Comment Of The Day: “Lazy Saturday Ethics Diversions, 8/22/2020: Hypocrisy Again,” Item #3 (Goodyear Saga Cont.)

[I originally had a video clip here that perfectly illustrated, satirically, the craven instincts of corporate America as it grovels to Black Lives Matter. It is a from a classic “Simpsons” episode, “Deep Space Homer,” in which Kent Brockman, the idiot Springfield news anchor whose intellect  makes Ted Baxter seem like Tim Russert, mistakenly comes to believe that the Earth is about to be conquered by giant ants. He immediately pivots to sucking up to the ants in his broadcasts. Then, just before posting the clip, I thought, wait, is someone going to accuse me of comparing African Americans to insects, when I’m accurately comparing our jelly-spined corporate leaders to a cowardly fool? And I chickened out. Now I’m disgusted with myself. Thus is life in cancel-culture America]

***

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far away, I remember I offered a competition here for the most obnoxious, cloying, blatantly pandering corporate statement in reaction to the George Floyd Freakout. This followed so closely on the heels of a corporate rush to exploit the pandemic with obnoxious, cloying, blatantly pandering messages ( “In these specail/difficult/ stressful times…”) that I realized, too late, that I was risking my sanity. Many, many readers sent  entries my way (thank you), and I slogged through them all, even though all but a handful read like they were written by the same cheap bot that had created the pandemic-licking garbage

I used to work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and got to know a lot of CEO ans their top lieutenants. I left that career chapter convinced that the negative public image of corporations and the people who ran them was shallow and mistaken. The rush of many of the same companies I worked to embrace racist, violent, Marxist Black Lives Matter has erased all of the. These companies and their management are themselves shallow and mistaken, and worse. They are virtually traitors to American ideals—those stories about American industrialists sucking up to Hitler no longer seem incredible as they once did—; they are cowardly; they are venal, and they are stupid, stupid, stupid.

Unfortunately, so many of them have adopted this despicable strategy that we can’t even punish them by switching loyalties to their competitors. And the reverse is true: these corporations are deliberately throwing in with the forces of indoctrination, censorship and suppression.  Where I live, in Northern Virginia, I have seen dozens of Black Lives Matter signs, and many more Biden 2020 signs. I have not seen a single Trump sign, and it is because people are afraid of having their homes vandalized and their kids being called racists at school. This un-American, anti-American environment of fear is what the powerful, influential corporate sector has decided that it is in their scrimey, greedy,  stock option-protecting, collaborationist interests to support. I will not forgive them for that. I always knew corporations were untrustworthy, of course, but I never thought they were this untrustworthy.

Good to know.

Thus I am not ready to let the Goodyear episode go quite yet.  Fortunately, Glenn Logan is on one of his periodic rolls. Here is his Comment of the Day, the second in a row, on  Item #3  in the post,  “Lazy Saturday Ethics Diversions, 8/22/2020: Hypocrisy Again.

[Oh: the “best” corporate pander to Black Lives Matter was easily the short-lived,  but immortally bone-headed, Popeyes is nothing without Black lives,”]

Jack wrote:

3. Does Goodyear win the “Trying to Be On All Sides At Once Without Consequences” prize in the corporate division?

They have a lot of company who just did it smarter, in my opinion. But having said that, here’s an observation:

I understand corporate impulses to place themselves on the (please forgive me for this) “right side of history.” During my whole life, we have seen corporate virtue signaling, mostly on television but occasionally in print.

With the advent of social media, a lot of things have changed for the worse when it comes to corporations and social issues. In the instant case, it seems corporations have acknowledged, and to some extent embraced, the unethical Black Lives Matter trope, “Silence is violence.” Certainly, activists on all sides of the debate spend a lot of time raising social issues at corporate leadership, and engaging in various levels of complaints or even boycotts at their expense — in common vernacular, “calling them out.”

I think most Americans with functional cerebra not terminally infected with the passions of the moment would prefer to see corporations stay out of divisive social issues and do what they are best at — produce products or services for our consumption and engage in social issues, especially and mostly at their local level, quietly and competently. The problem is, because so much of our private conversation has become nationalized through social media, a comparatively small number of voices can have a disproportionate impact on corporate behavior, especially when amplified by a media invested in one side of the argument.

It’s hard to blame the corporations for trying to forestall the negative consequences of this new cycle. Pre-social media, corporations could largely ignore these voices until they reached a critical mass, or weigh in only on matters they knew were broadly popular, like patriotism and environmentalism. They could be treated like emerging threats to the brand and campaigns carefully constructed to appeal to the issue without alienating too many people.

But unlike those times, today’s issues can become hugely, if temporarily, important even before the body politic catches up with them. It is this rapidly-changing environment that provokes so many ill-advised adventures into virtue-signaling by our corporations. Also, the national scope of social media has forced many of these initiatives out of the localities occupied by corporate entities (where they do the most good and rightly belong) and into the national discussion.

Most companies don’t care about the color of your politics, only the color of your money. That is, in most respects, how it should be. These days, however, some consultants have decided to see these social issue boomlets as opportunities rather than the threats that they are — mostly because their durability is uncertain, secondary impacts unclear, and potential for backlash poorly understood. Most likely, that’s what happened to Goodyear.

Corporate executives, taken as a group, are notoriously ethics-agnostic, much more concerned about image than conviction, and willing to do whatever it takes to appeal to the largest number of people while minimizing the backlash. It is also likely true that these modern forays into social issues, because of their perceived urgency, are poorly thought out and have no real strategy. No thought is given to carefully testing, analyzing, and engineering their positions for maximum positive effect and minimum backlash because of the urge to “get out in front” of the issue.

I want to give Trump some credit, because his Twitter response to Goodyear’s training crystallized the nature of this problem in the minds of the thoughtful and is a case study in the consequences of poor conception and indifferent execution of a corporate policy aimed at social issues. Trump can’t have that credit, though, because in doing so, he abused the power of his office, demeaned the Presidency and reduced it to the level of a political party organ. Pathetic, divisive, petty (as Valkygrrl complained) and a display of weakness, not strength.

Still, it is useful as a caution to corporations. Formulating social positioning is not simple or something to be “trained” into employees about this issue or that. A bungled process can cause significant negative perception of the company, as Goodyear has and will continue to discover. Also, a quick incompetent “band-aid” reply like we have seen from the Goodyear CEO can exacerbate the problem rather than stop the bleeding. They deserve every bit of what they are suffering for this, good and hard, because of profoundly incompetent leadership and execution.

I consider this a useful object lesson, one I hope gets well-learned by other companies. I expect to be disappointed.

7 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Lazy Saturday Ethics Diversions, 8/22/2020: Hypocrisy Again,” Item #3 (Goodyear Saga Cont.)

  1. It is interesting to observe odd political and ideological shifts. When once it was the Conservative-Republican pole that defended *corporations* almost without reserve, now some Conservative-Republicans have become suddenly critical of corporate power and its abuse.

    The facts here are quite simple. When business interests, and especially those business interests that are tied to the Pentagon-System (the military industrial complex), seek and achieve power within a business-oriented democracy, it is that pole of interests that subverts democracy. A corporation has been given immortal status — the exist perpetually and have no demise — and they have been given the rights of persons. Therefore, they achieve a power that no individual can ever attain. A corporation can own any number of other corporations and thus the notion of ‘constellations’ and ‘clusters’ of corporations is a relevant fact to think about.

    But the most interesting aspect is that a powerful corporation can create *propaganda* and create as well opinion- and perspective-outlooks just as a natural man can. A corporation can hire individuals to organize entire rhetorical outlooks. But a corporation is at base only and strictly an entity whose purpose is to earn money. It follows then that in pursuit of that aim and if it is said to have *ethics* or *morals* those ethics and morals are compromised right at the start.

    What if a corporation — its board of directors and its chief officers — decide that in order to earn money it is necessary to alter or revise or in this sense rewrite moral codes? What if a corporate interest can influence social decisions in a way comparable, for example, to that of the church or the religious pole (leaders) in a culture? What if the ethics and moral outlooks of a people is *taken over* by powerful business interests? What if a corporation, let’s say any of the most powerful ones, have far more power, resources, and long-term planning potential that neither governments, which constantly change with the winds of politics, and certain a living person or even a group of persons do not have and what if they begin to determine *the course of human events*?

    What if corporate interests make such inroads into influencing and determining cultural and social trends that they supplant those poles within our societies that normally had that rôle and responsibility? What if it were to happen that a ‘constellation of corporate interests’ became para-national and extra-national — that is ‘global’ — and interests solely in furthering its own position? And what if it became *necessary* for that constellation of corporations to oppose democratic principles and also American constitutional principles and became the enemy of these?

    It is at this point that we have to turn our gaze — realistically, truthfully, fairly — to examine *what is going on in the US and why it is going on*. There is a looooonnnngggg causal chain and a long string of events that have led to the present reality and situation. But who is capable of looking at it? That is, who is capable of looking at it fairly and realistically? And with what *eyes*? When once the Democrat Party had the role of perceiving the interests of the American worker — the subject, the citizen — and set itself to defend those interests against big money interests (here I refer to classic American populism), what in the name of Heaven has become of the Democrat Party today? But what has become of the defense of the American worker?

    There, I suggest, one is well-advised to understand the rôle of corporations and corporate interests in defining perception. That is where the propaganda-aspect enters in. The capacity for business-interests to participate and indeed to dominate and potentially to direct the way that people view and perceive reality: the reality they live in. And the questions becomes: To what degree does this take place and to what degree has it taken place? Who is there to *see* it? Who is in this sense allowed to see it and to talk about it? Consider for a moment that that entire conversation — that critical position — is off-limits. And why? Because business-interests object and oppose that critical investigation. But it is just that critical investigation that should be undertaken by Conservatives, not by radical leftists and definitely not by Marxists. If that were to take place it would mean that the Conservative-Republican pole — the Constitutional-protectionist pole — was actually acting properly and also necessarily.

    In present politics . . . everything is horridly confused. One can’t quite *see* because there are too many ‘lying interests’ that interpose themselves in a conversation that should be undertaken by responsible and socially-conscious (and morally and ethically conscious) persons, not government-corporate interests and not media and communications companies that are part of the *constellation* referred to earlier.

    The meaning of all this seems to be that either national governments return to people-oriented and genuine government, or the world becomes ruled and significantly controlled by interests with far more in common with Communist China. It is either the one or the other. That is the shadow that hangs over Our Present essentially.

    • The meaning of all this seems to be that either national governments return to people-oriented and genuine government, or the world becomes ruled and significantly controlled by interests with far more in common with Communist China. It is either the one or the other. That is the shadow that hangs over Our Present essentially.

      This requires some added commentary. The Dissident Right which I have been studying with some degree of seriousness for years now, takes a contrary position, and a critical position, to the outcomes or the achievements of American-led Liberalism. It sees in liberalism it abuses and its failures. But so did Richard Weaver even at the time when America won the last world war. He noticed trends of nihilism. He noticed a vacancy of genuine principles. True, his were philosophical perceptions but they were not inaccurate. What resulted? What the Dissident Right calls *liberal rot*. They notice that totalitarianism of the Soviet variety ‘destroys the body’ but that excessive liberalism ‘rots the soul’.

      So the Dissident Right, the philosophical Right, goes to work on that problem and that question. But in that one has to break down the barriers to even having an open conversation that is profoundly critical . . . but from a rightist perspective. The Left-Critical position is the stuff we swim in and we glug it constantly. It surrounds us and we both breath it and drink it.

      There really has been an upsurge in popular and populist and nationalistic movements all over Europe and this influence, through very strange and distorted, has also come to America. It is very hard, to all appearances, for people to understand (this is just one acute example but a necessary one) that the Charlottesville protests — those who came to voice their opinion about the destruction of Southern monuments — acted absolutely and purely in a proper Constitutional sense. This is a fact. The entire even was established to be simply a sharing-of-discourse event.

      In order to understand *those people* and those groups who came — there were 30+ different ones — one has to actually study them. But you definitely cannot rely on getting your information from the media-systems. And what does this point to?

      The most salient meaning of this distorted and distorting present is that it is exceedingly hard to gain a view of what is going on that has not been tainted by some interposing interest. That is to say that those who were drawn to the civil protest that was to be the Unite the Right Rally were immediately, and of course necessarily, interpreted by interposing interest. They simply had to be evil. There was no other way to look at it. But the truth is actually different. But who can *see* this? Who is allowed to see it and to explain it?

      Well, no one! This is what interests me personally the most. How perception and the organization of perception is what is fought over now. It is all mediated. There are a range of different *explanatory narratives* that you can resource to ‘explain Donald Trump’. They diverge. They are each unique and different. And there are 100 different explanatory narratives that seek to order perception about just about every important concern of today. It is this that is being fought over.

      It is essentially about what one can perceive and think — the terms of perception and thought — where the war is taking place. It is ‘Culture Wars’ but magnified to the point of, quite literally, a discourse over the most essential Occidental valuations. It is important to see that and to say it: this is an Occidental struggle that has to do with the very foundation of valuations.

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