Germany’s post-war Wirtschaftswunder—the “Economic Miracle”—was one of the great stories of the mid-20th century. Out of the ashes of National Socialism, and the devastating world war it caused, arose the most vibrant and prosperous free-market economy in all of Europe.
But that was then, and this is now. As the 21st century nears the close of its first quarter, a New Economic Miracle is taking place all over the West, not only in Germany, but in all the EU as well as in the United States. It’s gathering steam as we speak, right before our very eyes—or indeed under our very noses, if we are among the majority that does not want to see what is happening. It is the advent and spread of ‘woke capitalism’—an ongoing revolution that does not seek to overthrow the free market economy, but rather to transform it from within. Under woke capitalism, we are seeing the transformation of the free market from a system of voluntary exchanges based on the law of supply and demand to a market in which economic transactions are channeled, exploited, and steered toward the goals of social and environmental justice. Who would have thought it possible? We stand at the dawn of the Age of Planned Capitalism.
Just as in the 1950’s, we must give all due credit to U.S. leadership in this new economic miracle. Gigantic, globally active firms headquartered in the home of the brave are in the vanguard of woke capitalism. The technological and financial sectors provide perhaps the greatest heroes of this saga. Big Tech—Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and the rest—spreads its left-wing gospel around the globe, having foreseen our desperate need for someone to supervise the availability and accessibility of information and thus help us decide how we think and what we want.
Meanwhile, massive financial firms such as BlackRock, the world’s largest investment manager, are promoting the exponential growth of right-thinking asset management, otherwise known as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. As BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and the BlackRock Global Executive Committee wrote in their 2021 letters to clients and CEOs, posted on the BlackRock website, “sustainability” will be “our new standard for investing.”
And ESG investing is not just a toothless do-gooder project, open to those who want to join the movement. No. Woke capitalism is the tidal wave of the future, and everyone must be swept along in its wake, ready or not. BlackRock shows the way. The intrepid giant stands ready to use the full weight of its financial power to bring its beliefs about climate change to bear on the entire global economy, on every business that it can. Just listen and learn, as BlackRock describes its “investor stewardship” approach: “We are explicitly asking that all companies disclose a business plan aligned with the goal of limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, consistent with achieving net zero global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”
BlackRock also boasts a “heightened scrutiny model” that will use the firm’s “full set of risk management tools” to actively divest, and encourage that its clients divest, from any companies that are not “adequately managing the global transition towards a net zero economy.”
It is noteworthy how prominent a role the holy crusade against climate change, so in vogue among our Western elites, plays in ESG investing. But fear not. Neither BlackRock nor the rest of the corporate purveyors of woke capitalism neglect the other fundamental precepts of the wokeist canon. In Larry Fink’s letter to CEOs, for example, BlackRock makes clear that it will enforce its views on “racial justice, … diversity, equity, and inclusion” on all the companies, worldwide, that it invests in. With BlackRock in 2020 having “completed our goal of having 100% of our active and advisory portfolios ESG-integrated,” the message is that BlackRock investors will be steered away from any company that’s not “ESG-compliant” as BlackRock defines it.
But private industry, no matter how rich and powerful, cannot on its own achieve the global woke capitalist utopia. For a world-transforming project such as Planned Capitalism, a “public-private partnership” with government is needed. And here the U.S. government under Biden is no slouch. I refer, for example, to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler, the photogenic former partner at Goldman Sachs who has so far distinguished himself as Biden’s top candidate for woke capitalist poster boy. The SEC has recently launched a Climate and ESG Enforcement Task Force. (Notice the word “enforcement.”) Further to that, in a speech in June, Gensler said that he’d asked SEC staff “to consider potential requirements for companies that have made forward-looking climate commitments, or that have significant operations in jurisdictions with national requirements to achieve specific, climate-related targets.”
Despite the Wall Street wokeness of the Biden Administration, however, we can’t be sure what might happen if a Republican gets elected in 2024 or 2028. That’s where the EU comes in. The Eurocracy is not hindered by such bothersome concerns as being voted out of office. Thus, unencumbered by voters with humdrum, narrow-minded concerns to be met, the EU is perfectly positioned to lead the member state national governments, and the member state citizens whom they so faithfully tax, into a new green world of social and environmental justice. Even if it takes until 2050—when, as the best and brightest tell us, both the EU and the U.S. will have reached net-zero emissions and generated thousands upon thousands of green jobs, thus ridding us of unemployment forever—even then, les eurofonctionnaires, with their lifetime tenure, will still be there, providing the “public” part of the “public-private partnership” and forever helping make all the dreams of woke capitalism come true.
How can we be so confident of the EU’s planning prowess? The answer is clear. A few months ago, the European Commission released a comprehensive blueprint on how to make capitalism virtuous. I am speaking of the Commission Communication entitled The European Economic and Financial System: Fostering Openness, Strength and Resilience. This, well, “plan” I guess is the best word for it, blazes the trail into the inevitable future of Planned Capitalism, the necessary end result of woke capitalism, into which the EU will be showing the way. After all, the EU will always be more environmentally woke and gifted in planning than the U.S. In fact, if America isn’t careful, the EU just might overtake the U.S. as the World’s Greatest Economy. At any rate, the euro will surely take the Almighty Dollar down a few pegs, and no doubt replace it as the world’s premier environmentally correct reserve currency.
Make no mistake about it: the Commission plan fully corresponds to Ursula von der Leyen’s dictum that the European Green Deal is nothing less than “Europe’s new growth strategy.” And it has everything—everything—in it, bringing together and coordinating all the other plans that have proliferated since Ursula’s ascension to the throne: the Next Generation EU, financing the EU’s “green and digital transition,” a Recovery and Resilience Facility, a National Recovery and Resilience Plan for every member state, a Capital Markets Union Action Plan, an EU Retail Payments Strategy, an EU Digital Finance Strategy, a strengthened EU Emissions Trading System, a renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy, the issuance of “high-quality euro-denominated bonds,” including, of course, billions and billions worth of “green bonds,” etc., etc., etc.
Yes, the European Economic and Financial System plan doesn’t miss a thing. It proves that planned capitalism is the answer. Thankfully, the authors had the wisdom to include an executive summary. After all, there’s no way anyone’s going to read the whole thing. Well, at least there’s no way I’m going to read the whole thing.
And we don’t have to read the whole thing because it’s obvious. As we all irresistibly jump on the bandwagon, we will learn that planned capitalism is the answer. Obviously, woke wealth—capital markets, finance, and piles of money—will achieve a level of comprehensive justice for the downtrodden that communists like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, with their horse-drawn carriages and their pre-assembly-line factories, could not have dreamed of, back in the day. (To say nothing of Vladimir Illyich Lenin, with the flat cap that didn’t even cover his ears against the pre-global-warming-era St. Petersburg winters.)
One final note: we’re all in this together. Everyone must join. We woke capitalist planners don’t do class struggle. Above all, we don’t do working class. We are digital and virtual. We don’t produce, ugh, things. We’re not going to get our hands dirty making gas-guzzling automobiles or harvesting rutabagas in the great outdoors, thereby producing those horrible greenhouse gas emissions that cause apocalyptic weather events such as warm summer beaches filled with ugly bodies, or longer grazing seasons with cows out in the fields, releasing methane gas directly into the atmosphere, or, worst of all, less snow to ski on at Davos in the winter (see next paragraph).
We’re clean and green, not lean and mean. We’re smart. And above all, we’re global. Global Citizens. That first among all global citizens, Klaus Schwab, of the World—that’s World—Economic Forum—is into woke capitalism, too. He calls it the Great Reset. Professor Dr. Schwab is someone we can learn from. After all, he transformed Davos from a mere Swiss village into a global village. And we capitalists know that branding is everything. What could be a catchier brand name than Great Reset?
Now all we need is a tag line to go along with our brand name. How about this: Super-Rich Capitalists and Imperialists of the World, Unite!
Todd Huizinga is Senior Fellow, Europe, at the Religious Freedom Institute and a member of the advisory board of the Center for Security Policy. He is the author of The New Totalitarian Temptation: Global Governance and the Crisis of Democracy in Europe (New York: Encounter Books, 2016) and Was Europa von Trump lernen kann (Berlin: Vergangenheitsverlag, 2017). All opinions and perspectives in this article are attributable to the author alone.