March 16, 2023 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
What ‘woke capitalism’ means
For the makebelievers, the only people worthy of recognition are the people who have always gotten it.
We’re in another moment in which the makebelievers makebelieve a makebelieve thing, and everyone else – let’s call them the spoilers – respects the makebelieving of the makebelievers just long enough to ask themselves whether the makebelieve thing is real.
It’s not real.
I’m talking about the narrative that’s been building since Friday when the Silicon Valley Bank collapsed. That was a BFD. Fear and panic seem to be spreading. The government seems to taking action. As of this writing, Bloomberg reports that First Republic is “getting $30 billion from the biggest US banks in an effort brokered by the government to stabilize the lender.” This is serious business.
But the makebelievers don’t care, as chaos and disorder are part of their imaginary tandrumscapes. Like a kid who stomps another kid’s toys, the makebelievers relish the instability unleashed when things, as they often do, fall apart. They have loads of fun blaming Big Bad Baddies for everything going wrong but making no effort to help.
To wit: the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, and the apprehensions being felt in the world of finance, is all the fault of The Wokes.
According the San Francisco Chronicle, SVB “invested a lot of customer deposits into long-term Treasury and mortgage-backed bonds. They fell in value when the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates. Then, when many customers needed to withdraw cash as the tech boom fizzled, it had to sell those bonds at a loss.”
Don’t spoil the fun!
Here’s Andy Puzder, a fellow at the illiberal Heritage Foundation: “If you’re not focused on how your company is governed and run, if you’re just focused on being woke, you’re going to have problems.”
Wall Street Journal columnist Andy Kessler: “In its proxy statement, SVB notes that besides 91 percent of their board being independent and 45 percent women, they also have ‘1 Black,’ ‘1 LGBTQ+’ and ‘2 Veterans.’ I’m not saying 12 white men would have avoided this mess, but the company may have been distracted by diversity demands.”
An unnamed source told the New York Post that it’s “the bank of the Democrats.” “If it was the Bank of MAGA, what are the chances it would be bailed out?” the person said. “There’s not a chance in hell.”
That last one seems to be getting some attention on account of it looking, to the spoilers, like a gotcha. MAGA banks don’t collapse, eh? Let me introduce you to Peter Thiel, billionaire fascist, benefactor of rightwing US Senator JD Vance, of Ohio, and a major SVB depositor.
It’s more like an inadvertent refueling of the makebelieving power of the makebelievers by giving it attention and time. We don’t do this with small children. We don’t wonder whether the madeupthing that they made up is real. We know it’s not real. We don’t analyse it. Yet we accept the framing of the question: Was SVB woke or MAGA?
Instead, let’s really listen.
If we listen, we can hear the problem.
The problem for the makebelievers is that the most enduring symbol of capitalism – the bank – takes steps, in theory, toward recognizing the legitimacy of people who, according to the makebelievers, do not deserve recognition, because they are not legitimate. The only people worthy of recognition are the people who have always gotten it. And I guess I should spell it out: they have always been male and white.
Remember what Andy Puzder, of the Heritage Foundation, said. SVB “focused” on things that it should not have been focused on. When capitalism is not “focused” on people undeserving of recognition, because they are not legitimate, all’s well. But when capitalism, especially the most enduring symbol of it, focuses elsewhere?
I would say it’s ironic that – surprise! – most banks in America have governing bodies that are still very much male and white. I would say it’s ironic if I believed for a second that the makebelievers were looking as the same reality the rest of us are looking at instead of imagining what they want to see for themselves and their enemies.
But I don’t. Neither should you.
The makebelievers want a world that doesn’t exist.
Let’s spoil it.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.