I had my first encounter with what I call “wokenomics” as a Goldman Sachs intern in New York 15 years ago, says Vivek Ramaswamy in his new book, Woke, Inc: Inside the Social Justice Scam. My team was on a “service day” planting trees in Harlem. Within an hour my boss turned up in his Gucci boots and said: “Let’s take some pictures and get out of here!” We went straight to a bar, where I was told about “the golden rule”: he who has the gold makes the rules. It was called “corporate social responsibility” then. Today it has morphed into “stakeholder capitalism” – and it’s “a scam”.
Goldman Sachs announced last year that it would refuse to take companies public unless they had at least one “diverse” member on the board. Helpfully, that diverted scrutiny from the billion-dollar fines the bank was forking out for its role in the 1MDB scandal, a scheme that saw billions stolen from the Malaysian people. Amazon donated $10m to black community groups not long after firing warehouse workers who complained about working conditions, many of whom were black. When companies in this “woke-industrial complex” make their political proclamations, which worker who disagrees with their employer is going to speak up and risk their job?
We must see through this “charade of corporate virtue-signalling” because we, not big business, should decide democracy’s social values. If corporations want us to embrace their pursuit of financial self-interest, fine. All we ask in return is: “Keep it naked, instead of dressing it up as altruism.”
Woke, Inc: Inside the Social Justice Scam by Vivek Ramaswamy is published on August 26 (Swift Press £20). Read an extract here.