Have you known any students who have attended law school while in 6th grade? In his WSJ’s “The Weekend Interview,” Tunku Varadarajan introduces readers to Vivek Ramaswamy, former CEO at Roivant Sciences. Roivant is the drug-development company that made the self-made millionaire rich.
As Mr. Ramaswamy likes to joke, he “attended” law school while accompanying his Dad on the long drives to and from his father’s commute to night law school. He says he was probably the only kid his age who knew who Justice Antonin Scalia was. A libertarian in high school, Mr. Ramaswamy switched to being conservative while at Harvard as “an act of rebellion” against the politics he found there.
Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam
Mr. Ramaswamy stepped down as CO of Roivant to write “Woke, Inc.” In his book (to be published in August), he takes a scathing look at “corporate America’s social-justice scam.”
“Woke, Inc.” Exposes Misconduct of “Church of Wokeism”
His goal writing “Woke, Inc.” is to do the much the same as the movie “Spotlight” did: Exposing misconduct by priests In the Catholic Church. Ramaswamy is looking to expose the misconduct with respect to the “Church of Wokeism.”
Wokeism Comes from a Moral Vacuum
Wokeism. according to Ramaswamy, is a creed that has arisen in America in response to the “moral vacuum” that has been created by the ebbing from public life of faith, patriotism and “the identity we derived from hard work.”
Principles like “diversity,” “equity,” “inclusion” and “sustainability” have taken the place of faith and patriotism and hard work, he claims.
Wokeism – a Godsend to Corporations
Mr. Ramaswamy believes wokeism helped defang the left.
Wokeism lent a lifeline to the people who were in charge of the big banks. They thought, ‘This stuff is easy!’ ” They applauded diversity and inclusion, appointed token female and minority directors, and “mused about the racially disparate impact of climate change.”
In Mr. Ramaswamy’s narrative, Mr. Varadaraja coninues, “a bunch of big banks got together with a bunch of millennials, birthed woke capitalism, and then put Occupy Wall Street up for adoption.”
Now, in Mr. Ramaswamy’s tart verdict, “big business makes money by critiquing itself.”
Ramaswamy’s Big Business Examples
Klaus Schwab, founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is the “patron saint of wokeism” for his relentless propagation of “stakeholder capitalism”—the view that the unspoken bargain in the grant to corporations of limited liability is that they “must do social good on the side.”
Davos is “the Woke Vatican,” Mr. Ramaswamy tells Mr. Varadarajan:
Al Gore and Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, are “its archbishops.” CEOs “further down the chain”—he mentions James Quincey of Coca-Cola, Ed Bastian of Delta, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, John Donahoe of Nikeand Alan Jope of Unilever —are its “cardinals.”
In league with the woke left, corporate America “uses force” as a substitute for open deliberation and debate, continues Ramaswamy.
There’s the sustainability accounting standards board of BlackRock, which effectively demands that in order to win an investment from BlackRock, the largest asset-manager in the world, you must abide by the standards of that board.”
Goldman Sachs – a Fitting Example
At the 2020 World Economic Forum, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon “issued an edict from the mountaintops of Davos.” Mr. Solomon announced his company would refuse to take a company public if its board wasn’t sufficiently diverse. “So Goldman gets to define what counts as diverse. No doubt, they’re referring to skin-deep, genetically inherited attributes.
Big Pharma’s Epiphany – Can’t Beat ‘Em, So Join “Em
“Rather than win the debate on drug pricing, they decided to just change the subject instead. Who needs to win a debate if you can just avoid having it?” So we see “big-time Pharma CEOs musing about topics like racial justice and environmentalism, and writing multibillion-dollar checks to fight climate change, while taking price hikes that they’d previously paused when the public was angry about drug pricing.”
Coca-Cola Follows the Playbook
It’s easier for (Coca-Cola) to issue statements about voting laws in Georgia, or to train their employees on how to “be less white,” than it is to publicly reckon with its role in fueling a nationwide epidemic of diabetes and obesity—including in the black communities they profess to care about so much.”
(Coca-Cola in a statement apologized for the “be less white” admonition and said that while it was “accessible through our company training platform,” it “was not a part of our training curriculum.”)
Nike finds it easier to write checks to Black Lives Matter while, not surprisingly, it condemns America’s history of slavery.
Nike, as R points out, relies on “slave labor” today to sell “$250 sneakers to black kids in the inner city who can’t afford to buy books for school.”
All the while, “Black Lives Matter neuters the police in a way that sacrifices even more black lives.” (Nike has said in a statement that its code of conduct prohibits any use of forced labor and “we have been engaging with multi-stakeholder working groups to assess collective solutions that will help preserve the integrity of our global supply chains.”
How to Fight Woke?
Ramaswamy offers practical tips:
- Reform “at the top of the conservative political agenda.” As he tells Mr. Varadarajan:
There needs to be “a new movement that adds political belief right there next to race, sex, national origin and religion” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which governs employment discrimination. “If you can’t discriminate against somebody because they’re black, or gay, or Muslim, then you shouldn’t be able to discriminate against them because of the expression of their political perspective.”
- Amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
(230) immunizes website operators from lawsuits by giving them vast power to moderate third-party content while specifying that they are not to be treated as the “publisher or speaker” of such content. This is what permits sites like Twitter andFacebook to ban disfavored users like Donald Trump without fear of legal challenge.
- Attach strings to Web companies
Likening the benefit Twitter and Facebook derive from this state-mandated immunity to the federal funding that universities receive, he calls for strings to be attached to tech companies as part of the bargain. “If you benefit from Section 230, a federally provided form of pre-emptive immunity, that’s fine. But you’d then have to abide by the same standards as the federal government itself, including the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment.”
- Extend the protection of the religion clause of Title VII to victims of wokeism.
Title VII prohibits discrimination against an employee on the basis of religion. “Its flip side,” says Mr. Ramaswamy, “is that if you’re an employer, you can’t force your religion down the throats of your employees.”
“Mr. Ramaswamy insists that wokeism is a religion, and needs to be seen as such. It is a view that is becoming increasingly plausible. Perhaps it will be tested in court,” hopes Mr. Varadarajan.
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