Ikea and the awakened capitalism scam
Show me an “awake” business and I’ll show you a business that almost certainly did some really shady things in its day. This was certainly confirmed by the entire GB News boycott line, which exploded online yesterday.
The Stop Funding Hate campaign group took to Twitter trying to get companies to remove their ads from the new anti-clock news channel, which only launched on Sunday. SFH, you will recall, is an authoritarian group that tries to deprive the media it disagrees with of revenue by putting pressure on advertisers.
Unfortunately, a number of companies have already given in. Kopparberg, Ikea, Nivea, Octopus Energy, Grolsch and the Open University have suspended their ads, pending exams, following outrage from SFH and its supporters. Many companies said they didn’t know their ads were running on GB News and at least wanted to take a break to make sure the channel matched their “values.”
It is not entirely clear what “values” they were concerned about, given that GB News is a talkative and opinionated news channel, and not the fascist propaganda channel of feverish dreams of the entire FBPE. Plus, a quick Google would soon reveal that many of these companies aren’t exactly as godly as their Twitter account managers claim.
When Ikea pulled its GBN ads yesterday, it said it wanted to make sure the channel’s content complied with “Humanist values”. You might be wondering what humanism has to do with selling kit furniture. Specifically, what does humanism have to do with employee spying – something else Ikea has been doing recently?
Yes, hours after Ikea UK took a courageous stand against anti-clock broadcasting, Ikea France was fined € 1million and its former CEO was given a two-year sentence of suspended prison sentence, after a French court concluded that the company had spied on his employees over a number of years.
Ikea bosses have used private investigators and the police to collect private information about staff and illegally access criminal records in order to screen applicants. They also used bogus employees to report workers. A total of 15 people were on the dock in the case, including senior executives and former store managers.
It should also be noted that although Ikea pulls promotional material from GBN, it has already edited its promotional material for use in Saudi Arabia, to better align with the values of the plan. In 2012, he was forced to apologize after discovering that he had removed images of women from his catalog.
Then there’s Nivea, one of the other brands to boycott GBN. Despite his virtues of yesterday, he has already been criticized for whip skin whitening cream, called “Natural Fairness”, in Africa – with an advertisement of a black woman complimented for her lighter tone.
Wokeness has taken the corporate world by storm in recent years. Companies now feel the need to signal social justice at every opportunity. But that obviously didn’t stop them from continuing to exploit workers, maintain poor working conditions, and sell shady products.
Ben & Jerry’s is a particularly striking example. Over the past year, he has made a solemn pledge to “end white supremacy”. He even lectured Priti Patel about migrants via a pious Twitter thread. In the meantime, he has been the target of protests by migrant workers who alleged horrendous working conditions in the company’s supply chain.
Nike and Apple have, like many giant American companies, spent part of the past year talking about Black Lives Matter and speaking out on the vicious legacy of slavery. And yet, the two companies have also been implicated in forced labor practices in China. The brass handle is stunning.
The GBN boycott is just the latest reminder that Awakened Capitalism, as it is called, is a complete scam. I’m not saying these companies aren’t sincere. The revival clearly appeals to desperate capitalists to shed their guilt and make sense of their working lives. But it shows how compatible it all is with good old-fashioned mining.
Apparently, it’s okay to mistreat your employees, as long as you don’t advertise on GB News. Meet the new boss, like the old one, but much more boring.
Tom slater is deputy editor-in-chief of sharp. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_
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