Friday, June 03, 2005

Equality v. Diversity

Are equality and diversity at odds?

This is, in many respects, a loaded question. I have written many words on the essential incoherence of “diversity” as it is conceptually applied on university campuses. To recap, one such argument I have used against diversity runs as follows:

(i) Diversity means difference.
(ii) All individuals are inherently and immeasurably different
(iii) Groups consist of individuals
(iv) Therefore, all groups are inherently, immeasurably different
(v) Therefore, all groups are inherently, immeasurably diverse.

So, if groups are already immeasurably diverse, then increasing their diversity is a vacuous, indeed ridiculous, idea. To make the idea cohere, diversiphiles are forced to erect an arbitrary standard of difference—that is, they pick a specific difference that they want to be present among individuals. For diversiphiles, it isn’t enough that each group is immeasurably diverse, but, rather, each group must be, specifically, racially diverse (other kinds of diversity, are, presumably, of less importance).

In the past, I have also identified this undue focus on the essential difference imparted by race as a form of proto-racism. Diversiphiles, in order to disguise the fact that they are solely focused on race (and identity politics of the most sordid nature) say that certain attitudes and beliefs can be correlated with race. Each race brings a certain unique viewpoint to the table, and consequently must be represented in a group if this viewpoint is to be heard. But races cannot be used as a proxy for ideas and beliefs—all black people don’t act the same, and the actions and mannerisms of one black person cannot be extrapolated to the black populace as a whole. To believe such is to explicitly accept racist attitudes of the most invidious, and socially destructive, kind.

But let’s ignore all that for now, and return to my initial question: Are equality and diversity at odds? Let’s say that diversity constitutes a coherent ideal of laudable intragroup difference. Can such a concept of inextricable difference (diversity) be reconciled with a belief in essential equality?

I pose this as only as a conundrum for modern liberals—I deny both equality and diversity (at least the peculiar diversity popular today) as laudable principles. I will compile a post later on the myriad flaws with egalitarianism, but suffice to say that it is flawed, and fatally so. But, for modern liberals, or any who hold both diversity and equality dear, doesn’t the acceptance of both lead to a contradiction?

Diversity (again, I speak here of the bizarre, academic usage of this term) says that some people are possessed of certain differences that set them apart from others. These differences are of such an unbridgeable, insurmountable nature that they cannot be taught, and, indeed, the only to share them is to have a person possessed of those differences present at all times. Thus, a Latino possesses certain, infinitely unique “diversity” characteristics apart from whites, who possess their own, infinitely unique “diversity” characteristics. These characteristics cannot be acquired by members of other races; each race is different, and insurmountably so.

But, if each group is uniquely different (and, in fact, SO different that racial discrimination is justified to force proportional racial representation) what does this say of the equality of individuals? In what sense are we equal if we are indelibly different? And not just different, but an essential difference, which diversiphiles view as legitimate grounds for discrimination?

Diversity and equality are at odds. This is because diversity is a sort of perverted individualism—it is the extrapolation of the characteristics and moral worth of the individual to the group. By embracing a pseudo-, or semi- individualism, diversity must abandon equality, as individualism and equality are by nature opposed (or at least this seems obvious to me).

But, there is a way in which this does lead to a bizarre, corrupted form of equality. Diversity, by subsuming the characteristics of the individual to the group, makes all individuals within each group egalitarian. Therefore, although groups (whites, Native Americans, blacks, etc) are unequal, the individuals within each group are equal to the other individuals of that group (although maybe I shouldn’t use the word “individual”). Diversity, it could be said, promotes intergroup inequality (whites and blacks are unequal), but intragroup equality (blacks are equal, amongst themselves). The vileness of such a demarcation of individuals according to race should be apparent.

Diversity is a veritable grab bag of undesirable concepts. It denies individualism in its true form, only to embrace a corrupted form of it, denies a universal equality in favor a racist, debased intergroup equality, and justifies, indeed requires, the use of identity politics.
Granted, of course, that we allow diversity the presumption of coherence. I can see no reason, at this time, to do so.

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