Google Firing Employee Over Diversity Discussion Is Frighteningly Authoritarian

Google Firing Employee Over Diversity Discussion Is Frighteningly Authoritarian

Nothing could be more dystopian than the largest information, communication, and documentation hub controlling your thoughts and punishing you for wrongthink.
Sumantra Maitra
By

The firing of the Google employee for writing a memo will inevitably bring about different excuses. It shouldn’t. It should chill your bones. Nothing could be more dystopian than the largest information, communication, and documentation hub controlling your thoughts and punishing you for wrongthink.

This is the most chilling development of our times, as anything you say, no matter how scientific and valid it is, can be used against you to say that you’re a bigot. Your life, career, and livelihood will be at risk. These are the new dark ages. Orwellian is a word used often, mostly without proper context by people without the barest hint of irony, but this is one of those rare times when it is justified, in the true sense of the term, as nothing could be more Orwellian than blaspheming against the church of inclusivity, or getting fired for the sake of diversity. It could happen to anyone. It could happen to you.

We shrugged when Sir Tim Hunt was fired, his lifetime achievement under the lens, after a barely controversial non-joke, we shrugged when every speaker worthy of posing any intellectual challenge to conventional wisdom was de-platformed from universities across the Anglo-Saxon world, when Bret Weinstein was chased off campus at Evergreen College with threats of violence. Who’s laughing now? The virus of social justice mob hunting you down online for wrong-think is not confined to campuses anymore. It has spread to the second pillar of society, corporate entities. Academia down, economy conquered. It will soon spread to the armed forces, the last bastion of civilization.

James Damore Was Fired For Telling the Truth

Let’s unpack the whole thing, shall we. A fella named James Damore wrote a fairly well referenced internal memo, and forwarded it to his colleagues. The central thesis was this. “Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety….This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed. The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.”

The author of the memo has a bachelor of science in molecular biology, physics, and chemistry and a PhD in systems biology from Harvard, and has been a research intern in Princeton and Harvard universities and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before he joined Google. The argument that he doesn’t know what he is talking about is prima facie laughable.

Damore confirmed his dismissal, saying he was fired for perpetuating gender stereotypes, and said that he is considering legal remedies. The mere fact that men and women are different is a terminable offence at Google. His original statement from the memo was “…distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.”

Afterward, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the memo violated the internal Google code of conduct and perpetuated gender stereotypes. A cursory reading of the two statements above shows that accusation is, in simpler terms, a falsehood. In a note to the employees, Pichai wrote, “Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry…each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting.” The irony is Sophoclean. Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, once said during Google’s repeated clash with China that Google’s founding values was “freedom of expression.” Evidently.

Corporate Is On the Side of Repression

Whether the memo was scientifically valid is not a debate I would want to get into. I’m not qualified enough for that, and better brains than me should deal with it. But this gives a hint of the culture wars we are in. Attributing scientifically valid causality for under-representation and stating one sex is inferior aren’t the same thing. Yet that was what was claimed, a strawman was created by the online mobs, and the monster was valiantly slain.

Throughout history, the clash of ideologies was never technically between Left and Right. It was always between authoritarian impulses and groupthink versus individualism and freedom of expression. Authoritarian impulses could be majoritarian, or the tyranny of a minority mob. There have been several purges, and contrary to popular belief, even in the “free” West. A simple test of this hypothesis is to see how many universities would fund any research deemed “offensive,” regardless of the scientific merit or business gain.

One might argue it is not very realist to be so absolutist about free speech. On the contrary, it is extremely realist. If there’s no diversity of opinion, there’s hegemony, monopoly, and authoritarianism. There’s no balance. But the counter thought won’t die. It will just go underground and be hijacked by the extreme agents. That’s too incendiary a situation to even think of.

We’re in the cultural war of our times. It’s not Donald Trump who’s ushering in dystopia or dark ages, it is corporate entities that control and can access your deepest information and email, and engineer thoughts. And it is the offended mobs they encourage.

Sumantra Maitra is a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, UK. His research is in great power-politics and neorealism. He also regularly writes for The National Interest and Quillette Magazine, and edits Bombs and Dollars blog. You can find him on Twitter @MrMaitra.

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