Making the subjective objective

Having reified everything (Russia reified as the devil; schooling as a natural process; psychiatry as science; and so on) the liberal capitalists of the West are now engaged in a curious re-inversion. In this new gambit of mystification and alienation subjective feelings are given the same status as objective facts. In policing this finds expression in new laws which define the crime in terms not of what was done measured by an objective standard, but in terms of how the “victim” felt. It is enough that someone felt harassed for a crime to have been committed. This then develops further; in this world once allegations have been made the accused is automatically guilty. – If someone was upset enough to make allegations then, by definition, they have in fact been abused.

This new standard comes out in a recent poll (much trumpeted by the Guardian) which makes, at least in its treatment in the Guardian, dramatic claims about the extent of racism in the UK today. This is some of the twisted logic:

The survey found that 43% of those from a minority ethnic background had been overlooked for a work promotion in a way that felt unfair in the last five years – more than twice the proportion of white people (18%) who reported the same experience.

Of course this finding in a poll does nothing to show that racial discrimination exists in the workplace. It could equally show that those from a “minority ethnic background” are more likely to interpret not getting a promotion as being unfair. People reporting an “experience” of how they felt is not an objective or meaningful measure of anything other than itself; more people felt it to be unfair. One can extrapolate anything one wants from that but there is no logical connection to the claim – that this reflects actual racial bias.

Ironically; it would be perfectly possible to conduct a study, valid in social science terms, in the UK. Data on ethnicity is often gathered in employment situations and could be gathered in internal promotion applications. Some kind of a study which compared promotion outcomes with qualifications and experience could produce something at least approximating to a meaningful result. (Since much of this data probably already exists we are talking here of a meta study).

But this poll shows nothing – at least relating to promotion at work. That the claim is made based on subjective feelings simply reflects a cult of the subject which is very much promoted by liberals in the West at the moment.

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