Blogs Coffee House

Why is big business so interested in left-wing politics?

29 May 2015

10:23 AM

29 May 2015

10:23 AM

Numerous commentators have noted how the Irish marriage referendum was influenced by big business, especially Californian-based companies like Google. It’s one of the curious trends of recent years that big business, once considered the enemy of ‘the Left’, is now its greatest proponent; or at least the dominant strain of Leftism, social justice liberalism.

Silicon Valley is the most extreme example of this, an industry that is young, dynamic and universally socially liberal; but elsewhere most politically interested billionaires in the West tend to be more liberal than the population, whether it’s George Soros funding various social justice causes or other Democrat-supporting moguls.

In contrast, with the exception of the Bangladeshi Fazel Abed, most billionaires in the Muslim world seem to be conservative; this may be one cause of the growing moral chasm between the west and the rest.


But why is big business so interested in left-wing politics? Why is it that ‘neoliberalism equals social justice’, as Ben Southwood of the Adam Smith Institute suggests.

One of the key reasons behind this is what is often called the conservative dilemma; that is, economic liberalism as favoured by conservatives tends to drastically change society and uproot all the things conservatives hold dear. Often this is quite positive, such as in the way that the free market tends to break down prejudices by encouraging people to trade, and because bigotry is unprofitable. But political activism by billionaire corporations seems to be rather different altogether, and a recent phenomenon.

One reason has to be that, being newer and younger, such corporations are probably less politically diverse; in a youngish environment dominated by secular left-liberal people, minority conservative and religious voices quickly get drowned out and social justice politics become the norm. But promoting social justice is also a cheap way for businesses to get some easy PR while also diverting attention from their own, often ruthless, business practices. Never mind our tax affairs, let’s talk about how awful racism is!

Virtue signalling is cheap, and ‘tolerance’ is easy when it costs you precisely nothing; as long as you give lip service to diversity and equality, much of the Left will overlook how you actually behave and will concentrate their rage on small bakeries, whereas in the past they might have focused on wages or the treatment of producers.

In fact, instead of being costly to big business as socialism would be, social justice actually profits them, the most prominent example being mass immigration, which big business is universally in favour of, supported by many Conservatives for economic reasons; even though, from a Burkean point of view, mass immigration makes absolutely no sense – short-term prosperity over posterity.

But specifically in the case of sexual politics, there is possibly another reason, in that the interests of big business conflict with those of the nuclear family. ‘Traditional’ families take women out of the workforce to have children, and anything that reduces the availability of workers is going to damage business interests. There could also be an argument that people in nuclear families, who are more stable but also burdened by greater living costs, are less likely to consume and borrow. How pro-business conservatives square this circle is the great dilemma of the age.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close