: I don’t think that’s what will happen if conservatives start boycotting. I think that some of these corporations may instead stop antagonizing large segments of the population and just sit out these fights.
YAF: Why do big corporations support heavy government regulations that seemingly hurt them?
Dr. Azerrad: They like profits not competition. Once you’re at the top of the pile, why would you want to help others try to topple you? So they will happily leverage the formidable power of the modern regulatory state to create barriers to entry. For example, big corporations often are in favor of a higher minimum wage because they can absorb the labor costs, but the mom and pop shops can’t.