Basecamp Announces Shift To Political Neutrality

Kudos to Basecamp for announcing last week that it would back away from workplace politics and twee, High Church of Leftwing Virtue benefits (such as “a farmer’s market share,”) instead getting back to “the business of making software.”

Scott Shepard

Scott Shepard

Terrific news. Both it and the former-media responses to it are informative and hopeful.

Consider first the coverage of the announcement. Bloomberg, a self-described business-news service for which customers pay big money, was typical. The story’s subhead: “The move quickly drew scorn on Twitter.”

What a revealing little sentence.

Tip to investors: Bloomberg is no longer a business-news source. It’s just another leftwing disinformation site. You don’t have to pay for that. There’s so much of it for free, and Google’s rigged search engine always puts just this dreck right at the top of its results. Drop the little nanny’s service.

Note a particular value that arises from Twitter’s censorship of center/right posts. The more Twitter censors, the easier it is for lazy, biased reporting like Ellen Huet’s, pretending that the general public’s response is a hard left response.

Not that she tried to do anything else. The story does not suggest that she objectively measured the responses on Twitter and is reporting their overall tenor. Rather, it looks like she just cherry-picked responses that confirmed her personal political bias and reported them as though they meant something.

Other reporting was just as biased, and even more revealing. Quartz ran a story that pitted a management representative who defended the move against one leftwing employee who opposed most of it. It didn’t occur to anyone at Quartz to try to get opinions from any center/right employees, who face active discrimination throughout the tech industry. And it didn’t occur to the uberwoke employee that anyone could dare to express any political opinions at work other than her hard-left ones.

But even with those constraints and the author’s lack of moral imagination, the vital need for Basecamp’s shift back to neutral shone through. The woke employee qualifiedly agreed with the conversion of wellness benefits into cash, Karening that “[t]here are … some known tricky aspects to corporate wellness programs in particular, including the ways they can inadvertently stigmatize fat people or those with health problems.”

I’m sure that one of the things that the Basecamp founders, who announced the change, realized was that there is no way to navigate woke successfully. Someone is going to take affront at everything that you do, and once you’ve surrendered to the premise of wokeness, there’s no way to resist the lunatic outrage. The only sensible path is to reject woke entirely. And practically, these days, that means keeping it – and all politics – out of the workplace.

This goes partway to explaining why Basecamp would endure the former news-media’s leftwing handwringing to embrace neutrality. But there are other compelling reasons. One is the law. Many states, including California, forbid some sorts of discrimination by viewpoint or political affiliation. And all states forbid discrimination by race and sex, discrimination that is the central, indispensable tenet of woke. As the stories linked above (the first three that came up in the search results, for the record) indicate, no one for a moment was confused about the effect of Basecamp’s move: to tamp down hard-left political activism at work, including “antiracism” in response to “George Floyd[‘s] murder … by police.” But as everybody knows by now, antiracism is itself intensely racist, led by “scholars” whose training materials led Coca-Cola into the “try to be less white” disaster. Ditto “critical justice” theory and sexism.

Basecamp’s founders no doubt looked a few months into the future and saw the tsunami of discrimination lawsuits that are going to crash into companies that have adopted critical racism and sexism in their workplaces, and so made those workplaces hostile to men, and white people, and anyone who wants to be judged by the content of their characters and the quality of their work. And they decided in response to move off the vulnerable beachhead to the broad, sunlit uplands of genuine nondiscrimination.

Moreover, sensible CEOs, unlike hack leftwing disinformation purveyors posing as reporters, lack the freedom simply to cherry-pick investor and customer feedback to tout the responses they like and ignore the rest. They know full well that the sensible middle of this country, and its ultimate investors (as opposed to investment-house intermediaries who are playing fast-and-loose with the law themselves) want nothing to do with wokeness. And they know that as attention increasingly focuses on the issue, opportunities for catastrophe abound. GoodyearCoke and Cigna are just a few of the companies that have been caught discriminating by employees, to their disgrace and significant public anger. And the corporate objection to Georgia’s voter-integrity law, based on no specifics that any company can cite, has been an embarrassing debacle from which retreat is turning into rout.

There aren’t any actively right-of-center public business corporations that I’m aware of. But Basecamp joins Coinbase in publicly declaring new commitments to political neutrality at their workplaces and for their businesses. Other companies appear to be backing away from woke more quietly. That’s the right move for their businesses, for their employees and (dare I say it) for all stakeholders who aren’t so ideologically committed that they’re eager to see our economy and society torn apart, which can be the only result of wokeness.

Pushback is working. Let’s amp it up.

Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and Deputy Director of its Free Enterprise Project. This was first published at Townhall Finance.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.