In youth, I perceived many traditions, policies, mores, taboos of the past as quaint. Maybe necessary when people were more primitive. Now we are wiser, and don’t need them.
Neoreaction: Replacing the inner voice that says “we are wiser and don’t need them” with another which says “we are no wiser, and still need them.” My previous letter stated that it was once the case that discussing politics in the workplace was unwelcome. If asked in 1990 why this was true, I’d have said “People would get into pointless fights.” (Pointless primitives!) In the present I know the answer:
“Because one side will win.”
And one side has won. Let’s be very clear about this. At my place of employment, things have gotten to the point where someone who objected to affirmative action, in the mildest and most polite manner, was viciously abused and reported to both Human Resources and his manager. We have now reached the point where a Social Justice Warrior said, in perfect seriousness,
“Some people do not understand when to keep their beliefs to themselves.”
How did this happen?
Belief systems, political and otherwise, can be thought of as pathogens which seek to spread in prospective hosts — human societies and institutions.
Corporate America has a grave defect which makes it an ideal host for progressivism: The white collar social contract. It’s assumed that you will treat your fellow employees with respect. Disagreement must be expressed in a respectful manner that assumes good faith.
But there are many ideas that are best met with mockery and dismissal. The white collar social contract allows progressives to sneak awful ideas and awful behavior into the workplace. So if Nancibald says that the Super Bowl is an attack on the transgendered, and you retort “are you on crack?”, expect someone in a position of authority to tell you to knock it off. And to call Nancibald “xe”.
Will your Human Resources department help to sort things out? Human Resources is part of the problem. HR possesses neither the ability nor the desire to make rulings on ideological disputes. (Any such resolutions would tend to be in the progressive’s favor anyway. Contrast the likely amount of progressive indoctrination that a soft science or liberal art major received in college, to that of an engineer.)
Political tendencies aside, Human Resources will be biased in favor of the employee who brought the complaint — because in doing so, that employee implicitly recognized the importance and worth of Human Resources.
You took neutrality and courtesy seriously. Progressives proselytized their ideology at every opportunity without shame. They won, you lost. Was it fair? No. But so what? Is it fair when you catch a cold? Do you rage at your rhinoviri as you toot your nose?
Also, Santa Claus is not real. Do you need a hug?
You want to be healthy, in body or organizational culture — develop a good immune system. To be sure, “political discussions should be conducted fairly and dispassionately” is a possible component of an corporate immune system. Just not a very good one. Have you ever met a progressive who was not wholly convinced of his or her own decency and fairness?
Enough pathology. On to diagnosis. My advice for dealing with social justice warriors at your job: Don’t.
Progressives have power. You lack power. To engage progressives in debate is to assume equality with them. They won’t like it, and will step on your face. (Which was the whole point of obtaining power.)
Disagreeing with progressives fulfills their need to defend their religious beliefs with zeal — and fulfills their fantasy of being the underdog, of bravely fighting for truth and justice.
Do not imagine that liberal reverence for “free speech” will keep you safe. This is like someone with ebola saying “I won’t die, the virus wouldn’t want to kill its host.” Free speech allowed progressivism to infect corporations. Now progressivism can mutate further. The strain that would put free speech above all else just isn’t as virulent as Social Justice. (Again, you can rage at the hypocrisy of it all — and it is monstrously, absurdly hypocritical — but what’s the point?)
And please, please do not become some pathetic creature, like a “men’s rights activist”, who thinks it’s clever to turn the tables on progressives by using their own rhetoric and institutions. Progressivism is conspiratorial, but it’s not a conspiracy whose purpose is to benefit one person. If you make one social justice bully apologize because he committed, say, “ageism” against your middle aged self — you’ve enrolled, unwittingly, as a foot soldier in the progressive movement. The battle you won was meaningless, the person you defeated cannon fodder.