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The Gramscian March Through Wal-Mart

Business as propagator of goodthink

Like most contributors, I have a real job. In this case, I work as a cashier at Wal-Mart when I’m not in class. The company conducts training of its employees through a set of updated intranet courses, and it was during the last couple of rounds that I noticed some disturbing trends.

The first incident involved acceptance of EBT and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) vouchers. The training course instructed the cashier to be non-judgmental and pleasant in the usual Wal-Mart cashier way. Although this is simple business sense (don’t alienate the customer), it was odd that a cashier would need to be told this. EBT transactions are now handled electronically with debit-like cards, but WIC vouchers are still handled in Arizona by paper. This slows down the transaction, and can irritate other customers who have to wait. I thought: maybe the added inconvenience factor was the purpose for the training. Ok…

The next incident involved courses about “micro-courtesy,” or some similar term. This immediately jumped out at me because of the “micro-aggression” movement in academia. Sure enough, the course was introduced by Wal-Mart’s “diversity officer” from corporate headquarters, and revolved around “unconscious signals we give to customers and co-workers that promote hostility or resentment.” In other words, bad feelings. There was a corresponding section about promoting good feelings, too.

Taken by themselves, each incident could be seen as application of new business-speak to old-fashioned customer service. But the need to train employees specifically in these areas implies that there is a problem of some sort. New employees need to have their attitudes “corrected.” The inclusion of leftist academic jargon furthers the journey into Orwellianism, which is topped off by being lectured at by a “diversity officer.”

Wal-Mart has been in the news for conflicting with Big Labor. Unions want to unionize Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart doesn’t want to be unionized. I’m getting the feeling that this “diversity training” is a compromise between corporate HQ and Washington D.C.: the pressure will be removed if Wal-Mart accepts parts of the left-wing agenda, and passes it on to its employees. This is the same sort of indoctrination that goes on in the universities.

Seen in the best light, this is a tactic by Wal-Mart to delay the left while Wal-Mart reaps the added income from the welfare state. It’s not exactly promotion, but it’s not opposition either. Seen in another light, Wal-Mart may be in the process of craven capitulation to the state, content to line their pockets while pushing the leftist agenda.

It already happened to the insurance industry.

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