Taking on Woke Inc.

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Congratulations, graduates! Your days of leftist indoctrination are behind you. Just kidding! The glass tower of the corporate world is fast becoming as woke as the ivory tower of the college world. In PragerU’s 2021 commencement address, Ben Shapiro offers some sage advice for how to stick to your values... no matter where you go.

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Congratulations, graduates! 

Your days of indoctrination in wokeism are behind you. Your worries about being graded down because you wouldn’t say America is systemically racist? Over. Your fears that you’d be socially shunned because of your failure to decry the evils of capitalism? Done. Yes, you’ve been liberated! 

Next stop: the real world, where merit is rewarded, diversity of opinion is welcomed, and the free and open exchange of ideas is celebrated.

Just kidding.

The truth is, many of you are about to move from the ivory tower of the authoritarian left to…well, probably, the glass and steel tower of the authoritarian left. 

Today’s business behemoths have also become bastions of woke thought. Terrified of discrimination lawsuits and all the time, money, and bad PR, they bend to every woke diktat that blows through their HR departments. 

Corporations spend millions on useless “diversity compliance officers” whose sole purpose is to insulate them from an ever-expanding list of discrimination claims, but most especially, racism. That’s why, within the first few days on the job, you will likely be subjected to an orientation taught by a devotee of Ibram X. Kendi or Robin DiAngelo. During a day-long struggle session, this “anti-racist” consultant will inform you that, if you’re white, you must become “less white.” And if you’re a person of color (a P.O.C), you are a victim. 

Corporations cater to their squeakiest customers—and the authoritarian left is nothing if not squeaky; it threatens boycotts and company-destroying publicity if businesses refuse to comply with its demands. 

According to a study by James Bailey and Hilary Phillips as reported in the Harvard Business Review, a generic corporation identified as apolitical or liberal saw no blowback from a panel of prospective consumers; but a generic corporation identified as conservative saw a 33% drop in opinion, “entirely driven by participants who identified as Democrats.” That’s why your boss will likely send out regular company-wide emails assuring you that he or she or xe is on the Right Side of History and pledging millions of dollars in support of whatever the leftist cause du jour happens to be. And you’ll be forced to echo these messages or seek employment elsewhere.

Corporations, above all, are risk averse and controversy averse. This means that they are petrified of their own woke workers and cater to them in order to avoid media-manufactured blowback. While apolitical staffers and conservatives may constitute the majority of employees at any company, the corporate heads are driven by fear of a vocal ideological minority. Which is why if you offend one of your fellow employees on a message board by suggesting that there are non-sexist reasons why men outnumber women in STEM jobs, you’ll be summarily fired. Just ask James Damore of Google.

Conservatives used to believe that what happened in college stayed in college. This was a colossal mistake. Slowly but surely, college radicals have renormalized America’s institutions. Let’s talk about how.

Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb discusses the process of re-normalization in his book, Skin in the Game. Let’s say you have a family of four, including one daughter who only eats vegan. Mom now has a choice: she can cook two meals—one for the non-vegan family members, and one for her daughter; or she can cook one meal with only vegan ingredients. She decides to cook only one meal. This is renormalization of the family unit, which has converted from majority non-vegan to vegan. 

Now, says Taleb, have the family attend a barbecue with three other families. The host has to make the same choice mom did—make one meal or make two. This process of renormalization—the “new normal”—continues until broader and broader numbers have been moved by one inflexible person.

The same holds true in corporations. All it takes, according to physicist Serge Galam, is a tipping point: a certain percentage of the population joining an inflexible movement and demanding change from a less-than-motivated majority. Galam puts that number at approximately 20%. 

So here’s the good news: Renormalization can work in reverse, too. Here’s how: Find a group of likeminded employees. Make demands that a majority of employees agree with. Be inflexible and be loud. Band together to resist the intrusions of the radical left. 

Donald McNeil of The New York Times lost his job because he used the n-word in describing why not to use the n-word; 150 woke staffers at the Times complained to the editors and got him canned. But there are 1,200 employees at the Times. What if even 200 of those employees had pushed back?

You can lead the pushback. In fact, you should. 

Now, that may seem like a lot to ask. Why should a CEO listen to his youngest employees? Fair question. But here’s the answer: they already do. It’s 23-year-old woke staffers who are forcing these corporations to the left. It’s going to take 23-year-old non-left staffers to move them back. 

That means being smart. It means not making dumb mistakes on social media. It means building alliances with those who aren’t motivated primarily by politics. But just as you were in college, you are now in opposing territory. And that requires fighting back in strategic ways.

Be an advocate for truth and a warrior for liberty. Welcome to the real world—and the real fight.

I’m Ben Shapiro for Prager University.