'Woke' Wars and Rejection of the Arbitrary

Thursday, May 06, 2021

I think the following paragraph -- from an account of a successful derailment of a character assassination and takeover attempt of a charity by woke "activists" -- captures the essence of the events:

Don't apologize or defend yourself against vague accusations of "harm." An apology when you've done nothing wrong is a lie. It will only further convince your accusers their delusions are reality. They don't want dialogue; they want compliance. Nor will you defeat them in logical debate: Theory rejects objective truth.
It strikes me that such events, which appear to be sprouting like weeds, are ripe opportunities for Objectivists to offer moral support and clarity regarding an epistemological issue that gives many people much more trouble than it should: Dealing with the arbitrary.

I even see some of this within the earlier parts of this account, when the author -- at unnecessary risk of granting unearned moral credibility to her opponents -- "us[ed] their woke moral code against them" during a meeting. There is no epistemological need to engage such people at all. (It can be helpful to address what they say -- for the benefit of members of the organization, but that is a different issue and should not imply any moral sanction of those individuals.)

While, yes, for legal or prudential reasons it may be wise to make sure one's employees have no actual grievances in areas the woke pretend to be concerned about, there is no need to give them the moral high ground. (It can be useful to show that they are hypocrites, but that is not the same thing.)

Regarding the arbitrary, here is part of what Rand said about it:
Somewhat ironically, any use of such an image by anyone on the left today betrays ignorance of the difference between political and economic power, psychological projection, or both. (Image by Alfred Owen Crozier, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.)
Since an arbitrary statement has no connection to man’s means of knowledge or his grasp of reality, cognitively speaking such a statement must be treated as though nothing had been said.

Let me elaborate this point. An arbitrary claim has no cognitive status whatever. According to Objectivism, such a claim is not to be regarded as true or as false. If it is arbitrary, it is entitled to no epistemological assessment at all; it is simply to be dismissed as though it hadn't come up... The truth is established by reference to a body of evidence and within a context; the false is pronounced false because it contradicts the evidence. The arbitrary, however, has no relation to evidence, facts, or context. It is the human equivalent of [noises produced by] a parrot . . . sounds without any tie to reality, without content or significance. [bold added]
The only relevance of the mealy-mouthed utterances of a "social" "justice" "warrior" is that you now know you have at least one troublemaker in your organization you will need to root out -- after taking whatever precautions you may need legally and to ensure that your good employees do, in fact, feel well-treated.

I am not in management, but, while the firmness in the author's strategy is laudable, it seems that the less one engages with such people, and the more efficiently such maneuvers are dealt with, the better. Furthermore, the approach recently outlined by Basecamp, of eliminating or greatly curtailing cultural and political discussions by employees while they're on the clock might be necessary. Indeed, it could likely head off a majority of such power-grabs, which is probably why there is wailing and gnashing of teeth from such quarters.

In any event, it is encouraging to see that some businesses and organizations are developing and sharing strategies to derail these power-hungry "little dictators."

-- CAV

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