“Galting” Or Despair?

     You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

     For many years, the “work ethic” – i.e., the idea that work is worthy and will be rewarded according to its merits – dominated Americans’ thinking on workplace behavior and employer / employee relations. Granted, the idea wasn’t reflected in the behavior of every employer or employee. Some high performers were exploited rather than rewarded; some promotions were awarded for reasons other than merit. But in the main, competitive forces encouraged the idea of “going the extra mile,” and compelled employers to recognize and reward those who did so.

     It seems that era may be over:

     According to the Harvard Business Review:

     “Quiet quitters continue to fulfill their primary responsibilities, but they’re less willing to engage in activities known as citizenship behaviors: no more staying late, showing up early, or attending non-mandatory meetings.”

     Simply put, having perceived their jobs to not have value and meaning, they do no more than absolutely necessary.

     There is debate among scholars as to the extent of the quiet quitting phenomenon, but there is increasing evidence that white Americans are increasingly quiet quitting America’s leading institutions. And the possible implications of that for American society are profound.

     This phenomenon is a consequence of the trends I write about in my forthcoming book, The Unprotected Class, about the rise of anti-white racism in American culture and how both formal and informal anti-white discrimination have become a factor in almost every area of American public life.

     Legally enforced preferential treatment has undone the work ethic among white Americans? Ignoring the high performers and distributing rewards according to race and sex quotas has resulted in a diminution of high performances? Astonishing! Who could have imagined it?

     I’m sure you could have predicted it, Gentle Reader. You’d have to be a left-liberal to believe that you could outlaw the practice of rewarding the best performers and still get high performances. Left-liberals don’t read Liberty’s Torch. But they dominate the alphabet agencies, particularly the ones that “fight discrimination.”


     When I left the working world, the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” madness had not yet gained a foothold at my employer. That may have been because it was a defense-engineering company. The military, whatever its faults, has always been deadly serious about getting good, reliable products for its shooters. But that was the military then. My old shop has been colonized and conquered by the DEI lunacy since I left…just as has the American military.

     A company must be tiny to escape the attentions of the DEI apostles. You’d think that would give tiny companies a competitive edge. However, “big prefers to deal with big.” Regulators labor overtime to see that it stays that way. That keeps tiny companies tiny, as a rule.

     So high-capability employees, seeing that their efforts “above and beyond” are barely even noticed, much less rewarded, are gearing down. And no matter how little the bien-pensants of the Left like it, that means white male employees far more often than any other flavor.

     Seems that Emerson was right yet again.


     A retreat from effort can be interpreted several ways. Hopeful folks in the Right would like to believe that it’s a form of “going Galt.” However, in the usual case it’s not motivated by anything abstract, but rather by the onset of despair: “What’s the use?”

     The late Florence King wrote feelingly about that sense of things:

     Affirmative action is our French Revolution, goading us into misanthropy as surely as the excesses of the Terror goaded Fisher Ames. It has sent a twist through the national belly, as anyone who knows anything about this country might have predicted….

     What’s the use? is becoming our national war cry. Copious tears have been shed over despairing rage in the ghetto, but there’s more than one kind of despairing rage, and more than one kind of ghetto. The talented student who cracks the books to get into college, only to be passed over for someone less deserving, thinks what’s the use? and then feels the twist in the belly. His parents, who have worked themselves ragged to give him a college education, think what’s the use? and then feel the twist in the belly. The professor who demands excellence from his students, only to find himself charged with elitism, thinks what’s the use? and then feels the twist in the belly.

     It’s not about “going Galt.” That visceral sense of despair, the subconscious perception that “it’s all been for nothing,” can unmake a man. It can convert him from one who passionately loves his work to a time-server, a clock-watcher. That such should be happening at our ever more regulated and DEI-colonized Fortune 3000 companies shouldn’t surprise anyone. However, say any of that to a left-liberal and you’ll be called “everything but white.”

     Ultimately, it’s about reality itself. The Left’s insistence that things should be a certain way has absolutely no power to set aside the laws of human nature, especially this one:

What is rewarded will increase;
What is penalized will diminish.

     That is a truth the Left will never, ever acknowledge.


    • Houston on January 24, 2024 at 2:26 PM

    Yes sir.  This has been me since the great mandatory covid vax or loose your job (and good luck finding another) era.  That along with the DIE nonsense and the blatant hiring of black females with the minimum required capabilities.   My mantra had been, just the bare minimum.

  1. I always gave 110%, until I had enough of it.

    Took early retirement.

    Moved as far from the city as we could.

    Living happily ever after.

    • Chris on January 24, 2024 at 10:01 PM

    My first taste of this was actually thirty years ago when I worked at what used to be Readers Digest.
    I was really into my work and I said yes to everything. Stay late? Sure. Come in early? What time? We have a detail on Saturday, can you come in? I’ll bring coffee. That lasted for over two years. President’s Day weekend of ‘93 I asked for the day off so some friends and I could hit the slopes, only for me to be told “You always work on holidays, we expected you to come in and there’s work to be done.”

    I politely said that I have worked every holiday except Christmas Day since the day I got here. I’ve done everything you’ve ever asked me to do. I’ve volunteered for every extra duty assignment you’ve posted. I ask for one holiday off and you’re denying me? There are eleven other employees in our group, you couldn’t ask any of them?
    After that episode and how much of a fuss my supervisor made over my request, my enthusiasm as an employee cooled considerably. The other proverbial kick in the nads was the fact that there was a slacker in our group who I was relied on to clean up after and I got more of his messes to clean up as a result of the aforementioned tete a tete. A year later I was laid off. It taught me a valuable lesson, seeing as how I was in my early twenties at the time, but I never went out on a limb for an employer again.

Comments have been disabled.