Wokeness as arbitrary government power, and fixing it through policy
Thank you Richard for the interview with someone I probably never would have been exposed to otherwise. At the end she mentions trying to get funding for a book for the general reader. I hope she does it. She has a guaranteed sale right here.
"If everything is potentially illegal, and government does not have the resources to go after everything, then the government basically has arbitrary power to do whatever it wants under civil rights law."
Sounds a lot like Turkish law.
" Richard: You might have some libertarians who might say you have a right to discriminate.
Gail: Yeah, but libertarians are not as common as you might think."
this is the most important part of the whole thing.
So, people that believe in personal freedoms of choice and association.... are a minority compared to those who believe in MANDATORY equality that ends up stomping on said freedoms?
the USA shuld change its motto, from the land of the free to the land of the forcibly equal
One thing that's missing from a lot of discussion of harassment law: What about the First Amendment? It's certainly not a content-neutral time, place or manner restriction. Has the SCOTUS ever upheld harassment law against a First Amendment challenge? Or is it just that employees have no standing to sue, and no employer has decided so far to stand up for its employees' freedom of speech.
If the latter, the most effective thing a wealthy conservative or libertarian could do is create a company without a harassment policy, and when it gets sued, make a First Amendment challenge. Or offer to pay the legal costs of any company that does so.
This conversation is a pretty good crash course in Moldbuggery 101. Note the mysterious role of the universities…
Still, Richard, no offense, but I think your general idea that we can somehow roll back civil rights law (no less quixotic than persuading the public that the wrong side won the Civil War) by proving how hypocritical and illogical it is to be subconsciously motivated by your need to find your work, and the work of other honest dissident scholars, to be *politically* important. That ship has long sailed in this country.
Because, of course, “we’re not an authoritarian regime.” God forbid, who knows what madness it might wreak upon its people!
This is a superb interview, but examples of international civil rights laws seem to suggest there is at least one more piece of the puzzle.
That is, the norm internationally tends to be to have race/sex protections that are weakly enforced, yet in the US they are extremely aggressively enforced. I don't think one can say this is some sort of generic bureaucratic drift that happens everywhere... because it only really happens in the US.
For instance, in multiracial Singapore, they have "[t]he Presidential Council for Minority Rights (PCMR) [which] is a non-elected government body in Singapore established in 1970, the main function of which is to scrutinize most of the bills passed by Parliament to ensure that they do not discriminate against any racial or religious community."
This body has not grown in power to take over their society, and in practice its enforcement capabilities are weak. It's been around for 50+ years, so there's been plenty of time to warp and metastasize.
I think any attempt to rein in either the 1964 or the 1991 act will bump into the answer to the question.
Every social order needs a political formula. Wokeness is the political formula of this social order. The second a different ideology works better, that will become the political formula (the Covid episode is/was a neat demonstration of how this process would happen, with virus containment having dramatic advantages over Wokeness as a political formula, but also weaknesses that proved fatal). But this will probably not happen anytime soon, because Wokeness is the product of fierce competition for political formula status. And, obviously, whatever would replace it would be just as s**ty, or more so (see, again, Covid) There is precisely one way to dismantle Wokeness, and that is to dismantle to capitalism (by which I mean the economic system of the western world today, pick another word if you want to get autistic about it). Few grasp this, but perhaps more to the point, those who do grasp it to some degree believe they have more to lose than to gain from such an eventuality. And perhaps they do, certainly if you place a high value on material wealth.
Barry Goldwater was a prophet.
From Barry Goldwater's June 18, 1964, speech: referring to Titles II and VII: "I find no constitutional basis for the exercise of federal regulatory authority in either of these area." "But in addition [to constitutional objections], I would like to point out to my colleagues in the Senate and to the people of America . . . the implications involved in the enforcement of regulatory legislation of this sort. To give genuine effect to the prohibitions of this bill will require the creation of a federal police force of mammoth proportions." Goldwater began this speech by denouncing "the sledgehammer political tactics"--the March on Washington. This set a dangerous precedent. Legislation by pressure from the mob has been used ever since. No one is brave enough to speak out against it. Even Rand Paul was smacked for it and walked it back. Lesson: the road to hell is paved with good intentions (and capitulation to the mob).
One concern I have: suppose one manages to get civil rights law amended, and the disparate impact standard is thrown out. Could the EEOC just start arguing that disparities are so implausible that they are virtually sufficient evidence of deliberate discrimination? Or if the EEOC were deprived of its power to bring lawsuits on employers of its own accord, it could still exercise discretion over what complaints it seriously pursues, and could collaborate with activist groups to encourage the 'right' kind of employee lawsuits. Suppose the EEOC is abolished entirely and civil rights laws gutted or repealed. Blue states or cities can pass their own civil rights laws establishing their own well-empowered EEOCs, and any major employer that does business in those areas may end up having to comply with them even if the state they're based in doesn't have such laws. And if the Supreme Court rules such state laws unconstitutional, maybe they can keep doing the same thing de facto under race/gender-neutral labor laws (e.g. universities still do de facto affirmative action even in states where it's technically illegal).
If the bureaucratic and activist class is sufficiently committed to enforcing these policies, then it may be very hard to stop them. Even deprived of the legal machinery behind them today, they may just keep finding other pretexts for doing the same thing they're currently. It may be a very hardy weed.
Greatly enjoyed the video thanks!
A clarifying discussion. I never thought so carefully about the logical relationships between the concepts of "discrimination," "disparate impact," and "affirmative action" like they do here.
Great interview, and Prof. Heriot is exactly right: civil rights law lies at the foundation of wokeness, either as the source or in its failure to put a stop to abuses being done in its name. The Supreme Court has been derelict in its duty in this area, hopefully the Harvard and UNC cases will indeed start the ball rolling in the other direction.