We’re being lied to, and it’s been costing us a fortune, both economically and socially. For most of the last decade, the industry selling these lies has operated within the ten billion dollars a year range (with a B), selling a product they know doesn’t work, and it’s now growing exponentially. This industry produces no tangible product, makes workplaces less effective and efficient, and reliably leads to toxic and hostile working cultures that can tear companies—and our society—apart, and yet we can’t get enough of it. It’s a particular kind of madness that’s almost impossible to understand, explain, or stop.
What does this industry sell? “Diversity,” “Inclusion,” and “Equity” (DIE) consulting, training, and administration.
These ideas, and the expensive corporate consultancy that will train us in them, are being sold to us with shocking urgency now. This sense of urgency is yet another manipulation of the DIE industry. Again and again, we hear that their work is “essential,” apparently for everything, and essential right now in the wake of a tragic death that is hard to deny was unjust (though it’s surprisingly unclear, given the response, whether race was all that relevant to it). The mood of the era, nonetheless, is that it is essential we take up “Diversity,” “Inclusion,” and “Equity” right now.
Well, we have a right to ask “essential for what purpose?” There must be some purpose these ideas are essential to. What is it? Understanding these terms properly will show us that the answer isn’t what it might seem: overcoming racism and discrimination and making a fairer, more just society. It’s an important question, and as we’ll shortly see, it’s not that hard to answer.
We also have a right to ask “How did this happen?” This is also easy to answer, at least in part. Two aspects of how this industry is so successful are immediately comprehensible. First, it sounds good and so plays on our best instincts, which is genuinely an evil thing to do to people. Advancing oneself and one’s interests through distortion and emotional manipulation is always bad, but there’s something genuinely evil about defrauding people by means of the best parts of their natures: the parts that care, that want to do better, and that are horrified to have possibly hurt someone.
Second, and more to an actionable point, the Theory from which DIE originates manipulates the language we use so that we sign up for what it’s selling while we think we’re buying something else. This is how it achieves most of what it achieves, and it’s so central to how the DIE industry operates that it’s something of a marvel that we haven’t figured out the con well enough yet to apply consumer protection laws against it, just like we did a century ago in countless other damaging and fraudulent industries.
The list of terms that the DIE industry has manipulated into a specialist meaning that is quite different than the meanings it knows people will assume of them is now quite substantial and familiar: “racism” means “systemic racism,” which doesn’t even require a single racist person or intention, “anti-racism” is some kind of cultish commitment to a lifelong process of activism outlined by these very consultants, “hate speech” is that which disagrees with the consultants’ views of how to “help” people it has defined into perpetual “marginalization” and “oppression,” and “privilege” is whatever quasi-spiritual force that makes a white homeless drug addict whose mental illness is driving him to the brink of suicide richer than Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and Barack Obama all put together. And even here, in the specialist jargon, is a kind of cruel and abusive manipulation: What are you, stupid? Don’t you even know the definition of “racism”?!
Among these manipulations at the very core of these consultancy projects are three seemingly anodyne and now sacrosanct words: “Diversity,” “Inclusion,” and “Equity.” These are what they’re selling to us to a tune of untold billions of dollars a year in return for a society that gets increasingly dysfunctional as a result, and we have a right to know why. We have a right to see how we’re being lied to and manipulated by these three words. We actually do have to understand the terms “Diversity,” “Inclusion,” and “Equity” in their proper “Critical” meanings—because that’s what they’re really selling—to understand what’s going on. All of these represent political agendas, not something helpful, useful, moral, or anything remotely close to what people should think is warm, fuzzy, and worth getting behind. Speaking corporately, it would be better to set our money on fire than to spend it on these programs because they don’t just waste money but will cause increased costs more or less perpetually afterward.
That political agenda comes from a long-standing line of radical thought called “Critical Theory,” though it has been supercharged into something new in the last decade or so. That new way of doing Critical Theory is called “Critical Social Justice,” or sometimes “Wokeness” in slang, and it represents the maturation of what the Critical Theorists have called “the long march through the institutions,” following the communist philosopher Antonio Gramsci in the 1920s. Installing DIE in your workplace is facilitating the late—and, if they are successful, final—stage of the “long march,” essentially creating a new form of fascism out of a nominally anti-fascist project spanning much of the last century.
That’s a bit heavy, but we have to know. To understand it, we need to turn to these terms: “Diversity,” “Inclusion,” and “Equity” and the dangerous lie they’re selling to us.
Because Critical Theories of identity view the person and their (identity) politics as intrinsically intertwined, “Diversity” doesn’t mean what anyone thinks it means. It means “Diversity” as the Critical approaches to “identity studies” in Critical Social Justice (like Critical Race Theory) understand it. It has a very specific meaning in Critical Theory. It means only having more diverse representation of different “lived experiences of oppression.” That is, it means having people with different ethnic backgrounds and the same grievance-oriented approach to thinking about those backgrounds and aggressive and highly sensitive identity-politicking style regarding them. That’s what you’re bringing in when you go for “Diversity”: Identity-driven Critical Theorists, i.e., work-avoidant complainers, troublemakers, and busybodies who will problematize every aspect of your organization until it is compliant with their impossible and often-nonsensical political demands.
We think “diversity” means people with diverse backgrounds, but the Critical Theory twists this definition into a very specific interpretation. Specifically, in Critical Social Justice, “Diversity” means something like “people with ‘diverse’ ethnic origins who all have the same Woke political understanding of the ‘social positions‘ they inhabit and the world in which those have context.” The programs for “Diversity” insist those people, not merely people from different backgrounds, have to be hired to achieve “Diversity.” The Critical system of thought maintains that everyone else lacks the “authentic” (i.e., Critical) view and thus fails to support the right kind of “Diversity.”
Under these Critical Theories, if you happen to be some particular identity (e.g., “racially black,” as Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the New York Times Magazine “1619 Project” seemingly inadvertently put it), then your voice is only authentically Black (“politically Black”) if it speaks in terms of Blackness—a radical black-liberationist political mindset—as that is understood by Critical Race Theory. Otherwise, the black person in question is said to be suffering internalized racism (a form of socially brainwashed false consciousness that prevents him from knowing his own best interests) or is race-traitorous. Therefore, a “racially black” but not “politically Black” hire wouldn’t constitute a proper Black “Diversity” hire because the “Diversity” perspective requires having taken up the right black-liberationist politics of Critical Race Theory. Literally anything else supports “white supremacy,” which is the opposite of “Diversity,” and thus doesn’t qualify. The person’s identity is their politics, and this is why we see prominent black figures being cancelled for not holding the proper “politically Black” line.
How can this be? These Identity Theories operate on the premise that different identity groups have a different essential experience of “systemic power” dynamics and thus different “knowledges” and “lived realities.” When the relevant identity is racial, each race is said to possess certain “racial knowledges” that can only be obtained in one way: by the “lived experience” of oppressed for being that race and learning to interpret those experiences through Critical Race Theory. Only someone who represents those experiences faithfully, meaning as the relevant Identity Theory says they must be, has an “authentic” voice that speaks from that social position. Thus, in the Theory underlying DIE training, only Critical Theorists of multiple “oppressed” identities can possibly count as satisfying “Diversity” because that’s what “Diversity” really refers to.
What this means in your organization is having to hire people who have been trained into an exquisitely sensitive form of offense-taking and whose primary work effort will be problematizing everything they can read racism into. And make no mistake, the Theory says the racism must be and always is present (“the question is not ‘did racism take place?’ but ‘how did racism manifest in this situation?'” –Robin DiAngelo). The “Diversity” hire is there to help make sure it’s found and “made visible.” Diversity training is meant to make this way of thinking and the resulting cancel culture it creates standard operating procedure in your organization. At a bare minimum, the increased focus on “Diversity” initiatives will constitute a drain of valuable resources that make your organization less productive and less competitive. At worst, your organization will fracture in a Hobbesian way around these divisions like The Evergreen State College.
Therefore, when we see a call for more “Diversity” in hiring, that means hiring more Critical Theorists who have a wider variety of identity statuses but identical politics about identity in general. It’s a call to hire more Critical Theorists. You should only take that on if that’s what you really want because you’re not getting anything that points to the usual ideas of diversity.
Now we can answer our question about what this DIE work is “essential” to achieving, then. Taking on DIE is “essential” for fomenting and effecting your organization’s part in the Critical revolution. This will be achieved by finalizing Gramsci’s long march through the institutions and forcing the Critical narrative on everyone so as to establish and perpetuate its nascent hegemony. That is, DIE is essential to a sociopolitical takeover of liberal society by radical neo-Marxist activsts.
“Inclusion,” when understood Critically, is easily the most sinister of these three ideas (“Equity” is just kind of stupid and communistic and “Diversity” just has a tricky definition). “Inclusion” is genuinely insidious and twisted because inclusion means “welcoming,” but in DIE even being welcoming gets interpreted through the increasingly familiar Critical lenses of power dynamics and protected classes.
In the DIE program, an “Inclusive” environment is one that cannot create feelings of “exclusion” or “marginalization” for any protected classes or their “authentic” (that is, Theoretically consistent) voices. That is, “Inclusion” means limiting speech to agree with Theory up to and including physically excluding dissenters, disagreement, and even anyone who represents “dominant” identity groups, even by “adjacency” or “complicity.”
Truth needn’t even be relevant for these complaints. For example, the new bid by some realty companies not to refer to the largest bedroom and bathrooms as “master” bedrooms and bathrooms is a kind of “Inclusive” thinking. Even though the term originated in 1926 in a Sears catalog, and thus has nothing to do with slavery, the very idea that some people might associate the term “master” with slavery means the term has to be stricken from real estate. We see this with makeup companies removing “whitening” and “lightening” lines. We see this with college students and even workers demanding black-only spaces or asking for a minimum of white people being around lest the presence of dominant group members make them feel uncomfortable. We see it, at least perhaps, with the now-famous anti-racist scholar Ibram X. Kendi deciding changing his name from Ibram Henry Rogers to Ibram Xolani Kendi.
In fact, we see this notion of “Inclusion” behind almost every attempt to restrict speech, representation, and action to the narrow set of each of these that positively ensures absolute psychological comfort for all members of protected “minoritized” classes at all times. Given that “Diversity” requires hiring people who are trained to find egregious offense in everything, including microaggressions and wild interpretations, “Inclusion” becomes a wide-open license for utter control of speech, representation, and behavior, even down to the level of physical presence in a space or organization. This includes literal calls for re-segregation under a label of “desegregation.”
So, when some organization says it is essential to increase “Inclusion” within its halls, what it means is that there can be allowed absolutely no dissent from the Critical Theory party line. Why? Any disagreement would make people who embrace the relevant Critical Theory, which they will have synonimized with their personal identity, feel “uncomfortable.” Disagreement subjects them to idea-based “harms” or “traumas,” and the mere presence of people who disagree reminds them of how “dominant” groups “take up too much space.”
This is not an exaggeration. Because the relevant Critical Social Justice Theory literally explains that every disagreement with it is an attempt to “preserve privilege,” every disagreement is comprehensible in that Theory only as a hostile act against “marginalized” and “oppressed” groups. Thus, “Inclusion” means only allowing people to think, act, and speak in accordance with the shifting and often nonsensical demands of the Critical activists who are embedding themselves in the organization through the requirements of DIE.
Equity and equality are not the same thing. Equality means “arranging the system so that citizens are treated equally.” “Equity” means “adjusting shares so that outcomes are made equal from one citizen to another.” It arises from what is known as “social equity theory,” and it means engineering equality of outcome.
“Equity” justifies its “essential” necessity by identifying any disparity in outcome that comes out on average in the negative for the “protected classes” defined by Theory (so, not white and usually not Asian, e.g.) as the result of bigotry. This results in DIE approaches using the worst-possible means of measuring when “Equity” has been achieved and when it lacks. On-average differences, according to Critical Social Justice Theory, are “inequities,” and these must imply discrimination and bigotry in a systemic sense, and therefore must be adjusted for. This demand for “Equity” is taken to be true even if there is no evidence of (or strong evidence against) any discrimination whatsoever (asking for this evidence is also taken as evidence of racism because it suggests something overrides the experience of “lived realities”).
This is where “systemic racism” (to name just one form of systemic bigotry) becomes relevant, serving as a kid of “bigotry of the gaps” catch-all explanation for all differences that Theory would call “oppression.” The underlying belief in the Theory is that everyone must be intrinsically the same, therefore any differences on average must be the result of overt or hidden discrimination, especially when the relevant causes aren’t known or knowable. The DIE Theorist’s job is to find the “hidden” discrimination, especially since the overt parts have been eliminated in law for decades.
That hidden discrimination might be found in the organization itself (which will be charged with it, no matter how much it bends backwards to do the opposite) or in the vague workings of society, culture, education, representation, language, feelings, or anything ever experienced. Women being “assigned” the female sex at birth, for example, is often construed as sufficient to have begun “socializing” (what Critical Theory calls brainwashing by society) them into a set of beliefs and attitudes that lead them to feel unsuited to work in certain industries, like technology and on oil rigs (wait, no, not the second one). From there, everything that goes into their entire experience as as girl, then woman, is part of the “systemic” bigotry (here, sexism and misogyny) that “must” be the cause of this result. “Equity” wants to make up for it through social engineering, but not so much on the oil rig.
The objective of “Equity” is to create perfectly “Equitable” outcomes in high-status employment sectors (and basically nowhere else). On a superficial reading, as we will see, this means that employment statistics in high-status jobs, especially where cultural production or potential harms are concerned, will have to match exactly the prevailing demographic percentages in the population, even though this is literally impossible without large-scale social engineering including forced quotas. (Random stochasticity, that is, noise in the system, should make perfect alignment with prevailing demographic percentages extremely improbable, after all, even if the system were perfectly free of difference and discrimination of every sort.) That means that “Equity” implies using identity-based quotas and vigorous social engineering to achieve them. Because outcomes have to be perfectly equitable for “Equity” to have been achieved, it genuinely represents something close to an ethno-communist totalitarianism if it were put into full practice.
Bear in mind that “Equitable” outcomes require discrimination. In Ibram X. Kendi’s bestselling book How to Be Antiracist, he makes no bones about this point; it’s not like it’s some secret Theory is trying to keep from us. Kendi writes, “The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist.” It is on this line of thought precisely that we have recently seen the California State Legislature vote to remove the anti-discrimination verbiage from its state constitution. “Equity” would require us to discriminate against “dominant” groups and in favor of “oppressed ones,” as Theory has defined it, so achieving “Equity” means doing identity-based discrimination, potentially endlessly because they’ll be virtually impossible to achieve just due to random fluctuations in population dynamics.
Even creating “Equitable” outcomes like perfect parity won’t be enough, however, because Critical Race Theory is also what might be described as “ethno-historical.” Thus, even if there are no current disparities to be found (and there always will be because they can also be made up at the level of culture or subjective feelings), in any cases where there are historical ones to appeal to, those will have to be made up for too in order to achieve “Equity.” Thus, applying “Equity” from a Critical perspective results something like a combination of affirmative action and reparations, in one form or another.
Be that as it may, if we believe the Theory upon which it is now based, the demand for “Equity” becomes hopeless and perpetual. This is because of the fundamentally cynically pessimistic beliefs defining Critical Race Theory. Among these, in particular, is Derrick Bell’s idea of “Interest Convergence,” which has been a core part of Critical Race Theory from the beginning and is currently regarded among its central tenets. Interest Convergence insists that people in dominant positions in society only give oppressed people opportunities and access to resources when it’s in their own best interests, and thus even anti-discrimination and reparations could be understood as forms of racism—and would be by at least the most aggressive Critical Race agitators. This means that Critical Race Theory holds, and has held from its beginning, that racism can never go away and never be made up for (without a complete and total remake of the entire system, anyway). Thus, “Equity” is, in some sense, a perpetual demand for more reparations, either in opportunities, power, or direct payments, none of which will ever be good enough. So, “Equity” understood Critically is a clumsy tool for a power grab.
Of course, the lie about what “Equity” really is, is key to its success in being so widely implemented. “Equity” is often billed as a kind of advanced “equality,” which real equity initiatives (rather than Critical ones) actually qualify as—when they’re not Critical in orientation—and the false impression created by this ambiguity is allowed to linger, even though it is very misleading. It isn’t actually hard to parse these concepts, however. The underlying idea is simple and makes a lot of sense: equality is fair; where there is real discrimination and the playing field really isn’t level, there is some argument to taking steps to level it because genuine equality isn’t possible otherwise; thus there are reasonable approaches to equity that can enhance and improve equality. Take the implementation of reasonable measures toward handicapped access as a clear and widely endorsed example.
A reasonable approach isn’t what the radical Critical view of “Equity” advances, however, and it certainly doesn’t advance equality. Theirs, as we can see here, is radical and often not even sensible or adequately justified. This is because every inequity, measured just at the bare fact of it, that negatively impacts a protected identity group must be understood to be the result of bigotry and made up for as such by deliberate and clumsily jimmying the system in which it occurs (which includes the whole system of everything).
The argument that the playing field isn’t level necessitates “Equity” to make up for it seems plausible but is assessed in a way that has almost nothing to do with reality. Human beings aren’t identity groups. In fact, those are social constructions, as even the Theory points out, and human beings aren’t social constructions. We’re individuals. Our socially relevant categories may have some impact on our experiences, but it is not in any way believable that the radical position espoused by Theory—that all inequitable outcomes are the result of deeply entrenched bigotry across them—adequately accounts for these.
As for equality, the Theory is, in fact, openly hostile to equality. Kendi would have us believe, for example, that anywhere equality leads to inequities, equality is racist and must be eschewed (regardless of the reason and merely meaning disparate outcomes that don’t favor certain protected identity classes). Equality is explicitly described throughout Critical Race Theory and the Critical Theories it is built upon as a kind of conspiracy for keeping “minoritized groups” down.
To close, because it must be understood, this is the utter poison of the “systemic racism” approach: it actually stops us from being able to solve real problems. By treating everyone as avatars of “intersecting” socially constructed identity groups, we can’t identify real problems (like wealth inequality, which is highly socially and professionally determinant) and make poor policy. To Theory, poor policy is fine, though, because people who use Theory get to just blame “systemic racism” for their own failures. It wasn’t the Theory that failed but the “white supremacy” in the system that made it fail, thus we need more of it. Because “systemic racism” is ordinary and permanent and present in all interactions and situations—this being yet another tenet of Critical Race Theory—it’s always possible to make this argument. Always. Thus, Theory’s own failures in application are proof that Theory is right, so says Theory, anyway.
In conclusion, it’s of incredible importance at this moment in history to understand that “Diversity,” “Inclusion,” and “Equity,” as described in the Critical sense, truly aren’t what they seem to be, and it’s therefore rather appropriate to order the three words in this nonstandard way and apply the acronym “DIE” to their program. These words have real meanings, of course, and can, when rightly understood and rightly applied, lead to real improvements. As they are being served up to us by these DIE consultants, however, rooted in Critical Theory as they are, they are an unethical scam that will bring us nothing but heavy costs.