Diversity, Technology and Dishonesty (Part 3)

Diversity, Technology and Dishonesty (Part 3)

This article is the third in a series that takes a critical look at the incessant calls for greater diversity in technology companies and how they reflect a deep philosophical dilemma. (Also see Part 1 and Part 2.)

The quest for diversity in technology companies often lulls decent people into blind acquiescence because it appeals to their basic ideas of fairness. “Why, of course we shouldn’t mistreat women or minorities because of their genetics!” And that’s true enough. But rabid proponents of diversity use these sorts of basic moral sentiments to import deeper philosophical principles that lead to contradiction after contradiction—and, eventually, if they are consistent, much worse. And I’m not referring to the fact that the people we might refer to as “social-justice warriors” (or SJWs) are inconsistent in practice, although they are. They’ll harp on demographic disparities in technology companies but completely ignore them in educational institutions (since, presumably, they have a stranglehold on the educational establishment, as this sort of abject nonsense demonstrates). I’m referring instead to the inherent contradictions of the philosophy that underpins these efforts.

Are We Different, or Not?

One of the supposed reasons for demanding greater diversity in, for instance, a technology company is that it brings more perspectives and experiences to bear on problems or tasks, leading to better solutions. The presumption is of course that different groups are in fact different. Nevertheless, so the thinking goes, we should expect no variation in demographics at a given company (ignoring, perhaps, the influence of “noise”) because we are all equal. But how is one to honestly cash out the idea of different but equal?

Judging from the response of diversity-mongers, differences do not include various levels of interest in or aptitude for a given vocational field. That is, for example, men and women should and do have the same distribution of interest in and aptitude for technology-related occupations. The same goes for the various skin colors and other physical traits. The divergence from demographic uniformity results from oppression of one group by another, according to the story. But the story fails to account for anomalies such as the racial breakdown of, say, the National Basketball Association (NBA). Why should we exempt athletic ability from the claim of equality? (Probably for the same reason we should exempt elementary-level teaching prowess, apparently.)

Ignoring the anomalies, however, how does a group that is supposedly equal bring anything different (and relevant) to a field like technology? It’s easy to speak in generalities—how, say, women can bring a certain perspective on iGadgets that men lack—but specifics are seldom provided. What about women (or fill in the blank), per se, gives them insight beyond that of men? To put it another way, if we’re all equal, of what value is diversity? But if we’re different, how can one claim we are all equal?

As a final point in this vein, it’s important to distinguish between legal equality and ontological equality. Ironically, diversity-mongers are big on the latter, but not so much on the former, as the various special laws protecting certain groups demonstrate. The confusion of these two categories is convenient for the task of browbeating dissenters, but it’s lousy reasoning.

Are We Interested Only in Money, or Not?

The overarching story of oppression has different facets that an objective thinker might squint at. Supposedly (depending, of course, on whom you ask), large companies are interested in money above all else. Just look at Intel, for instance: a lack of competition in server processors means it can ask just about any price it wants for its products. Yet if there’s one thing that interests greedy executives more than getting filthy rich, it’s denying talented minorities and women job opportunities. Think about that for a moment and decide whether it makes sense. If a company’s chief goal is money, why turn down a top-notch woman for a second-rate man when the former will be of greater value to the company (even at the same pay)? What motivation could possibly drive such unsound business practice?

The only response is that company management is more interested in oppressing people than in making money. But the irony is that such an attribution of motive smacks more of projection than of observation. Diversity-mongers (aka SJWs) tend to have no compunction against destroying people’s careers for even slight deviations from orthodoxy. Consider the case of Tim Hunt, a Nobel Prize–winning scientist who was forced to resign in disgrace over supposedly sexist comments that were likely more intended as a joke than anything malicious. Or Brendan Eich, who was purged from Mozilla for a private donation to a campaign that defied orthodoxy (even though the proposition won a majority vote in California, of all places). Consider also the fact that diversity-mongers find little (if anything) wrong with forcing some people to associate with others regardless of preference, conscience or any other personal consideration. Who, then, is in the business of oppression?

The End is Bloody

Proponents of diversity often speak and act as though a peaceful society is their goal. And to be fair, that may be true in many cases, or to a large extent in most cases. Then again, that was arguably the goal of Karl Marx, whose philosophy led to the bloody twentieth century. When people are truly unequal in the ontological sense, the drive for equality must necessarily become a drive to impose equality.

Said Eugene D. Genovese, who was for decades a communist (and, for a time, an official party member) and no enemy of “social justice,” “[I]n a noble effort to liberate the human race from violence and oppression we broke all records for mass slaughter, piling up tens of millions of corpses in less than three-quarters of a century.” He later added with at least mild sarcasm, “For one might make a case of sorts to justify mass slaughters as the necessary price to be paid for a grand human liberation. Terrible as the sacrifices may have been, were they not justified by the beautiful world of equality, justice, and universal love we were creating for our children?”

Genovese’s discussion in the article “The Question” published in 1994 in the magazine Dissent all too chillingly correlates with the diversity efforts that today seem so innocuous on their face (unless, of course, you become a target for saying something you never even dreamed could be offensive). Toward the conclusion of his piece, he said, “For most left-wing liberals share with radicals much the same ideology of personal liberation. Radicals and conservatives alike have always charged liberals with bad faith in refusing to carry out the logic of their own egalitarian and radical-democratic premises. They have been right about the refusal but not necessarily about the bad faith. There are more charitable explanations, including a healthy gut revulsion by humane liberals against the substitution of logical consistency for common decency and common sense.” In other words, the philosophy of egalitarianism requires imposition of equality through force—an extremely bloody project that most egalitarians cannot stomach. They’d rather be logically inconsistent than mass murderers. And perhaps worst of all, “The deepest trouble with ‘political correctness’ arises from its thinly disguised invitation to an endless repetition of crimes, atrocities, and, worst of all, failures.”

I’m not saying that your average orthodox journalist writing about a lack of diversity at Google or Pinterest is a Stalin in waiting. Rather, the philosophy of egalitarianism has a hideous past, and it is nothing to toy with. Simply rattling off the hackneyed idea that “this time is different” doesn’t cut it. For those who think that radical equality is a moral good, the question is where the philosophical line is to be drawn between peaceful pursuit of a goal and forceful imposition of that goal. The destruction of careers and livelihoods is no small matter—and hiding behind bogus legal distinctions such as “public accommodation” may hold sway in the court system, but it fails to stand up to rational scrutiny. Because let’s face it: when someone’s desire for radical equality leads to using the state to force one person to associate with another, a line has been crossed. (I’m speaking here of efforts to prohibit “discrimination.”) Given that the ultimate power of the state is the power of the sword, we’re then just a hair’s breadth away from starting down a bloody road.


Of course it’s difficult to see how we can go from the cute and cuddly “we just want to give everyone a fair shake” face of egalitarians today to the monstrosity of the French or Bolshevik revolutions. But all it takes is a change of egalitarian generations from one with “common decency and common sense,” in the words of Genovese, to one with only a strict desire to have the courage (and logical consistency) of its convictions. What does it all have to do with technology? This industry is one of the chief intellectual battlegrounds today, likely because of its wealth and influence. And it’s not a battle without consequence: people’s careers have been destroyed not for hurting anyone, but for transgressing an imposed orthodoxy. And, worse, the power of the state has been brought to bear, threatening the power of the sword. No doubt, many diversity-mongers would deny wanting to hurt anyone, and that may be true enough. But rattle off the list of names that have been hurt for little more than their desire to peacefully obey conscience or even (heaven forbid) to crack a joke. The response in many cases will likely be that those people don’t count. Indeed.


1 Comment
  • michaelhallTM
    Posted at 09:25h, 10 September

    Diversity, Technology and Dishonesty (Part 3): This article is the third in a series that takes a critical look… http://t.co/QF0Xp7qjqP