‘In the good old days’ CEOs had a very simple objective: to provide goods and services at the best possible price within a given regulatory and legal framework. Universities were places where new ideas were fermented through rigorous debates between the supporters and the opponents of a specific idea. The world has changed, at least in the view of some CEOs and University Presidents, who are taking it upon themselves to change society even if it is at the expense of their corporation or at the expense of free speech at universities.
In this blog, I provide some examples of CEOs and University Presidents who became social warriors and I speculate on the reasons for their behaviour. Finally, I suggest that unless this trend can be stopped, the ultimate resolution of this behaviour may not be pretty.
2. CEOs as social warriors
Some CEOs are taking it upon themselves to spend their company’s money on whatever social issue they personally think is important and ignore the democratic political process, which is the way to solve social issues in free societies.
There are numerous examples of this behaviour. For example, Nike decided to run an advertising campaign with Colin Kaepernick after he ‘took the knee’ at the beginning of a game to support the BLM movement; Alan Joyce as the CEO of Qantas called on other CEOs to explicitly support same-sex marriage; Amazon has banned the sale of certain books by conservative authors; Twitter and Facebook banned President Trump allegedly for inciting violence although the evidence seems to suggest otherwise; Ben and Jerry went as far as criticising an elected politician, Priti Patel, for her stance on illegal arrivals in the UK. And the list goes on and on.
The question is this, why do these CEOs not become politicians?
3. University Presidents (Vice Chancellors) as social warriors
Universities are not the bedrock of competing ideas anymore, because they do not allow free speech. Whilst this may seem to be a very strong statement, consider the following examples.
Jordan Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and the author of the book ’12 Rules of Life’. He is well known for his conservative values, which he often discusses in different forums and public debates. In 2019, he was offered a two months Fellowship from the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University, which he accepted and publicly announced. However, the woke dons of the faculty pressured the university to withdraw the offer as Peterson’s view did not agree with their views. The University yielded and withdrew the offer. The Vice Chancellor of the University sacrificed free speech and free exchange of ideas for the sake of the woke, left wing academics at the University (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/this-cambridge-ban-on-jordan-peterson-is-a-sign-of-snowflaky-thinking-tlwmstdjx).
The question of free speech at Australian Universities has also been raised and the Federal Government initiated an inquiry into free speech at Universities headed by a retired High Court Judge, Judge French (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=French+inquiry+and+freedom+of+speech&atb=v241-1&ia=web). However, to date only nine of the publicly funded Universities have adopted the recommendations of this inquiry (https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/only-nine-of-australia-s-42-universities-have-adopted-the-free-speech-code-20201208-p56lrk.html). Nevertheless, the conservative Government of Australia made it clear that the woke, social warrior Vice-Chancellors will not win on this issue.
The above examples are not unique to Australia and the UK, but there are many more examples that can be found right through North American and Western European Universities.
4. What drives these social warriors and what can one do about them?
It is difficult to understand what drives some CEOs and Vice-Chancellors to become social engineers, after all it is the current political and economic system (and of course their hard work, talent and sometimes good luck) which has enabled them to get into their privileged position. Do they feel embarrassed about their own privilege and wealth? Do they feel bored in their current role? Are they that ignorant of the recent history of socialism and oppression? Or are they just that naïve that they believe in utopia? Whatever it is, it is time to do something about woke, social engineering.
First, we must recognise the shortcomings of the current political and economic system and improve them rather than destroy them. The best way to improve them is by taking part in political policy debates or even by becoming a politician. Second, do not be ashamed of conservative values of the silent majority, but become the noisy majority. Even teach your friends about the current lessons of social regimes, if they are ignorant/naïve or forgetful of them, or because they have never experienced it. Third, explicitly and financially support organisations who are outing woke behaviour like the conservative, not for profit Consumer Research in the USA. They have ‘outed’ Nike’s, Coca -Cola’s and American Airlines’ woke behaviour through an advertising campaign. (Wall Street Journal, Editorial Board, 20/5/2021).
Support the push back against social engineering not for your own benefit, but for the intellectual freedom of your children. That is the greatest gift you can give them.
A number of CEOs and Vice -Chancellors of Universities became social engineers.
These group of leaders explicitly support a woke, left wing agenda at the expense of free speech.
It is not obvious what drives these woke ‘leaders.
The conservative silent majority has to become a noisy majority and push back for the sake of the next generation.
Free speech is the bedrock of a free society.