The real meaning of diversity

The last post may have struck some readers as over the top. But this one will be even more fun. However, there are some prerequisites: Dante, corruption.

One hypothesis of UR is that wholesale disinformation is rife in modern Western society. This hypothesis is not the sort that gets confirmed or refuted with statistics and p-values. It’s a rhetorical perspective, not a data set. It makes no pretense of mathematical ineluctability. It is certainly not “science.” Nonetheless, I like the word “hypothesis” because it expresses a sort of humility before reality, a Socratic sense of starting from scratch.

Starting from scratch, then: diversity. Let’s borrow Lev Navrozov’s trick of italicizing these questionable words. We don’t know, again, if there is anything corrupt about the word diversity. But surely we are permitted to question it.

There’s a fun experiment in diversity that you can try in your own home. All you need is a blender, a spoon, and about $30. Take the $30, go to Safeway, and buy four or five pints of ice cream, preferably ultra-premium (Ben & Jerry’s works well), of all different flavors. Chocolate, strawberry, Cherry Garcia, Funky Monkey, and so on. Using the spoon, scoop some ice cream from each of the pints into the blender, until it’s about half full. When you are done, lick the spoon, and make sure it is not in the blender—this will make a very loud noise, and may void your warranty.

Observe the blender carefully. Are its contents diverse? Then: turn it on. Use a high-speed setting such as “Puree,” “Macerate,” “Exsquatulate,” etc. Run the blender for at least thirty seconds, then stop it and let the contents settle. Observe them again. Are they diverse? Are they more, or less, diverse than they were before?

If you perform this experiment properly, you will observe that before the experiment, the ice cream was variegated. Afterward, it was homogenized. These are distinct culinary states—that much is clear. But which would you characterize as more diverse?

In its modern political meaning, diversity clearly refers to a state of homogenization. Your organization is diverse inasmuch as its percentages of various racial groups match the percentages in the blender as a whole. In a properly diversified society, there are no big blobs of strawberry or Chunky Monkey. The blend is uniform and uniformly distributed.

Now isn’t this interesting? Don’t you think most people in the benighted past, lacking our advanced modern understanding of diversity—which dates, to be exact, to 1978—would have described the ice cream as more “diverse” before you turned the blender on? Hm.

But perhaps this is just a strange word usage. (An inversion, to be precise.) To qualify as actual corruption, diversity has to have a real meaning which has nothing to do with ice cream, and which cannot be admitted openly lest all and sundry react in fear, shock and horror.

Ice cream aside, the modern meaning of diversity is not concealed at all. Diversity means that official and officially-regulated institutions should grant distinctive privileges to persons of certain races. It has not one, but two, formal meanings.

The first formal meaning of diversity, which is the meaning Lewis Powell invented in 1978, and is still the legal meaning in the United States, is that a racially blended environment is intangibly essential to the development of personal character, and thus can and should be encouraged in institutions of every sort.

The second formal meaning of diversity, which is generally illegal in the US but is often assumed to be legal, like driving 75 on the 101 or smoking weed at a Phish concert, is that granting privileges to persons of certain races is essential to a fair and just society, because it compensates for past events in which legal penalties were inflicted on a similar racial basis. Since these past injustices appear to have left a permanent mark on our society, as measured by various statistical imbalances, justice demands an attempt to compensate for them.

I will let these formal meanings stand. They are what they are. You believe them or you don’t. Surely anyone reading this blog has been exhaustively exposed to both, and I’m sure nothing I can say could make either of them any more or less credible.

Rather, I think a more interesting way to explore the hypothesis of corruption is to take it as a given, and to ask: supposing diversity has a real meaning, what might that meaning be?

To this end, allow me to borrow another trick from Lev Navrozov, which is to discuss patterns of official favoritism by using the word aryan for groups relatively favored by the authorities, and jewish for groups relatively disfavored by the authorities.

(I’m aware that this is flirting with Godwin’s Law. Actually, if you knew my real name and you searched the archives of rec.arts.sf-lovers around 1991–1992, you would find all kinds of violent flamewars between Mike Godwin and the teenage Mencius, none of whose content I recall in the slightest. I never much liked Godwin, and I can say the same of Godwin’s Law. National Socialism, after all, was one of the great corrupt philosophical systems of the 20th century. Surely if we are interested in patterns of official corruption it makes no sense to exclude this treasure trove of case studies. The Third Reich is especially useful because it is (a) defunct and thus mostly harmless, and (b) much less closely related to Universalism than the other great tyranny, Marxism, which is at least a sibling and maybe even a branch of Universalism.)

So, with Navrozov’s transformation, and normalizing synonyms to diversity, here is a recent story from the San Francisco Chronicle (August 22, 2007):

The California Supreme Court took up its first diversity case in almost seven years today, agreeing to decide the legality of San Francisco’s program that grants preferences for aryan contractors.

The court granted a hearing on appeals by two companies that say the city ordinance violates Proposition 209, the 1996 initiative that outlawed aryan preferences in public contracting, employment and education.

A Superior Court judge overturned the ordinance in 2004. But a state appeals court ruled in April that the city might be able to justify diversity, despite Prop. 209, if it could show that the program was needed to counteract a history of discrimination.

In that case, the appeals court said, Prop. 209 might be overridden by the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws.

San Francisco has had programs to increase aryans’ share of city contracts since 1984, and has faced continual legal challenges from jewish contractors. The current ordinance, passed in 2003, gives aryan-owned companies a 10 percent advantage in competitive bids.

It also requires contractors to hire a certain percentage of subcontracting firms that are not owned by jews, or to show that they have made a good-faith effort to meet those goals.

In hearings that led to passage of the ordinance, the city’s Human Rights Commission reported that companies owned by aryans were substantially under-represented in city contracts, despite two decades of diversity.

The commission found evidence that city staffers had failed to enforce diversity and had unfairly blamed aryan-owned firms for delays in projects. It also said some jewish contractors had violated or tried to evade the subcontracting requirements.

The ordinance has been suspended since the Superior Court ruling in July 2004. The case is being closely watched by other local governments.

Prop. 209 was upheld by a federal appeals court in 1997. In November 2000, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that that initiative barred state and local outreach programs that recruited aryan companies for government contracts, even if the companies were not given any bidding preferences.

What’s especially nice about the Navrozov transformation is that you can apply it to the entire argument for and against diversity.

For example, a defender of diversity might argue that diversity is necessary because of an easily-demonstrated pattern of economic and political domination by jews. His opponent might respond that these statistical imbalances, while they certainly exist, are not evidence of jewish criminality, and thus fair cause for a system of compensation in which jews must pay back their ill-gotten gains to the aryans they have obviously victimized, but rather evidence of some biological advantage of jews, which naturally makes them more successful than aryans in our modern globalized economy. Endless fun can be had with this game.

But it hasn’t really brought us any closer to establishing the real meaning of diversity. It is just an invidious comparison. We are all familiar with the ways in which one corrupt regime used racial bean-counting as a political tool. However, our society is so different from 1930s Germany that we’d expect the analogy to fall apart on a closer look, which it obligingly does. For example, jews were a minority in Germany, at least if the general population is considered rather than just greasy, hook-nosed bankers, and they are a majority in our society, at least if we consider that society as just America and Europe, rather than the planet as a whole. (Of course, the supporters of diversity would rather consider the planet as a whole, but let’s forget that one for the moment.)

An interesting clue, however, is provided by a passage in a little book called Freedom Forgotten and Remembered (1943), by one Helmut Kuhn. Kuhn himself is quite forgotten, at least so far as La Wik knows, but here is his bio, from the back cover:

Born in Lueben, Silesia, in 1899, Helmut Kuhn joined the German army in 1914 and served as an officer from 1915 to 1919. After returning to civilian life he studied languages, history, and philosophy at Breslau, Innsbruck, and Berlin, receiving his Ph.D. in 1923. In 1930 he was appointed lecturer on philosophy at the University of Berlin, and Secretary of the Kant Society, an international association. In the following years he taught philosophy and published a book on Socrates and other philosophical works. At the same time he participated in the political life of the capital and came in contact with leaders of the Republic.

With Hitler’s advent to power in 1933, Mr. Kuhn joined the militant group which, under Pastor Niemoller, resisted the nazification of Christianity. But opposition to the all-powerful Nazi regime soon became a forlorn hope. The Kant Society was “co-ordinated” gleichgeschaltet , and the universities were forced into political alignment. A research award for the study of British Hegelianism granted to Mr. Kuhn by the German Academy at Munich afforded welcome opportunity to go abroad; and he left Germany for good.

After a brief stay in England he came to this country to complete the “History of Aesthetics,” a work on which he collaborated with Professor K.E. Gilbert of Duke University. Subsequently he was invited to join the Philosophy Department at the University of North Carolina.

I would expect Professor Kuhn to have some fascinating thoughts on National Socialism. Wouldn’t you? Well, he does, and here’s one of them:

Under the Republic an almost unlimited frankness in public utterances was tolerated and a considerable confusion of the mind, unfeigned and unabashed, was bared to everyone’s inspection. Under the Dictatorship only one idea of political and philosophical relevance could be safely expressed. As a result, public utterances became uniform and, in the same proportion, insincere. The land was infested with lies, ranging all the way from the successful self-deception that blurs the distinction between good faith and fraud, through the many shades and degrees of hypocrisy and opportunism to the full-fledged, deliberate, and, so to speak, honest lie. The way in which the new dishonesty expressed itself was equally varied. There was the omission of words which otherwise had been uttered, a mere inflection of the voice, an ambiguous turn of the phrase, a subtle innuendo or the indispensable lifting of the hand for the Hitler salute. And again there was the blatant opportunism of those whom the popular voice called “more-than-a-hundred-percent Nazis,” the change of mind overnight, the betrayal of ancient loyalties. Just as each single concession seemed puny and too insignificant to deserve the name of a lie, the habit of insincerity, like a contagious disease, infected the whole body of national life. You are going to publish a book? See to it that the references to works by Jewish scholars are discarded. You are a banker? You will have to add at least one party member to the managing board. Mr. S. will retire if you do so? Well, considering his former political affiliations, this may be good sense on his part. You are a journalist? Practice Talleyrand’s art of using words which conceal your thought rather than revealing it. And whatever and whosoever you are, stop being an overscrupulous stickler, or else you will court disaster for yourself without doing good to anyone else. And if you cannot help singing out of tune, do so under your breath. A putrid, slimy layer of lies was spreading over all domains and phases of German life. Language was adulterated and depraved. The ring of candor, kindliness and generosity seemed to have gone out of words which the new propaganda had mustered for its purposes.

Now isn’t that interesting? Doesn’t that remind you of a few things? Did you happen to focus in on the same sentence I did?

You will have to add at least one party member to the managing board.

I feel like we are starting to get a little warm, here. Do you feel like we’re getting warm? Does this maybe ring a distant, far-off bell in some ancient, long-disused and deeply sleepy, but not quite perfectly anesthetized or utterly atrophied, lobe of your cerebrum?

The problem with the simple Navrozov transformation is that while the Third Reich was clearly run by Aryans, the United States is clearly not run by aryans. I know what the circle of power and privilege looks like. It bears a remarkable resemblance to the customer base of Burning Man. Suffice it to say that an aryan burner is enough the rara avis to deserve his own column-inch in the Chron.

However, if we think of diversity as not a racial power tool, but a political power tool, it starts to make a good deal more sense.

Certainly not every party member is an aryan. Most of them, in fact, are not. Nor is it absolutely guaranteed that every single aryan will be a party member. But most of them, in fact, are.

Moreover, for the last 30 years or so, our universities—which are certainly quite well “co-ordinated,” at least if the standard of “co-ordination” is diversity—have been in the business of operating aryan studies programs. These happen to bear a remarkable resemblance to party training. And since diversity, by definition, means that the average aryan is less qualified than his or her fellow students, the attraction of aryan studies is obvious—further increasing the identity of aryan with parteigenosse.

Moreover, one of the interesting phenomena that accompanies diversity is sensitivity. Perhaps the real meaning of sensitivity is that it’s professionally quite imprudent to sing out of tune within the auditory sphere of a party member.

Which might—just might—explain why it’s so important to have a homogeneous distribution of party members in each and every walk of life. Including diversity training, which under this hypothesis is in fact political education, conveniently brought to you in the workplace, in case you happened to miss this vital educational experience.

Furthermore, this hypothesis—which, let’s not forget, is only a hypothesis—also explains why all American universities, even private ones which could easily find ways to shirk or duck their diversity responsibilities, are so eager to pursue multicultural students. What universities really care about is their power and status. They want alumni whose path to the top will be greased. And who better than aryans?

So this is the hypothesis. It is only a hypothesis. It’s just a thought, man. You can think it for a little while, than say “nah,” and go back to formal meaning #1 or #2. It won’t hurt you at all. (Try not to do it when there are any party members around, though.)

And it’s important to note that, if diversity really is best understood as a political power tool, it certainly doesn’t imply that those who promote diversity understand this at all. Au contraire—all the best disinformation is unconscious. Conscious conspiracies happen, but they are rare and tend to be small. Belief in the formal meanings of diversity is widespread, and as far as I can tell it’s perfectly sincere.

However, there’s another simple and accurate corruption test that diversity fails. We can call it the Ogre Test, after this little ditty by W.H. Auden (1968):

Words About Words

The Ogre does what ogres can, Deeds quite impossible for Man, But one deed is beyond his reach: The Ogre cannot master speech.

About a subjugated plain, Among the desperate and slain, The Ogre stalks with hands on hips, While drivel gushes from his lips.

If you need an example to demonstrate this result, you may not live on the same planet as me.