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Business unusual

Culture | Corporate America is leading the charge for left-wing social change

Issue: "Trial and terror," Sept. 1, 2001

Marxists recognized that "the masses" were not necessarily ready for the vast popular revolution their theory predicted. First would come "the vanguard," the intellectuals, artists, and other cutting-edge enlightened folk ahead of their time who would agitate against the establishment and sow the seeds of revolution.

Although communism has collapsed in Russia and Eastern Europe, Marxism still rules in the most populous nation on earth-China-and is being reinvigorated in the West, with old-style campus radicals giddy that they are actually getting labor unions (the proletariat!) involved in their well-publicized anti-globalist protests. Many artists, intellectuals, and other fashionistas still relish the role of revolutionary vanguard, with professors indoctrinating their students and radical playwrights raising the consciousness of the bourgeoisie.

But the major revolution taking place in the culture-the uprising against the family-is being advanced by what was once the bastion of conservatism, namely, businesses. The vanguard of radical social change is turning out to be capitalists in gray flannel suits.

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The government may debate the propriety of homosexual marriage or civil unions, but, except for Vermont, proposals to redefine the family have not gone very far. But governmental action is almost a moot point in the flood of businesses giving family benefits to homosexual couples. More than half of Fortune 500 companies include "sexual orientation" in their nondiscrimination policies, according to the activist group the Human Rights Campaign.

The government may agonize over where to draw the lines in funding stem-cell research, but the real action in genetic engineering-from embryo experimentation to cloning and other attempts to mechanize the conception of human life, making the family biologically irrelevant-is in the private sector. The new GenComs don't have to draw any lines whatsoever and, in the absence of much-needed laws, can do whatever they want with human life, conceiving embryos, freezing them, discarding them, or grinding them up for stem-cell lines.

Politicians and their constituents can inveigh against the sex, violence, and adolescent rebellion fomented by rap, death metal, R-rated music, first-person shooters, and family-hour TV shows. But these are products of one of the nation's biggest industries, essential to our global balance of trade and a healthy stock market. As evident in the ever-elongating moniker of AOL Time Warner, we are seeing the merger of entertainment companies (Warner Brothers), the news media reporting on them (Time), and the new communications technology (AOL).

Even conventional left-wing groups, such as those demonstrating at global summits and organizing the homeless into neighborhood political cells, often turn out to have a corporate sponsor.

An article in The Washington Post by Howard Kurtz (Aug. 13) focused on two magazines whose success has suddenly gained the attention of the mainstream press. One is World. The other is its polar opposite, the "unashamedly liberal" American Prospect.

Whereas World is made possible by its readers, 120,000 of whom now subscribe to the magazine, American Prospect, with only a third of the subscribers World has, is funded by grants from the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. Although the magazine presents itself as championing the little guy, it is totally dependent on money earned originally by what the writers would surely condemn as robber baron capitalists.

As watchdog organizations such as the Capital Research Center are documenting, other family foundations and well-intentioned corporate philanthropy are meeting the same fate: Businesses are funding anti-business propaganda; capitalists are funding socialism; Americans blessed by the American system are paying for efforts to tear that system apart.

Why is this? The blind lust for profits accounts for some of this corporate radicalism, for in a fallen world there is a big niche market for sin. This explains the profiteering in the corruption of children--also in manufacturing and destroying them.

But much corporate radicalism seems to have a more well-meaning origin. Businesses just want to be left alone. They want to be liked. And they have a pathological fear of lawsuits. So when shareholders or union leaders who are more radical than their rank and file demand family benefits for homosexual couples-and threaten embarrassing protests and boycotts-it is much easier to comply.

When Jesse Jackson shows up in the corporate office demanding not just racial equity in hiring but millions of dollars paid to his organizations, most businesses give in. Like shop owners in a Mafia-controlled neighborhood, they pay protection money and count it as cost of doing business.

Ironically, groups that actually support the American freedoms that have given businesses their prosperity are generally shut out of corporate grants. Those funds instead go to groups whose policies, if put into place, would destroy the very businesses that are funding them.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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