Woke Capitalism’s Cultural Imperialism
It was a beautiful summer afternoon today in Warsaw. Sitting on a terrace in one of the city’s squares, I found myself talking to an executive who works for a local branch of a US-based multinational company. When he found out that I’m working on a book about “soft totalitarianism,” he told me about the culture inside his corporation.
Like most American and Western European corporations here, he said, his firm pushes LGBT Pride heavily inside its corporate culture. It is very difficult to resist if, like him, you have religious or moral qualms about it. It is getting to the point where silence is not sufficient: you must affirm.
He said that lots of Poles either now, or soon will, face a stark choice: deny their consciences, or lose their jobs. “What do you do if you need that job to support your family?” he asked. “It’s a hard thing to ask people to do, to quit their jobs over this. Here in Poland, we have permanent employee records. You can’t just quit and go find another job. The terms you left your job under are written down. If you resign over this, and you can’t cover it up, that will follow you everywhere. It could hurt your career permanently.”
I told him that in the US, in this way, Woke Capitalism has been arguably the strongest force against religious liberty. At least in Poland the state, under the ruling Law & Justice Party, has stood up for Polish workers and businesses punished for dissent. A couple of weeks ago, a Catholic man who works for IKEA was fired for objecting to IKEA’s Pride push on the company’s internal Internet. Story here. Excerpt:
Ikea had asked workers to join in celebrating the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on May 16 and “to stand up for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender plus people of all sexual orientations and gender identities”.
The company’s head of equality, diversity and integration, Sari Brody, wrote a follow-up post requesting that employees “ask for the transgender person’s preferred pronoun (hers, theirs, etc.)” and “engage LGBT+ people in conversations about their partners and families”.
Mr Tomasz wrote under the post that “acceptance and promotion of homosexuality and other deviations is a source of scandal”, quoting two Bible passages.
“Woe to him through whom scandals come, it would be better for him to tie a millstone around his neck and plunge him in the depths of the sea,” (Matthew 18:6) and, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them,” (Leviticus 20:13).
Mr Tomasz said he made the post because he signed a contract to sell furniture, not implement “so-called LGBT values” or promote “ideological propaganda”. “It upset me,” he told TVP Info.
“I do not think it was my duty. I put my entry, in which I expressed that it is unacceptable, and quoted two quotations from the Holy Scriptures — about stumbling and about the fact that intercourse between two men is an abomination.”
He was summoned into an interview where he was asked to explain himself and told to remove the posts — but he refused. “As a Catholic, I cannot censor God,” he said. “I was told there would be consequences.”
The Polish Justice Minister immediately spoke out in defense of this guy, and said he was going to launch a state investigation into IKEA’s practices. It is impossible to imagine a US Attorney General doing remotely the same thing, isn’t it? Another contact in Poland elaborated in an e-mail:
In another recent case, the country’s Constitutional Court (Poland’s Supreme Court) ruled in favor of a printer who declined to print a poster for an LGBT event, overturning a lower court ruling on religious liberty grounds. Reuters writes:
Adam J. was convicted of refusing to provide a service without a justifiable reason in 2017, provoking the ire of Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro who referred the case to the Supreme Court, which upheld the ruling. Ziobro also referred the case to the Constitutional Tribunal.
The Tribunal ruled on Wednesday that the law the printer was convicted under was unconstitutional, because punishment for refusing to provide services on the grounds of beliefs interfered with the service providers’ rights to act according to their conscience, PAP news agency reported.
“I am glad that my views and arguments were shared by the tribunal,” said Ziobro.
“I would like to say that everybody is entitled to freedom and nobody, using slogans of tolerance, should use the apparatus of the state to force others to violate their own freedoms, be it freedom of conscience, freedom of religion or economic freedom.”
Another Polish contact points out that the European Union accused the Law & Justice Party of stacking the courts, “despite the fact that many judges carried over from Communist time or were later appointed via those deeply embedded within that system.”
The point is, despite valid concerns about Poland’s slide away from religious and cultural conservatism — see my post from earlier this weekend — this is still a country where the government is in the hands of a party that will stand up to Woke Capitalism on behalf of ordinary people being forced to choose between their jobs and their God. That is something worth celebrating, and defending.
It is long past time for socially conservative US Christians, and fellow travelers, to rid themselves of reflexive free-market fundamentalism, and to understand that Woke Capitalism is the enemy. The Polish government is standing up to multinational cultural imperialism. Good for them. Contrast the Law & Justice Party to our own mute and gutless GOP, which values Big Business over a category of citizens who are increasingly despised by cultural and corporate elites, who will not rest until they have ramrodded their cultural politics into every sphere of life.
I don’t know how long they can hold out, though. There’s an election this fall, and an American friend who traveled to this country earlier this year e-mails, the cracks in Polish society are showing:
I visited Krakow one weekend just this past May. I was quite surprised at what I saw. I, like you, had preconceived notions that Poland was a bastion of traditional Catholicism within Europe. But what I saw was quite different.
On my recent visit to Krakow, there was a modest gathering of Nationalists, and they were protesting against the push for gay marriage. There were probably a few hundred Poles at this gathering, and that’s being generous. On the same day in Krakow, there was a pro-LGBTQ parade, which was much, much bigger. I would estimate that there were probably 10.000 people in the pro-LGBTQ parade. The pictures don’t really do justice to how large the “gay rights” parade really was — the attached photo [see above — RD] was just a small segment of it–the stream of people went on and on.
While were were watching the rainbow parade unfold, I was talking with my Polish host about the issue of gay rights. My friend is a young Polish scientist, about 36 years old. His position was in line with the standard Western/American talking points: gay people shouldn’t face discrimination, and people that don’t want gay marriage are backward and ignorant religious fanatics. I agreed with him that no one should face persecution or be singled out for unfair treatment. However I told him that Poland should be careful about what it was asking for.
I then told him about the litigation in the United States, and the case of the baker in Colorado who was fined by the State of Colorado for refusing, on religious grounds, to bake a cake for a gay wedding. My Polish friend was shocked that the State of Colorado would try to force him to, and punish him if he didn’t. But my friend remarked that the same thing would never happen in Poland. I told him many Americans said the same thing years ago.
Exactly! The Law of Merited Impossibility, in Polish, via Google Translate: To się nigdy nie wydarzy, a kiedy to się stanie, bigoci na to zasłużyli (“It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it”).
The British atheist writer Brendan O’Neill says he’s thrilled by gay rights, and encourages people to celebrate gay pride — but he’s sick of the mandatory cheer forced on unwilling people. Excerpts:
Fast forward to 2019, and that historic human instinct to be left alone in liberty has been replaced by a needy and therapeutic politics of recognition. Now gay-rights activists don’t demand autonomy — they want validation. Everyone has to wave their flag and celebrate their lifestyle and embrace the strange new idea that trans women are literally women, and if you don’t it’s off to the metaphorical gulag with you.
It’s no longer enough to leave homosexuals alone to live however they choose and to inflict on them no persecution or discrimination or any ill-will whatsoever on the basis of their sexuality, which is absolutely the right thing for a civilised liberal society to do. No, now you have to validate their identity and cheer their life choices. You must doff your cap to that omnipresent bloody rainbow. Today it isn’t homosexuals who are persecuted; it’s their critics, whether it’s Ann Widdecombe or Tim Farron, with their well-known aversion to gay romping, or those Muslim parents in Birmingham who don’t think six-year-old Muhammad needs to know that some men sleep with men.
The new moral majority is pro-gay rather than anti-gay. It consists of the political class, the capitalist class, the media class and the celebrity class. Its flag is the Pride flag. Its branding and messaging are inescapable. If you’re a truly virtuous person, you’ll even wear the new moral majority’s political paraphernalia, in the form of a Pride badge, a Pride t-shirt, or Pride socks on the actual TV news (Mr Snow). Doing so is a way of letting everyone know you’re a good person. You’re on the right side of virtue and the right side of history. You are an insider.
Contrast the chattering class’s reaction to the Pride flag with their reaction to the St George’s flag. Wave that latter flag from your home and they’ll think you’re a racist. Bring it to work and flap it out the window and someone would probably call the police. Get it tattooed on your forearm and the middle-class members of the new moral majority will make an instant judgement about you: ill-educated, hates blacks, loves going mental at the football, probably beats his wife, eats fry-ups too often.
But wave the Pride flag and they’ll love you. That’s because pride in oneself is the only pride that is allowed in our identitarian era. National pride is tantamount to a crime, pride in one’s culture or history is suspect. But pride in one’s own identity? Here, have a newspaper column to tell us more!
It really is difficult for many Eastern European folks to understand how totalitarian this ideology is, especially when Big Brother is your corporate boss. The only way to fight back against it is by electing politicians that wield a bigger stick than Woke Capitalism, and who aren’t afraid to use it to defend the little guy’s liberty not to be coerced into having to choose between his livelihood or his Lord.
UPDATE: I concede that what this IKEA employee said was wildly imprudent at best. I say that as a Christian. If he wanted to say that he believes that affirming homosexuality is against his religious beliefs, there are countless better ways to say it than quoting that very harsh verse of the Old Testament. If IKEA wanted to issue him a strong warning about that, I would not have faulted them at all. But to fire the guy? That’s too close to the Izzy Folau case for me — though it’s a meaningful distinction that Folau quoted a Bible verse on social media, not on a company website.
Here’s the thing: why should anybody feel compelled to talk about cultural politics at work anyway? Note that IKEA’s corporate policy was to push people to address homosexuality and transgenderism in the workplace. This is really stupid. Just sell furniture, and make sure that your workers treat each other and your customers with respect. What’s wrong with that?
In related news, a reader sends this:
I don’t wish to be named, nor have my husband’s company named, but my husband, who works for [a European] branch of the American company [major multinational firm], just found out that 5 percent of his annual evaluation will now be determined by his work on “diversity” issues.
To date, [that particular European] branch has mostly avoided overtly political issues, but our ongoing concern has been that the uber-woke [US headquarters] will start dictating diversity to its international branches. Looks like that day is here.