On Commercial Capitulation
Has there been a more unedifying sight in recent times that that of the utterly supine capitulation of most of the Western corporate class in wake of the George Floyd killing and ensuing riots? One by one, from ice cream companies, to fast-food restaurants to football teams, the majority of the corporate world promptly came out in support of the whole ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement without as much of a hint of scepticism or of any demands for qualification or clarity about the demands of the movement — for example, don’t all lives matter? Obviously, such nuance was to be avoided, and the main point was the rhetorical one — ‘racism and prejudice are bad’, ‘equality and tolerance are good’; ergo ‘Black Lives Matter’.
That the corporate world has little use for any criteria other than the profit motive should not be a shock to anyone versed in the reality of how a market polity operates — to paraphrase one gruff and bearded 19th Century German: all that is solid really does melt into thin air.
However, on this occasion it is also interesting to view the egregious and extremely widespread nature of this current commercial capitulation to the demands of the mob, and to note that this was not what happened after similar events in the past, such as during the 1960s Civil Rights movement in the US; nor is such a situation really at all prevalent in most of the other non-Western parts of the world.
So, why is this the case? In this time and in this place? In a word: demography. It’s not that, as some have facilely attested, that the adults running the corporations launching such ‘woke’ campaigns have vacated the room and that the children have grabbed hold of the controls for a while. No, the adults are still there, and they are as commercially-minded and self-serving as before. Jeff Bezos is still there. The tech companies and the Nike folks as well.
The issue is that in this case ‘the mob’ is also a crucial part of the corporate class’s main target customer base, hence they must be cultivated and appeased.This is why, among other similar examples, we have seen the farcical situation of a company, Nike, trying simultaneously to apologise to, placate, and then appeal to many of the same people who have recently smashed up their stores and stolen their merchandise.
This is such because as the demographics of the West change and certain ‘minority’ groups grow as a proportion of the population (the same ones that are, in the main, the ones rioting and protesting — alongside their naive white liberal allies) they will have more commercial influence and weight, and thus greater bargaining power and influence within a commercial (and a democratic) state.
This is a important development across most of the West, but particularly in the United States (on track to become ‘majority-minority’ by mid-century) given its size, military and economic strength, and cultural prominence. And indeed also in the UK and across continental Europe (the indigenous ‘white’ British are now a minority in most London boroughs, to take one demographic example). And so it will become the case that as the population becomes increasingly diverse, this self-same diverse constituency will now be the main target market for the commercial and corporate class who will seek to target and appease it (with, as we are now seeing, little regard for other extraneous factors).
In fact, such a state of affairs could even get worse. A bi-annual spectacle of corporate self-flagellation and genuflection to the Gods of Diversity could become a semi-permanent event in the West if our rather rapacious and fickle form of laissez-faire capitalism is allowed to continue alongside an increasingly diverse electorate. That this has implications for democracy (perhaps even its continued viability), not to mention other non-economic factors such as history (see, for example the current debacle of the desecrated statues) and tradition, social cohesion, and intellectual honesty and probity is not a moot point.
To further highlight the insanity of our current situation, a short comparison with the past might help. For example, if we look at the US Civil Rights movement of the 1960 we saw well-meaning white liberals marching alongside blacks supporting their demands for justice. However, we did not see what we are seeing now — which is the kissing of the feet of blacks by white Americans, nor a mass destruction of statues and monuments, not a complete acquiescence by the 1960s commercial class to the demands of the mob.
A large part of the rationale for the last point is that, claims for justice aside, in a society that was overwhelming WASP-ish the commercial imperative to respond to appeals to demands regarding diversity and minority rights was not as salient. Now, however, with the WASPs down to around half of the US population, alongside similar reductions in the UK, Australia and Canada, amidst a more globalised marketplace, a commitment (rhetorical at least) to diversity, equality and inclusion (or, DIE as some have called it) has become almost a commercial necessity.
This is also why, for example, people living in what were once relatively staid and homogenous societies, e.g. most of the Western world in the 1950s and early 1960s, have seen their physical commercial environment completely and radically changed in front of them. For example, the idea of seeing a girl in a hijab on a billboard, or of the stereotypical TV family being not homogenous but multi-racial, was almost unknown in the post-war West, yet this is now so commonplace that it has become almost obligatory and cliché.
That the native middle-aged and older generations, who have seen these vast and often unsettling demographic and cultural changes, are now expected to view these corporate and commercial cringes and changes with enthusiasm or even with quiet equanimity is a hope that stretches the credulity of even the most gullible. They will more likely be seen for what they are: a discomforting erosion of their culture and traditions and further proof of the complete abnegation of the political class to care for the well-being of their citizens and to care for the greater common national good.
This insult is further compounded by the fact that, due to decreased native birth rates and an over-reliance on immigration (a part of the broader failure of liberalism), the most diverse sectors of the populace also happen to be the younger ones. So Nan and Pop not only have the insult of having their suburb changed beyond recognition, they also have the problem that the TV, the newspaper, the billboard and the magazines they view will often contain a large amount of content they are neither familiar with nor that they particularly care for.
Outside of the West this commercial capitulation also looks as tragi-comic as the broader political one taking place within it. In Japan and South Korea, to take two non-Western industrial, prosperous, capitalist, democratic economies, there appears to be hardly any of the corporate mea culpas, recantations, nor mass changes to advertising and commercial strategy that we are seeing in the West. This is not to paint the Japanese and South Koreans as callous for not worrying about the rights of black people, or of other disadvantages minorities; rather that the semi-religious and rhetorical appeal that the whole BLM movement has exerted in the West is less evident in the more traditional and hierarchical East. Furthermore, as both countries have largely homogenous populations there isn’t the same cynical corporate machinations and exigencies that there are in the West to directly appeal to certain minority groups out of commercial imperatives. This same situation also no doubt holds in Russia and Eastern Europe, which has been conspicuously quieter and less-troubled by this whole uproar than their more liberal Western cousins.
So, why is no one talking about this? Well, as is normally the case when discussing such matters, to say that issues of race, ethnicity and demographic change (and the consequence thereof) are delicate and contentious, indeed almost verboten, would be an extreme understatement. However, that being said, these really are the issues upon which almost all else rests (a fact underlined by Ann Coulter, and increasingly Tucker Carlson, to their credit). In the meantime, expect to hear little from the sensible voices of dissent but plenty more from the likes of Black Lives Matter and their commercial Cassandras.