Diversity paradox

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In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.
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The aparadox — or at any rate tension —at the heart of the diversity military industrial complex: on one hand, pluralism, on the other “inclusivity”.


We value diverse, differentiated perspectives and respect and protect the varying cultural traditions which are their midwife, reinforcing minority voices and ensuring there are as many different ways to react to and deal with the unknown future.


We expect all citizens to subscribe to an idiosyncratic set of moral and political values which are the end-product of a particular western neoliberal programme, which cautions against in-group formations (seeing as they exclude, by definition) even though the very cultures we seek to protect and sanctify are archetypal in-groups. That is what made them distinctive in the first place.

Warning: Diversion coming up

The momentum is right now with homogeneity, as it chimes with other societal imperatives, in particular the great delamination in which our on-line selves become ever more homogenised, and (perhaps the same thing) the demands of networked scale when the imperatives of profitability require us to recast ourselves into simple, machine-readable boxes. This is bottom-up legibility — rather than top-down categorisations which miss informal organisation and local structure qualities, and therefore fail through ignorance, bottom-up version we have been persuaded to do this ourselves. Top down failed because we reorganised ourselves to flow around the formal structures; bottom-up succeeds because we voluntarily flow into the organised boxes. We make it easier for the computers to accurately categorise us, by changing our behaviour to become more legible.

When we discover ChatGPT can pass the New York Bar, this is a dead giveaway we have configured our standards to be machine-readable: we are rebasing the criteria with which we judge human competence on what machines are good at. This is MADNESS.

Back again.

Neoliberalism sanctifies diversity, but counsels homogeneity. It is, ultimately, entropic: once a diverse perspective is identified, it can be absorbed and assimilated (appropriated?) into a global cultural corpus in which everyone is included. There is no longer any diversity.

Encouraging ongoing, new diversity — an infinite, forward-looking, open-minded evolution of cultural perspectives, (is that what we want? Historicists might say no?) implies somehow letting people form and protect their own in-groups. Exclusivity must be allowed. It cannot be immoral. (In fact this happens a lot in other contexts: families, businesses, nations, football teams etc. Humans do this naturally.)

Are “Inclusivity” and “cultural appropriation” different ways of saying the same thing?

Now also there is no single coherent argument seeing out exactly how Fukuyama’s post-historical phase of enlightened society is meant to work, or develop. Perhaps — because one is not possible?

See also