The Coming Revolt Against Woke Capitalism


The greatest threat to Western civilisation comes not from China, Russia or Islamists, but from the very people who rank among its greatest beneficiaries. In virtually every field, the midwives of our demise are not working-class radicals or far-right agitators, but, as the late Fred Siegel called it, the ‘new aristocratic class’, made up of the well-credentialed and the technologically and scientifically adept.

Virtually every ideology that’s undermining the West has its patrons in these ruling cognitive elites. This includes everything from the purveyors of critical race theory and Black Lives Matter to transgender activists and, perhaps most egregiously, campaigners for the climate jihad. In each case, these elite activists reject the market traditions of liberal capitalism and instead promote a form of social control, often with themselves in charge. The fact that these ideologies are destructive, and could ultimately undermine the status of these very elites, seems to matter little to them. That they also infuriate the middle and working classes doesn’t seem to register, either.

A huge shift has taken place among the elites in recent years. In the past, wealthy people overwhelmingly favoured the political right or the centre. Some billionaires still do, including oil and chemicals magnate Charles Koch, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and real-estate billionaire Donald Bren, all of whom are well into their seventies or eighties or beyond. Today, these folks are being supplanted by more youthful and supposedly more ‘enlightened’ oligarchs, who have consistently outraised and outspent their right-wing rivals by a margin of nearly two to one.

In the US, nonprofits’ assets have grown 16-fold since 1980. In 2020, nonprofits brought in $2.62 trillion in revenues, constituting more than five per cent of the US economy. Ironically, foundations that are funded with the great fortunes of Henry Ford, John D Rockefeller and John D MacArthur, all right-wing figures, have become some of the key financiers of ‘progressive’ causes.

In the coming decades, we can expect more of this pattern. Not only do we have to deal with the beliefs of the oligarchs, but also those of their forsaken wives and their offspring. Jeff Bezos’ former spouse, MacKenzie Scott, worth an estimated $60 billion, has already given $133million to a group pushing for a ‘progressive’ takeover of education. Melinda Gates, the former wife of the Microsoft founder Bill Gates, worth at least $13 billion, is also backing woke causes.

The current cadre of elites seem uniquely hostile to meritocracy and individual rights – values that once stood at the heart of liberal, capitalist societies. Rather than promote upward mobility for the plebs, they want to divide them into ‘identity’ groups based on race, sexuality and gender. Black Lives Matter, the enforcers of critical race theory, for years enjoyed lavish support from top tech companies, including Microsoft, Cisco and TikTok. It also became a poster child for a host of nonprofits, like the Tides Foundation, which in turn gets much of its money from oligarchs and their descendants, including George Soros and the MacArthur, Hewlett, Ford, Packard and Rockefeller foundations.

Nowhere is the gap between the elites’ political activism and the interests of the public more evident today than when it comes to the overhyped climate crisis. To a remarkable extent, the current ruling oligarchy in tech and on Wall Street have embraced the ideology of Net Zero, even though this threatens to undermine Western industrial power and raise the cost of living for the masses. Elite opinion, in general, is far more engaged on climate issues than the general population. In one recent poll, those living with graduate degrees in big dense cities and making over $150,000 a year are far more likely to favour such things as rationing meat and gas than the vast majority of Americans.

Read the rest of this piece at Spiked.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and and directs the Center for Demographics and Policy there. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Spiked.