Published on June 15, 2021
They think they own us. The managerial oligarchy, along with its enablers, advocates, and hangers-on, believes that it has the right to rule the rest of us — government by the wealthy and connected, for the wealthy and connected, and of the wealthy and connected.
If voters and their representatives won’t go along with this, then the oligarchs and their allies will use their wealth and power as weapons to force us.
They aren’t even trying to hide it. For example, New York Times columnist Linda Greenhouse recently lauded corporate CEOs for using the economic clout of the businesses they manage to push states around on election security and LGBT issues.
In Greenhouse’s view, managerial corporate oligarchs deciding social and political issues of the country is awesome, and we need more of it. After praising their previous interference in our democracy, she then begged the “executive class” to impose more economic sanctions on conservative portions of the country, this time targeting states that are trying to restrict abortion.
This is instructive. The Democratic Party, and far-left activists in general, are embracing rule by the CEO class instead of the common man. They want government by the affluent and educated, justified by the mantle of expertise. They presume that the rich and powerful have a right, even a duty, to enforce their moral vision on the country, with the rule of law as an optional extra.
There is hypocrisy here, insofar as the same corporate class that is staking a moral claim to rule the United States is also eager to do business with the evil regimes elsewhere. They are sanctimonious at home while cozying up to tyrants and relying on slave labor abroad; apparently, social justice stops at the water’s edge.
But pointing out their hypocrisy will not make them change. They care about profits and social prestige, not moral consistency. This sets conservatives at a disadvantage in responding to our would-be oligarchs.
We have little influence over the social status they crave, which is much more under the sway of people such as Greenhouse, who want them to be even more active in using oligarchic means to rule the nation. And free-market ideology has conditioned conservatives to be suspicious of government intrusions into business, leaving many on the right reluctant to use political power to combat woke capital.
Nonetheless, there are reasons for hope. First, though there have been some pro-abortion corporate efforts, many CEOs remain hesitant to aggressively engage in abortion politics. There are still limits beyond which left-wing activism can hurt companies; for most businesses, becoming the oligarchic champion of abortion on demand is probably a poor branding decision. At least for now, enthusiasts for oligarchy such as Greenhouse are out ahead of what actual oligarchs are willing to do.
Second, conservatives are overcoming their libertarian conditioning and are increasingly willing to use political power for the task of preservation. There is nothing conservative about allowing the country to slide into a woke corporatist oligarchy, especially when the government is helping push us down the slope.
Though conservatives recognize the need for humility and prudence in deploying government power, we do not abjure political power as a matter of principle. Thus, conservatives are learning to respond to the excesses of woke corporations and institutions, and the political backlash to concentrated oligarchic pressure on abortion would likely be fierce.
We may hope that these factors keep business leaders from heeding Greenhouse’s plea. Nonetheless, her call for pro-abortion oligarchic intervention in American democracy is the logical end of the left’s capture of the upper class and concomitant abandonment of solidarity.
More than any other issue, abortion illuminates how the Democratic Party, and the left in general, have rejected solidarity in favor of materialist individualism. A political movement that supports abortion will never produce genuine solidarity or social justice.
Thus, it is to be expected that the Democrats’ embrace of abortion has been followed by a shift from being the party of the working class to the party of Wall Street. Though women from all classes procure abortions, the justifications for elective abortion are steeped in the sins of the rich: ambition, self-indulgence, the love of money, and indifference to the weak.
Care for the least among us begins in the womb. Abortion is a turning away from human need and vulnerability in its most elemental form, and a breaking of the primordial social bond of mother, father, and child. Abortion is an assertion of “I” that violently excludes the “Thou” and “We” of interpersonal responsibility.
In urging oligarchs to intervene against states that restrict the violence of abortion, Greenhouse has done us a favor. It’s not just that this highlights the oligarchic tendencies of the left, which have already been apparent on other issues — it’s that there could be no better evidence of the relationship between abortion and exploitation than a New York Times columnist urging the rich to subvert representative democracy in an effort to protect abortion on demand.
We must prepare to resist such efforts, in order to protect both human life and self-government.
Nathanael Blake is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.