James Kalb, Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It, Angelico Press, 2013, 203 pp., $19.95 (soft cover).
Against Inclusiveness, by independent scholar James Kalb, is one of the most quietly subversive books to be published in many years. It is perhaps most remarkable for what it takes for granted: Of course race, nation, family, sex, erotic orientation, and religion are fundamental aspects of human identity, and of course healthy people discriminate. The “inclusivist” orthodoxy of our times, which commands us to pretend these things do not matter, is therefore inhuman and tyrannical.
I have spent 25 years patiently establishing the factual and moral bases for discrimination and can only admire the serenity with which Mr. Kalb dispenses with justifications. In this book, he accepts the natural order, dissects the horrors that result from denying it, and speculates on how the current madness will end. Against Inclusiveness is rich in insights and arresting formulations.
Mr. Kalb is Catholic, and this colors his views. His arguments therefore leave room for religion, but they almost never require it, so this book can be read profitably by anyone.
The natural order
Until very recently what is called “sexism,” “homophobia,” or “racism” was simple common sense. Our rulers invented these words as a way to force us to ignore essential distinctions. Mr. Kalb explains why this is wrong:
Sex roles, ethnicity, religious distinctions, and the like are less oppressive than liberating. They free us from formlessness and enable us to live with other people in a definite and functional manner that is, as much as possible, in accordance with our innate and acquired characteristics.
Left to themselves, people associate with those who suit them best. Mr. Kalb calls discrimination of this kind “clearly rational,” arguing that government interference in our choices is always oppressive. If there were no laws against discrimination, people who want to work or live together would find each other, and everyone would be happier.
Mr. Kalb points out that traditional identities are not usually based on exclusion but on appreciation for traits we like or that we share with others. Discrimination is not “fear” and “hatred” as the regime so loves to claim. If you prefer Chinese to Italian food, it is unlikely that you fear or hate lasagna.
Often, respect for boundaries is mutual, and often the best solution for people or groups that do not get along is to avoid each other. The most vocal advocates of inclusion do this all the time. In his book The Big Sort, Bill Bishop wrote about a professor at UT, Austin who could not understand how George W. Bush could have been elected, since he didn’t know a single person who had voted for him.
It may happen that you are excluded by a group you would like to join, but that is the natural consequence of free choice that you, yourself, have and should be happy others have. If one group won’t have you, another probably will.
Mr. Kalb is frank about where this leads: “To criticize inclusiveness means favoring exclusion.” Nor does he say that exclusion can never be abusive; some people will be hurt by it. But the inclusivist solution—which could be called “multiculturalism,” “tolerance,” or “human rights;” they all mean the same thing—forbids the most basic, natural arrangements that enrich our lives. As Mr. Kalb points out, we cannot escape danger by destroying what makes life meaningful.
The inclusivist crusade even leads to policies that ignore the fact that we are men and women:
Military experience can count in employment decisions and the like, but not the experience of being raised a man rather than a woman, or even the consequences of hundreds of millions of years of sexual dimorphism.
Sex differences and sex roles are fundamental to human life, and society pays a heavy price when we are forced to blur or ignore them:
[R]elations between the sexes will lose form and functionality, people will not reproduce, children will be brought up badly, and men and women will be perpetually at odds with each other.
The inclusivist regime does not forbid all discriminations; only the most basic ones. It permits and even encourages enormous differences in power and privilege, so long as they are based on “wealth, bureaucratic position, political outlook, and formal certification.”
But why destroy the age-old and inevitable discriminations? Mr. Kalb writes that the regime wants to fit all people into the appropriate slots in its vast machinery of production, consumption, and governance. The only permitted distinctions are therefore those that arise from commerce or bureaucracy, and each of us is allowed an antiseptically functional identity stripped of organic or spiritual loyalties. Our roles may be those of accountant or bureaucrat or even millionaire, but we must never act publicly as a white man or a heterosexual or a Baptist.
In Mr. Kalb’s view, inclusiveness tries to turn us into “components distinguished only by reference to the demands of the machine and otherwise treated as interchangeable:”
Such a conception is destructive, since human life is not mechanical. We conduct it through relationships that operate in a variety of ways corresponding to the diversity of human needs, functions, and concerns. Such relationships are not easily rationalized and they always involve inequalities, since organization involves inclusion, exclusion, and hierarchy.
But the goal of inclusiveness is not just to make us all pliant cogs in the machine. As Mr. Kalb himself notes, the regime takes savage pleasure in crushing dissent. The moral thrill our rulers get from “fighting bigotry” is surely more important to them than the possible efficiencies of running a society of robots rather than people. The regime’s highest psychic reward is self righteousness.
The trouble is that the forms of exclusion and hierarchy the regime forbids are founded on real differences; there are reasons why “marginal” groups are marginal. Once the regime has decided that differences don’t matter—or are “social constructs”—it denies reality:
Any flaws in the groups promoted from the margin to the center are whitewashed, the more glaring the flaws, the thicker the coating. AIDS has sanctified homosexuality, Muslim terrorism has made Islamophobia a horrendous sin, and black dysfunction has led to the insistence on the hipness and nobility of blacks, the stupidity and tackiness of ordinary whites, and the sterility and oppressiveness of white society.
When reality conflicts with ideology, ideology wins. If high standards exclude blacks or women, they cease to be standards and instead become acts of oppression. Education means “closing the gaps,” because all groups are equal.
Mr. Kalb reminds us of how Army Chief of Staff George Casey reacted to Nidal Malik Hassan’s Fort Hood massacre: “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” The Army investigation of the shooting never even mentioned that Hassan was a Muslim. As Mr. Kalb notes, “Stupidity is thus a necessary consequence of taking their fundamental commitments seriously,” because:
Thought depends on recognizing and applying patterns. Relating individual cases to patterns means discrimination and prejudice, so inclusiveness requires suppression of the habits of mind that make thought possible.
Avoiding stereotypes–refusing to recognize patterns–means deliberately ignoring similarities and differences that are basic to human life, and this becomes “a recipe for cynicism, hypocrisy, irrationality, and fanaticism.” Ironically, sensitivity training is supposed to make us “culturally sensitive,” and therefore involves recognizing stereotypes. However, these stereotypes always require accommodation by the majority rather than by minorities.
Inclusiveness exacerbates the problems it is trying to solve by forcing incompatible people together. At the same time, it eliminates common, unifying myths and traditions, because these things are usually particular to a culture or ethnicity. As Mr. Kalb notes:
No culture or religion can matter more than any other, so none can matter at all. . . . A truly diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and multi-faith society would have too few common habits, loyalties, and understandings to function except under mixed impulses of anarchy and tyranny.
The nation pays a price for this breakdown:
The post-1960s moral order, of which inclusiveness is a natural expression, has turned millions of people into criminals, drug addicts, crime victims, divorced and unwed mothers, abused and neglected children, homosexuals dead of AIDS, boys without fathers, and girls abused by their mothers’ boyfriends. Should such people, those still alive, at any rate, be grateful for it?
War on Human Nature
As Mr. Kalb points out, the inclusivist enterprise “tries to control everything for the sake of goals that are at odds with human nature.” Americans naturally resisted calls to blind themselves to meaningful differences so they had to be coerced. Outlawing segregation and discrimination did not produce equality, so the regime imposed busing and racial preferences. These did not work either, and since our rulers refuse to accept the most starkly obvious facts about group differences, we are now several decades into a perpetual hunt for all forms of the “hidden bigotry” that causes different outcomes. This is war not only on biology but on normal behavior: “There are always new fronts on which to prosecute a battle that can never be won against an evil that is intrinsic to social life.”
Once a society accepts inclusiveness, it means control even of our thoughts. There must be special training for everything, because whatever comes naturally is abhorrent. The result is a totalitarian system Robespierre would have recognized.
Those who refuse to have their humanity beaten out of them are stupid, malicious, or mentally disturbed—and can be reviled with impunity. Avoiding hurt or offense is one of inclusion’s goals, but only for marginal groups. Inclusivists have their own official negative stereotypes: white people, gun owners, Southerners, Republicans, rural whites, fundamentalist Christians, Sarah Palin supporters, etc. Hating them is an essential exercise in self-righteousness. Mr. Kalb calls it “the pleasure of licensed abuse of dissenters in a world grown terminally sensitive, caring, and dull.”
As Mr. Kalb explains, since our rulers see deviations from inclusiveness as the cause of all that is wrong with society, “the attempt to identify evil with some one principle, so that it can be extirpated, leads to an uncomprehending extremism that itself becomes a principle of evil.” Inclusiveness demands total submission.
The search for bigotry stretches into the past. Every person who lived before the reign of inclusiveness was a brute, so our elites can safely look down on everyone who is dead. Aside from formerly “marginalized” groups that are now America’s special pets, history has nothing for us to admire; only gradations of benightedness. As Mr. Kalb notes, “The conviction of our ruling class that they are by far the most intelligent and enlightened people who ever lived is itself a sign of stupidity, or at least of ignorance and narcissism.”
Maintaining orthodoxy requires a huge effort of suppression. Mr. Kalb writes that the popularity of The Bell Curve seems to have been the signal to force race and genetics underground, and constant indoctrination has the desired effect:
The more intelligent and highly educated people are today, the more they believe what they are supposed to believe. The less intelligent absorb less of what they are told and retain more of their original way of thinking, but they are inarticulate and increasingly nonfunctional, so they pose no threat to the regime so long as they are disarmed.
Even smart people begin to ignore the evidence of their senses, and ordinary people who happen to blurt out something obviously true find themselves shamed and vilified. People therefore hold their tongues, but that is no solution. As Mr. Kalb points out, “topics that are prudent for each of us to avoid individually may be disastrous to avoid as a society.”
Inclusiveness behaves like a state religion, but pretends to be something else. Our rulers think of themselves as supremely rational, but they are not capable of rational disagreement:
If you reject it [their view] you are “extremist” or “divisive.” They use these terms instead of “heretical” or “schismatic,” but they mean the same thing, the upshot being that you have to be shut up.
Inclusiveness claims to be tolerant but brooks no opposition. For that reason, anything that calls itself a religion had better accommodate itself to inclusiveness, which functions as a state religion because anyone who seeks public office must be a believer.
Inclusiveness has quasi-spiritual goals for the nation as a whole: “A world without outsiders and without borders, one in which there is no ‘they,’ but only ‘we.’ . . . The goal of our national existence becomes self-transcendence through self-abolition.”
Almost all Protestants have aligned themselves with the regime, and have turned their Christianity into a kind of mystical liberalism. Catholics have not yet been completely denatured; they still refuse to ordain women or fawn over homosexuals.
Liberals love to make the Apostle Paul sound like an early inclusivist by quoting Galatians 3:28:
There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Mr. Kalb explains that Paul was expressing the unity of Christianity by pointing out that it transcends even the most fundamental and enduring human differences. As Mr. Kalb notes:
One could also say that in Christ Jesus there is neither professor nor janitor, neither Supreme Court justice nor used car salesman. That would not mean that these distinctions are illegitimate, only that they are not ultimate . . . .
Mr. Kalb also points out that in the Bible charity begins at home; certainly not in South Sudan. He quotes Thomas Aquinas:
Man is debtor chiefly to his parents and his country, after God. . . . The worship due to our parents includes the worship given to all our kindred, since our kinsfolk are those who descend from the same parents . . . .
The Second Vatican Council noted that “rightful differences exist between men,” and the Catholic catechism states: “Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and vocation.”
This helps explain why the regime is so suspicious of the Catholic Church and insults it at every opportunity.
Some of the distinctive traits of the inclusivist state are its belief in the infallibility of experts, its contempt for ordinary people, and its love of “education” and “training.” Professional managers run everything, while citizens get the sop of an occasional vote to keep up the façade of legitimacy. As Mr. Kalb notes, “The result is a supposedly democratic regime in which the views of most actual people on basic issues like immigration, affirmative action, and the place of religion in public life are excluded as illegitimate and irrelevant.” The people’s opinion on the death penalty, “gay” marriage, and government handouts don’t matter either.
Mr. Kalb summarizes our “democracy:”
Those who rule try to make their lives easier by accommodating popular concerns, but their guiding principle is less the will of the people than staying in power and running things in accordance with their own interests and understandings, which mostly have to do with turning society into an efficient machine with themselves on top. . . . Representative institutions . . . become a way of registering the public’s approval of decisions arrived at in other ways.
Government expands its powers by weakening every competitor. It denounces most traditional communities as forms of oppression and exclusion, and once they are destroyed the state is the only focus of group identity. No community can include everyone, so the quest for inclusiveness becomes the enemy of community.
Public-spiritedness requires deeply shared common values, but when the state is the only community, there are no such values. Public life becomes sterile, people stop volunteering, and citizens refuse to vote. Even liberals such as Robert Putnam of Harvard now realize that public spirit thrives in coherent, homogeneous societies. As common values disappear, public life becomes dominated by ambition, greed, and manipulation.
At the same time, experts and managers think they know what is good for us, and try to regulate our lives. Laws run to hundreds of pages and regulations to thousands, but as Mr. Kalb points out: “Life is too complex for experts to master, the result being that, when they run the world, they end up deciding issues arbitrarily or avoiding them altogether.”
Mr. Kalb summarizes the principles of the inclusivist state:
Freedom means comprehensive control of human relations, so we do not oppress each other.
Equality means rule by irresponsible and unrepresentative elites who keep us equal by keeping us powerless.
Reason means submission of mind and will to the authority of experts.
Diversity and inclusiveness mean distinctions cannot be allowed to matter, so they have to be neutered or destroyed.
Tolerance means demonization of those attached to nonliberal principles as bigots and fundamentalists.
The result is the “soft, smothering tyranny” under which we now live.
How will it end?
Mr. Kalb is confident that although inclusiveness is powerfully entrenched now, no system so at odds with human nature can survive. But how will it fall and how can we help bring it down? He notes that inhuman systems sometimes collapse into the very opposite of what they claimed to be: “Russian socialism ended in the reign of lawless greed, and Western multiculturalism will very likely end in a radically divided society shot through with hatred and violence.”
In the short term, the regime will probably permit more and more deviations from its rules: home schooling, private schools, religious communities, and ethnic enclaves—at least for non-whites. Self-segregation violates its principles, but as Mr. Kalb notes, “ideology often averts its gaze from what is actually happening.” Just as small-scale private enterprise made life tolerable under the Soviets, organic ties based on exclusion help society function, so these will be quietly left alone. Mr. Kalb makes the following prediction:
It is likely, then, that the current regime will become less effective and consistent, while maintaining its official ideology. It will very likely tend towards a pattern common in ethnically diverse parts of the Third World: a radically divided society with little public life and a government that combines democratic and inclusive rhetoric with tyranny, weakness, corruption, nepotism, and crony capitalism. Liberal inclusiveness would reign officially, but below the surface the real life of the society would be carried on through kinship, ethnic, religious, and criminal networks.
In other words, although we are supposed to be bringing America to the Middle East, America is becoming the Middle East, where there is no public trust, and government is everyone’s enemy. At least Arabs have a fanatical religion to hold them together; we do not even have that.
In the mean time, dissidents must understand that “the liberal system is knit together so closely that questioning one part undermines all the others.” It aims to govern all aspect of our lives, so it is impossible to reject just one part of it. Mr. Kalb notes that our rulers are right to suspect anyone who is skeptical of “gay rights,” for example, of being “racist” and “sexist;” by all rights, he should be. This means piecemeal opposition cannot succeed. “Conservatives” who implicitly accept inclusiveness and equality cannot hope to fight only those aspects of it they find most odious. Unless they reject the entire system they are defeated from the outset.
As Mr. Kalb explains, “To oppose inclusiveness, therefore, requires a view of how the world works that is wholly at odds with current assumptions,” adding, “Our goal is to present, in every possible setting, views that are better and more adequate than liberalism in terms others can understand:”
Opposing inclusiveness is not bigotry. Rather, it is support for what is normal and human, and we should be confident that the need for a normally functioning society can eventually be made evident to men of good will generally.
In stating his case, Mr. Kalb notes that “provocation is sometimes useful, but it is usually better to find common ground and to show that what we propose is implicit in what others already believe.” This is especially useful advice when approaching “conservatives.” Anyone who despises even part of the system already has a foot in our camp.
The regime could crumble more quickly than any of us think because “basic issues cannot be suppressed forever and can reassert themselves very quickly when the wind changes.” For the time being, Mr. Kalb urges the creation of small communities, in which normal human relations can thrive. He suspects these communities will be tied together by religion.
If there is anything to criticize in this book, it would be Mr. Kalb’s view of science. He accuses the regime of “scientism,” or the attempt to explain beauty and meaning in rational terms, but I do not believe even the most blinkered bureaucrats think science plumbs all mysteries.
Science is an enemy of the regime. Our rulers don’t yet seem to know it, but the John Watson/B. F. Skinner view of infinite human malleability has been completely discredited. (One of Skinner’s statements could be the regime’s motto: “We must delegate control of the population as a whole to specialists.”)
Almost every day, there are new discoveries that prove there is such a thing as human nature, and that there is no such thing as equality. Although no one should expect science to answer teleological questions, science is helping destroy inclusivist ideology. But this is a small quibble over a book that is as illuminating as it is far reaching.
Near the end of Against Inclusiveness, Mr. Kalb writes that “those who see the current order as destructive need to clarify their own goals,” but says his own prescriptions “will have to await another occasion.” I certainly look forward to that occasion.