Politics

The Myth of the Conservative Corporation

Of all the bogeymen that are thrown out at leftist political rallies, targeted by media, or bounced around on left-leaning internet outlets, “Corporate America† is the most established and widely accepted. Listen to nearly anyone on the left (anyone that is not actively soliciting contributions from a corporation at that moment, I should say), and you will soon learn that Corporations are controlled by the right, or in charge of the right, or possibly both are controlled by someone named “Hal E. Burton,† who is an oily man that eats trees or children or some such down in Texas. Polls and focus groups also show that the general public is very willing to believe that Republican officials tend to be “too close to big business†, and it is undisputed common knowledge that Corporate America bankrolls the entire Republican Party. In point of fact, it bankrolls only a big part of it –incumbents; and the incumbents in the other party enjoy this protection money in equal share as well.

Donor lists not withstanding, Corporations are alleged to be conservative powerhouses, fixing elections, suppressing news reports, poisoning workers, toppling governments –whatever it takes to advance the vast right wing conspiracy. Oh, but it were true. Unfortunately, this version of reality ignores the fact that Big Bad Corporations are really shallow little sheepish things before the courts that can be easily bullied into using their direct and substantial power over their employees to enforce the dictates of liberalism. Corporations have become tools of the modern left, taking much more direction from the likes of a Hillary Clinton than they ever did from any Jesse Helms.

Think I’ve lost my mind? True. But consider this: has the government ever forced you to sit through a two hour class on sexual harassment, or diversity, or issued you an official policy on homosexual partners? Probably not, but I bet your corporate employer has. Has Teddy Kennedy ever strong-armed you into donating to a preferred charity organization that supports politically active environmental groups but bans gifts to the Boy Scouts because of their teachings on traditional morality? How about your corporate employer? Or consider this question: would you be more willing to make a “politically incorrect† comment in a government building or at work? Which is more likely to ruin you financially?

The simple fact is that much of the retail work of liberalism is being administered by corporate bureaucracy. Long before the Massachusetts Supreme Court or the mayor of San Francisco decided to invent a right to Gay Marriage, numerous corporations were extending benefits to same-sex couples, establishing the initial precedent of equivalency to traditional marriage.

The co-opting of corporate bureaucracy for leftist purposes has generally followed one of two patterns. Most commonly, the court system has been used to create an environment of financial fear that forces the corporation to seek refuge in a program of leftist philosophical indoctrination for its employees. The most successful examples of this technique are sexual-harassment law, racial preferences in hiring and advancement, and the growing prohibition on negative judgment of homosexuality. Litigation, with or without supporting legislation, is used to establish a large potential financial liability for any corporation that is not an active proponent of the social cause de jour. The profit motive of the corporation then does the rest, with the final result being re-education classes for the masses and the very real threat of job-loss for any employee that engages in speech or behavior that could theoretically expose the corporation to political litigation.

The second common technique used to harness the corporate mule to the leftist cart is the “bad-press shakedown†. In this technique, a left-leaning group uses a sympathetic or simply sensationalist media outlet to expose a corporation to an unrelenting stream of negative stories and images until the corporation enters into direct talks with the leftist group. An agreement is then reached about opening up a continuing “dialogue† and a program of “education† is funded by the corporate victim. Ethnic grievance groups and environmental organizations are the undisputed masters of this technique, which is synergistic with litigation, since bad-press creates a favorable jury pool and lawsuits generate inherently bad press. The technique also has an indirect variant, in which attack by one leftist group will force the corporate defendant into an alliance with a similar, but less vocal, group in order to discredit the accusation. If you want to see a list of corporations that are hated by environmentalists, watch the list of sponsors at the end of a PBS nature documentary.

There is also a third means by which corporations contribute to a leftist agenda: they provide a structure through which government can implement rules and regulations that would otherwise require the creation of enormous new government bureaucracies. The unintelligible labyrinth of modern tax law, safety regulation, mandated benefits and record keeping is only possible in a corporate economy. The Nanny-State depends upon the Corporate Teacher’s Aid to collect its taxes and actually supervise its wards day to day. In a pre-modern economy of small businessmen and independent farmers, most of today’s taxation and regulation would be absolutely unenforceable.

I do not mean to seem to construct a conspiratorial worldview in which corporations assume on the left the role of active racketeer which the wacko left now assigns to them on behalf of the right. Corporations are neutral things –like hammers or guns or spandex. They can be used for good, or for evil. But the inherent nature of the corporation –a top-down hierarchical command structure devoted to achieving a uniform image and concerted effort toward a dictated goal– has a strange natural affinity for the goals and philosophy of social engineers. And social engineering has been overwhelming the purview of the left in modern history. Overall, corporations have been agents of change, working to undermine (though unintentionally) traditional means and modes of living. They have been overwhelmingly a net pull to the left on our society, especially in the age of philosophical litigation and government mandate. Political correctness may have been hatched in an Ivory Tower, but it was raised by corporations –under court order to do so.

The old Marxist view of the left –that corporations are reactionary forces allied with right-leaning traditionalist against the workers and their self-appointed leaders– is completely out of date. Big Government and Big Business have more in common than either would like to admit. They understand one another; and the growth of one has fed the other. But you would never know that when the liberals hit the campaign trail.