Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Wokeness Comes To Pfizer

Therapeutic totalitarianism in friendly takeover of another corporate giant
Screen Shot 2020-10-08 at 1.58.21 PM

Two different readers e-mailed with their concern about this upcoming event at the pharmaceutical giant:


One of the readers said:

Rod, please don’t use my name.  Isn’t it a shame to have to say that?

This is very distressing.  When I was a practicing doctor, the last thing I’d want to do was prescribe a medication made by a company that espoused a political agenda–any political agenda.  Nor should a patient have to think about such things.  When I joined the pharma industry, my understanding was that its purpose was to make medications that could help people.  Until recently, it was.
This is the same kind of thing as I wrote about happening at Halliburton: employees who dissent from this highly politicized stuff, but who are afraid to be known as dissenters because they might lose their jobs. Consider the internal demoralization of employees who have to walk on eggshells because of the workplace environment established by corporate leaders. Under Kendi’s extremist ideology, almost anything can be described as racist. It would unnerve me if his radical philosophy were embraced by my company.
“Albert” is Dr. Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer. He says that he has been “encouraged by the ongoing dialogue about race taking place at different Pfizer sites around the world,” and that he looks forward to “engaging and productive discussions from which we can all learn and grow.”
This is complete corporate bullshit. No one at Pfizer who has a brain in their heads would ever participate in a “dialogue” in which they contested anything that Dr. Kendi and the diversity commissars proclaim. Seriously, you’d have to be a fool to do so. You would immediately be tagged as a troublemaker, and at some point face a “hostile workplace environment” claim. The two employees who e-mailed me independent of each other are frightened that their names not be associated with complaining.
This is totalitarian in spirit. What kind of miserable corporate culture is it when you have to assent to a political philosophy that has nothing at all to do with the work that happens in the office, or fear being driven out of your job as a pariah who is the enemy of Diversity, Compassion, and Inclusion?
From Live Not By Lies:

The embrace of aggressive social progressivism by big business is one of the most underappreciated stories of the last two decades. Critics call it “woke capitalism,” a snarky theft of the left-wing slang term indicating progressive enlightenment. Woke capitalism is now the most transformative agent within the religion of social justice, because it unites progressive ideology with the most potent force in American life: consumerism and making money.

In his 2018 letter to investors, Larry Fink, CEO of the global investment company BlackRock, said that corporate social responsibility is now part of the cost of doing business.

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” Fink wrote. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

Poll results about consumer expectations back Fink up. Millennials and Generation Z customers are
especially prone to seeing their consumer expenditures as part of creating a socially conscious personal brand identity. For many companies, then, signaling progressive virtues to consumers is a smart business move in the same way that signaling all-American patriotism would have been to corporations in the 1950s.

But what counts as a “positive contribution to society”? Corporations like to brand themselves as being in favor of a predictable constellation of causes, all of them guiding stars of the progressive cosmos. Woke capitalist branding harnesses the unmatched propaganda resources of the advertising industry to send the message, both explicitly and implicitly: the beliefs of social conservatives and religious traditionalists are obstacles to the social good.

I cannot emphasize strongly enough to my conservative readers: Big Business is not our friend. If you believe that totalitarianism can only come through the State, and not through institutions like corporations, you are going to miss what’s really happening. It is a therapeutic totalitarianism, but no less totalitarian for it. The liberal Washington Monthly criticized Kendi’s thought, saying that “antiracism” is not what you think it is. The black linguist John McWhorter has denounced “antiracism” as a pseudo-religion. This is really bad stuff, all of it embraced and propagated by well-meaning people who (rightly) oppose racism.

No one inside Pfizer, or in any corporation, university, or institution, can object to any of this without putting his or her job at risk. (Well, a person of color probably could.) This is not something the government is imposing on corporations. They’re doing it themselves.

UPDATE: Reader Anne Johnson:

But it won’t be a conversation. No one in charge wants to hear a word of disagreement. I have already sat in on two of these “dialogues” and listened to my black colleagues talk about how terribly the world has treated them. Mind you, colleagues who are far above me in the company hierarchy, pulling down middle six figures, and with stories of horrible racism that include such atrocities as being called “colored.” One of the “conversations” devolved into a rant about systemic racism and the unbearable racism of white people.

If I am “invited” to a “conversation” where the invitation is not really optional (non-attendance will be noted) and no conversation takes place, where I am told that I am racist by virtue of some sort of original sin, not because of any action I have taken, then that is an intolerable situation.

Not only that, but as some have noted, it is creating a hostile work environment. If management endorses the idea that all white people are racist (Robin DiAngelo) or that unless a white person actively and constantly fights racism (Kendi) then they are creating a hostile work environment. If my colleagues begin to perceive me as a racist because of the stance of management–and NOT because of anything I have done or said–then my reputation and standing will suffer. This is wrong–and it may be legally actionable.

I hope it is, and I hope someone finds the backbone to sue. But who can say if they will prevail? Such a lawsuit would be a test of how Critical Race Theory has infiltrated and shredded the legal profession.



Want to join the conversation?

Subscribe for as little as $5/mo to start commenting on Rod’s blog.

Join Now