American Institute of Economic Research distinguished fellow Samuel Gregg recently penned an excellent article on the dangers of woke capitalism, the transition from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism, and fascistic corporatism. Though many consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) systems to be emblematic of a wide-scale effort to socialize the American (and global) economies, these systems and their corporate overlords bear more marked similarities to the fascist regimes of post-World War I Europe. What we are seeing imposed upon our economic way of life today is eerily reminiscent of a Mussolini-style corporatist takeover of our economic means of production.

A few paragraphs are pasted below; to read the full article, visit Gregg’s column in the National Review.

“As a modern political program, corporatism (derived from corpus, Latin for “body”) first surfaced in the 19th century. Shaped by thinkers such as the German Jesuit theologian Heinrich Pesch and the French sociologist Émile Durkheim, the following ideas featured in different expressions of corporatist thought:

  • Private enterprise and markets are tolerable. But they generate gross economic inequality, undermine communities, and diminish solidarity.
  • Private property and competition must be integrated into legal structures that enable governments to coordinate the activities of businesses, unions, and other organizations towards the realization of political and social objectives.
  • Employees and other interest groups should be involved in the management of businesses, whether through advisory councils or representation on boards of directors.”

“The expansive versions of stakeholder capitalism favored by progressives and woke capitalists are almost indistinguishable from corporatism. They focus on incorporating various stakeholders (environmentalists, unionists, assorted activist groups, etc.) into the governance structures of publicly traded corporations, using regulation to mandate the representation of racial and sexual minorities on boards in the name of diversity (which somehow never extends to political or religious diversity), or corralling businesses to help realize various national and international objectives. World Economic Forum chairman Klaus Schwab, for instance, wants a trinity of governments, businesses, and NGOs working together to pursue political goals that are always of the progressive variety. Schwab has even alluded to the neo-corporatism that remained influential in post-war West Germany as the blueprint for the political-economic model he has in mind.

The biggest loser of the corporatist resurgence is freedom. Whether of the fascist or stakeholder variety, corporatism doesn’t cope well with dissent, as it seeks the harmonization of views, however contrived the consensus. Woe betide the business that suggests that Il Duce’s economic policies are seriously wrong, or the entrepreneur who questions the climate-change consensus.”

 

Jack McPherrin is The Heartland Institute's research editor and a research fellow in Heartland's Socialism Research Center.