Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Google should stop trying to be 'woke'

I read an interesting Wall Street Journal article about how incessant political arguments rule Google's workplace and it got me thinking about why companies like Google are so intent on portraying themselves as politically aware and terribly bien-pensant (or 'woke' as it is known amongst the social justice warrior set). Google has a policy of allowing political speakers and debate on its premises but it doesn't seem to have thought through the implications of doing so. If the experience of James Damore* is any indication, the company does not encourage the free and open exchange of political views but rather is a place where any departure from the accepted conformity (of left-wing, social justice views) is punished. And, as the fight between the 'Googlers for Animals' and the 'Black Googler Network' described in the article (seriously, read it and laugh!) shows, even the most comformist views will inevitably come into conflict.

The arrogance and naiveté of Google's senior executives in this matter is stunning. Did they really think that encouraging particular political views to be promoted within the workplace wouldn't cause conflict amongst their employees? And do they seriously think their company's interests are aligned with the causes of social justice warriors? As I wrote in my last post, these people are Marxists and their enemy is capitalism, and the worst capitalists in their view are the big, monopolistic corporations like Google. Come the revolution, the Googles will be nationalised without compensation, all those beautiful cars in the parking lot will be seized, the lovely homes in the Palo Alto Hills will be commandeered, and anyone who raises the slightest objection will be shipped off to a re-education camp in North Dakota.

But the naiveté of such company executives is not my main objection to their dangerous dalliance with selective political debate in the workplace. Google has a mission to produce the best products and services for its customers in order to make the best return on investment for its stockholders. It also has an obligation to treat its staff fairly in accordance with its contractual obligations and the law. The company's role isn't to provide a platform for particular political beliefs, especially when doing so undermines staff productivity and moral (which it certainly seems to be doing at Google). The company certainly shouldn't be determining which political views are acceptable for its staff to hold.

It would be ironic if the very people Larry Page is encouraging end up seizing his Porsche, but the demise of Google is a prospect I really don't want to see.

* The Wall Street Journal article, while otherwise fair, misrepresents Damore's views as 'questioning women’s fitness for certain jobs'. Damore did no such thing - he simply referenced widely-accepted sociological and psychological research that shows that men and women on average have differing vocational strengths and career preferences, and he said that these needed to be taken into account in understanding the varying male and female representation in fields such as software engineering before jumping to the conclusion that implicit bias was to blame.

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