A lucid and cogent analysis of corporate America’s distortion of social justice and its support of racist groups like Black Lives Matter, Vivek Ramaswamy’s 358-page work is an indictment of corporate greed and should be an embarrassment to those who swallowed the woke ideology without stopping to think about its anti-American positions.
So much of the book is worthy of annotation that it may be best to purchase it. Of course, since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans conservative and pro-life books, don’t buy this book on Amazon. Purchase it from Hachette Book Group directly: https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/vivek-ramaswamy/woke-inc/9781546059820/.
I will, however, highlight some major ideas which will help conservative and pro-life persons fight against the Big Tech and Wall Street billionaires who (invariably) support Democratic politicians who finance the racist, pro-abortion, and anti-American woke activists. After some initial remarks, the balance of this review will provide quotable quotes to help high school and college students fight back against the leftist tyranny of teachers and faculty, since academia, also, has swallowed the woke nonsense whole without thinking about its negative effects on the nation.
While ordinary patriotic Americans intuitively know that the woke agenda is anti-American, Ramaswamy defines it as clearly as possible for his reader. “Basically,” he writes, “being woke means obsessing about race, gender, and sexual orientation. Maybe climate change too” (5). From this, he asserts that “the point of this book is to expose the dirty little secret underlying […] corporate America’s act, its Prestige. Here’s how it works: pretend like you care about something other than profit and power, precisely to gain more of each” (3; italics in original).
It helps, too, that, like every American who has been saturated with woke politics obstructing the administration of President Donald Trump, Ramaswamy is “fed up with corporate America’s game of pretending to care about justice in order to make money” (3).
Ramaswamy’s discussion of specific legal and financial concepts can be daunting, requiring several rereadings of the text, but, overall, his language is eminently understandable to the layperson and often quite comical in its metaphors. For example, “So, in a nutshell, here’s how wokeness and capitalism shacked up: large corporations knocked up woke millennials. Together they birthed woke capitalism. And they put Occupy Wall Street up for adoption” (136).
Ramaswamy does not hesitate to identify corporations which succumbed to petulant woke agitators, and his list of companies which follow the “woke-industrial complex” (1) is disturbing, making it seem as though no one can buy anything or use any electronic service without supporting the leftist lunacy of woke activists. The companies include:
Goldman Sachs, involved in the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad Fund) scandal, while boasting of its purported “ethics” in the United States (15);
L’Oréal, Coca-Cola, and Delta, all of which endorsed the positions of the racist group Black Lives Matter (16-7);
Apple and Uber, fearful of being tainted as “racist” companies after the death of the criminal George Floyd because it would have hurt their business (58);
Volkswagen, which perpetuated the sham of being green after it installed “’defeat devices’ […] to circumvent EPA emissions standards” (91);
Airbnb’s collaboration with the Chinese Communist Party (162);
LeBron James, who fiercely defended the dictatorial regime of the Chinese Communist Party (167-8); “The whole affair exposed a darkly hilarious truth: the NBA and its stars felt duty-bound to criticize America’s president and judicial system but considered it beyond the pale to criticize China’s” (168);
Google’s cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party in censoring its people (172);
YouTube censorship in the United States (183-4);
Facebook censorship in the United States (186);
Mailchimp censorship of conservative groups (187);
the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center, which Ramaswamy calls “the charitable world’s equivalent of a Ponzi scheme” (188);
Big Tech’s suppression of Hunter Biden’s extortion crimes (190);
Twitter censorship of the New York Post (191);
Regarding Facebook and Twitter censorship: “Don’t be fooled by their [Mark Zuckerberg’s and Jack Dorsey’s] practiced vulnerability. Was it merely a coincidence that Facebook and Twitter adopted the exact same policies with the exact same political effect at the exact same time? Nope. This wasn’t a case of two bumbling gentle giants that simply couldn’t get out of their own way. It was a case of nefarious coordination” (191-2);
and finally Coca-Cola and Delta caving in to the boycott by the racist group Black Lives Matter (283).
Of course, while much of the book is devoted to highlighting the insincere support of woke politics by American companies, Ramaswamy does suggest several solutions to counter the disastrous effects of wokeness on the nation.
The first solution is philosophical. A recurring theme is Ramaswamy’s belief that “I believe the best way to achieve diversity of thought on a corporate board is to simply screen board candidates for the diversity of their thoughts, not the diversity of their genetically inherited attributes” (14). The idea of selecting intellectual diversity over skin color or gender identity recognized at birth is often repeated. “True diversity is very valuable,” Ramaswamy judiciously affirms, “both for a nation and for a company. But it’s diversity of thought that’s supposed to matter, not a kind of diversity crudely measured by appearance or accent” (219; italics in original). A further insight shows that Ramaswamy can rightfully accuse woke companies and academia themselves of practicing racism: “when institutions conflate racial and gender diversity metrics with diversity of thought in their organizations, they implicitly reinforce the incorrect assumption that genetic characteristics predict something important about the way that a person thinks—the most fundamental assumption underlying racism itself” (266).
Ramaswamy’s remaining solutions to woke’s corrosive effects on the United States are more practical. “The solution to today’s new dilemma isn’t to change capitalism, as Democrats try to. But neither is it to ignore the inherently invasive qualities of capitalism, as many Republicans are prone to do. Rather it’s to prevent capitalism from changing everything else, by building protective walls around the things we cherish most, like democracy” (54).
Moreover, he advocates that shareholders should be able to sue social activist shareholders of woke companies like BlackRock (76-7). He also argues for a limit to the business judgement rule (97).
Ramaswamy thinks that Senator Josh Hawley is wrong about using antitrust law against Big Tech censorship because Big Tech will only feign a fear of being broken up. Besides, Big Tech doesn’t restrict markets and raise prices; it censors ideas, a category not specified in the Sherman Act (194-5). Ramaswamy does, however, recommend that “A more promising solution, at least in theory, would be for Congress to amend Section 230 in the following manner: any company that benefits from Section 230 is bound by the standards of the First Amendment” (208).
Ramaswamy’s final recommendations seem simple, but, if implemented, could halt and correct the damage done by Big Tech and corporations in their support of woke extremism. Ramaswamy, a practicing Hindu, recommends that we should be charitable towards woke zealots as “Christ gave the Grand Inquisitor a courtesy that the Grand Inquisitor wouldn’t return” (238). Ramaswamy, the Yale law graduate, argues for protection of political beliefs under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against private actors like Big Tech (244). Ramaswamy, the multimillionaire entrepreneur, proposes that, instead of divisive critical race theory (CRT), we should practice “critical diversity theory” (CDT), hallmark concepts of which are “Excellence, Opportunity, and Civility—an Alternative to ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’” (267, 270).
While the volume has extensive notes (329-53), there is no index, a grave disservice for students who may need to locate his commentary on a given topic. For example, researching how woke activists support abortion would be enhanced if an index would collate the references to the Chinese Communist Party’s forcing abortion on Uighur mothers (165); or the book’s discussion of Disney, the CCP, and abortion (169); or vaguer references elsewhere.
Here are some quotable quotes that high school and college students may find compelling to argue in class and in their research papers:
“[T]here’s a difference between speaking up as a citizen and using your company’s market power to foist your views onto society while avoiding the rights of public debate in our democracy. That’s exactly what Larry Fink does when BlackRock issues social mandates about what companies it will or won’t invest in or what Jack Dorsey does when Twitter consistently censors certain political viewpoints rather than others” (19).
“When companies make political proclamations, employees who personally disagree with the company’s position face a stark choice: speak up freely and risk your career, or keep your job while keeping your head down. That isn’t how America is supposed to work, yet that is a reality for many Americans today” (20-1).
“As a society we should allow and even embrace the corporate pursuit of financial self-interest above all. The only thing we should ask in return is this: keep it naked, instead of dressing it up as altruism” (39; italics in original).
“Personally while I believe racism exists and should be eliminated, I don’t believe in ‘systemic racism.’ In fact, I don’t even know what it means: to me, it sounds like a catchall phrase designed to allow political leaders to escape accountability for solving real-world problems like poverty and failure in education” (63).
“By adopting these new ‘woke’ values, America’s business leaders stumbled upon a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leap from heresy to sainthood. Corporations were no longer the oppressors. Instead, corporate power—if wielded in the right way—could actually empower the new disempowered classes who suffered not at the hands of evil corporations but instead at the hands of straight white men—the real culprits who had exploited their power not only since the birth of the corporation but throughout all of modern human history” (135).
“The wedding of wokeness to capitalism offers a tempting, individually rational choice that harms the nation as a whole by handing corporations social and political power. They don’t truly have wokeness’s best interests at heart, and the two systems aren’t truly compatible. Wokeness and capitalism simply tolerate each other because each feels it can use the other. They will turn a blind eye to each other’s faults as long as they themselves can still benefit. But a marriage in which each side secretly has contempt for the other cannot end well” (140).
“Large publicly traded technology companies, as of this writing, have added over a trillion dollars of market capitalization since the start of the pandemic in early 2020—an order of magnitude more than the GDP of most nations in the same period. Why? Because lockdowns meant more people decided to get their groceries on Amazon rather than go to the local store, because more people were able to meet via Zoom rather than travel to a conference, and because more people chose to subscribe to Netflix rather than go to a movie theater. Meanwhile, small businesses across America suffered for the very same reason. It’s no wonder that Big tech stacked the decks of public debate to favor lockdowns” (186).
“A recent report from the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology found that over a third of conservative academics and PhD students in the US have been threatened with disciplinary action for their views, and 70 percent of conservative academics report a hostile departmental climate for their beliefs. The report contains a number of other grim statistical findings, like the fact that more that 40 percent of US academics would refuse to hire a Trump supporter” (265).
“Committed liberals should be concerned about what woke capitalism does to pure ideals like service, altruism, and social good. Anyone who sincerely cares about important causes like female empowerment, racial equality, and environmentalism ought to be offended when these causes are cheapened by corporations that pawn them off to advance their own goals” (304).