The corporate world going ‘woke’ isn’t all bad news for capitalism

Regardless, combine that behaviour with how some major corporations snuff out viewpoint diversity on other issues in their own workplaces and the idea, long-propagated, that capitalism itself fosters “liberal values” such as free speech, free association, and the centrality of the individual to morality, looks increasingly questionable.

In fact, the ascendant progressive world-view of Generation Z that equates some speech with violence, cancels those with the wrong views, and embraces identity politics, is far less likely to be conducive to the most dynamic, free market variant of capitalism, which unsurprisingly relies on free thought.

A shift towards a fuller-fat “woke capitalism” over “liberal capitalism” still brings an economic downside. Those who believe in a liberal market economy need to start winning hearts and minds.

“Woke capitalism” itself, of course, might prove an overreaction to the intolerance that minorities previously endured. In time, its own intolerances might create a cultural shift again, with business following behind.

But the big fear of this moment for conservatives should be politics, not business. If capitalists adjust to cultural change more quickly than the political system, and the political system tends to attract fanatics, what we are seeing today might be the leading indicator of a future woke political revolution.

The more extreme young progressives winning the coercive powers of government will make conservatives wonder why they ever worried about corporate displays of solidarity.

 

Ryan Bourne holds the R Evan Scharf chair for the public understanding of economics at the Cato Institute

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