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The ‘Performative Wokeness’ of the AIB and what it tells us about modern businesses

At the heart of the matter, Capitalists appear to have concluded that embracing certain aspects of Communist ideology is beneficial for them. More accurately, they have effectively turned Communists into their loyal consumer base.

Ankur Pathak, an entertainment editor at Huffington Post, authored a rather intriguing account of the rise and fall of All India Bakchod. In October last year, one of the co-founders of AIB, Tanmay Bhat, admitted to having knowledge of a freelancer’s sexual misconduct without doing anything about it and the company continued to work with him in the future.

Due to massive outrage on social media, many brands associated with the AIB pulled out of their commitments, thereby forcing the group to shut down all operations. The article by Pathak is recommended for reading in its entirety, however, there are certain portions which deserve special attention.

These portions highlight how the AIB embraced performative ‘Wokeness’ to build their brand and cater to the millennial crowd without actually adhering to any of the principles they preached. With careful propaganda, what is called advertising in common tongue, the group built a carefully crafted image of themselves which was in stark contrast to their personal conduct.

The author notes, “On a darker note, AIB’s unravelling is an indictment of a moment where too many brands, corporations, business models, and influencers use the language of feminism to push products, promote themselves and make money, while begging off when asked to actually live up to the principles they espouse in their Insta stories.”

Krupa Gohil, who worked for the group as a social media writer, is reported to have felt within the first few weeks itself that the company and the four founders “saw the internet’s emerging conversation about feminism as just another meme-worthy narrative to tap into.” According to her, at one point, an employee “Made a meme about smashing patriarchy but he didn’t even know what patriarchy meant. It was just made and shared on social media to score woke points. These were empty, token actions.”

There were bigger concerns with the workplace apart from such things which were revealed during the #MeToo movement. Allegations of sexual misconduct were also levelled against Khamba, another of the four founders of the AIB. Thus, we have a situation where one of the founders is accused of sexual harassment while another is accused of working with a person despite being fully aware of his sexual perversions.

It does say a lot about modern feminists and feminism itself, does it not? In the current decade, the movement has degenerated into a propaganda tool for capitalists who wish to expand their profit margins while playing into the sentiments of its targeted consumer base.

It’s not specific only to AIB or even the Indian entertainment industry alone. It’s a global phenomenon. How many of the men who were revealed to have allegedly sexually harassed or raped women have carefully crafted a ‘Woke’ image around themselves over the years?

It does point towards a greater malaise and calls for deeper introspection. In this context, it’s important to focus greatly on the West as Indian liberalism is merely Western Progressivism with a time lag. Political commentators in the West, across the political spectrum, have opined that Feminism in the 21st century is identity politics. While classical liberals, libertarians and conservatives consider modern feminism to be a perversion of the pious version of the ideology that once existed, those on the Left consider it to be a new turn in the righteous revolt against Patriarchy.

This perversion, as the anti-Left calls it and who I agree with on this matter, has been dubbed as ‘Cultural Marxism’. The anti-Left, which mostly consists of people who favour Capitalism greatly, considers it to be a manifestation of Communism. However, there are certain things which appear rather contradictory.

‘Cultural Marxism’, so to speak, is entirely dependent on a system that is funded entirely by Multi-National Corporations and political factions which are the favourites of billionaires and millionaires. For instance, in the US of A, the Democrats are the political party of Progressives. And they have great backing among the richest billionaires. One normally wouldn’t expect the party of ‘Cultural Marxism’ to have great backing among ultra-rich Capitalists, would they?

If we introspect a little further, let us analyse which institutions help sustain ‘Cultural Marxism’ the most. The mainstream media, the entertainment industry, the tech industry and basically the entirety of the advertisement industry is what comes to mind instantly. Even multinational food chains like Starbucks can be regularly seen to be pandering to ‘Cultural Marxism’. All of this is dominated completely by multinational corporations and billionaires. They are all Capitalists.

Therefore, would it be accurate to call a phenomenon that is sustained and promoted by Capitalists as ‘Cultural Marxism’? Perhaps, its manner of operating certainly fits the bill. Would it be accurate to blame it on 21st Century communist ideologues entirely? Certainly not. The anti-Left, who are great fans of Capitalists, must realize that the fraud has been embraced, promoted and strengthened by Capitalists themselves and therefore, a great share of the blame must fall on Capitalists.

Certainly, the ideologues at reputed Universities who have nurtured these ideas at their institutions and brainwashed entire generations are to be blamed but the Capitalists cannot be absolved of their sins. There’s historical precedence as well for such movements being peddled by Capitalists for their personal benefit. The most obvious that comes to mind is how smoking cigarettes was propagated as liberation from male domination for women because a certain Tobacco company wanted to expand its consumer base and thereby, its profits.

At the heart of the matter, Capitalists appear to have concluded that embracing certain aspects of Communist ideology is beneficial for them. More accurately, they have effectively turned Communists into their loyal consumer base. Voila! A neat Coup d’etat!

Some progressives have caught on to this. Thus, came about the term, ‘Rainbow Capitalism’ or ‘Pink Capitalism’. It is defined as the incorporation of “queerness and the LGBTQ+ rights movement into their marketing, products, etc. in order to capitalize off of the purchasing power that queer people have.” This article here is quite informative.

It says, “Rainbow capitalism was a move by companies to market themselves as queer-friendly to get LGBTQ+ consumers to buy their products.” As to why it’s harmful, the article states, “Rainbow capitalism centralizes corporate interests and profit, thus making capitalism in general central the centre of many Pride events. With Pride-themed merchandise and Pride centric branding, corporations benefiting off of rainbow capitalism have taken over the spaces that were created for queer people, ultimately making Pride less about protests, rights, and liberation, and instead, a way to turn a profit.”

The article also has many recommendations for the LGBT community, however, it’s unlikely to work in any manner whatsoever as they will always be merely faceless consumers for people who want to increase their profit margins. What it means for the anti-Left is that merely indulging ‘pro-Capitalism’ advocacy won’t work, it’s Capitalism that helped this beast acquire monstrous proportions.

The most glaring aspect of it is, of course, the censorship of ‘right-wing’ political opinions on social media. These are not Marxist and Communist institutions who are indulging in Censorship here and have incorporated the doctrine of ‘Cultural Marxism’ into their terms and conditions for users, these are Capitalists. Some anti-Left influential people are calling for government intervention now, being fully aware that it violates their allegiance to Capitalism, but they have been far too myopic thus far and have failed to notice that it applies to the phenomenon of ‘Cultural Marxism’ as a whole.

Closer home, we can observe for ourselves the manner in which Capitalists promote Communists and ‘Cultural Marxism’. We even have a term for people who represent this unholy union: ‘Champagne Socialists’. The circumstances in India are vastly different and the nature of Indian Capitalists is vastly different but it cannot be doubted that here as well, ‘Cultural Marxism’ which is still at a very lukewarm stage is promoted by Capitalists for their own self-serving interests.

Thus, the great menace of ‘Cultural Marxism’ is a battle between businesses to maximize their own profits at the expense of the other. Capitalism represents survival of the fittest in its most pristine form and some of them have identified that pandering to progressive sentiments help them expand their consumer base and their profits. Whether it actually does or not is a completely different matter altogether.

The debacle of the AIB and the great insight into its inner functioning, as provided by Ankur Pathak, only shows that in the current year, Feminism and all that comes along with it has merely become a tool to assert one’s moral superiority. More significantly, it has become just another tool at the hands of businessmen to make some more money.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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