Answering the asked questions.
Pepsi is in the news again. It is being widely derided for producing one of the dumbest commercials in the history of television. The commercial stars Kendall Jenner (Kim Kardashian’s little sister), along with a cast of hundreds. One of Bob Marley’s grandsons furnishes the music. It consists mostly of a protest demonstration, but an anodyne one: the signs say “peace” or “join the conversation.” The marchers (or dancers) are squeaky-clean, multi-racial and happy. A Muslim girl wearing a hijab and a nose ring features prominently. At the end, Jenner gives a policeman a can of Pepsi and everyone cheers. It is hard to say what that is supposed to mean.
I have a theory.
My theory goes as to why most national media outlets are liberal, and why many companies are liberal.
It goes like this:
In the history of the world, urban centers tend to be more “liberal” than rural centers. Rural centers, on the other hand, tend to be more “conservative”–at least as we understand the terms today.
That is, more specifically, urban centers–by virtue of consisting of a lot of people in a relatively dense area who historically engage in one form or another of trade with other regions–tend to evolve a culture with the following features:
- Multicultural: That is, urban centers, by virtue of having large populations, tend to have large populations consisting of people from various cultures. Because you are more likely to encounter people of different cultures, the idea of different cultures tend to become commonplace. Further, having knowledge of different cultures enables you to engage in the industries common to large urban centers: trade, retail, and other activities which require you to interact with a wide variety of people.
- Reliance on Government: Because you are surrounded by a large number of people in a very compact space whose belief systems are different than yours, people tend to be reliant on government to help keep order. The closer people are, the more negative interactions they will have, and the more they will turn to a neutral arbiter (a police officer, for example) to help resolve conflicts.
- Cosmopolitanism: Because you interact with multiple cultures and trade with or visit other areas of the world, you tend to see all people belonging to a single extended cosmopolitan community.
By contrast, if you live in a lightly populated rural area, the following values tend to be valued–by virtue of the fact that you live in a lightly populated rural area:
- Individualism: Because you are in a rural area, you need to be self-reliant: your nearest neighbor may be half a mile up the road, the nearest first responder may be a half hour drive away. In ancient times, you may not even see your neighbor except when going to church. Certainly if you cannot take care of yourself, you cannot rely on others to help you–they’re just too far away.
- Reliance on religion: Likewise, because you cannot rely on government, rural areas tend to rely on religion to establish a singular culture–a singular set of accepted behaviors which permit people to get along without the aid of any sort of conflict resolution or neutral arbiter.
- Distrust of cosmopolitanism: Because you rarely interact with “the other”, and must rely on yourself to survive, you may increasingly distrust people who are not like you. They become “threats” because they may interfere with the established order–and remember, the established informal controls of religion and culture, not police officers, are the only thing which stand between you and the abyss. The idea that we are all part of a “single world community” is foreign to you, and you are more keenly aware–as you face it daily–that the survival of everyone (urban and rural members alike) rely on hard work to fight back the darkness.
You can see this in everything from ancient history to international politics. You can see shades of this in modern countries: those countries whose people are more “cosmopolitan” tend to be nations with higher population densities. You can see this in places like Egypt where a largely rural country elected a leadership based on the Muslim Brotherhood–who used a more extreme form of Islam as a cornerstone of their philosophy–which then was overthrown by a more cosmopolitan Egyptian military who was supported by a more liberal urban populous.
(One way to look at Egypt is a large rural population attempting to impose its cultural values on the more cosmopolitan urban centers, and the cosmopolitan urban centers fighting back against such counterproductive control.)
With this said, it was inevitable that the media in the United States would become more liberal.
The most liberal areas of the United States are the highly populated urban centers of Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago–the three places which are where most national media outlets are located.
And companies, like Soylent Green, are made of people. People who live near where they work.
With the rise of the Internet eating away at the profit margins of media outlets, it was inevitable that those media outlets would consolidate in urban centers. It was also inevitable that those media outlets would then reflect the culture of the areas where they relocated. And urban centers, as I noted above, are liberal.
One feature of large urban centers, again consistent throughout history, is that they tend to be centers of the ultra-rich. Throughout history, the most successful urban centers tend to be urban centers which are subsidized by the ultra-rich: done nominally out of generosity but cynically out of self-protection (because if you live that close to the poor, it’s best to spread the wealth around a little so they don’t drag you out back and murder your entire family).
But another feature of centers of the ultra-rich is the desire to invest, to work deals, to “network” with others. The ultra-rich have always seen themselves as the mover and shakers, the shapers of the world, the “masters of the universe”–and one way you exert this control is through making deals.
So the increasing liberalism of large corporations pretty much follow the same pattern as the major media’s own liberalism.
That is, most large corporations place headquarters in large urban centers so they can be part of the deal-making conversation driven by the wealthy and the rich. And when your headquarters are located in places where the ultra-rich reside–such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York–you tend to hire people from those urban centers.
And that means your corporate culture will absorb the culture of those urban centers.
Where is PepsiCo headquartered?
Purchase, New York, a wealthy hamlet just on the outskirts of New York, New York.
When you realize this: when you realize that the major media is not “liberal” but simply reflects the culture of Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, when you realize that most (but not all) major corporations are not “liberal” but simply reflect the culture of where they are located (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Philadelphia), and when you realize that the culture of those regions are driven by the reality of urban life mixed with the settlement pattern which defined the various regional ‘nations’ of the United States, then it is easy to see why so many corporations and most of the national media are simply out of touch with most of the country.
It’s because the people who work there don’t live in most of the country.
And because the things experienced by most people who live in the more rural regions of the United States are completely foreign to them.