Civilizations decay when people feel uncomfortable inside the societies they establish. Nations die when national institutions crumble, and enduring traditions fade. They fall more from internal dissent and self-destruction than the blows of hostile barbarians. Thus, the ideals that inspire nations are more important than territory and even economic success.
A major breakdown of this sort is happening in America today. One symptom is the self-destruction of big business. This archetypal American institution was once part of a unified culture. Now, big companies are going woke and alienating vast sectors of the American public. Big business is in big trouble.
The Disney Fiasco
Disney is the representative case of big business gone rogue. It is no longer a secret. The iconic firm does not want to be Disney anymore. Mickey Mouse has morphed into a rat.
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Disney has now shattered public trust by joining the ranks of woke big business by insisting that LGBTQ+ themes be part of elementary education in Florida. Under liberal pressure, Disney opposed the highly popular Parental Rights in Education Act that protects children from porno-sexual educational lessons. The Florida Legislature responded to Disney’s broadside by stripping Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District of its near-autonomous government status through which it receives state benefits and subsidies.
All across the nation, the Disney battle is repeating. Big business, especially Big Tech, is using its clout to impose an ideology that works against its self-interest. Firms are disconnecting with the public to grovel to fringe groups and identity politics. Employees are revolting against management who refuse to join the mad rush to take a “woker than thou” attitude on social issues. Big business is a mess at a time of crisis that calls for unity.
The Return of the Culture Wars
The culture wars have returned with a vengeance. The Disney crisis exploded just when liberals thought they were free from the troublesome moral issues they tried to avoid at all costs.
Unlike past skirmishes where big business tried to sit out the fight, the Disney episode indicates a change in corporate strategy. Leftist zealots demand submission. Companies are caving into the cancel culture that is going after those who do not exhibit sufficient zeal for the “woke” cause.
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Three things have changed in the national scenario, making this fight much more intense.
An Existential, not Economic Crisis
The first change is a shift in focus. It is not about money.
This is an existential, not economic crisis. Disney is not betraying its founding ideals for money; the cause is ideological. The company has everything to gain by clinging to the “wonderful world of Disney” that made it a legend. This vision presupposes certain moral and family values that serve as its infrastructure. Disney has lived off its myth that is interwoven into its theme parks and products.
Now, this focus is changed from within. The Disney establishment is sufficiently woke to be willing to sacrifice revenue and benefits. Its directors openly admit their desire to “queer” its programming to reflect the most liberal causes. They are even doubling down and confronting hostile reactions like the popular Florida measure protecting children.
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This aggressive attitude is not limited to the left. The opposition has also experienced a similar willingness to sacrifice benefits and resources to uphold moral values. Florida had no fear of confronting Disney, one of its largest employers. Parents realize they must wake up to the threats of those endangering their children’s innocence.
These existential questions are much more powerful than economic considerations. The stakes are much higher.
The Fringing of the Mainstream
The second major shift in the new Culture War is that the left is changing the narrative. The sexual revolution of the sixties has caused devastating damage to America, but it has also failed to overwhelm the dominant culture it attacked. The persistence of hot-button sexual issues like abortion and the LGBTQ+ agenda demonstrates the failure of this revolution to capture the hearts and minds of countless Americans entirely.
The new narrative presents the “woke” revolution as the inevitable way forward. The left has recruited big business to pressure the public to embrace this new fiction by launching it all over the marketplace. At the same time, big business is encouraged to jettison anything traditional even if it hurts the bottom line.
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Disney, for example, seeks to relegate the “unwoke” to the fringe by its scorn for all things moral. The overwhelming weight of big business creates the illusion that the “woke” fringe is mainstream. Even Walmart is moving in this direction. Today’s Culture War is defined by the fringing of the moral mainstream and the mainstreaming of the immoral fringe.
However, this program satisfies no one. Disney is abandoning the mainstream upon which it was built. More importantly, the mainstream is ditching Disney and all big businesses following its path. Many have referred to this break as a divorce between conservativism and big business. It is very messy.
A Silence-is-Violence Regime Descends Upon America
The final shift of perspective in the new Culture War is that the two sides are reaching points of extreme incompatibility. The relativistic and elastic rules big business played by for decades have changed. Many are starting to realize that the notion of a values-neutral market is a fiction that eventually imposes a radical liberal agenda upon everyone.
Thus, the left is forcing big business to show its true rainbow colors. For too long, some companies defended themselves by denial—for example, that there was no war on Christmas. Others tried to remain silent or waffle around issues to avoid losing consumers.
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The left has adopted a “silence-is-violence” approach. It turns all who fail to shout out their woke bona fides into traitors to the liberal cause. It is eliminating every middle ground and place to hide for big business. The Disney mouse self-identifies now as a rat and demands everyone to accept and validate the transformation.
The conservatives have no choice but to react to the change in the rules of the game. However, more importantly, the new situation belies the fiction of a value-neutral society and economy. They were never neutral. Many are fighting back by denying cover to big business and rewarding firms who dare to take a moral stand.
The culture war that the left tried so hard to win in the nineties is back on the center stage. The battle isn’t going away. The rat is out of the bag.
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