Woke Capitalism and the Power of Ideas: Connor Court Quarterly 16

Your Price: $22.95

Woke Capitalism and the Power of Ideas

Connor Court Quarterly 16

Paperback, 100 pages, $22.95

ISBN: 9781922815736

September 2023 Release

From Rousseau to the World Economic Forum: Woke Capitalism and the Power of Ideas
Rick Brown


The Voice – Beware the Shiny Bauble
Robert Katter

Since the political emergence of Donald Trump and the successful referendum in the United Kingdom on leaving the European Union, there has been a focus on the deep-seated divisions within Western societies.

The first sign of this phenomenon occurred in Australia in 1999 with the referendum on a republic. The results could not be explained in terms of party allegiance or ideological terms such as Left or Right.

Rather the best explanation is postcodes - the majority of voters in the inner, metropolitan suburbs voted yes and the majority of voters in the outer, metropolitan suburbs and the regional areas voted no.

It appears that similar analyses could be undertaken elsewhere. Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the northern parts of the east and west coasts oppose Mr. Trump with venom. His support is in the South and mid-West.

A similar intensity of feeling recently has manifested itself with respect to Nigel Farage, to whom ‘The City’ attributes responsibility for the Brexit result. Again, Brexit was a case of City’s supporting the European Union and London’s outer suburbs and cities such as Birmingham and Manchester opposing it.

Support for Marine Le Pen now has spread, but for many years it was centred in the north of France. And so it goes on.

The influence of the élites and their born-to-dictate mindset is now in our faces. This reinforces the depth of the gulf between the élites and to use Hiliary Clinton’s famous term ‘the deplorables’.

Society is being forced to accept what were not-so-long-ago radical ideas as normal and sensitive: gay marriage; transsexual people are entitled to play women’s sport at an élite level and use women’s bathrooms; there are more than 70 genders; teenagers ought to be able to change their sex if they feel like it; humans are destroying the earth which will cease to exist as we know it unless we take drastic action now.

These developments also provoke thought about whether the élites have re-emerged, never really gone away, or changed. Is the gulf between the élites and the masses wider than it used to be? After all, universal adult suffrage was supposed to deliver an egalitarian society. 

Rick Brown seeks to grapple not only with what is happening but also why and how we got to where we are? He thinks that political parties are not the explanation for what is happening and are not the primary vehicle through which these challenges can be addressed.

Rather he is attracted to John Meynard Keynes observation that ‘the power of vested interest is vastly exaggerated when compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas’, Brown’s prisms are the foundations of the ideas which drive society today, the transmission of those ideas and the rise of the current attitudes of the élites towards ‘the deplorables’.

His analysis is based on the proposition that what we are seeing now did not happen overnight and so in part, his essay is a history of the modern evolution of ideas and their transmission.

His story about the foundations of the ideas that drive the cultures of the inner metropolitan suburbs and outer suburbs takes us back more than 200 years to John Jacques Rousseau, who the late Sir Roger Scruton described as ‘the first and greatest of the liberal reformers whose impact on modern culture and modern politics has been equalled by no other thinker of the Enlightenment’. It also involves a M. Rousseau contemporary Edmund Burke, the founder of conservatism.

The transmission of these ideas he credits to the creator of cultural hegemony and Communist theoretician Antonio Gramsci, whose ideas and strategy have been sloganised as ‘the long march through the institutions’.
He also focuses on the dictatorial mindset of today’s élites which is different from their recent predecessors and turns to the attitudes of America’s founders who set out to prevent the creation of a fully democratic society and, at one level, to retain real power in the hands of their class.

To complete the picture, he turns a spotlight on Klaus Schwab, the owner of the World Economic Forum, who has persuaded the global business élite to impose management ‘dictatorship’ through a concept called ‘stakeholder management’.

Robbie Katter is a third consecutive generation politician. If, as expected, he is re-elected next year, a Katter will have represented a part of North Queensland for 60 consecutive years. During all that time, the Katters have been vocal and active supporters of Aboriginal people and their advancement. Robbie’s grandfather ended segregation in Cloncurry in the 1960s.

Robbie opposes ‘The Voice’. His essay is a case of the issues canvassed in Rick Brown’s essay: people in the inner metropolitan suburbs in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, including middle-class Aboriginals, pontificating about the best interests of Aboriginals in regional and rural Australia.

He argues that if the ‘The Voice’ were passed it would not improve the circumstances, opportunities or lifestyles of the Aboriginals with whom he interacts on a daily basis. In fact, he said he could be counter-productive because passing the referendum could provide people with an excuse to say that they had fixed the Aboriginal issues and move on to the next cause.

He also highlights the hypocrisy of politicians who support The Voice, but oppose concrete, practical measures which could provide them with opportunities and improve their lives.

Rick Brown’s essay is confronting and challenging. However, there is good news. This year there are signs of green shoots of resistance through consumers applying their power and via élite sports players in the USA, people power in Europe, and most recently, the extraordinary Nigel Farage.

Just as the fact that there are people like Robbie Katter at the coalface gives cause for hope.

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