The Wrong Kind of Diversity

Wed, 24 Mar 2021

As an American, I can say that people who immigrated from the Scandinavian countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries didn’t leave the Janteloven (Law of Jante) behind. They packed that in with the rest of their baggage. If you’re not familiar, these are the rules.

  1. You’re not to think you are anything special.
  2. You’re not to think you are as good as we are.
  3. You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.
  4. You’re not to imagine yourself better than we are.
  5. You’re not to think you know more than we do.
  6. You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
  7. You’re not to think you are good at anything.
  8. You’re not to laugh at us.
  9. You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
  10. You’re not to think you can teach us anything.
  11. Perhaps you don’t think we know a few things about you?

For all the talk about “rugged individualism” in the US, that’s just part of the civil religion, the common myths and rituals that are supposed to forge a national culture and make E pluribus unum possible. The truth is that individualism and diversity are fine—as long as they’re the right kinds of individualism and diversity, the kind that serve the interests of the rich and powerful.

For example, it’s OK to be autistic as long as you’re the right kind of autistic. Good autistic people (from a corporate viewpoint) are those who can fake being neurotypical at the office and in social settings, have marketable special interests, and don’t expect time and a half for overtime. If you’re the wrong kind of autistic, good luck getting an interview, let alone not being rejected for not being a “culture fit”. Nobody gives a shit about autistic people who are really into dinosaurs unless they can jump through the hoops necessary to become professional paleontologists, but autistic people who eat, drink, sleep, and breathe JavaScript? Now we’re talking.

Why? Because the Law of Jante is the real law. Individuals is expected to subordinate themselves to society, even when society takes no notice of individuals save to exploit or harm them. Never mind that you can’t have a society without individuals.