When Identity Politics Turns a Profit

When Identity Politics Turns a Profit, by Jason Willick.

The most interesting response to the firing of James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote a provocative memo questioning his company’s diversity practices, didn’t come from the establishment center-left, which predictably proclaimed Damore’s arguments beyond the pale, or the conservative right, which predictably said Silicon Valley elites had become intoxicated by political correctness. Rather, it came from the lonely members of the old-fashioned, class-conscious, social democratic Left, which framed the issue in terms of worker rights and the unaccountable power of employers over their employees.

Writing in The Week, Jeff Spross argued that even if Damore was in the wrong, the episode highlights the way American companies as a whole have too much power to fire workers at will. … “In many other Western economies, employees cannot be fired “at will”; they can only be let go after a lengthy legal process.” …

This angle is worth considering because it complicates the dominant partisan framing around the Google affair. Perhaps by supporting the rollback of labor regulations and private sector unions over the past few decades, the American Right helped create the social conditions that led to Damore’s ouster. And perhaps by cheering Google’s diversity enforcement scheme, liberals aren’t actually furthering the interests of the oppressed but simply giving cover to unaccountable, inequality-producing mega-corporations. More broadly, perhaps right-wing market economics and left-wing identity politics aren’t opposed but mutually-reinforcing. …

In the firing of Damore, we have a fantastically wealthy mega-corporation … practicing identity politics in its rawest form.