Highway to Hell: Woke Capitalism

By Ricardo Duchesne for the Council of Canadian Europeans

A well done video put out by Imperium Press addresses a most important question today: “Why Capital is Woke”? But it opens up stating that woke capitalism is nothing new. Woke capital is a “natural” expression of capitalism’s inherent “progressive” nature. The video only wants to explain “the speed and violence” with which capital today is changing Western societies. The video, accordingly, focuses on explanations that explain the most recent, intense manifestations of capitalist wokeness. One would think that if capitalism is inherently woke one would look into what makes capitalism inherently woke.

The video offers four explanations of which the “absolutist explanation” is claimed to be the best. This explanation says that capital is woke b/c progressives successfully imposed upon businesses during the early 2000s principles for responsible investment and woke standards such as diversity hiring, environmental scores, gender pay equity, support for BLM. So capitalism was always woke, but is now more woke than ever because the wokest people impose their norms upon it.


Counter Currents has a good overview of this video by Spencer J. Quinn, which agrees with the basics of Imperium Press, concluding that “Woke capital can be described as a triumph — perhaps the greatest triumph — of progressivism. Progressives now wield the kind of coercive power that aristocracies, lords, popes, and kings once wielded over European peoples.” Quinn observes however that the “absolutist” and the “managerial” explanation could be seen to work “in tandem”, though he offers a bare bone account of the managerial explanation, without mentioning its key message.

The managerial explanation, in its latest Samuel Francis version, says that capitalism after WWII was taken away from businesses with strong family ties and national roots by a corporate managerial elite consisting of production executives, propaganda specialists, engineers and technocrats, without deep cultural roots and national identities, ruling in unison with a federal government, media, entertainment, and academic elite with cosmopolitan values. The interests of this new elite extended “across many different nations, races, religions and cultures”; it was a transnational elite “detached and disengaged from — and actually hostile to — any particular place or group or set of beliefs that supports particular identities.”

There may be a difference in the capitalism observed in the managerial explanation and the capitalism accounted for in the absolutist explanation. Managerial capitalism was still guided by the imperatives of capitalist accumulation, achieving higher productivity, work place efficiency, and international competitiveness. But the truly woke capitalism of the absolutist explanation seems to be obeying principles and guidelines that are not maximizing for capitalism as a whole in the Western world. Quinn senses this observing that “the mediocre [ideologues without the best talents for efficiency and productivity] have overtaken the excellent, and they have done so without having to earn it”.

But neither he, nor the video by Imperium Press, address the crucial question whether this truly woke capitalism (which the video confounds by saying capitalism has always been woke) generates higher profitability, efficiency, and international competitiveness, or whether it is a capitalism that sacrifices these things for the sake of progressive causes. China with is nationalistic, state controlled capitalism is surpassing the United States according to many economic indicators.

Western capitalism has never been traditionalist. The nature of capitalism, left to function on its own without nationalist and traditionalist imperatives, is to break traditional values, promote globalization, and instill values that are commensurate with its law of accumulation. The managerial elite was a product of this inherent tendency in capitalism. As Karl Marx observed in the mid-1800s:

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.

It is hard to deny that capitalism has been a major force in the obliteration of national identities, the promotion of internationalism, open borders and a generic human species without an ethnos. But there may be something extra to current woke capitalism, in obeying progressive principles, environmental guidelines, diversity hiring, pay equity, advocacy of values that discouraged hard work and efficient use of time, while encouraging drug-taking, sexual addictions, and weaker families for the raising of the next generation of producers. It is not that many businesses are not getting rich from these values and practices. But it is hard to see how these woke values are maximizing for Western capitalism as a whole in the long run. It could be that the woke are exerting considerable influence upon capitalism. But then it could be that capitalists are still at the helm, granting to progressives inexpensive cultural concessions, while still in charge of what matters most to them, accumulation of capital.

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