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LATELY, ANTI-DIVERSITY DISCOURSES (AND EVEN BOOKS) HAVE BEEN PROLIFERATING,

 

as if warning that we have to be careful with it denouncing that the system uses it to distract us in petty things that entertain us and do not allow us to react to the real problems. Some even say that there is a Diversity Trap.

Perhaps those who make these speeches are unaware of the effect of the words they choose to utter. We live in societies where social conquests, of rights for minorities or disadvantaged sectors, are tremendously volatile, have existed for a relatively short time and can very easily be rolled back.  Margaret Atwood’s dystopia for women “The Handmaid’s Tale”, or the continuous aggressions for LGTBIQ+ people – as horrible as it is probable – is already taking place on a small scale, if we look at Hungary, Poland or Brazil.  And it is crucial to prevent its advance.

 

Securing those rights that have cost centuries of blood and tears, and which in half the world remain only a dream for those who live a daily nightmare of pretending to be who they are. It is  necessary making progress in mitigating inequality, which, coincidences of diversity, tends to hit women and minorities the hardest.

 

An anti-diversity discourse can hardly serve anyone better than the international reactionary movement – the one promoted in its beginnings by Steve Bannon – that seeks excuses not only to go backwards but, if it were possible, to return us to a sort of moral Medieval times, in terms of rights and freedoms, for women, minorities or environmental struggles.  Because these are exactly the positions that are often labelled as too diverse, or postmodern, always using these terms as derogatory. And a curious thing is that those who tend to defend these anti-diversity positions often have favourable opinions towards countries that repress these rights won in the evil, postmodern West -ironic mode on-

That diversity is necessary, desirable and synonymous with life can be understood by anyone who thinks, for example, of the importance of bio-diversity.

 

This is so evident now, with a pandemic that is undoubtedly being fuelled by the pressure exerted on ecosystems and the different species that inhabit the planet by our economic system based on perpetual growth on a finite planet. Having faith that this can work in the medium term is worse than believing in the Third Secret of Fatima -at least that does less harm-.

 

In the last 50 years, according to WWF’s “Living Planet Report” of 2020, we have wiped out no less than 68% of all the world’s vertebrates: mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles. A gigantic massacre in just 50 years. All in the name of progress and growth. It is not very clear where we are really “progressing” towards. Or maybe we are, but there is not yet enough of a majority opinion to get policies to stop the massacre. Deep down, the environment or nature is still seen as something external, when nothing is more certain than that you are only as healthy as what you eat and as clean as what you drink.

A recent study near the city of Rome found microplastics in the placentas – yes, placentas – of most of the mothers-to-be in the survey.

 

The future, if we do not change our habits of disregard for the ecosystems that one can see in the rivers, roads and parks of “civilisation”, is that these will inevitably end up “disregarding us”, placentas included. It is the logical consequence, everything is connected.

According to another recent study published in the  scientific journal Nature, the rate of species extinction in some groups exceeds that of the last mass extinction, the Cretaceous.  And the effects will remain for millions of years. If we continue at this rate we will be progressing, yes, but in the long term towards our own extinction, as many scientists and social movements denounce.

 

And there are many other examples on crucial issues that show that diversity is not only not a bad thing, but quite the opposite.

 

In economics, for example, it is clear that having a diversity of currencies – which can include social, local or cryptocurrencies (only if the latter have a low ecological footprint) – can help to better navigate periods of crisis than relying on just one, which can be more fragile, and if it fails, you are left with no alternatives.

 

Another example where diversity is often beneficial is in politics. Collective intelligence works best in environments where all kinds of opinions and positions are tolerated and even promoted. If diversity is reduced, it is likely to eventually lead to a certain kind of totalitarianism. Precisely because it generates a kind of inertia of control over dissidence, which will inevitably lead to punitive measures towards “excessively diverse” people. A good example of positive politics based on diversity is to be found in Chile, where independent, non-party representatives will shape the new constitution.

One might then think: the opposite of diverse is homogeneous, if diversity is usually good, then is homogeneity always bad?

 

Not necessarily. In some cases reality is more complex than a simple dualism, a choice between two antagonistic positions – it is this kind of manichean and simplistic thinking that we have to escape from. That kind of logic is what leads you to tolerate any stupid decision of the president of the moment, be it Putin, Biden, Lukashenko, Boris Johnson or the Hungarian proto-dictator Orbán, simply because it coincides with some of your other ideas. We live in the most complex times in history, our reasoning cannot be simple.

 

For example, the homogeneity of anti-racist ideas would be desirable, or the homogeneity of respecting more the ecosystems that sustain us, or the certainty that capitalism – or any other system that pretends to grow forever – does not serve us for the next stages of human development and the rest of the species. In examples like this, where we are able to see a path that is undoubtedly the right one, unity is desirable.

 

Friends, diversity is a fact, and it is a positive fact. Embrace it. And make the most of it. While it lasts. 

Juan Bordera

Juan Bordera

Freelance writer / collaborator with "El Salto" magazine

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