by Barry A. Liebling
When I think about Google I am ambivalent. Certainly the internet giant has been a useful, and sometimes indispensable, tool for my professional work and leisure activities. I have used other search engines – notably Bing and DuckDuckGo – which yield acceptable results, but Google usually does a better job.
But I am aware that Google is dominated – from upper management, to mid-level executives, to rank and file professionals – by individuals who are committed to a leftist agenda. And these leftists causes are diametric to the philosophy of personal freedom and liberty. The culture at Google can be characterized as an extreme case of Social Justice Warriors perpetually alert to anyone who is not part of the leftist movement. Googlers (as they call themselves) are encouraged to scrutinize the politics of all employees and to forcibly correct or weed out anyone who does not tow the party line. Apparently, conservatives and libertarians at Google have learned to be quiet and do not dare to express any opinions that are at odds with the radical leftist narrative.
Recently, James Damore a former Google engineer who was fired for writing a memo that expressed opinions contrary to the official politics of Google has taken legal action against the internet titan. He and his attorney contend that Google is discriminating illegally against employees who have conservative (traditional, different from the left party-line) opinions. https://www.wsj.com/articles/former-google-engineer-who-wrote-diversity-memo-files-suit-1515440507?mod=djem_jiewr_BE_domainid
Some conservative and libertarian observers are pleased that Google may be getting its comeuppance. Here is a company that endlessly boasts about how tolerant and inclusive it is. Yet its claim really means that it goes out of its way to tolerate and to coddle those who are identified by the high priests of leftism as sympathetic. The company showers them with public displays of affection and gives them special advantages (people of color, gay people, transgender people, those who have antipathy to straight white males, the list goes on). At the same time apostates (here we are thinking of conservatives and libertarians) deserve nothing but scorn and must remain silent if they want to work at Google, or better yet, must be targeted for abuse and ostracized so they cannot work in the high technology field. Some commentators have pointed out the glaring irony that the non-discrimination laws that are being used against Google are precisely the sorts of laws that Social Justice Warriors (such as Googlers) have whole-heartedly endorsed. Karma sometimes happens.
And here is where the critics who are cheering on the legal action are mistaken. If you really appreciate the virtue of liberty you understand that ideally private companies and private individuals have a right to deal with and hire those they prefer. The core principle is freedom of association. The criteria for bringing in and retaining an employee at Google may be entirely rational and defensible. Alternatively, Google might have employment policies that are foolish and make no sense at all. Either way, unless Google is using force or fraud or is violating anyone’s natural rights, Google should be free to pursue its employment policies as it sees fit.
Notice that the principle of free association is at odds with existing employment laws. Federal and State governments have not been shy about using their authority and power to compel employers to use standards that are “correct” (that is acceptable to government bureaucrats and politicians).
So what would happen if Google were left alone and had full freedom to hire, promote, and retain employees at will – according to its own standards?
Outside observers see that Google is hostile to professionals who are not enthusiastic participants in the leftist cabal. Conservative and libertarian software engineers would deliberately seek employment elsewhere. But what if all the high technology companies had the same internal politics as Google? That is a highly unlikely scenario. The James Damore scandal is considered alarming precisely because there are many people (both technology professionals and technology customers) who strongly disapprove of Google’s internal culture. There must be many firms that would be pleased to hire competent professionals without requiring that they demonstrate their Social Justice Warrior credentials.
Word is already out regarding the internal machinations of Google. Not only will conservative and libertarian professionals look outside of Google for employment, but high technology companies will take advantage of Google’s weakness and scoop up talented executives who do not want to play Google’s game.
Note that even as Google is committed to assuring a homogeneous monoculture within, it is acting to further the leftist agenda among its users. There has been a lot of talk in the past year regarding fake news – items that appear on the internet that make false claims. Google has responded by using its internal “fact checkers” to scrutinize sites and label them as “not trustworthy” if the checkers find them problematic. Of course, an intelligent outsider will immediately ask, what standards do Google fact checkers use and why should they be trusted? Recently a report has been published that claims Google fact checkers target conservative and libertarian sites for “untrustworthy content” but carefully avoid criticizing sites that push the leftist agenda. Is anyone surprised? http://dailycaller.com/2018/01/09/googles-new-fact-check-feature-almost-exclusively-targets-conservative-sites/
Again, some Google critics are tempted to say the problem should be fixed by having Google change its ways. Order the fact checkers to examine both leftist and right wing sites with the same vigor. But this is not the way to go. Instead, let the world know that Google is inherently biased and unabashedly committed to attacking anyone outside the extreme left bubble. The best scenario is that Google’s prestige plummets and it is recognized as a partisan organization. Users, including myself, will continue to go to Google but will be alert to the company’s political agenda and will discount its recommendations and interpretations accordingly.
If you appreciate the principle of freedom, you understand that responding to companies that behave badly does not have to entail government force. Simply recognizing and communicating that a problem exists can result in an acceptable resolution. Let Google be leftist.
*** See other entries at AlertMindPublishing.com in “Monthly Columns.” ***