The Left’s Hostile Takeover of Corporate America

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 January 1, 2018|
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One of the things that made “Disruptive Politics in the Trump Era,” John Fonte’s recent column for American Greatness, so provocative was his insight that the depredations of the Administrative State are indissolubly allied with what he calls “the cultural leviathan,”  the progressive-left-dominated institutions that define the uplands of American social and political life.  Many conservative commentators have lamented the Administrative State on Monday, the cultural Left (read: “leviathan”) on Tuesday without quite making the link that Fonte makes in his column.

A second thing that makes the essay worth pondering is Fonte’s inclusive anatomy of the beast that is the cultural leviathan. “Today,” he notes, “the facts on the ground tell us that the progressive Left dominates major institutions of American life: the universities, the mainstream media, the mainline churches, the entertainment industry, and the human resources departments of the Fortune 500.”


Any Tom, Dick, or Harry knows that the universities, the MSM, the mainline churches, and the entertainment industry are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Left.  But it took a commentator of Fonte’s insight to roll corporate HR departments into the mix. No, it’s not an entirely original observation—I seem to recall that Heather Mac Donald, for example, has made similar arguments. But the synthesis, the articulation is arresting.

I had always sensed, without quite analyzing the feeling, that HR departments were the enemy. Fonte’s taxonomy afforded one of those “Eureka” moments that made Euclid’s bath [oops! I meant Archimedes, of course] so exciting. Of course! The Orwellian-named “human resources” department: of course it is a locus of politically correct, big-nurse imposition.

Like a suppurating orifice, the human resource department provides an ideal site for the multiplication of the bacterium politicus correctus. For one thing, such departments are always organized as top-down, unaccountable bureaucracies. HR departments are known for their arbitrariness masquerading under the rubric of “policy,” Wizard-of-Oz-like impersonality, and slavish conformity to faddish diktats promulgated as “best practices,” weenie speak for “do it my way.” In this sense, HR departments are like pseudopods of progressive government bureaucracies grafted onto the pliant stock of corporate timidity. It is not surprising, then, that HR departments tend to attract meddling and astringent personalities whose most cherished delight revolves around lording it over others.

And that brings us to the secret fuel of the enterprise: power. At many companies, the human resources department is the chief gateway to employment, advancement, and company perquisites. There is an almost biological dynamism surrounding the existence of power. Like a patch of moist soil, it cannot exist without soon being populated by a teeming, metabolic exchange. And so it is not surprising that HR departments are perfect handmaidens to what Fonte calls the cultural leviathan: pullulating sources of petty and not-so-petty regulation and enforcement.

I thought of all this the other day when reading about NBC’s new “anti-harassment rules for the workplace.” Stung by the predatory antics of former NBC anchor Matt Lauer, who had a button on his desk to lock his office door when he wanted to “entertain” some hapless female,  NBC is now taking a “zero tolerance approach” to romance among staffers. Big Brother would have approved:

Staffers have been told that if they find out about any affairs, romances, inappropriate relationships or behavior in the office, they have to report it to human resources, their superior or the company anti-harassment phone line. . . .

Plus, there’s been a series of ridiculous rules issued on other office conduct. One rule relates to hugging. If you wish to hug a colleague, you have to do a quick hug, then an immediate release, and step away to avoid body contact.

Also there’s strict rules about socializing, including [not] sharing taxis home and [not] taking vegans to steakhouses. [!?]

I am not quite sure how the vegan/steakhouse interdiction comes in, except perhaps under the rule of thumb that for “progressives” anything that is not mandatory is forbidden.

Naturally, this preposterous regime will be enforced by NBC’s human resource department (whether or not it operates under that exact name).  Perhaps some bureaucrat there stumbled across a fragment of W. S. Gilbert’s libretto for the Mikado and, not realizing it was satire, decided to put the Mikado’s “stern decree” into action.

Our great Mikado, virtuous man,
When he to rule our land began,
Resolved to try
A plan whereby
Young men might best be steadied.
So he decreed, in words succinct,
That all who flirted, leered or winked
(Unless connubially linked),
Should forthwith be beheaded. . . .
This stern decree, you’ll understand,
Caused great dismay throughout the land!
For young and old
And shy and bold
Were equally affected.
The youth who winked a roving eye,
Or breathed a non-connubial sigh,
Was thereupon condemned to die—
He usually objected.

It’s funny on the stage.  In the workplace, not so much. Even as the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman works to modernize that Islamic theocratic regime, granting women the right to drive and even go to pop concerts, corporate America seems bent on re-segregating the sexes and imposing a caricature-Victorian species of pudeur. Who knows, excess burkas may soon flood the market from Saudi Arabia. Maybe NBC can pick some up cheap.

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About the Author:

Roger Kimball
Roger Kimball is Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion and President and Publisher of Encounter Books. Mr. Kimball lectures widely and has appeared on national radio and television programs as well as the BBC. He is represented by Writers' Representatives, who can provide details about booking him. Mr. Kimball's latest book is The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine's Press, 2012). He is also the author of The Rape of the Masters (Encounter), Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse (Ivan R. Dee), and Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity (Ivan R. Dee). Other titles by Mr. Kimball include The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America (Encounter) and Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age (Ivan R. Dee). Mr. Kimball is also the author ofTenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education (HarperCollins). A new edition of Tenured Radicals, revised and expanded, was published by Ivan R. Dee in 2008. Mr. Kimball is a frequent contributor to many publications here and in England, including The New Criterion, The Times Literary Supplement, Modern Painters, Literary Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Public Interest, Commentary, The Spectator, The New York Times Book Review, The Sunday Telegraph, The American Spectator, The Weekly Standard, National Review, and The National Interest.


  1. Dan Schwartz January 1, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Directly on point of Fonte’s essay on how President Trump is dismantling the Administrative Swamp is this wonkish December 30th Washington Post article titled How the Trump era is changing the federal bureaucracy:

    Nearly a year into his takeover of Washington, President Trump has made a significant down payment on his campaign pledge to shrink the federal bureaucracy, a shift long sought by conservatives that could eventually bring the workforce down to levels not seen in decades.

    By the end of September, all Cabinet departments except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Interior had fewer permanent staff than when Trump took office in January — with most shedding many hundreds of employees, according to an analysis of federal personnel data by The Washington Post.

    The diminishing federal footprint comes after Trump promised in last year’s campaign to “cut so much your head will spin,” and it reverses a boost in hiring under President Barack Obama. The falloff has been driven by an exodus of civil servants, a diminished corps of political appointees and an effective hiring freeze.

    Even though Congress did not pass a new budget in his first year, the drastic spending cuts Trump laid out in the spring — which would slash more than 30 percent of funding at some agencies — also has triggered a spending slowdown, according to officials at multiple departments.

    The White House is now warning agencies to brace for even deeper cuts in the 2019 budget it will announce early next year, part of an effort to lower the federal deficit to pay for the new tax law, according to officials briefed on the budgets for their agencies. One possible casualty: a pay raise that federal employees historically have received when the economy is humming.

    The administration’s effort so far to reshape the workforce of nearly 2 million civil servants that serves as the backbone of the government already has provoked a contentious culture shift.

    Federal workers fret that their jobs could be zeroed out amid buyouts and early retirement offers that already have prompted hundreds of their colleagues to leave, according to interviews with three dozen employees across the government. Many chafed as supervisors laid down new rules they said are aimed at holding poor performers and problem workers to account. (more)

    In so many words, just as in the judicial appointments, President Trump is filling his campaign promises.

    • Adobe_Walls January 1, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Why did the department of interior escape? Have to work on that this year.

    • Dusty Thompson January 2, 2018 at 7:07 am

      Basically to all Govt employees a slight cut in the increase in spending means they can no longer “do their jobs” so instead start sending threats to CItizens over Dog Licensing to make up for lost “revenue”.. That and CIvil Asset Forfeiture of course.

    • Marshall Gill January 3, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      They miss spelled “parasites”.

  2. BCML January 1, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    What a waste of words. How to treat a trivial topic in a banal and irrelevant way. Five yawns.

    • bearman January 2, 2018 at 6:21 am

      Wow, cognitive Dissonance much? You are the poster boy.

      • BCML January 2, 2018 at 6:49 am

        Look up the definition of the term. You are misusing it.

        • Dusty Thompson January 2, 2018 at 7:11 am

          Your problem isn’t high self esteem, its pathological narcissism.

          • BCML January 2, 2018 at 8:50 am

            And yours is pathological stupidity. Is “Dusty” a nickname or a description?

    • Dusty Thompson January 2, 2018 at 7:09 am

      Liberalism is a mental disorder.

      It is long past time to reopen the Mental Institutions and put you leftwits back where you belong.

      • 2+2=4andalwayswill January 2, 2018 at 8:17 am

        I wish I could give that a star or something.

    • 2+2=4andalwayswill January 2, 2018 at 8:17 am

      Yet here you are, commenting.

      • BCML January 2, 2018 at 8:20 am

        Having invested/wasted the time to read it I thought a comment was not out of order. Do you?

        • 2+2=4andalwayswill January 2, 2018 at 10:03 am

          Certainly not. George Soros paid for your labour, he should get his money’s worth.

          • BCML January 2, 2018 at 10:11 am

            You look dumber with every post. IQ at 70 and falling fast.

          • 2+2=4andalwayswill January 2, 2018 at 10:37 am

            🙄 Yes that’s the problem.

  3. sestamibi January 1, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    Roger, what you left out was that HR department are almost completely run by women of radical feminist bent. But apart from that, Dirty Harry had their number over 40 years ago:

    • Roger Kimball January 2, 2018 at 6:50 am

      That is hilarious.

      • sestamibi January 2, 2018 at 10:46 am

        Note also Bradford Dillman’s un-PC practice of smoking a cigar in his office. Imagine that today!

    • Dusty Thompson January 2, 2018 at 7:03 am

      “There are only three kind of people in this World, Di*ks, Arsholes and Pu$$ies”…

  4. becvarisi January 2, 2018 at 5:55 am

    you can add Compliance and Legal Departments to the list of Orwellian Lefty beachheads in Corporate America

    • Dusty Thompson January 2, 2018 at 7:08 am

      That pretty much sums it up perfectly…

      • Mastro63 January 2, 2018 at 8:08 am

        Ha- my brother married the woman who trained him at a job-

        He basically told me the above – “it’s not the action, its the guy”

      • Monsieur Voltaire✓ᴰᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ January 2, 2018 at 1:22 pm

        Yeah. Here’s another dynamic: good-looking guy A compliments good-looking girl B. Girl B is happy. Next day, same guy A compliments girl B. Girl B is still happy. Next day, same dynamic, but homely girl C, feeling catty and left out, decides to complain to HR about A “harassing” B. Since HR complaints of this kind are anonymous, A gets called into HR and gets put on probation, never knowing who may have “taken offense” from his very natural behavior.

        ==> Theory: from prohibition to gun control, from spread-eagle immigration to HR departments, from the overmedication of K-12 boys to nanny-ism at universities, the West has brought this on by putting women in traditional male roles. Couple this with the insane trivialization of the most important and (frankly) divine female role (procreation and running the household), and historians 300 years from now (if capable of rational thought–another male trait that is quickly disappearing) will be able to explain how the Western world died in a whimper, to be replaced by a primitive but high-T Islam.

  5. Libertarianski January 2, 2018 at 6:29 am

    agree 100%

  6. Dusty Thompson January 2, 2018 at 7:00 am

    McCarthy told us all “when the left gains control of the degree and licensing processes America is lost”

    McCarthy wasn’t a verb MCCarthy was Prophet.

  7. Francis W. Porretto January 2, 2018 at 7:23 am

    A good article, though with one tangential chuckle:

    One rule relates to hugging. If you wish to hug a colleague, you have to do a quick hug…

    Because of the font used in the above, at first I read “hugging” and “hug” as bugging and bug. The images that conjured up are better imagined than described.

  8. Gregale January 2, 2018 at 7:40 am

    During my time as a hiring manager in corporate America, it was an open secret among my fellow hiring managers that HR was only about ensuring compliance with government regulations and minimizing lawsuit risks. Period. Once I understood that, everything about the way HR behaved made sense. HR was worse than useless when it came to recruiting or retaining talent. In fact, my colleagues and I used to joke that our HR department was so incompetent at identifying and attracting talent that our HR department operated as our competition’s best recruiting tool! Fortunately, our competitors were hamstrung by their own HR departments.

  9. MarketableCapitalist January 2, 2018 at 7:45 am

    HR departments are turning private corps into government bureaucracies that fear their own shadows – in other words, the libtards are having their way.

  10. megapotamus January 2, 2018 at 8:34 am

    Archimedes, not Euclid.

    • Roger Kimball January 2, 2018 at 9:52 am

      You are quite right. Bonus Homerus dormitat.

  11. URstandingwhere January 2, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Burkas are Pence’s solution to Nasty Women.

  12. RAM500 January 2, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    At most, the HR types are stooges of the ruling class. The CEOs and other top brass, amply brainwashed in the very best schools, are the ruling class. How they must chuckle when Democrats publicly rail against the liberal corporate hands that feed them!

  13. caradoc January 2, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Congratulations on learning that HR departments are staffed by incompetent radical left wing nutbars. The rest of us have only known this for 30 years.

Comments are closed.