When Corporate goes Marxist

It is rare when watching golf on television prompts a discussion of historical materialism and the state of socio-economics in modern society, but, well, here it is:

Would you hire a Marxist to help you find your company's next CEO?

From an advertisement run Sunday by Los Angeles–based executive recruitment (among other specialties) consulting firm Korn Ferry during the telecast of the PGA's Arnold Palmer Invitational, it seems the answer they are looking for is "yes."

Korn Ferry, while not nearly as large as its equally egregious competitors like EY, Deloitte, KPMG, McKinsey, etc. in the international "consulting" firm world, does at least have a connection to the golf world — it is the title sponsor of the PGA's development tour.

But it is not the golf that is at issue here — it is the status of the dialectic in modern — of all places — corporate culture that is of most concern.  Here is the ad itself, taking from the company's Facebook page, a slightly shorter but just as jaw-dropping version of which ran during the tournament.

When a global consulting firm spends serious money to broadcast a scripted but still quite weak poetry slam entrant asking, "Which side of history will you be on?," we must all agree the world has become a very, very silly place indeed.

Innumerable other firms have been running these kinds of, in theory, "feel good" ads for quite some time.  While most have the odd feel of watching a "proof of life" video that was made way, way before the kidnapping, the Korn Ferry piece stands alone.

The phrase "the right side of history" and its correlative "which side are you on?" are, quite simply, based on Karl Marx's idea of determinism: history is an inexorable movement forward, ratcheting itself up to its inevitable outcome, though the Hegelian conflict of thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis.

Both phrases posit one very simple — and terrifying — thing: if you do not understand/agree that history is pre-determined in this fashion, then you are doomed to be on "the wrong side."  You should already know that you are on the wrong side, and that, therefore, you should get out of the way.

In other words, shut your damn mouth.

The concept is that while day-to-day specific events that make up future history may change and wander hither and yon, the end result will be the same, no matter what.  Criticism that Marx was merely an economic Calvinist aside, the point of making the claim that history has a "side" is to shut down every other interpretation of the ebb and flow of events — how can a question that has already been answered be ever questioned again?

If it weren't so tragic, it would be hysterical that a company that has more than 9,000 employees in dozens of countries around the world and a client list that can only be called impressive is apparently taking clearly self-destructive marketing advice from self-absorbed, self-domesticated upper-middle-class twits with the right degrees, if not the ability to think independently.

Depressingly, this wokerate movement of late may not be a case of "WTKF?  You gave your camera and the Twitter account to Brooklyn and Dakota?" at all.  If, in fact, society is destined to become a never-ending effort to ensure equity of outcome based on nothing more than the mere fact of existence, distributing that munificence will need a workforce, and not just the direct employees of the DMV — the Department of Diversity, Mobility, and Values.

No, that world will require outside help, the kind of government contract–based help that can be provided only by the likes of Korn Ferry, EY, Deloitte, etc.  (By the way, all such firms have the same sort of people thinking the same way and doing the same jobs — only the color of the business cards changes.)

By focusing on the facile diversity of genetic pre-determination instead of the actual diversity of thought, those same firms can keep doing exactly what they are doing forever.  Pushing this kind of outcome (if history is inevitable, then why should they bother to spend time and effort to promote it, but that paradox may be best left for another time) may not be because upper-upper management is too confused by and/or afraid of the legions of 28-year-old dormice they have hired to run their marketing and social media efforts, but because that is exactly the end that is sought — self-domesticated drones culled and lulled by the proper gatekeepers into preserving a system that can only be described as neo-feudal.

For deeper dives into global upper-middle management and the idea of a "right side of history," I would strongly suggest you take a look at these two items: https://quillette.com/2020/06/11/the-coming-of-neo-feudalism-a-review/ and https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/karl-marx-presumption-right-side-history-part-ii/

Thomas Buckley is the former mayor of Lake Elsinore and a former newspaper reporter.  He is currently the operator of a small communications and planning consultancy and can be reached directly at planbuckley@gmail.com.  You can read more of his work at:  https://thomas699.substack.com.

Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.

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