MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Essence Of Progressivism Is Refusal To Deal With Reality — Manhattan Contrarian

Posted by M. C. on December 11, 2020

To be a woke progressive the first requirement is that you must refuse to acknowledge the real world as it exists. You must pretend that the world is something else, something immediately transformable into a fantasy of perfection through coercive collective action. You also must firmly close your eyes to any facts or evidence that might contradict such progressive fantasy, and indeed you must demand that any such facts or evidence be suppressed and never mentioned.

https://www.manhattancontrarian.com/blog/2020-12-9-the-essence-of-progressivism-is-refusal-to-deal-with-reality

Francis Menton

Reality is harsh. Let’s face it, our world is imperfect, often even deadly. Not only that, it’s always going to be imperfect. So let’s get to work on enjoying our brief lives as best we can amidst the imperfection, while striving for such incremental improvements to the world as are within our modest capabilities.

If you think that way, you definitely are not “woke.” To be a woke progressive the first requirement is that you must refuse to acknowledge the real world as it exists. You must pretend that the world is something else, something immediately transformable into a fantasy of perfection through coercive collective action. You also must firmly close your eyes to any facts or evidence that might contradict such progressive fantasy, and indeed you must demand that any such facts or evidence be suppressed and never mentioned.

Among numerous illustrations of this point, perhaps the most striking is the current hysteria sometimes going by the name “anti-racism.” Here, the official progressive fantasy is that any under-representation of blacks (or other minority group of your choice) at designated heights of society can only be the result of “systemic racism.” Therefore all must commit to the coerced program of “anti-racism,” whereupon, I presume, perfection will promptly be achieved.

Over the past several months, you cannot have missed the parade of major societal institutions — large corporations, banks, law firms, universities, and so on — caught with insufficient numbers of minorities in their ranks and pledging to rectify the situation immediately if not sooner. As a handful of examples, here is a list from Ongig.com from July of the “awesome” “diversity” commitments of 25 major companies; or here, from Glassdoor.com from August, a list of diversity commitments from another 12 major companies; or here, from the American Bar Association, a list of hundreds of signatories, including dozens of major law firms, to the ABA’s “Pledge for Change” to increase diversity. You can easily find many, many more examples with simple internet searches.

In a post back in August, I predicted that the latest round of affirmative action commitments would be no more successful than prior rounds that have been going on for the past fifty years or more. The main basis for my prediction was my personal experience of involvement in affirmative action efforts of a major law firm over several decades, and awareness from that experience of the difficulty of moving metrics in any significant way. In simple terms, there is a very limited pool of qualified candidates. You can make job offers to all of them, but all of your dozens of competitors will also make offers to all of them, and in the end you will actually employ very few. You can also try making job offers to obviously unqualified candidates. Many of these will accept your offer, but in nearly every case they will fail quickly in a rather cruel process.

In the past I have put some effort into trying to find publicly-available data illustrating the difficulty of finding minority candidates for top jobs in sufficient numbers to meet “diversity” demands; but I have had limited success. In the current City Journal, Heather Mac Donald weighs in with a piece titled “The Bias Fallacy,” making the case that bias against minorities explains little if any of their under-representation in certain positions and professions. To her credit, Ms. Mac Donald has managed to find considerable data illustrative of the limitations of the minority talent pool relative to some of the top positions at major corporations and law firms. I give a good deal of credit to Ms. Mac Donald for finding these data, which exist only for certain categories and certain years. Here are some examples:

  • From a Survey of Earned Doctorates, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, for 2017: The percentage of doctorates awarded to blacks was 2.0% in chemistry, 1.7% in “engineering disciplines,” 1.2% in physics, 1.0% in computer science, and 0.9% in mathematics and statistics. So then, how exactly are companies looking to hire, say, computer science PhDs, all supposed to find 13% blacks to fill the ranks?
  • From my own legal profession, here are some statistics on scores earned by blacks on LSAT and bar examinations: “In 2004, only 29 blacks, representing 0.3 percent of all black LSAT takers, scored 170 or above on the LSAT, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. The average entrance score was 170 for the top-ranked law schools. There were 1,900 whites who scored at least a 170, representing 3.1 percent of all white test takers. Of black test takers, 1 percent—or 108 blacks nationwide—scored at least 165 in 2004, 165 being the average for the top ten law schools. Over 10 percent of white test takers—or 6,689 whites nationwide—scored at least 165. That gap has only grown, and it affects law school outcomes. Of black law school graduates, 22 percent never pass the bar exam after five tries, compared with 3 percent of white test takers, according to a study by the Law School Admissions Council.”

Ms. Mac Donald goes through similar data taken from results of admissions tests for business schools (GMAT) and medical schools (MCAT), both of which show equally dramatic divisions. She concludes:

There simply are not enough competitively qualified black candidates to go around. Moreover, one-third of all black males have a felony conviction.

Of course the information that Ms. Mac Donald presents here constitutes a piece of the real world that is inconvenient to the current narrative. So what is the response? Increasing numbers of schools are going in a direction of no longer requiring the entrance exams as part of the admission process. If you had noticed that trend, and were wondering the reason for it, here is Ms. Mac Donald’s take:

As long as data on the skills and behavior gap remain available, it is possible to challenge the myth of bias, at least in theory. So those facts must themselves be canceled, as well as anyone who publicizes them. That is the ultimate motivation for the movement to end the use of standardized tests in admissions. . . . The reason to eliminate standardized assessments is rather to put the College Board and the Educational Testing Service out of business entirely—and with them, any possibility of an objective measure of intellectual skills.

The idea is that if you just refuse to deal with reality, it will go away, and perfection will then dawn. But unfortunately, you can only ignore reality for just so long. In the law firm business, at some point within the first year or two, a young associate will be tasked with writing a fully-researched legal brief on a complex subject with a very short deadline (say, 24 hours), where the brief needs to be right on the first try. If an associate can’t do it, that will be immediately apparent. If you have been denied the ability to screen for ability by criteria like LSAT scores or law school grades, you are just setting large numbers of young people up for failure. In the real world, this is not a nice thing to do.

Be seeing you

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