Individualism: The Only Cure for Racism

Racism cannot be cured by 'diversity' or racial preferences — they are themselves forms of racism. The only cure: individualism

Edwin A. Locke
The Ayn Rand Institute
1998 E-Mail this page to a friend

It is now taken as a virtual axiom that the way to cure racism is through the promulgation of racial and ethnic diversity within corporations, universities, government agencies and other institutions. The diversity movement has many facets: diversity awareness, diversity training, diversity hiring and admissions, diversity promotions, and diversity accommodations (e.g., black student organizations and facilities at universities). The common feature in all these facets is: racial preference.

If diversity is the cure, however, why, instead of promoting racial harmony, has it brought racial division and conflict? The answer is not hard to discover. The unshakable fact is that you cannot cure racism with racism. To accept the diversity premise means
you cannot cure racism with racism
to think in racial terms rather than in terms of individual character or merit. Taking jobs away from one group in order to compensate a second group to correct injustices caused by a third group who mistreated a fourth group at an earlier point in history (e.g., 1860) is absurd on the face of it and does not promote justice; rather, it does the opposite. Singling out one group for special favors (e.g., through affirmative action) breeds justified resentment and fuels the prejudices of real racists. People are individuals; they are not interchangeable ciphers in an amorphous collective.

Consider a more concrete, though fictional, example. Suppose that since its creation in 1936, the XYZ Corporation refused to hire redheaded men due to a quirky bias on the part of its founder. The founder now dies and an enlightened Board of Directors decides that something “positive” needs to be done to compensate for past injustices and announces that, henceforth, redheads will be hired on a preferential basis. Observe that: (1) this does not help the real victims — the previously excluded redheads; (2) the newly favored redheads have not been victims of discrimination in hiring, yet unfairly benefit from it; and (3)
organizational training should focus not on diversity-worship but on how to objectively assess or measure ability, motivation and character...
the non-redheads who are now excluded from jobs due to the redhead preference did not cause the previous discrimination and are now unfairly made victims of it. The proper solution, of course, is simply to stop discriminating based on irrelevant factors. Although redheaded bias is not a social problem, the principle does not change when you replace hair color with skin color.

The traditional and essentially correct solution to the problem of racism has always been color-blindness. But this well-intentioned principle comes at the issue negatively. The correct principle is individuality awareness. In the job sphere there are only three essential things an employer needs to know about an individual applicant: (l) Does the person have the relevant ability and knowledge (or the capacity to learn readily)? (2) Is the person willing to exert the needed effort? and (3) Does the person have good character, e.g., honesty, integrity?

... the belief — that you can cure racism with racial quotas — is a hopeless quest with nothing but increased conflict and injustice as the end
It will be argued that the above view is too “idealistic” in that people often make judgments of other people based on non-essential attributes such as skin color, gender, religion, nationality, etc. This, of course, does happen. But the solution is not to abandon the ideal but to implement it consistently. Thus, organizational training should focus not on diversity-worship but on how to objectively assess or measure ability, motivation and character in other people.

The proper alternative to diversity, that is, to focusing on the collective, is to focus on the individual and to treat each individual according to his or her own merits. Americans have always abhorred the concept of royalty, that is, granting status and privilege based on one’s hereditary caste, because it contradicts the principle that what counts are the self-made characteristics possessed by each individual. Americans should abhor racism, in any form, for the same reason.

With a few heroic exceptions, such as Nucor and Cypress Semiconductor, which have defied quota pressures, business leaders (following the intellectuals) have been terror-stricken at the thought that there is any alternative to diversity. Their belief — that you can cure racism with racial quotas — is a hopeless quest with nothing but increased conflict and injustice as the end. It is time that business leaders find the courage to assert and defend the only true antidote to the problem of racism: individualism.

Edwin A. Locke, a professor of management at the University of Maryland at College Park, is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Marina del Rey, California.
The original was published in the Ayn Rand website

Previous Visitor Comments

Name Email Subject Location
Zul Hemanizoolhemani_at_aol.comRacism or Pluralism
Racism or, as I would call it, preferencialism is a consequence of a sense of insecurity among a certain class of members of society. Racism is not an exclusive domain of the the rich, the privileged, the educated or the meritocratic. It is equally resorted to by the poor, the underprevileged, the illiterate or the left-behinders. The primary objective is to collectively protect themselves or their preferred ones from being overtaken or left behind. Preferencialism is rooted or has become a part of our thinking process and culture amazingly even the most well meaning and enlightened individuals and institutions practce it unknowingly. One way of getting over this phenomenon is to have peer review or social audit of all our institutions and activities to find and remove the factors contributing towards preferencialism.

Prashant Devprashant.dev_at_gmail.comRand is rite!!!!!!!!!!!Dare to Follow Him my Leaders!!!!!!!!
Its simple but todays people dont want to follow simple path, because by following the tedious path they kan show their superiority over others.... Ego has to be removed.

Prashant Devprashant.dev_at_gmail.comRand is rite !!!!!
Its simple but todays people dont want to follow simple path, because by following teh tedious path they kan show their superiority over others.... Ego has to to be removed.

titchAnonymousa 15yr old with big opinions
i agree 100 percent. i know a person that is racist and he gets on my nerves he says they dont deserve to be hear, even the ones that are boen hear. he says they all have aids and i think that it is just completly out of order. he has as much a chance of aids as a black/ethnic person has. i give him such a hard time. i does it just to get a laugh but it just not fuuny. racism really gets on my nerves.

I aggree we are in 2004 and still we have racism and i can't stand i have a best friend ans shes black and she has no problem so whats everyones problem you we are scared of new thing we don'y understand but really we do god made us different for a reason they are like us white people on the inside!! but different on the outside. I'm only 15 but yet i have never had a problem bout Blacks and you or anyone eles shouldn't be either you sincerly kate

Sean Le Rouxmrseanleroux_at_hotmail.comAgreed
I Find Whenever Someone Of A Different Race Has A Problem It Becomes A Culture thing? "In Our Culture We Teach Our Children Respect" Was The Last One I Heard And My Responce Was "In Evry Culture On This Planet We Teach Our Children This" (I Dont Even Have Kids) But On The Flip Side I Think That Adults Breeding Narrow Mindednes Has Been A Big Part Of Our Racism Problem I Think Induvidualism Would Aid In Creating A Universal Culture (We All Have The Same Beliefs And Morals But Someone Has To Always Try Be The King Of The Castle Now Its Not "Racial Supremacy But Cultural Difference" Take These Words Cultural Difference Affirmative Action Racism Whats The Difference? They All Mean One Thing

Brian MacLeodb_l_macleod(at)hotmail.comIndividualism
At last, someone who will employ me! Where do I find this XYZ Corporation? BML:)
this is a great articl and helps in the development of a personal problem and to understand from all persfectives!

john s bolton
Brilliant article; I liked the illustration of the red-headed exclusion.Taking these political messes outside of their insignificant particulars clarifies the issues wonderfully. I have been writing on the subject of diversity-valorization in recruitment, rare-species protection and as general theory of value and reading this is very helpful and illuminating.

I real enjoyed this article very much and it was also very helpful as well. It is the best article that I have read on racism thus far.

Kyriakos Skiourisgrkmafiak@aol.comI need your help
I am a senior at Providence High school in Charlotte NC i am hoping by writing you you will be able to help me. I am writing my Senior exit on the Philosophy of Racism and strongly agree with the only cure being individualism. My thesis though is that by the application of philosophy racism is only mans own feelings of feelings inferiority to another race. The problem i have come across is that i have now come to and epiphany that there are no races with proof that therer are no races. I have use the works of Plato, arisotle, martin luther king ghandi and more. My question is that can you pleas help guid me in the right direction and send me some information that you may have that could be some service to my reasurch. As well as advice on rewording my thesis. any help is apreciated thank you. Kyriakos Skiouris

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