Diversity and Tolerance

The fact that the “benefits of diversity” have acquired a theological status in the religion of our enemies should not blind us to the fact that there are, potentially, genuine benefits, as well as costs, of diversity. Some of the arguments are valid.

Those with exceptional contributions to make in society are often exceptional in other ways. They may be self-aggrandising, or alternatively abnormally introverted and unsociable. Their unusual abilities might be related to unusual tastes, those who break through barriers of what is considered achievable may also break barriers of what is considered acceptable. All that whether we are talking about aliens to the culture, from outside, or eccentrics produced by the culture who might as well be aliens.

The social attitude that is conducive to obtaining the benefits of diversity, while not
abandoning the idea of cultural standards, is called Tolerance.

Tolerance is never an absolute. It is not an abdication of judgement, it is a balancing of judgement. Tolerance avoids conflict, gains the benefits of diversity, but risks undermining norms.

If the norms of a society are under threat, tolerance is likely to decline, and necessarily so. If a society is strong and healthy, it can become more tolerant.

Also, those who actually do make oustanding contributions can be rewarded with tolerance of their eccentricities, without those same eccentricities developing into virulent subcultures of their own.

Our society has become much more accepting of diversity, particularly over the last few decades. But that is not a result of increasing tolerance; rather, society has become much less tolerant of any kind of dissent from its norms. Instead of being tolerant of deviance from norms, many norms have been abandoned entirely, and in place of the virtue of tolerance we have the law of equality, identified with justice.

The idea of equality does not have the flexibility and balance that the old idea of tolerance had. If one class of behaviour is equal to another, then there is nothing to
tolerate. In the short run, this looked to be equivalent to a surge of tolerance, but while one can tolerate anything, to a greater or lesser degree, one cannot treat everything as equal. Some norms are found to be essential, and breaking those norms cannot be permitted. Since the language of tolerance has been lost, replaced by the language of equality, the remaining norms get enforced with a pitiless severity. One action will be celebrated as the exercise of equal rights, while another almost identical will be condemned as a crime; there can be no middle ground. Showing people smoking on television is encouraging unhealthy behaviour and must be banned, but showing fat people eating is encouraging unhealthy behaviour, and must be held up as an ideal.

In practical terms, the concept of equality for aliens and deviants has to go. But it should not be replaced with hatred or censoriousness, but with a limited, conditional, and flexible tolerance.

For fun: a Google Ngram of inequality vs intolerance. The same pattern is not seen for equality vs tolerance, but I feel that using the negative words implies that the concepts are the standards: if people are talking more about equality, that doesn’t necessarily mean that equality has a higher status, but if people are talking more about inequality, that implies that equality is seen more as the normal or correct thing.

For more fun: Milo on why being tolerated is better than being equal.

 

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One alternative view of the future

I happened to come across something six months old, which has possibly enormous importance to the culture wars:

spacekat

[Tweet from Brianna Wu @Spacekatgal 4 Apr 2015. “Gamergate has no place in fandom. Not in videogames, not in comics, and not in sci-fi. This is our culture, not yours. Get the hell out.]

The immediate trigger for this seems to be the Sad Puppies affair at the Hugo awards, where the people who actually buy science fiction tried to push back against the politically-based selections of the voting and committee-sitting class, by organising.

I saw it, of course, because the “conservative” side of the conflict—which I am sympathetic to and whose representatives I am likely to read, despite attempting to hold myself “above” the whole thing—cited it as evidence that they are really the open and tolerant side, while the “liberal” side are the authoritarian and intolerant ones.

The problem is, of course, that to a neoreactionary that is a very off-putting argument. Put this baldly, it is utterly self-defeating.

Whatever my historical sympathies, the side that says “This is our culture, not yours. Get the hell out” deserves to win, and the side that does not and cannot say that deserves to lose. It is pretty much that simple.

The opposition are of course correct that the basis of the SJWs’ claim to ownership of fandom culture—which presumably rests ultimately on their moral superiority as evidenced by their greater commitment to tolerance—is self-contradictory and risible. However, one of the key findings of neoreactionary historiography is that successful and effective rulers have claimed ownership of cultures based on all sorts of unlikely premises: strange women lying in ponds distributing swords, and so forth. What is important is not why they consider themselves superior, it is that they consider themselves superior.

The pessimist tendency of neoreaction has generally taken the liberals at their word that they believe in equality, tolerance, and the rest. What if it is more correct to take the mainstream right at their word that they are the real anti-racists, the real pro-tolerance-and-diversity side? That would mean that the mainstream right is not simply an ineffective opposition to the forces of civilisational decay, it is actually the whole problem; the real enemy. The ascendant liberals, who adopted the slogans of equality and diversity because the previous establishment gave them respect, might abandon them entirely once the whole “they’re the real racists” crowd has dissolved away.

This is opposite to the normal neoreactionary narrative, which has it that conservatism is genuinely, if incoherently and incompetently, opposed to leftism, and that the “real anti-racist” tendency is an example of weak “cuckservative” power-seekers aping the devices of their opponents. But the search for a “true conservative” establishment that openly opposed equality as a principle has forced us further and further back in history. Who remembers that, in his blogging phase, “forever Orange” Moldbug himself had to change sides on the Glorious Revolution?

If conservatism were to go away would the “unprincipled exceptions” continue to be eroded, until society collapses? Or would the cis-feminine softness of the holier-than-thou left metamorphose into a trans-liberal Brianna-Wu-like “Our culture, you fuck off” strongman culture that rejected the Dead-White-Male liberalism of the Founding Fathers and the Kit-Cat Club in favour of a bit of healthy intolerance and cultural uniformity?

I put the odds at less than 50%. Jim’s left-singularity model is still the dominant theory of where liberalism is heading. But this alternative theory is worth throwing out there.