by Paul Embery
Thursday, 4
June 2020
Reaction
15:14

Ben and Jerry’s: your moral saviour

Is there any creed more unedifying than woke capitalism?
by Paul Embery
Ben and Jerry’s bravely placed themselves in the vanguard of the struggle. Credit: Ben and Jerry’s

Is there any creed more unedifying than woke capitalism? Is there any spectacle more nauseating than mighty corporations jumping on a passing bandwagon of rage in an attempt to flaunt their ‘progressive’ credentials?

The George Floyd killing has exposed this phenomenon in all its cloying sanctimony, as big capital falls over itself to impress upon us — as if we didn’t already know — that racism is bad.

Firms have calculated that, in the era of the Twitterstorm and corporate boycott, staying out of politics is no longer an option. And if they are going to dive into the world of online social activism, then, well, what option but to embrace the political ideology that dominates therein, namely liberal wokedom? To do otherwise would, they believe, almost certainly be to risk reputational damage and a dent in profits.

Corporate chiefs sense that they simply cannot afford to be slow out of the blocks when the online social justice warriors come calling with their demands for public expressions of righteousness. So no sooner does McDonald’s tell us that it believes ‘black lives matter’ than KFC reassures us it thinks exactly the same.

And, true to the spirit of capitalism itself, demonstrations of virtue by eager-to-please corporations have turned into something of a contest in which each seeks to win some kind of competitive advantage over its rivals by being seen as the most woke. So, not satisfied with confirming that they are opposed to racism and then going back to serving up large McZingers and fries, or whatever it is they do, some companies instantly look for the next gap in the market through which they may signal their moral rectitude. And, before we know it, this ratchet effect leads us to a place where the head honchos at Ben and Jerry’s are declaring that not only are they shocked by the brutal treatment of a black man in Minneapolis, but they have bravely placed themselves in the vanguard of the struggle to dismantle white supremacy itself. Wow! Give them all medals.

Seriously, though, we should reject this kind of corporate virtue-signalling, for it represents a mix of the worst kind of opportunism and lazy gesture politics. It allows organisations to present themselves as principled fighters for justice with a few taps on a keyboard by a marketing manager — as though the five-second act of posting a single tweet should convince us of their determination to see a fairer world. And if sales of their cookie dough ice cream happen to spike in the process, well, that’s merely incidental. Who are these people kidding?

In the end, progress comes through organisation and struggle, not through taking moral instruction from big capital. We shouldn’t forget it.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Well said, Paul. Corporate virtue signalling is among the more repulsive characteristics of our age. Even the banks are doing it. Essentially it’s a distraction. They adopt a thin veneer of virtue while continuing to rob the world blind.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

In the past we used to refer to bankers as Money Lenders, and they worked not in Banks, but in Counting Houses.
Many were notorious for both their craven behaviour and, their insatiable greed.
However the disciplinary power of the Bank of England managed to chastise most of the worst offenders.
No longer, since the Money Lender Crash of 2008, and the failure to let Goldman Sachs for example, sink like a stone, they have become a revered species, beyond normal control. Until this oversight is addressed, we will have to endure their greed and vulgarity for a little while longer.

Mark Beal
Mark Beal
1 year ago

Does dismantling white supremacy mean doing away with vanilla?

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Beal

And ice, and cream, presumably.

andy thompson
andy thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Beal

Ha ha

cjhartnett1
cjhartnett1
1 year ago

It’s a good account of a large systemic evil that has long been growing.
For me, it started with Benetton and it’s being able to show a dying AIDS patient, to sell its frocks etc.
We let that pass.
A recent manifestation was Marks and Spencers using Tracy Emin to sell me knickers in their pathetic attempt to be relevant. They lost us, and won’t ever get my daughter’s to shop there now.
No heads roll though.
Look at the campaigns against the Daily Mail, Chick Fil A.
We’ve hardly taken them on , have we?
No point getting grumpy with these consuming corporate cartels of luxuries. Blair and his stakeholder crap , Naomi Klein etc …been going on for twenty years and more.
We need to disconnect, use our funds and consuming choices to hit them hard. And our kids need to back us and not them.
Sites like this help.
But The Simpsons, Family Guy etc have already locked these globalising punsters , these tie dye phonies to scorn.
Don’t buy them, scare those who sell it. The New European sits in our stores, how come Daily Mail hacks get attacked , but the N.E hactivists don’t?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  cjhartnett1

I am getting emails from retailers of their fealty payments to BLM on this occasion, but also for other political issues. It’s all alarming. I don’t want to be flogged with a political cause when I am buying my chips. Like you, I am noting those caving-in and will not patronize their business. My own silent protest.

S C
S C
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I’ve cancelling accounts left and right for that reason. I don’t need a corporation to tell me what should be important to me.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
1 year ago
Reply to  cjhartnett1

Gillette purportedly lost about $8 billion in the aftermath of its widely derided ‘toxic masculinity’ ad campaign so there is some hope that amongst the citizenry sanity prevails…

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago

Their ads made me stop buying their products too. My wife felt the same.

Mark Bishop
Mark Bishop
1 year ago

Signalling virtue is usually cover for practising vice. A corporation that believes black lives matter couldn’t possibly dodge taxes, hire cheap imported labour, buy politicians and regulators – could it?

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
1 year ago

KFC and McDs have been exploiting vulnerable communities employing them on minimum wages and stuffing them with fat and sugar for decades which is why those lives matter to them.

David Waring
David Waring
1 year ago

What about the woke socialism?

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
1 year ago

Paul, that is all well & good, but Nike proved that being Woke is a business advantage – after Colin Kampernink kneeing for the US national anthem, Nike sponsored him and their stocks dropped the following day – a few weeks later they were back up – perhaps higher as sales surged.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
1 year ago

Let’s see if they #WalktheirTalk.

How are they going to dismantle White Supremacy within their own organisational structures.

Are they planning hyper positive discrimination.

Are they planning to set up trust funds for deprived ‘black’ communities including apprenticeship schemes, subsidised job retention, programmes of non violent communication.

The reality is that their moral concerns will be as hollow as Wokeism itself.

The real question is on what national platform do we self organise. The SDP?

What are our demands. How do we unite the provincial and metropolitan working classes. How do we create a political identity that goes beyond the identities of the Liberal and Conservative Establishments.

I think we need some kind of forum in order to share our concerns and ideas. We need to work out how our balance of power position can be best utilised in order to avoid the possibility of the Liberal Establishment and the Conservative Establishment uniting against the working class (as what is to some degree already happening if The Telegraph is anything to go by).

My ideal is a triangle of respect between the upper classes, the middle classes and the working classes. So for me, class antagonism isn’t really the way forward but class collaboration is.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago

I have always liked Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but will not be buying it anymore

andy thompson
andy thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Ditto.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago

Thanks for making the essential point.