Teen Vogue has decided to complain about capitalism – by complaining about how responsive capitalism is to peoples’ wishes. This could be thought of as missing the point. The complaint is about “wokewashing,” the other name for which is companies changing their behavior to match what consumers want.
To be woke is, as we all know, to be up to date with moral and fashionable concerns. To be in favor of sustainability, ethnic and gender equality, to be anti-modern slavery and exploitation. Nothing at all wrong with those basic ideas. The interesting question is how to bend the corporations to those consumer desires to meet those standards.
Teen Vogue misses the important point that it is absolutely capitalism that produces this desired outcome. In order to make a profit, it is necessary to induce people to buy the product, voluntarily. So, when consumers decide that sustainability – say – is important to them then corporations will start to offer sustainability as an option or even a core part of that offering. Because the corporations desire the sale, the money, therefore they will do as the consumer desires.
More, capitalism is the only socioeconomic system that has ever offered this. Precisely because of the choice available it is possible for consumers to match their purchases to their moral – and other – concerns. Any system of planning delivers what the planners desire.
Teen Vogue is complaining about the very system that produces its desired result. This matters for Teen Vogue has 11.6 million digital users and 13.6 million social media followers. It’s aimed at teenagers and, in the publishers’ own words “is the destination for the next generation of influencers”.
That next generation of influencers deserves to be told the truth. Capitalism and free markets are exactly how corporations are bent to the will of us, the consumers. Because if they don’t change their ways then they lose profit as we buy elsewhere. This is why the system works. The more we consumers change our desires then the more the corporations change to deliver it – isn’t this what is desired?