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Political Editors / September 9, 2021

In Brief: How to Put Woke Capital Out of Business

The story of one CEO who lost his job but not his will to fight.

Not every CEO in America is woke. And some who aren’t pay dearly. David Azerrad recounts the story of Vivek Ramaswamy, who is still standing against the woke tide despite losing his company to it.

Vivek Ramaswamy opens his book on the perils of woke capitalism by declaring himself a traitor to his class. He’s got the perfect elite resume: Harvard undergrad, partner at a hedge fund, Yale Law School, and founder of a biotech company today valued at $7 billion. He’s also, if not fully diverse by today’s standards — Indians, like Asians, are considered “white-adjacent” — at least not white.

Ramaswamy became a vocal proponent of free speech, while denouncing wokeness “as a fundamentalist religion.” The last straw that brought about his cancellation was defending Donald Trump after Big Tech censored the sitting U.S. president. Advisers resigned and within three weeks he was forced to “step down as CEO of the company he founded.” He nevertheless is still speaking out against corporate wokeness, which he says is a “game of pretending to care about justice in order to make money.” Indeed, Nike, Uber, the NBA, and so many other corporations are far more concerned about the almighty dollar than actual principles, despite feigning otherwise. He calls this “reputational laundering.”

Ultimately, challenging the woke status quo means breaking this cycle, and Ramaswamy wrote a book about it. He takes on corporate elitism, Big Tech censorship, and more. And, as Azerrad put it, “Ramaswamy sees what so many establishment conservatives and libertarians refuse to see: in the eyes of the woke Left, we on the Right are all racists who should be made untouchables. Censorship creep is real.”

What can be done? Ramaswamy has some ideas:

Ramaswamy wants to restrict the scope of limited shareholder liability (which protects shareholders’ assets if the company is sued or goes bankrupt) and of the business judgment rule (which protects CEOs and corporate directors from litigation for bad business decisions) to cover only core, profit-generating practices. If corporations or CEOs choose to engage in social activism, then they should not enjoy the legal privilege of protection from lawsuits. That privilege, after all, was only afforded to encourage risk-taking in pursuit of profit — not social activism in pursuit of leftist applause.

Second, are his proposals to protect Americans from tech censorship. Ramaswamy is a recovering libertarian who is not so foolish as to think that we can just build our own Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon. In retelling the sad fate of Parler, he concludes that “the free market is no match for the monopoly of ideas.” That said, he dismisses the idea, now increasingly in vogue among the New Right and democratic socialists, of invoking antitrust to break up Big Tech. Antitrust laws were designed to protect consumers from cartels and monopolies from price-fixing, not the present pathology he calls “idea-fixing.” …

Ramaswamy wants to apply the First Amendment to Big Tech to protect the free speech rights of Americans. And he proposes using existing jurisprudence to do so, rather than waiting for Congress to take action.

Finally:

Ramaswamy convincingly argues that woke ideology fits the EEOC’s definition of a religion and, as such, cannot be imposed on employees. Your boss should no more be able to fire if you deny the divinity of Christ, than if you affirm that all lives matter. Ramaswamy would thus extend the protection of the Civil Rights Act to cover political opinions both on and off the job.

Perhaps his ideas would work. Perhaps not. But it’s an interesting and necessary debate in the face of censorship.

Read the whole thing here.

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