A friend of mine is interviewing designers on ethics in design. A couple of my team members participated. This sparked a guilt-wracked conversation that I thought he might find interesting. Here is what I told him:
For what it’s worth, as a consequence of your interviews with us, my team had a painful conversation about our personal culpability in class supremacy. We design consultants are hired, not only to increase revenue through better products and services, but also to “increase efficiencies”, or to “scale operations”, both of which are code for eliminate working-/service-class jobs. Good proclass employees as we are, we do our jobs with Eichmannian effectiveness.
We all make good livings helping our own class dominate through entrepreneurial and corporate initiatives that siphon more money into our own class while sinking those who get “disrupted” into ever-deepening poverty and despair.
If a real worker’s revolution were ever to happen, I think many of us might fail to recognize it, since we are so accustomed to situating ourselves on the side of justice and of historical heroism. The workers, themselves, I fear, might beg to differ.
We proclassers use environmental and identitarian social justice issues to distract from a large and very angry elephant in the room: The proclass — (the professional class operating under the dominant ideology we call “progressivism”) — is the single most oppressive group in this country — and in the world. This class has been bought by capitalism and serves its interests with near-perfect obedience, even while ritualistically and ineffectually badmouthing it.
Proclass privilege is a privilege none of us will ever voluntarily check because it is the root, but rarely named, source of our collective and individual power. If we check that privilege, we lose the privilege of calling all the shots on what is true, just, and good in our society. We will have to put our values on equal footing with those who see things differently — and that we will never do!
One thought on “Response to a design ethics interview”
It’s so much easier to exercise our proclass privilege by choosing minor privileges we want to check and forcing others less powerful than we are to do the same. But would we ever check privileges we didn’t choose?
I’ve experimented with confronting Proclassers with their class privilege, using exactly the same principles and logic they use, and which they fully expect others to accept when used on them — and I am sad to report that the answer is: No.
When confronted with their class privilege, Progressivists object to feeling judged, harangued, disrespected, mistreated and hurt — exactly the way other groups do when they are subjected to DEI training. But while Progressivists interpret these same experiences others have as “discomfort” which ought to be “embraced”, and the indignation at being subjected to these experiences “fragility” or “rage” — symptoms of resistance to acknowledging complicity in oppression and the obligation to transfer power to the powerless — Progressivists take their own feelings and interpretations at face value, and expect all others to do likewise.
Progressivists will not tolerate being positioned as unjustly privileged and being “punched up” at, despite expecting all other groups to tolerate it.
In other words they refuse to answer to the principles they treat as universally binding and impose on others. To put it plainly, they are power-drunk, self-deluded hypocrites who cannot be reasoned with.