The Specter of Woke Corporate Communism Haunts the Republican MindRoundup
tags: corporations, culture war, antisemitism, Ron DeSantis, Woke
Steve Fraser, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Mongrel Firebugs and Men of Property: Capitalism and Class Conflict in American History. His previous books include Class Matters, The Age of Acquiescence, and The Limousine Liberal. He is a co-founder and co-editor of the American Empire Project.
Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida and perhaps the next president of the United States, is waging war against something he and many others on the right identify as “woke communism.” DeSantis even persuaded the Florida legislature to pass a Victims of Communism law, mandating that every November 7th (the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), all public schools in the state must devote 45 minutes of instruction to the evils of the red menace.
You might reasonably ask: What menace? After all, the Soviet Union fell apart more than 30 years ago and, long before that, communist parties around the world had dwindled in numbers and lost their revolutionary zeal. The American Communist Party was buried alive nearly three-quarters of a century ago during the McCarthy hysteria of the 1950s.
How then can there be a muscular rebirth of anti-communism when there’s no communism to face off against? The Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank, explains the paradox this way: the powers that be of the present moment, including “education, corporate media, entertainment, big business, especially big tech, are to varying degrees aligned with the Democratic Party which is now controlled by Woke Communism.”
All clear now? A “cold civil war” is afoot, so we’re assured by DeSantis and crew, and if we don’t act quickly, “woke communism will replace American justice… the choice is between liberty or death.”
Naturally, Donald Trump has joined the chorus, declaiming that the Democratic Party functions as a cover for “wild-eyed Marxists.” People like Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden, formerly considered proud defenders of capitalism, are now censored as socialists. Steve Bannon, right-wing populist organizer and one-time Trump adviser, has attacked the Business Roundtable and venture capitalists like Larry Fink of Blackrock, the largest asset management firm in the world, because he’s determined to defend a “government of laws, not Woke CEOs.”
At the January gathering of the Republican National Committee, angry that Ronna McDaniel had held onto her position as its chairperson, right-wing activist Charlie Kirk put the matter in stark class terms: “The country club won today. So, the grassroots people who can’t afford to buy a steak and are struggling to make ends meet, they just got told by their representatives at an opulent $900/night hotel that ‘We hate you.’”
How surpassingly odd! Somehow, the “spectre” invoked nearly 200 years ago by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto, reflecting his urge to see the exploited and impoverished mobilized to overthrow capitalism, now hangs out at country clubs, corporate boardrooms, and the White House — all the redoubts of capitalism.
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