One of the basic errors the so-called conservatives made when dealing with their Progressive betters is to assume the Left has a rational plan. The Buckleyites always started from the assumption that there was some logical plan behind the liberal schemes, so they spent a lot of time to trying to abductively arrive at the motivation. The Right spent most of their time making well reasoned arguments against what they assumed was the true motivation of the Left. The result was the Left won every battle in the culture war.
This post from an English professor at Emory University about the logical ends of diversity is a rare example of someone noticing the flaw in this approach. He starts by doing what no one on the conventional Right dares, and that is admit defeat.
Conservatives, libertarians, traditionalists, and classical liberals need to get clear on something: the ideological contests are fading. What Irving Kristol famously said in his 2001 Bradley Lecture, “We in America fought a culture war, and we [conservatives] lost,” applies well to higher education. Conservatives fought wars over multiculturalism, Western Civilization, affirmative action, the Academic Bill of Rights, and political bias in hiring, and we lost every time. The educators have no reason to debate ideas, much less ideology. None of those old issues are up for discussion.
(It should be said that Kristol noted that conservatives still had some influence in one theater of American life, religion, but that exemption is irrelevant to the 21st-century campus.)
You can tell ideology is a settled matter by the way in which faculty and administrators handle the core terms—diversity, inclusion. No moral or conceptual examination of those terms ever takes place. Liberals and leftists mouth them without even pondering what they mean save for the simple-minded aspiration of “more women in science” or “more blacks among the leadership.” The only rejoinder conservatives have is, “What about the diversity of thought and opinion?” to which the educators respond, “Oh, yes, that’s good, too,” then proceed on what they were thinking before. When it comes to diversity, everyone’s a bureaucrat.
He then points out the inherent irrationality of the diversity rackets, at least on the college campus.
Now, diversity means just that: getting more underrepresented people in place. That’s all. The campus managers don’t think about what will happen then. Diversity among the personnel—that is, more proportionate representation of all “underserved” identities—is an end in itself. If you asked a dean what diversity is for, what purpose it serves, he wouldn’t have an immediate answer. He spends so much time in a habitat of tautology (“diversity is good for . . . diversity”) that the very question stumps him until he remembers blather from the Old Times about diverse perspectives and educational benefits and repeats it like a ventriloquist’s dummy. But don’t try pressing him on it. He doesn’t want to talk about it. The self-evident good of diversity has long been established, and he clings to it like a Catholic does his rosary.
The professor does not have the courage to point out the obvious. Replacing capable white people in college positions with non-whites, reduces the quality of the staff. It is not so obvious in the humanities or social sciences, where much of the work has been nonsense for a long time. In the STEM fields, it is a recipe for disaster. Any effort to scale up the diversity rackets popular on campus, to society as a whole, is a recipe for rolling back a millennium of human progress. Without white men, there is no modern world.
At the end, the professor suggests an answer whites should use when asked by a white interviewer about diversity. It’s good advice, only if you know going in you will not be selected because you are white. It would be fun to point out to the diversity spewing white person that the best thing they can do for diversity is quit their job. It is, however, an example of that old habit of the Right. The professor thinks such a “gotcha” response will result in the great Progressive awakening, when the blindfold will drop from Lefty’s eyes.
It is why the Left in America went from one victory to the next in the culture war. They never faced an adversary willing to fight them on their own terms. The American Left has always been a spiritual movement. Talking a lefty believer out of their beliefs is as rational as talking a Muslim out of his faith. No one ever argues that the solution to violent Islam is a well reasoned argument with facts and examples. Even the dullest American understands that this is not how religions work. By definition, faith is not about facts.
American Progressivism grew out of the Puritanism associated with the founding stock of New England. Reform movements of the 19th century all had their roots in New England Christianity. Just read the writings of abolitionists and the Christian foundation is plainly obvious. Then in the 20th century, as Norman Podhoretz explained, Jewish intellectuals embraced Progressivism as their religion. The Left lost its Christianity, but it remained a spiritual movement that became more intense, more exotic and esoteric.
It is an important lesson to learn from the failure of the American Right, in their 20th century fight with the Left. They lost because they never understood the enemy. They invested all of their time conjuring an enemy they could beat with facts and reason, while the Left went about destroying the enemies they had in their path. It’s not a mistake that a new alternative can afford to make. You don’t beat a moral order with reason. You defeat it by attacking it on moral grounds, while offering an alternative moral framework.