Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate Crime Scene

Corporate Crime Woke Corporatism and the Rise of Law and Order Politics

We need a headline that reads – “In a Setback to Woke Corporatism, Congressional Campaigns Shift to Law and Order for Corporate Criminals.”

Russell Mokhiber

In late 2021, when Americans think of progressive or liberal politics, what do they think of?

Black Lives Matter.

LGBTQ.

Defund the Police.

Cancel culture.

Not corporate crime.

Wealth inequality.

Political corruption.

Corporate culture.

The agenda has been set by the corporations and led to the rise of woke corporatism. 

Corporations and corporate criminals embrace 2021 liberal values to escape 1921 liberal values.

Or as New York Times columnist Ross Douthat put it in a 2018 column titled The Rise of Woke Capital  –  

“In every era and every political dispensation, businessmen ask themselves: What am I required to do to make money unmolested by the government?”

Four pillars of woke corporatism – Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, Democratic Congressional Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and President Biden – all have taken a knee for Black Lives Matter. 

And when they stand up, they go back to work for Wall Street.

Woke corporatism protects a criminal justice system that throws poor whites and blacks into prison for minor drug crimes while allowing corporate criminal drug pushers off the hook.

Think — Purdue Pharma.

In 2006, prosecutors in western Virginia wanted to put an end to the Purdue Pharma sponsored opioid epidemic. 

Those prosecutors wrote a more than 100 page prosecution memo. 

“The memo was an incendiary catalog of corporate malfeasance,” reporter Patrick Radden Keefe writes in his book Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.

“It wasn’t just that it spelled out a litany of prosecutable misdeeds. It substantiated, in forensic detail, the knowledge and direction of those misdeeds at the highest levels of Purdue.”

But corporate criminal defense lawyers went over the heads of line prosecutors to Main Justice and the criminal prosecution that could have limited the damage was turned back. (To get a nutshell overview of the story, check out Barry Meier’s New York Times 2019 report and mini documentary – A Secret Opioid Memo That Could Have Slowed An Epidemic.)

Woke corporatism protects a death penalty for individuals but prevents a death penalty for culpable corporations.

Think — health insurance corporations.

Are there any corporations more deserving of the corporate death penalty than health insurance companies?

Americans overwhelmingly want to put insurance companies out of their misery and ours.

But woke corporatism prevents this humane execution at every turn.

Those who made their names calling for the death penalty for insurance companies – Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal – refuse to raise the issue this year in deference to the corporate powers that be.

Sanders has yet to introduce his single payer bill in the Senate. And while Jayapal introduced hers, she has refused to hold the hearings she promised earlier this year. 

Single payer would replace major health insurance companies with Medicare for All saving hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of American lives a year. 

Instead of defunding the corporate crime police, we should be making heroes and heroines out of those on the front lines in the battle against corporate crime.

How many Americans know the name Frances Kelsey?

She was the young Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official who, fifty years ago, prevented a pharmaceutical disaster in the United States by refusing to authorize the anti-nausea drug thalidomide for market in the United States because she was concerned about the drug’s safety. 

Resisting pressure from the company, Kelsey refused for over a year to approve the drug. She was vindicated when it was shown that where the drug was being used in Europe and around the world, it caused serious birth defects – babies born with no arms and no legs.

A headline in the Washington Post yesterday reads – In a Setback for Black Lives Matter, Mayoral Campaigns Shift to Law and Order.

Today we need a headline that reads – “In a Setback to Woke Corporatism, Congressional Campaigns Shift to Law and Order for Corporate Criminals.”


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Russell-Mokhiber

Russell Mokhiber

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. He is also founder of singlepayeraction.org, and editor of the website Morgan County USA.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Game-Changer and Reason for Hope': House Passes Inflation Reduction Act

"We've got more to do," Rep. Pramila Jayapal said on the House floor. "But today, let's celebrate this massive investment for the people."

Jake Johnson ·


'This Is Insane': Search Warrant Indicates FBI Investigating Trump for Espionage Act Violation

"If you're not fed up," said watchdog group Public Citizen, "you're not paying enough attention."

Jessica Corbett ·


Anti-War Veterans Group Asks Biden to 'Read Our Nuclear Posture Review Before Releasing Yours'

"Are you willing to risk a civilization-ending apocalypse by playing nuclear chicken with other nuclear-armed nations? Or will you lead us toward a planet that is free of nuclear weapons?"

Jessica Corbett ·


'Big Win' for Public Lands and Climate as US Judge Reinstates Coal Lease Ban

"It's past time that this misguided action by the Trump administration is overturned," said one environmental campaigner.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Five-Alarm Crisis': US Has Shortage of 300K Teachers, School Staff

To stay in their profession, said a union leader, educators need "professional respect" including fair pay and the right "to make teaching and learning decisions for their students."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo