Untimely Observations

Effects of Inclusiveness


[The fifth in a series on inclusiveness. Read parts IIIIIIIVVIVIIVIIIIX and X.]

Inclusiveness and diversity help dissolve particular connections in favor of universal formal institutions like world markets and transnational bureaucracies. The effort is part of the general advanced liberal project, and its intent is to recreate human connections on a basis that is more rational and fosters freedom, diversity, and individual identity.

That may be the intent, but the effect is to destroy the normal ways in which people connect to each other and turn them into a mass of essentially unconnected individuals with interests that are assumed to be basically at odds with each other. More specific consequences include disorder, conflict, regimentation, mindlessness, and the breakdown of the understandings and arrangements that enable people to know who they are and run their own lives.

An account of such effects is therefore in order. The reader can gauge for himself how much those effects match trends in social life today.


It can be hard to know who to connect to. Employment decisions, for example, involve judgments of how things will go for people and how they will deal with others in complex and demanding situations. Such judgments involve questions of trust, compatibility, mutual comprehension, and ways of cooperation.

It's impossible to separate such judgments from a sense of who people are and their background and social setting. Antidiscrimination law insists on that separation with respect to basic dimensions of personal identity. Whether you're a man or woman, black or white, Navajo or Chinese immigrant, can't have any material effect on how you're expected to act or how anyone might deal with you in any setting that matters. If it did, and people took who you are into account when dealing with you, that would be discrimination.

Such a systematic denial of reality, turned into dogma and forced on social relations by all means necessary, makes it impossible for people to deal with each other directly and intelligently. They're constantly forced to act on the basis of principles that are obviously false. Such compulsion can only be destructive of human relations and social functioning.

Occasionally reality does seep in to some extent. People are expected to be "culturally sensitive," which means they're expected to know stereotypes and act on them in some respects. And institutions are expected to make special accommodations for physical and cultural particularities of those qualifying for "affirmative action."

However, no one is allowed to take such things into account in any straightforward way. In particular, no one is allowed to take into account the possibility that cultural or natural particularities might make some people less suitable than others in some connections. Diversity, meaning proportional or higher representation of minorities and women, is always and everywhere beneficial.

That's one reason differences in outcome are seen as a problem that insistently demands rectification. If more black students get low grades or fewer women pursue the hard sciences, administrators have to come up with a plan to close the gap. Its existence is patently unjustified, and socially and personally destructive.

The results of such demands include misplaced efforts, grade inflation, collapse of discipline, and extreme formalization of procedures. If discipline is based on "zero tolerance," bias won't be an issue. If everyone gets an A and no one gets disciplined, disparities disappear and the schools are a great success. And if some students learn nothing at all, that's where additional resources can be counted on to pay off most.


Inclusiveness tells us that the effects of differences must be eliminated, so that all kinds of people get equal rewards. Taken seriously, the requirement leads to tyranny.

"Society" is a network of myriad irreducibly independent agents. Inclusiveness, like social justice generally, attempts to hold the results of what all those agents do to a single overall standard as if they were the acts of a single person. The attempt denies local autonomy, and is at odds with how the world works.

For that reason, it requires an all-embracing scheme of control. The control must be fine-grained enough to govern everyday human interactions, and it must be exempt from popular concerns and traditional limitations. Otherwise, prejudice would have a veto power.

The need for compulsion is aggravated by the importance of sex, religion, ethnicity, and similar characteristics in human life. The tendency to discriminate on such grounds is permanent and pervasive, even in part innate: babies discriminate on the basis of sex and race.

Putting innate tendencies aside, enough human differences that matter are related to characteristics such as sex and race for free dealings to lead to disproportionate outcomes even where there is no discrimination. Where such disproportions arise the habits and expectations they engender accentuate them. If allowed to develop freely, they will lead to full-fledged intentional discrimination of a kind now considered outrageous.

Discrimination thus continually recreates itself if there's no supervening force continually at work to suppress it. Inclusiveness demands such a supervening force, and the need only gets broader as time passes. Any inequality corresponds to a benefit in which some don't share, so the settings and circumstances thought to demand intervention only multiply.


No person or society can realize all human possibilities. We are finite creatures who realize ourselves--become good, happy, productive, vibrant, and creative--by becoming something in particular. Since we are social, that particularity requires social particularity.

Inclusiveness denies that human need and so deprives human life of the environment it needs to thrive. A single social scheme, the inclusive society, has to apply equally to everyone. All social institutions have to be transformed so they make equal use of every possible kind of person. Society becomes a unitary machine, its members interchangeable components.

We must all be transformed. Swedes and Italians are different, and their differences make workplaces different. Inclusiveness insists on changing that and making each equally fitted to all. Every soccer mom, drag queen, black Muslim, Christian fundamentalist, and Hmong immigrant must be retailored to fit all settings equally. Those who resist can be treated as confused, ignorant, psychologically deformed, or evil.

The result isn't diversity but a single liberal way of life variously accessorized in ways not allowed to matter. The attempt to put diversity first destroys it.

That should not be surprising. Inclusiveness is the absolutism of a rationalized commercial and administrative system. It lets bureaucracy and markets retain their hold on us, but cuts down ethnic culture to ethnic-themed fast food, religion to a poeticized version of liberal ideals, and marriage to a sentimentalized recognition of almost any sexual connection. Under such circumstances human life becomes not vibrant and diverse but boring and trivial.

In theory we are free to hold privately whatever ideals of life we want. The freedom is of doubtful substance, since private ideals of life have consequences in the lives of others. For that reason a growing range of opinions--white solidarity is one example, disapproval of homosexuality is fast becoming another--are now beyond the pale even in private.

Local autonomy

By suppressing local particularities and turning distinctions and differences into injustices inclusiveness suppresses self-organization, and therefore social spontaneity and voluntary initiatives of all kinds.

Ordinary people can't act effectively unless local discretion is widely diffused and the informal good sense of the people is accepted as a generally sound basis for action. Inclusiveness rejects both. If there's significant local discretion inequalities will result, and "the informal good sense of the people" is shot through with settled prejudgments--that is, with prejudices.

For that reason inclusiveness requires suppression of local initiative and self-rule. Those things are unjust from the standpoint of social justice in any event. If I do something that benefits brother Bob, that's unfair because cousin Dick and uncle Harry get left out. More generally, informal arrangements like mutual assistance based on local networks and moral codes make the benefits of social life depend on group membership. That's obviously unjust, so such arrangements must be destroyed.

That's one reason schools teach children to throw off parental, communal, and religious authority. Those authorities aren't based on liberal principles, and they lead to particular local connections that don't benefit everyone equally. It's also one reason antidiscrimination laws force institutions to treat the attack on traditional and natural authorities as part of their reason for being. (If they don't insist on their total commitment to "celebration of diversity," they're likely to get sued.)

The natural result of such policies is degradation of functional communities and families. Our rulers view that as a good thing. It eliminates competitors to the liberal state, frees individuals from traditional bonds that are understood as irrational and discriminatory, and clears the ground for a truly rational and just ordering of society.

Family life

The effect of rules against sex discrimination on family life provides an example. Men and women differ, and the relationship between them is basic to all societies. To forbid sex discrimination is to forbid responding to the differences and deprive the relation between the sexes of social definition and support.

The relation thus becomes a matter of private sentiment. It's rationally indistinguishable, as a public matter, from any other connection among individuals. The consequence is to deprive marriage and the family of specific structure and function. They become names for a variety of arrangements, none of which has any authority because none can be treated as better than any other.

The resulting destruction of definite family forms means fragmented and dysfunctional families, impoverished adults, and badly raised--and often abused--children. The official response to such problems, replacement of local institutions and networks of assistance by welfare and social security systems, further undercuts family and community life by depriving them of function and authority.

Such changes are not an automatic consequence of social evolution. Natural tendencies keep returning, so what counts as progress requires a continual attack on the attitudes and habits that support and order the family. Useful and admirable traits like men's tendency to work harder and women's tendency to emphasize home and children once they're married and have children become social problems that must be overcome.

Organizational life

A free society requires a variety of institutions that are independent of government and capable of calling it to account. The variety is not only a check on government but a source of social strength: what hurts some organizations helps others, and society as a whole is held harmless.

Inclusiveness destroys that variety. The demand that every institution become equally welcoming to every group imaginable and mirror the demographic makeup of the world at large severely compromises institutional independence, identity, and diversity.

Since no culture can be treated as authoritative under such circumstances, all institutions must base their operations on rationalized bureaucratic and commercial standards. Procedures must be explicit, neutral, and easy to supervise. Decisions and standards regarding employment must be documented and made uniformly so they can be defended when reviewed by a tribunal. Even organizational purposes must be nailed down in some simple way so that bureaucrats can determine whether decisions are made for "legitimate business reasons" as they understand such things.

The result is totalitarianism with a happy face. The happy faces are, of course, painted on. Diversity and inclusiveness abolish the common habits and attitudes that tie people together and enable them to get work done pleasantly and efficiently. Instead of relying on informal perceptions and understandings, which would inevitably reflect particular cultural patterns, employees undergo thought reform and parrot "corporate visions." And in any case, "affirmative action" creates factions within every organization that depend for their position on victim status. The result is the replacement of mutual trust by officially-sanctioned rancor.

The suppression of standards, the restrictions on freedom of inquiry and discussion, the imposition of government supervision of hiring and promotion, and the increasing uniformity of permitted views in academic, media, and other settings, show the damage antidiscrimination requirements inflict on self-governing institutions and through them on society at large.

The destruction of the authority of particular culture bears especially heavily on cultural institutions. Rather than presenting, articulating, and developing a particular culture, which is likely to be one traditionally dominant at least locally, they must subvert it and celebrate diversity above all else. Anything else would make them agents of oppression.

The result is degradation of the culture to which the institution is supposedly devoted. Traditional and high culture therefore turn against themselves, and to the extent not replaced by commercial pop culture become at most tolerated hobbies or status symbols that get by on an association with glitz, glamor, and wealth.

Public spirit

"Inclusiveness" tries to separate the benefits of social life from religion, lifestyle, and ethnicity, and so from any specific community setting. Unless that separation is made, the rewards of social life will be different for different sorts of people.

The result is suppression of public spirit. Public spirit requires a link between public and private concerns. It depends on common understandings of the public good and the obligations of citizenship, and thus on shared goals, understandings, and expectations.

Such conditions arise quite naturally if people connect on grounds of community affiliation and thus in a way that implicates ethnicity, religion, and lifestyle. Those things are notoriously related to public spirit: WASP and Jewish organizations are both noted for civic involvement, but they carry it on in a somewhat different style and with somewhat different objects.

Such differences point to a benefit of allowing someone to establish a law office populated by duck-hunting Mayflower descendants. Such an office will have its own perspective and way of doing things, so it's likely to have a coherent enough view of the world and its place in it to support common action for public goals. Nor does allowing such an office to exist pose a problem for freedom and diversity, as long as those things are understood in a commonsensical way.

If networks of shared understandings weaken within private organizations, as they will if they are not allowed to choose members in accordance with felt affinities, common feeling dissipates, trust dwindles, and material success becomes divorced from shared loyalties and understandings of the use to be made of it. Any residual altruism is likely to be sentimental, abstract, and ineffectual.

Under such circumstances organizational and public life lose their moral aspects and become more and more an arena of ambition, greed, manipulation, and corruption. It's no accident that the revolution of the '60s and reforms of the '70s led to "the decade of greed" in the '80s and the "me generation" ever after.

The sole remaining public ideal, equality, becomes a racket benefiting the few. It is through the reflected glory of the great man, conferred by specially favorable treatment, that his people find their place in the sun. If Obama is president and Oprah is a billionaire, then black people have made wonderful progress even if 70% of black children are illegitimate and one in eight young black men is in prison. That's what's on TV, that's what all the leaders say, and that's what promotes self-esteem, so who can say it's not true?

Thought control

Inclusiveness can't respect freedom of thought. To question inclusiveness is to question equal inclusion, and therefore to make some people's standing doubtful and ipso facto to exclude them from full equality. For that reason the very existence of dissenting views means oppression. They must be extirpated in the name of freedom and equality.

More generally, every system needs standards, restrictions, and principles of cohesion, and doing away with some makes others more important. For that reason insisting on some aspects of diversity means cutting back on others. In particular, ethnic and sexual diversity requires limiting permissible opinion and acceptable educational background.

If it's dogma that group differences are always beneficial, and they obviously cause problems, then freedom of inquiry and discussion have to go. And in any case, elimination of natural and traditional understandings and connections means artificial ones must be substituted. That's one reason formal credentials are now so important, and everyone on our ever more diverse Supreme Court is a graduate of Yale or Harvard Law School.

Scientism, liberalism and dogma

In some ways it seems odd that liberals should suppress discussion of how differences matter. After all, liberals believe in science and rationality, and science and rationality tell us men differ. Why not face up to the situation and make the best of it? Whether the goal is inclusiveness or anything else, we are more likely to realize it if we understand the world as it is. Or so it would seem.


The problem is that scientism is more than acceptance of the value of modern natural science. Together with liberalism, it forms a comprehensive approach to life. People today look to the two for everything they need to know, because nothing else has public validity. For that reason liberalism and "science" must satisfy demands that are not specifically scientific. They must provide satisfying ways to deal with the problems of life generally, and thus function together as a religion.

Their religious function means that liberalism and scientism make certain demands on the world. A religion of sin and redemption makes no sense in a world of perpetual this-worldly progress. In the same way, a utopian religion--or scheme of thought that functions as a religion--makes no sense if the world resists human wishes in basic ways. It must insist that the world is such that its outlook on things makes sense.

Scientism insists on treating politics and morality as part of nature, as it understands nature. It therefore excludes natural harmonies and transcendent principles, and treats logic, desire, and means-ends rationality as the only legitimate guides to action. The result is a tendency to treat conflict as the basic social reality, since desires conflict, and to explain all human things by reference to the physical side of life.

Those who accept scientism and admit the reality and significance of group differences are therefore likely to be tempted by actual racism--by the view that conflict among biological groups is the ultimate human reality. Hence the outrage among liberals in response to any suggestion that there are group differences that matter. If you accept that such differences exist, it's thought that you will logically be impelled to embrace something like Nazism.


For its part, liberalism tells us that our good is living by our own rules and getting what we want. For that reason, it must give people who make pleasing themselves their supreme goal reason to subordinate themselves to its authority. To do so, it must tell them that they will get along if they go along.

The demand has to be taken quite seriously, since liberalism insists on self-realization and has no place for self-sacrifice. Its own principles justify resentment, resistance, and rebellion by people who have enduring reason for dissatisfaction. Even if unsuccessful such a response would vindicate their autonomy and therefore their human dignity.

A situation in which basic social principles support rejection of the social order would be intolerable for any government, especially one that claims to govern by consent and strongly prefers minimal use of overt force. For that reason, liberalism can't admit that there are irremediable evils and inequalities.

It especially can't accept that there are intractable human differences in qualities like intelligence. Liberalism is based on human autonomy, on our ability to decide for ourselves what we will be. That's its religion, so it turns it into a sort of absolute. If some are intractably different from others in ways no one would choose for himself, autonomy is a mirage, and liberalism makes no sense. Such a result is obviously unacceptable.

Extremism, lying, and abuse

The emphasis on science and reason makes the liberal rejection of evidence of human variation all the more violent. It is very difficult to slight science and reason in a modern liberal public order. Inclusiveness slights them, because it rejects obvious realities. That situation is intolerable and must somehow be resolved. The method chosen is to redefine reason and truth on inclusivist lines and to stomp on anyone who notices that there is a problem.

The result is thorough corruption of intellectual life. All intellectual effort has to yield socially and morally acceptable results. Science becomes distorted, grades inflated, reason defined as unreason, aesthetic quality rejected as racist, leading scientists and scholars dismissed as cranks, and all those results accepted as patently just and rational.

Every event must follow the inclusivist story line. The result is that the world becomes incomprehensible. Newspapers express bafflement over homegrown Islamic terrorism every time it occurs. After all, it can't possibly have anything to do with Islam. And underperformance by blacks and lesser success of women become the great unsolved problems of the social sciences.

If one result is gross slander and injustice it does not matter. Who cares what anyone says about Rush Limbaugh? Racists, sexists, and homophobes don't deserve anything--certainly not truth.

Science wars

Some writers have recently complained about a "Republican war on science," and there's certainly a conflict between conservatism on the one hand and the technological attitude toward life on the other.

On the whole, however, the great bugaboo of creationism has very little influence on anything, while issues like stem cell research have less to do with science than with ethics, social policy, and philosophical interpretations. The liberal war on science is far more comprehensive, specific, and effective. It includes suppression of research into human differences, physical violence against sociobiologists and IQ researchers, misallocation of resources (think AIDS funding and initiatives to get more women in science), and pervasive interference with staffing and tenure decisions in the name of equal opportunity.

No one notices the problem because the liberal war is carried on to promote causes that all respected authorities, including leading scientists and scientific organizations, treat as beyond question. As I showed in my last piece, they are required by what are in effect metaphysical principles thought to determine the nature of reality itself.

Why the abusiveness?

It's common for those who dissent from established views on basic points to be ridiculed, ignored, and rejected, but the extreme vehemence of the response with regard to inclusiveness and the unwillingness or inability of those attacked to defend themselves calls for explanation.

Part of the explanation is the artificiality of discussions related to inclusiveness, which makes natural reactions of ordinary people disruptive to the point of vandalism. It's as if someone blurted out that the king has no clothes in a country in which the penalty for public nudity is death.

Part of it is the energy and enthusiasm of the attackers. Some of them have a direct personal stake in inclusiveness, others are motivated by the moral and intellectual superiority correct positions confer, still others by the joy of licensed abuse of dissenters in a world that is otherwise terminally sensitive, caring, and dull.

Another part is scapegoating. People speak of what they know. The assumption that doubts reflect hatred shows that private reactions to diversity issues are often grossly incorrect. People stubbornly feel more tied to some groups than to others. They feel that a Jew is more likely to be a competent lawyer than a black man. There's something artificial about the attempt to believe otherwise.

The result is that people feel permanently in the wrong on a fundamental point. The most direct solution is to deny the evidence of our senses: the king's clothes are indeed beautiful! Not only do people deny the truth of their own perceptions, but they try to expunge them from themselves by attributing them to the demonized other--to the "racist" and the "bigot."

Conservatives, less ideological and more practical-minded than liberals but equally subject to accepted ways of thinking, try to maintain the no-differences orthodoxy while giving way in some practical respects to the realities orthodoxy requires them to deny.

That, of course, lays them open to the accusation that they don't really believe the orthodoxy. The accusation is unanswerable, since they fully accept the orthodoxy as authoritative, but nobody really believes it. So when put to the question and called upon to explain themselves they can't do so. Their own principles convict them, and all they can do is abase themselves and try to buy forgiveness while realizing that they do not deserve it.