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Woke Isolationism: McDonald’s Closes All Stores In Russia – OpEd

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By Ryan McMaken*

McDonald’s Corporation has announced it will permanently leave Russia, closing 850 outlets. The company’s chief executive Chris Kempczinski explained the move was motivated by “the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine” and that the current situation does not offer “the same hope and promise that led us to enter the Russian market 32 years ago.” The McDonald’s press release also stated a continued presence in Russia is not “consistent with McDonald’s values.”

This is quite remarkable from a corporation that apparently has few qualms about keeping stores open in places like Saudi Arabia where war crimes and human rights violations are standard operating procedure. Indeed, McDonalds has a long history of operating stores in countries with regimes that are hardly kind and gentle.

So why is Mcdonald’s closing stores in Russia now? It’s difficult to guess exactly what the corporate leadership at companies like McDonald’s is thinking, but the ideological shift toward withdrawing from politically unpopular foreign markets signals a real change from earlier ideas about global corporate investment.

Once upon a time, the presence of American companies in foreign nations was seen as a sign of American superiority over the local regime and an instrument of American “soft power.” For many communist regimes, for example, American companies and brands were regarded officially as a form of Western “bourgeois” imperialism and were actively excluded from local markets.

Today, however, the drive to exclude American brands from foreign markets comes from the Americans themselves. American corporations are withdrawing from foreign markets in response to calls for boycotts by American politicians and American social media users. This new ideological paradigm—which we might call “woke isolationism,” re-defines the spread of American capital and American culture as a form of collaboration with foreign regimes. The “woke” response, in this case, is to isolate American capital and American products from foreign markets and to cut international bonds between Americans and the people living elsewhere. This revived Cold War mentality is the latest nail in the coffin of the Second Era of Globalization which had prevailed for 30 years after the end of the Cold War.

Until recently, expanding the global reach of American corporate brands was seen as a “win” over foreign regimes that were anti-American or otherwise anti-Western. That is,........

© Eurasia Review

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