Diversity is a weak glue. Its purpose is to placate today’s society. It is based on a vision that suggests that society will not change. The basic premise is that of equal opportunity and a general respect for the rights of the individual, inclusiveness. Unfortunately, this brings diversity into conflict on various aspects of its tenets.
You must admit it is a lovely picture, well drawn and you can see why many are attracted to it. But it was drawn in charcoal, posted on the outside and it rained. The jolly old rain!
We can all agree with Ha-Joon Chang1 that “Equality of opportunity is the starting point for a fair society.” But and it is a big but, “However, it is equally unjust and inefficient to introduce affirmative action and begin to admit students of lower quality simply because they are black or from a deprived background.” From any angle we come back to the obvious conclusion that we are dealing with discrimination.
Is it ok to discriminate against a rich kid because their family has money and therefore his/her life chances are so much better? To which group should we lend our support – an underprivileged female or an underprivileged black person? Michael Sandel2 deals with this question expertly.
Sandel prompts us with a proposition that affirmative action is acceptable because it fulfils a ‘socially worthy aim’. That still leaves us with the problem of discrimination. The real question is why society needs affirmative action or diversity, what is the root cause? We are always skipping over the big question as though it is too big to solve. Stay clear a political volcano is about to erupt!
Professor Johnathan Wolff3 opines that affirmative action can be ‘patronizing and degrading, and, in the long term, may do more harm than good’. America has had a form of affirmative action since the mid-1940s. While a number of black and Hispanic people have gained from the initiative the vast majority are still on the bottom rung of life chances.
As Wolff points out, ‘…equal political rights are worth fighting for, but they are of little value if you are still treated unequally in day to day life.’ So, even democracy may not solve the problem. Representative democracy is subject to corruption and nepotism to mention but a few distractions.
Tony Blair came to power in the UK 1997 with a sound bite of ‘education, education, education’. Later his left-wing credentials were left shattered on the ground as he became more Thatcherite than Maggie. We have to take a serious look at the power of the market over our lives to find a solution?
In South Africa, apartheid was shown the way to …. Off. However, the ordinary people are no better off financially or socially; they are free, but free to live in poverty. The ANC has not delivered!
We are constantly told that a strong and growing economy is the best way to ease the burden of poverty. It seems to be one of Theresa May’s favourite sayings and guess what, she’s wrong. The 2008 financial crash is testament enough. The market ruled and the people lost – big time.
Therefore does ‘trickle-down economics work? According to J Stiglitz4 the nations that adopted the Washington Consensus – the American way – strong growth everyone wins “…the poor have benefitted less from growth.” This is supported by Ha-Joon Chang1 “Trickle down does happen, but its impact is meagre if we leave it to the market.” Poverty is as widespread today as ever.
Therefore, the concept of diversity sounds good looks good but is wishy-washy. It is all things to all people. I’m sorry but that cannot be the way forward. We cannot allow certain sections of society to spew their intolerance for others as a belief. We cannot allow a minority group to dictate policy for the nation.
If we are to build an understanding that will last then we must accept that that will take time. We must talk not push, we must listen not railroad, and we must argue not fight. Remember inclusiveness! Let’s put it to music
The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
Bobby Scot, Bob Russell
Read more: Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother Lyrics | MetroLyrics
1. Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About CAPITALISM (p210) (pp137-138)
2. Michael Sandel, Justice (chap:7 pp167-183)
3. Johnathan Wolff, Political Philosophy (p186 + p91)
4. J Stiglitz, Globalization, (p79)