David Heinemeier Hansson

February 3, 2023

Proof of the peak

Just a couple of months ago, I wrote an analysis of why I believed we were entering the waning days of DEI's dominance. I looked at four factors: 1) the likely judicial defeat of affirmative action in universities, 2) the disintegration and scandalization of BLM, 3) the loss of Twitter as an effective woke policing mechanism, and 4) finally the coming mass layoffs in tech. Now comes the proof that we've indeed seen the corporate peak.

From Axios yesterday:

Companies that were once very vocal on human rights and societal issues have held statements close to the vest or stayed completely silent following the recent streak of tragedies in America.

This is a major shift in the way leaders communicate during heightened moments of tragedy and crisis. Most have now opted for internal correspondence in place of public pledges — and some are saying nothing at all.

The writer is clearly rendering this reality through a lens of lamentation, but still has to accept similar points of analysis as to why this is happening, like "economic uncertainty":

The tech industry — which was previously out front on many of these issues — is now going through massive cuts and is focused on staying afloat, not wading in. Plus, many tech companies have gutted their DEI departments in response to economic strains.

Another point mentioned is simply "fatigue", which again is spot on, but also not something to decry. There's a very distinct limit on how often most folks want to hear from the maker of the candy bar, the producer of their soap, or the purveyor of their software on societal and political topics. And we've clearly reached that limit! Good!

The Axios article ends with this bizarre postulate: "Corporate silence could crater civil discourse". What? Unless mega corporations weigh in on our politics, it'll crater civil discourse? Haven't progressives in particular just spent the last half century at least hemming and hawing over the influence of big corporations on public discourse and politics?!

The problem with the lack of corporate involvement, just like the lack of Twitter's overt censorship regime, is obviously primarily that it marks an absence of support from a very particular narrative and political orientation. I'm certain this same writer would be quick to call for corporations to shut up, if they replaced the "corporate silence" with support for a counterposition.


Let individual members of said corporations engage in politics to their hearts content as sovereign citizens in a democracy. But spare us the sanctimonious press releases, with their carefully rehearsed thoughts & prayers, on company letterhead, from the outfits that stock our commodities.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.