tv After Words Vivek Ramaswamy Woke Inc.- Inside Corporate Americas... CSPAN November 11, 2021 9:00am-9:59am EST
entrepreneur vivek ramaswamy argues that corporate america is signing onto local culture only to increase profits. he's interviewed by harvard university economics professor greg mankiw. "after words" is weekly interview program with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about the latest work. .. >> it's a great book, very readable, interesting, very provocative on a very important topic, so i'm delighted to be here to chat with you. >> thank you. >> before we get to the book, i would like you to tell us a little about your biography because i think your biography
shapes things you're writing in this book and it's a very interesting biography and what i didn't know until i first met you a first year or so ago. tell us a little about it. >> i appreciate that. i was born and raised in ohio which is where i live today and immigrants from india, my dad came over from the late '70s and mom in the '80sment we asked my dad why did you come halfway across the world to cincinnati, ohio of all places and he said his sister had come over to fort wayne, indiana and prompted us why she came halfway across the world to fort wayne, indiana we joke that it's the only state with the name indian in it. and the parent didn't come from much money, but they had
education and they gave us. and i went to a private catholic high school, even though i wasn't catholic. and 9/11 shaped my young world view as a young american and i then went to harvard. we didn't overlap there, but i take the class i believe you teach now, economics 10 among others though i was a biology major and i was mostly a nerdy science guy in college and got into the world of biotech investing, in the fall of 2007 just before the 2008 financial crisis which i will say dramatically shaped my views of not only capitalism, but the merger of capitalism and politics one of the core themes in the book. i did that for seven years. three years in i told my bosses i with as going to leave and go to yale law school because i had this itch at the intersection of law and political philosophy that i had never fully scratched. turns out that that got me some career mobility instead. they said you could manage a portfolio for us, go do it from yale and that's what i did. and i spent three years there,
and met my wife, probably the most productive things out of it she was my next-door neighbor in med school. and i realized i was much more interested in getting hands-on evolved in addressing inefficiencies in dramatic that i couldn't, and left my job in investors for real and i built roy vent to 2021. and i was ceo and stepped down in january to give myself the latitude to speak freely in ununhibited way not only in the book, but contentious issues i'm speaking out as a citizen. and suffice to say having built a company with challenge one of the most gratifying things i've done in my career, i step down, i a, needed to speak freely in a way that didn't harm the company, but some of my own civic duty in putting a
spotlight on what i've seen behind closed doors in elite america over the last 15 years. i wasn't born into elite america, but i've lived it for the last decade and a half and some things that i learned, i think, were experiences and insights and perspectives i felt i need today share to be able to shape the conversation where we go as a people from here and i think that's what's at stake at the heart of this discussion the relationship between capitalism and democracy. >> and you did a great job in the book, the last chapter, i should say summarizing the theme, which i take it is that when capitalism and democracy are trying to mix themselves up too much, folks suffer for it and each have a role in our society and get clear, what each of those two pillars are and what they can do. so, you experienced as a ceo, but experienced it even before you're running a major company, even as a-- even as a student.
so, you had a great story earlier on in the book and at goldman sachs. can you tell us about that? >> yeah, look, goldman sachs is one of the archtypes that i come back to. the relationship between the private sector and government. capitalism and democracy. and goldman sachs, for better and worse, in my opinion worse, typifies that relationship. >> and should say to the audience, goldman sachs, officially investment bank not a commercial bank, but one of the financial institutions considered elite. top harvard students like you were, getting a job at goldman sachs, that's like the pinnacle, what you aim for. for better and worse. >> there are things i would have liked to have better at. one of the things i've been good at, getting myself into protected corridors of elite america, i've done that the last 15 years and there are better skills one could have, but that turns out a skill on accident or on purpose i
happened to have repeatedly practice. and i did that summer 2006 included when i was a student at harvard and took an internship at goldman sachs. there was something i learned that summer, it wasn't what i expected to learn. i thought i'd learn about valuing companies and disappointing i didn't learn about that, but i did learn to aggregate power, that didn't aspear to smack to aggregate power. and they had an event, service day and go to harlem and plant trees. when i showed up at harlem no one was interested in planting trees. and everyone showed up except for the boss, but no one was planting trees, they were catching up on investment war stories, and didn't plant trees. the boss shows up managing director, the guy at the top of
the food chain. and they wear slim fit suits and don't wear rolexes, and wear these rubber band watches in a show of humility. and they said let's get out of here. went to bar and started drinking and i asked one of the older associates, nearby if we wanted to call it a social day, call it that rather than service day. >> and his response stuck with me he said have you ever heard of the golden rule? i said of course i had. i've been to catholic high school, if you treat others like you wanted to be treated. he said no shall the golden rule is this, he who has the gold makes the rules. and that stuck with me. i called it the goldman rule and turns out i did learn something valuable that summer after all and it was the goldman rule when goldman
declares from the mountain tops of davos they would not take a company to the-- and they said diverse, racial and gender diversity. with that abuse of market power to be able to exercise power in the marketplace of ideas, to decide questions that i felt needed to be decided in our democracy at large, that was actually the greatest form of corporate overreach of all. and that's actually a big part of why i wrote the book. >> another story you tell from the beginning of the book, sort of similar, and famous statue put in front of the wall street bull and tell us about that. >> it was supposed to be icon of feminism so she, capital s-h-e makes a difference and supposed to stare down the iconic wall street bull the male power, that was commissioned by state street global advisors as you probably well know an asset management
firm and that's out s-h-e-stands not just for she, but the ticker echange traded fun. a well-collected stocks, and values, and charge a fee. it was better than that. they built the statue around the time they were facing a lawsuit from female employees at the firm who alleged that they didn't get paid enough, as much as their male counterparts. when accused not paying them enough and not as much as male counterparts, the firm did exactly what you'd expect them to do, they built a statue for the women and even better, you can't make this stuff up, that the creator of the statue, kristin, create add few more copies of the statue because she was a feminist and proud of what she'd created and state street sued her for creating unauthorized reproductions of the statue that they had commissioned. so it comes full circle. like the magic trick in the
book, you pretend you care about something other than profit and power to get more of each. the money would disagree and that's why they sued kristin. a joke i tell in the book shortly after we met you introduced me to a professor at harvard law school who had taken an interest in some of the issues and subsequently invited me to his class to actually give an early draft of the book or a chapter of the book as a work short stop we worked out with the corporate law class. and that happened to be the chapter that contained the go fearless girl story and there was a girl in the class, raised her hand at the end you know what? i hear the story you've told, but feel this girl still inspired me, and nobody can take that away, even state street can't take that away and that actually is something that took me deeper in my exploration in the early draft and god knows that early draft looks nothing like the final book because i was able to go deeper in the subsequent four
or five months and i i think there's something to be said exploring the way in which maybe wokeness can stand on its feet, to intermingle with capitalism. and it isn't just the woke ideology, but its merger with capitalism, which actually taints both the progressive values that corporations are asked to be stewards of as well as tainting corporate purpose in and of its own right as well. that's what the heart of the book is about more so than criticizing one end of the political specter than the other. >> and in the case of the statue, the artist may have had different motivations than state street. >> exactly, exactly. >> and motivated by the artist. >> and it embodies this uncomfortable marriage between the progressive left and big business in this country. it's an arranged marriage. it's not a marriage of love though. i think more like mutual prostitution where each side gets something out of the trade, out of the transition. and they got money out of it,
state street got coverage from the lawsuit from female employees. the same thing is happening rit large, i think in the post 2008 era since occupy wall streetment and essentially if you're a big bank, occupy wall street is a tough pill to swallow. you can hire an occupy wall street leader to give a lecture at your bank and wouldn't like to talk about that. talk about white fragility, you have no problem. i think what happened a generation of big banks got together with a generation of woke millennials, together they birthed woke capitalism and put wall street up for adoption and that worked so well and everyone else replicated it and got in on the act and i think silicon content that the woke movement doesn't want to see on-line, but don't do it free because their unspoken ask the new democratic party, the new left looks the other way when it comes to leaving their
montana -- their monopoly power. whether it's working or not it's masterfully for both sides. one of the goals of the book is to shine some sunlight on that reality toe consumers can make their judgment whether it's a good thing or a bad thing anl come to their own conclusions, but step one is seeing the phenomenon itself with clear eyes and that's part of what i try to do in the book. >> the examples of state street and goldman that we have been talking about, in the sense that the companies were deeply cynical. they were using a progressive agenda to further their own goals, which weren't political at all. they were perhaps starting more profitment, but what about stake holder capitalism more generally? can somebody-- can a ceo or a board uncynically embrace stake holder capitalism? does it make sense for a ceo to say, look, my shareholders have
other goals other than maximizing profits so i'm going to, as ceo to those goals whatever comes, climate change, increasing diversity or whatever? >> so, i would think it's an opportunity to probably say something that you already well appreciate, but worth unpacking in the discussion anyway, talking about a few different kinds of woke capitalism or stakeholder capitalism. it's at least three different things. first the problem of the executive who ultimately, you think it's a problem. the phenomena of the executive who sides he only lives once and he's going to use his conception much the social good even if that means using some shareholders resources as part of the platform to do it. there, on at that telling of it, the shareholders are the victims and allegedly for people who don't like this behavior. he may be-- misusing resources and like the ceo makes a multi-million dollar donation to his high school or to his temple where he worships.
i think most people would agree that that was something that would be a breach of fiduciary duty, a breach of shareholders resources now i think part of what you can debate, if the same ceo writes a check to a different temple call it black lives matter, why should that be treated differently? that's something to come back to, that's the executive as culprit. i think the second is actually different. the shareholder isn't the victim, it might be the perpetrator and a shareholder would say you ad executive, you ceo, you would, for us and we demand that you actually advance these particular social values or else you're actually breaching your duty to us, the boss, the shareholders. and that's essentially what black rock tried to pull off in the capacity as a shareholder, they have a standards board sasb that if the company doesn't meet the standards, they will disinvest or divest on that and double click on that and you have the problem of the executive as black rock two, it's not black rock as an
investor, there's about a million or more people who are investors who have their money with black rock, it's their ceo and managerial class that's the woke executive all over again, but put that asterisk to one side you have a number of investors who are certainly saying that you as the executive have to advance the values that we as the investors want to see pushed. both of those are different from the third phenomenon what i call woke consumerism. which is the consumers themselves generally progressive consumers, demand that the ceo's of the companies that they buy their products from actually embody the values that match their own values as consumers and there, i think you could argue that's capitalism working. and what i offer is more cultural commentary to say that's a symptom of a deeper cultural malaise where we in our culture as consumers, more importantle as citizens are hungry for a purpose and we've rye sorted to superficial means and mixing to satisfy a moral hunger that actually demands is
your-- and that's the capitalism, investors or the consumers. there's a different axis, too, you touched on those as well. those to pursue it inauthentically. and their financial services more broadly fall into that category. i think that's the majority of cases and a big part of what i layout in the book and i think there's a decided minority of cases and corporations and executives and boards and investors sometimes who are pursuing it authentically, who actually believe in the values that they're ultimately using their corporate platforms to push and i changed my mind through the course of writing the book and i began taking aim at the cynical, scammy woke capitalism. by the the end of the book, the bigger threat to democracy was the authentic kind where you actually have somebody who is purposefully using their corporate platform as a way of side stepping public debate and using force, economic force, but force nonetheless, to settle questions that ought to
be settled through free speech and open debate in a political democracy in the public square where everyone's voice and vote is weighted equally adjusted by the number of dollars they control in the market and to me that was actually the biggest threat of all and one of the biggest in writing the book, in one of the revolutions in my own perspective. >> and another way in which the corporations through the employees. not only to the consumers demanding it, but the employees of the firm, and you have an interesting story when you were ceo, what happened in the aftermath of the black lives matter movement. can you tell us about that? >> sure, i mean, look, i think what i've learned with my experience as ceo was actually, nearly identical to those ceo's in similar positions in. back of george floyd's tragic death and it was at this point say a murder, and there was
reckoning about the use of police force and a demand that companies somehow play a role in rectifying a problem. and for the reasons that i laid out in the book, i certainly take issue with the blanket claim of systemic racism as term without defining what that means. that's on the content of the demand being made and i had a more principled issue with it, i do not think that corporations should be using their market power to substitute for the free speech and open debate that ought to be taking place, as i said earlier, in the public square in our democracy. a lot of employees didn't feel that the same way and appreciate their perspective. look we came to work at a place that did more than just pursue profit, we were in the business of developing medicine. medicines for patients who needed them. there was, and many people worked for us, including myself, arguably very few callings higher than that, but in the eyes of employees, it
meant there was a new expectation that the business played a role, that business in our country broadly, play a role in rectifying other kinds of social injustice as well. so that was something that actually led to a deep level of reflection and introspection for me, not only wondering whether i would make the right counter arguments in return, but was i wrong? especially not only with my own employees, but some of my investors and board members felt the same way or raised similar questions and it made me question whether i was misguided in being a slave of some intellectual slave of some philosophy that i had learned in places like economics classes at harvard and whether i was actually in the wrong and in failing to think about the unique challenges of modernity where actually government was failing and maybe corporations did need to step up and address social address that he wanted addressing. i came out on the other side with a stronger conviction in my own position of why it was important for the sake of democracy and capitalism to separate each from the other.
but i think it was on the other side of a journey that i'm grateful for, including grateful for my own employees for to be able to take me through a different journal i before constructing and building it up i think with more greater and solid foundation on the other side having gone through that journey. >> you eventually stepped down. >> yes. >> and in parts to write the book. and with these continuing pressures coming from your board, from your employees, maybe customers, who knows, how do you think you would have responded? >> well, it's funny, i went through that journey of introspecstion and unlike ceo's who have a different world view and comfortable using their corporate seat of power to foist their social views on others, i never do it, at least i think i never did it during ceo. i had begun speaking out
regularly writing in the wall street journal and appearing on cable television and media and expressioning my view on woke capitalism, the spread of critical theory in academia, the spread of ideas spawned by critical theory in the corporate sector and other spirit of american lives and these were condensed topics and i had to take a step back and in some ways practice what i preached, walk the walk. in recognizing that as a ceo, while i did my best to avoid using the corporate platform as a way of foisting my views onto others, the nature of the topics i was talking about that that was impossible to do perfectly in practice. so in order to actually protect the company from my own perspective and also to protect my own ability to speak freely without having to think in the back of my head about what the stewardship role is that i was plague for the company or speakings an a citizen i thought the best thing to do was to separate my real as a ceo from being a citizen. i was a ceo several years and
to be perfectly candid i wouldn't have been able to write what i wrote in the book if i had to run it through the lens, extrapolated to be the business's voice op these issues, too. i stepped down as ceo and appointed-- well, we a board of which i'm a member, elevated to the role of ceo and allowed me to speak more freely not as a ceo, but as an ordinary citizen and i hope that everyone would find a bit of what i had to say worthwhile. >> and i wonder if you'd continued on whether you would have felt forced to do? to get back to the cynical kind of-- the cynical kind of woke capitalism, if you were fear of fiduciary, the shareholder value in the era where the strange alliance between the progressive left and corporations, maybe the way to maximize shareholder value is to saying that sort of woke capitalism and maybe with
goldman sachs and state street were doing were a their shareholders? >> it's possible. it's possible and i openly explore that possibility in the book, that's why i talked about the third phenomenon of woke consumerism. i think that's a sign of deeper cultural malaise in the country and a moral vac sum that we need to fill with wokism or values and consumerism. it may be right if you're to pick that as given. there's an alternative school of thought and actually that this is a temporary market efficiency and another direction, half the country that's quietly frustrated with nike signaling virtue and alignment with black lives matter when there isn't a good alternative. that could be an alternative to create a right wing alternative version for the left wing version that's ultimately pushed through the consumer perspective today. that's kind of what you see, as best i can tell, starbucks for
republicans. i have an issue with that, though. my main issue, i talk about this in the book, if this were shark tank and i was betting on it and there was an entrepreneur. i think there's an opportunity to use a different set of values, maybe not progressive values, but conventionally conservative values and co-mingle with profit in a way that appeals to a different kind of hunger for a cause. i don't think that's good for us as a people or as a country though because the private sector, our economy, our sports stadiums used to be places that brought people together irrespective of whether they were black or white and irrespective of democrat or republican, but once we lose that, in a divided like ours, where it's divided, we lose the possibility of solidarity itself when our economy and our companies and our sports become politicized as they have. and i worry that if we lose those apolitical sanctuaries that used to bring us across
our divisions we may be closer to a trajectory to civil war than one we are solidarity in our right. once we have two economies, a republican baseball and a democratic baseball or a republican coffee or a democratic coffee that may be the ends of the american experiment as we know it or the experiment that you and i grew up ideaizing and the american dream that we could pursue in the economy, against democratic solidarity that bound us together as citizens. i think if that fractious policy now invades the sphere of the economy that brings people together, as i talk in the early part of the book the spread of capitalism helped to break down the caste system, a structure in india. it can bring people together across categories. once we lose that and make capitalism a source of further division i worry that's the beginning of the end and maybe that's where we're naturally heading absent some kind of
cultural intervention and i hope that the book serves as a cultural intervention, and offer a different vision of how it can go forward. you mentioned the idea of systemic racism. and i want to explore that a little bit. you mention that in the book and don't go into a lot of depth about it and it's clearly the case the legacy of slavery, as african-americans today on average experience worse economic outcomes and more difficulty in life than other racial or ethic groups. to what extent is that a problem in your eyes and to what extent do corporations have responsibility for thinking about that and to what extent-- if not the corporations, what other institutions do you think should be stepping up and what should they be doing? >> yeah, so i have a few issues with the modern dogma of systemic racism. one of them is actually a claim
of descriptive clarity. it's unclear to me what the term means. racism definitely means, racism means something to me it's taking action on the basis of some type of pernicious prejudice. that's racism, i understand what that is, i think it's wrong, i think it exists and we should combat it. i think it exists in a much smaller scale today than prior arizona-- eras of history and i think racism represented a pressing problem decades ago. i don't think it does the same as it did 50 or 60 years ago. anyone who claims it does, a big part of what many of the progressive left say it does, and some say we're at the jim crow area a, 1960's on '70s or the 1860's or 1850's with slavery is a preposterous claim. systemic racism is a sloppy way
of defining what the problem is. i know what racism is, i don't think that the narrative of he can racism can be fleshed out to be a phenomenon and a different problem, too. the same force that gives us the verbage of systemic racism also gives us a set of solutions that demand fighting racism with more racism. and i personally am of the john roberts school of thought the best way to end discrimination is on the basis of race, is to end discrimination on the basis of race. take it from me, from a book how to be an anti-racist, the way to presents discrimination-- i disagree, and that's a big part of my view dogma of racism is co-mangled that demands racial solutions i think are
likely to be counterproductive in every direction, including in the direction of actually serving poorly the black community, and some brown communities, that i think are actually to have been helped by the dogma. the thing i reject is the idea that we should actually bring a prism of race to evaluating struggles that could equally or powerfully be evaluated through the lens of class instead. according to the theory of intersectionality, underpinnings of dogma, a way which a black woman like oprah might be empowered from someone who might live down in ohio, rust belt version of white america, that involves a lot of poor people who may be having struggles, but may not be black and may not be a woman. i reject the idea that oprah winfrey in her struggle as a black woman ought to have any
more of our concern than a white man in the rust belt. and what they can agree on people lack access to educational system, lack access to capital, lack access to participate in an equal participant, in the economy. that's a more universalist message for the left to embrace, an agenda that lifts everyone up from disempowerment that everyone shares in in the same way and i think that part of the issue with the new woke movement is actually obfuscates the issue that could empower everyone, but instead obsessing over genetically inherited, race, gender, sexual orientation which i think the woke movement is focused on today. i think the narrative of systemic racism is sloppy, a lazy term and we ought to define exactly what we mean for inequities that we need to address, but they may be
inequities that may affect people along an axis, nothing to do with race. >> and it sounds like, harvard president, you may rethink affirmative action. >> i would. >> and what would you recommend to the university president? >> yeah, so, so i want to give you my actual nuanced position. i'm against affirmative action. i think that affirmative action is a disservice to the people who it's supposed to help in part, because for the simple reason when you now look at a black pilot in the cockpit of united airlines, a quota system 20% women or pilots, women or people of color in the cockpit, it had to get rid of the competency test they previously used. no way that any human being can be faulted for at least having a moment or an instinct of questioning whether a female pilot or a non-white pilot in the cockpit would have passed
those same tests because united airlines told us they had to get rid of the test to create the quota system. i think that fosters a new unfair brand of judgment that no black pilot or female pilot deserves. i think that's unjust not only to the white pilots excluded though that might be one strain of injustice we care about, but injustice to the person who earned their position distinguished from those who didn't. and he think that creates a new wave of racism on its own. reinforcing the idea of minority racial categories could not excel, but for elite intervention. and this idea that is popularity that math is racist, that 2 plus 2 equals 4, that's racist because of the inequitable outcome in achievement. i think that's a racist idea and one of the things that we risk doing, right when racism
is reached in all time low in the united states, the final burning embers, we're throwing kerosene on it and turning that into a new conflagration of its own and that's part of the issue i have with it. as pertains to harvard since you asked me a precise question, look, i actually think there's something to be said in a liberal arts university, to create the conditions for students to have an opportunity to interact with people of every stripe and banner. some from legacy students who came from, i was in the class, but exposed to kids who came from multi-generational families, billionaire families, and i came from immigrants with no money in ohio were able to interact with and totally able to benefit from a different culture just as with black kids in the inner city and grew up in different challenges. i think i benefitted as a student from all of those
things and harvard gives 2000 seats a year to a class, five times many students just as well qualified to attend there so the ability to use some idea of composing a truly diverse class on the basis of diversity of experiences, is something that i really -- that i'm quite sympathetic to. but what i would say the best way to screen for diversity of experience is actually to screen candidates for the diversity of their experiences. the best way to screen for diversity of thoughts, to screen candidates for the diversity of thoughts. the idea of using race or genders as approximately for one's thought is doing racism, conflates what people thought with the color of their skin. i have a slightly softer corner for liberal arts composing a diverse class, but strictly off we'd be better 0 of as society if we abandoned the product of
affirmative action and instead began an earnest process of screening for diversity of experience and thoughts and we would end up with classes or work forces that don't look much different than they look, but diverse experience and thoughts in the process. >> to change topics a little bit. you talk about the beneficiaries of woke capitalism are, and one of-- you have a chapter on managerial class. and then can you tell, who do you mean by the managerial class and who they benefit. when i talk about different classes, entrepreneurs that are founders, the investors, the employees who follow, you know, the founders to be able to work for them. those may be the three legs of the stool. and there's a fourth leg of the stool. hired management people paid by the shareholders, by the board to run the company that then create bureaucratic layers that
intermediates, the relationship between other holders. the problem being a member of the managerial class is this, the more people you're accountable to, the less accountable you are to any given one of them and once you are accountable to everyone, you're accountable to no one. that's actually part of the story i tell in the book is the managerial class empowers itself by increasing the number of not only shareholders, though that, too. but stake holders to come they're accountable and one of the things that allows them to an i accrete power, for those, anytime someone is upset, they can claim they're serving somebody else's interest when they could communicate in the process. one of the agency failures that you discuss in economics class or law schools, and agent problems hiring somebody to be a steward for the person who is the ultimate owner, but i think that this is, that principal agent problem rit large on steroids when you ultimately say that actually, not only are
these ceo's responsibility for thousands of different shareholders, but also, people who aren't shareholders at all who might be so-called stake holders of the business and one of the things that progresses in this like systemic racism, stake holders or stake holderisms that's poorly defined. one could actually be a stake holder and one. things i law out in the book, this is the first book that lays out the geopolitical implications, once corporations become vectors and advance progressive values, they become vehicles to advance any values and nobody had managed to make themselves a quiet stake holders on the list more effectively than the communist party of china and it's now flexing its muscle as that stake holder, and to do some dangerous things, i think not only for the danger of the united states, but future of the free world as we know it. >> and that's my next question, about china, how does china take advantage of this? >> look, i think they take
advantage of it by turning on-- by turning on the head of philosophy that we spawned of so-called democratic capitolism in the 1990's and '80s in the united states where we began on my gun on the misguided premise that we could use capitalism as a vector to spread our own political values like democracy. we thought we could use our money to get them to be more like us. and instead, china has turned that on its head. they have now used their economic muscle, their money, to get us to be more like them. and we set big macs and happy meals thinking that would spread democracy instead loaded up nikes and movies as trojan horses and sets up the global stage. i'll tell you what i mean. when you meet the demands of stake holder capitalism, the woke breed of stake holder capital im. companies criticize injustice,
microaggressions, micro, it's own term, here like misogyny, bigotry, whatever the social cause is, they don't have a peep in china and worst ill praise the communist chinese party and they said it could not shoot a film in the state of georgia if georgia had the equivalent of an anti-abortion statute something like a heartbeat bill. yet, they did not say a peep as they shot "mulan" in the province in china last year over one million uighurs in concentration camps, subject to forced sterilization and, it's one since the third reich in germany. and disney doesn't say a thing. in the credits of "mulan" they quietly thank the local authorities, and including some of the authorities that are responsible for committing those human rights atrocities.
so that's two-faced behavior isn't just about hypocrisy. it is about eroding the moral standing of the united states by creating a false moral equivalent what i think of chinese anilism, and it's our moral standing on the global stage. once we've lost that, i think we've lost our status as a great power in the, what i think is a defining cold war of the next century. >> and some of these arguments, what do we do? do what? we need to elect new leaders? do we need to change our cultural mindset? what-- who has to change their behavior? >> welcome, i think the biggest solutions are culture and that's where i'm most focused. i layout a series of legal solutions, policy solutions that could make a difference. i think some of the problem
traces back to the unevenhanded application of policy itself. in the work force, a lot of people are afraid of expressing their beliefs, not only at work, but on their own time, the number of people fired for what they said at home or social media or wearing a trump hat last year, and those examples in the book. i think that's a product of application of policy that's not applied evenhandedly. either we get red of protected classes like race and gender and national origin and religion altogether or the real discrimination that we see in the workplace today which i think is on the basis of political perspective and political speech. i think as political speech or political beliefs, up to next to race and gendz gender, you can't be fired for being black,
white, christian, gay, whatever. awe can't be fired for an outspoken conservative or liberal for that matter. and where you're familiar with a statute that among other things, in the private companies, internet companies in particular from tort in states for removing content that is otherwise constitutionally protected it's one of the rare statutes that says otherwise constitutionally protected in the text of the statute itself. you can't have it both ways, either you don't get special special tort law or you do. and you're bound by the federal government itself including the first amendment. constitution of the united states that's one of the arguments i make when companies like twitter, facebook and google as we now know is working with the government hand in glove to censor and
that's what they're doing through the back door. if it's state action in disguise, constitution still applies. a lot of the policies and solutions come to the principle you can't have it both ways, we have to apply policies if we apply them at all in an evenhanded way in the back drop we may not need them at all. protected class and civil rights statute. everyone else think they're necessary, but if they are, we need to modernize in the ways to protect the inun-- unintended consequences. that's are therapy. what we need in this country is a cultural cure, the shared identity that demarcates us, and i think that patriotism is on the decline, faith nearly disappeared and the things that used to fill the moral void at that wokeness fills have disappeared. we don't need to look at
wokeness in return, but dilute to a shared identity what it means to be an american in to 21 that makes these irrelevant. and that's why i started writing the book and i hope it has an impact bringing it forward to a new decade. we will not celebrating what's-- >> you're trying to educate the culture and that's harder-- changing cultures much more a grass roots sort of phenomenon. looking at policies, with a switch. and there may be some, but i agree, it's hard. >> it's hard to. >> there's always inuntended consequences of policies and by definition, basically unintended consequences of the policies proposed from in the books, ones i didn't consider and that's the definition of unintended.
that's surface level. what we need is revival of shared american identity. and one think have lost and i haven't talked about it in the interviews, one of the most important to talk about, we've loss of the sense of the pursuit of excellence as an end itself and personally, i think when americans rallied behind the cry to make america great again, i don't think they were rallying behind donald trump. i think they were rallying behind the unapologetic of pursuit of excellence in and of itself and i think that's part of what american exceptionalism is all about and we live in a moment where there's a new anti-excellence culture that lionizes victimhood and i think one of the ideals unifying is the shared pursuit of excellence itself. and yes, i see a lot of that in the progressive left and minority communities and poor white communities, too, that second generation of
asian-american kids, and generation like me who have a nonchalant to the math and science with mediocrity and i'm worried about the culture of mediocrity affecting our spheres of public life. i'd like to see the unbridled pursuit of excellence as a shared ideal to lift up people along with it. that's not something that i touch on in great depth in the book, though it's an undercurrent in the book f i write a sequel that's probably what it's about. but that's part of the cultural revival i'm talking about here. >> you mention add sequel. one of my questions i was going to ask you, what's next? you've had an amazing career, what working on wall street, create a pharma company, written a best selling book and you're still a very young man. so i'm really very curious what does the future hold for vivek? >> i actually made a commitment to myself and i started
thinking about that and my mind was spinning in a number of directions this spring and the commitment i made to myself really more than anyone else, was really to roll this book out and to be able to speak in an uninhibited way about what i felt the problem was and at least the beginning of what i thought the solution to that problem could be. and one of the things that quickly started learning as i started thinking about what the future possible paths could entail was that you, sometimes become a prisoner of your own plans and the things you have to say have to become means to an end of achieving what you want to achieve next and for me liberating not to have a defined end for the time being. that's new for me. i've done the rat race, af he been through, now, from high school through the time i started my company was sort of one big sequence of, like it's like, you know, like the olympics, you kind of watch the people jumping over the track and field competition where they're jumping one hoop after another, and that's a lot of what my life, adult life has been like certainly for the
better and i enjoyed a lot of it and it's been successful and i've been blessed with what's that given me, about you, at the end of the day i want today take a year, at least, where i was actually not a prisoner in any way of what came next, but figuring out what i want today say and say it in an uninhibited way and what i believe i've done in the book hoping people benefitted from it and figure out what plan comes after that. >> you've also become on the scene as a public intellectual after having done all of these other great accomplishments in your life. can you see yourself getting involved in the political process? >> i could. you know, something i've considered and people have really thrown that on my lap in a couple of different capacities. it wasn't something that appealed to me this year in the context of writing this book, again, i don't want to run what i'm saying past, now, some sort of pollster or numbers or sort of understand how, you know, a focus group reacts to it. it's hard to figure out what
you have to say in your own right and i've spent a good part of the last year and a half figuring that out for myself and i want today finish that process and see it through before, you know, inevitably trapped into machinations after political career. that being said i think there's a real inpact people can have going into politics. and i've seen that with friends and it's not a flaw, it's not something you should do for any other reason other than for service. if i went into politics, it wouldn't be for a long time. a pre defined stint i'd get out after i'd served and done my part, but i've become convinced as you said earlier, a big part of the change we need to see is in our culture, and some ways law making can't fix that. do i think that rare political leaders can be change of drive and culture? sure, i think that ronald
reagan did it in 1980, but i think there's ways to drive cultural change that could be within politics. a lot has come outside of politics and i'm keeping my mind totally open where i could have the most impact and hopefully fun, personally, selfishly along the way, too. >> do you see any political leaders moving in the right direction in your judgment? >> not that immediately come to mind. i'm going to be really honest with you. >> and joe biden is very explicitly endorsed stake holder capitalism, and the idea that capitalism was-- and obviously, political leader right now and he seems, he's very explicitly wanting to move in the opposite direction. >> he's--
i was righting for him. and he said he wanted to unify the company and i took him at his word. i was rooting for him to succeed that's probably what our country may need now more than anything else. i've been disappointed i'm not sure how committed he is or ever was to that idea. for example, look at the struggle with driving vaccinations in this countries. i think the single thing he could have done when taking office was to give credit to the trump administration, forget about what you think it was deserved or not. forget about whether you like the guy or not. if your goal was to bring the country together, for example, to end the pandemic where you were dedicating a lot of lip service to vaccinations the greatest way to build trust around that and solidarity around there would have been to give credit to your predecessor, or give credit to someone other than yourself, that's what the great leaders do and i'm worried that actually, even the president who made his platform, part of his platform to unify the company has already fallen short of the occasion to do just the opposite of that.
and across the political spectrum of meeting that ideal, not. and somebody we may not have heard of or not be in the front pages of the newspaper i'm sure that that person or people exist, i hope they step up and do what our country needs. >> the political system surely can surprise us all the time. and political candidates often come out of nowhere and capture of popular imagination. we only have a few minutes left and i want to move away from your book for the last few minutes and ask what other books you recommend. i like your book and important issues and you present them in a readable way, i don't think that anybody would have trouble getting through it and -- but. >> i read yours, too, by the
way. >> and i see you're well-educated. and if you look alt your own intellectual development. there's a book that i'm glad i read that and intellectual to me and for example, when i was a freshman in economy i read one on liberty. very intellectual. >> yeah. >> host: is there anything that you would particularly recommend to readers? >> well, i've read a lot-- some things that influenced my book, von nieces who writes about the psychological need created by capitalism itself or-- one of the books that i want to recommend, outside of the sphere of economics was the brothers, a story from that that i quote in the book, that sort of tell for the purposes of today, but i just think it's one of the books, like a lot that they write that company turs the human experience the way that literature can.
he talks about stories from christ that isn't in the bible, where christ comes back in the middle of the spanish inquisition in seville, spain. and the grand inquistor spots christ on the street and puts him in jail and the dialog what he says in christ to the prison cell. he said we the church don't need you anymore, in fact your being here is an impediment to the mission of the clutch and sentences christ to death. in the book what i talk about is how that parallels what i call the church of diversity where in the name of diversity we've actually sentence today death true diversity of thought all the way keeping up the appearance of diversity and that's how i use that m my book. and so many layers what i take from woke, inc. from that lesson, i took away from what he writes.
and a couple more recently published books, not bad either are cynical theories, which i discuss in the book, actually talked a little about, a lot of philosophy on interesting authorities, james lindsey and helen-- i gather from social media commentary kind enough to read my book as well and i quote them in the book and there's a book that came out recently doesn't focus on corporate, but focuses more on academia, a book recently, the parasitic mind and fits that description as well in academia and nobody had done in corporate america and i built on a lot of ideas of the thinkers who really developed in spheres of public life that went beyond corporate america and applied them to the analysis of corporate america and went a different direction altogether. a sample of a few things that stuck with me off the top of my head. >> thank you, for the great
recommendations on the list. and thank you, and congratulations on your book. >> thank you. i appreciate that. >> after words is available as a podcast, to listen visit c-span.org/podcasts. or search c-span after words on your podcast app. and watch this and all previous after words interviews at book tv.org. just click the after words button near the top of the page. with the senate out of session, join us all this week for book tv. today a look at some of our recent after words programs. we start with a conversation with congressman adam schiff about his new release titled "midnight in washington", and then author vivek ramaswamy talks about his book "woke, inc." and later lizzie johnson, "paradise", it start later c-span2, or follow on c-span
now our new video app. weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america's stories and on sunday, book tv brings you the nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from these television companies and more, including wow. >> the world has changed. today, the fast, reliable internet connection is something that no one can live without. wow is there for our customers, with speed, reliability and choice, now more than ever, it starts with great internet. >> wow. . >> wow along with these television companies supports c-span as a public service. >> next, on book tv's author interview program after words, journalist lizzie johnson looks at the root causes of california's 2018 campfire, the deadliest u.s. wildfire in a