My friend Ryan Williams, Claremont Institute president, had an important tweet thread shortly before the election. With conversations already escalating about where we on the Right—especially the “new Right“—now go from here, Ryan’s thread takes on a special importance. I am reproducing his tweets here, and will then add a bit of my own commentary.
[Editor’s note: The tweets have been deleted since this post was published.]
The broader notion that conservatives must disentangle their general support of markets from any specific support of business qua business is not necessarily a new idea—it gained steam in an anti-“crony capitalism” form, for instance, in the initial years of last decade’s Tea Party movement. But it is an idea that has morphed from being merely beneficial to one that is nearly existential, if a newer Right is to cohere and retain political viability.
The confluence of woke capital and a woke Fortune 500 is fraught with danger for Americans of a more traditionalist bent. Financial institutions increasingly de-platform disfavored customers—gun stores, nationalist political parties, Zionist advocacy groups, and so forth—with impunity. Massive online retailers ban access to conservative books that challenge prevailing leftist orthodoxies. Human resources departments across the land police their own right-leaning, religious employees for purported thoughtcrimes, mollycoddling left-leaning employees and protecting favored “intersectional” hierarchical groups at all costs. Major professional sports leagues boycott states that have the temerity to stipulate that citizens must urinate in bathrooms corresponding to human beings’ dichotomous chromosomal structures. Huge film studios willfully ignore crimes against humanity in the totalitarian nations in which they freely operate—countries, that is, that the neoliberal policies the studios invariably lobbied for have elevated at the expense of our own nation.
The pan-societal American ruling class is increasingly unabashed in its de facto state of war against half the country’s citizenry. That ruling class is not merely cabined, as it perhaps was during the height of the Cold War and the development of “fusionism,” to the mainstream press, the academy, and various bicoastal enclaves. Rather, today’s ruling class, thoroughly indoctrinated in woke-ism and utterly contemptuous of dissenting views that go against the official capital-N Narrative, now dominates Big Business and the Fortune 500. These businesses donate to woke causes, kowtow to woke absolutists in routine business decisions, and publicly side with the woke mob on every hot-button cultural issue of the day. They care not an iota what we traditionalist Americans think: long, long gone are those halcyon days of Michael Jordan quipping that “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”
Big Tech, which privately controls the 21st-century equivalent of the old public town square, properly remains in conservatives’ crosshairs due to the unique threat its censorious gatekeeper status poses to the American regime and the American way of life. But as Ryan says, the problem is far more systemic. Gone are the days when Art Laffer-quoting economic supply-siders might promote Business Roundtable-inspired corporatist economic policy without readily foreseeable repercussions—consequentialist harms brought about and inflicted upon the citizenry by an emboldened Fortune 500 C-suite all too eager to imbibe at the woke trough. As we further develop this new Right, inspired as it is by a working-class conservative populism, an unapologetic cultural traditionalism, and a greater willingness to wield the levers of political power to promote good political order to reward our friends and punish our enemies within the confines of the rule of law, we would do well to remember that Big Business is simply not out friend.
Jon Schweppe laid it out well in an August post at Claremont’s American Mind site, defining the tripartite enemy as “the Hydra”:
[T]he Left didn’t miss a beat [after 2016]. Sensing the danger Donald Trump posed to their revolutionary march through the nation’s institutions, progressives went for the jugular. They unleashed a three-headed monster—an institutional Hydra—to seek our unconditional surrender of the American way of life.
The three heads work in concert to degrade the culture, dismantle law and order, stigmatize religion, enforce relativism over truth, and sow anti-American propaganda. One head, Corporate America, provides the political and financial support to various left-wing movements. A second head, Higher Education, indoctrinates and deploys the shock troops. And the third head, Big Tech, manipulates public opinion and silences those who might dare to fight back.
It is no small irony that conservatives might benefit from a glance back to Gilded Age-era progressive opposition to Big Business for inspiration on a policy agenda, moving forward—one that certainly includes, but is hardly limited to, greater use of targeted antitrust enforcement. American politics, alas, is a funny sport.