You are here

Discriminations and our common life

There’s a recent piece at View from the Right pointing out that while the call of Harvard academic Noel Ignatieff to “abolish the white race” sounds radical, it is really no different than the usual liberal and even mainstream conservative position that we should all work toward a state of affairs in which race doesn’t matter, and so has been done away with as part of our understanding of man and society.

The point can be expanded. People have no feeling at all for how radical the antidiscrimination principle is that is now universally accepted as basic to ordinary moral decency. In understanding the situation I think it’s a mistake to emphasize “race” and “whiteness,” which today have a purely biological meaning that may matter in some respects but in most ways doesn’t point anywhere in particular. What’s more important is the general teaching of the antidiscrimination principle: not only race as a biological category, but any ethnic, cultural or national heritage, any attachment to the inherited historical community one grows up with, is supposed to disappear as something relevant to anything significant someone might ever legitimately want to do. The same goes for sex and religious affiliation. None of those things is supposed to affect anything significant in our life together. If they did, that would be discrimination and inequity, and it would be everyone’s obligation to use all possible means to root it out. That’s what “diversity” and “inclusiveness” mean, and no mainstream conservative is willing to take a principled stand against diversity and inclusiveness.

The evident consequence of such demands is that money, bureaucracy and idiosyncratic taste become the sole legitimate ordering principles for society. Everything else must be treated as irrational hatred, because everything else makes distinctions that don’t reduce to money, purely idiosyncratic taste, and neutral expert bureaucracy. The only exception to the foregoing, which isn’t really an exception, is that you can assert your racial or religious or sexual identity or whatnot any way you want, in France you can torch buildings and cars and beat a few people to death, if it’s nonstandard so the assertion destabilizes and debunks any arrangements, French culture and historical nationality for example, that rely on the dominant identity.

It seems to me that discussions of diversity, inclusiveness, affirmative action and all the rest of it would be greatly aided by more attention to the obvious insanity of the whole business. Why will it make the world warm, fuzzy, green, loving, tolerant, peaceful, progressive, prosperous, rainbow-colored, etc., etc., etc. if all inherited culture, and all nonlegal and noneconomic connections among human beings that have social definition and support, are abolished and the only things allowed to matter are money, purely personal tastes and obsessions, and what a self-certified class of experts, backed by the force of the modern state, tells us to do?