As the work-from-home trend took off during the COVID-19 pandemic, the term “quiet quitting” entered the contemporary lexicon.
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.
Little surprise then, that more and more young whites, especially young white men, are looking at the overall environment and saying, “Thanks, but no thanks,” to our leading institutions. Last week, the armed forces announced that the number of white recruits had fallen precipitously over the last five years.
According to a report at Military.com, most of the Army’s much-discussed incoming recruiting shortfall is due largely to this dramatic decline. While a bit more than 44,000 white Americans signed up to join the army in 2018, that number cratered to just over 25,000 by 2023—a stunning drop in a short period of time when black and Hispanic recruiting was largely flat. As a result, white recruits went from 56.4% of soldiers in 2018 to 44% in 2023.
Even military leaders attribute this decline in significant part to the souring of conservative whites, who have traditionally formed the backbone of the military, but are now looking at the woke anti-white military under Joe Biden and opting out. “There’s a level of prestige in parts of conservative America with service that has degraded,” a senior army official told Military.com. Or, as conservative talk show host and U.S. marine combat veteran Jesse Kelly put it on X, “My sons will not serve. I don’t have a single veteran friend who’s encouraging his sons to serve. Most are actively discouraging them from doing so.”
A collapse in any demographic’s willingness to serve in the military would be a concern, but a collapse in (disproportionately conservative) whites in the military is more likely to precipitate a readiness crisis. White soldiers are far more likely than non-whites to be the “tip of the spear,” taking on the most dangerous and important combat tasks. In Iraq and Afghanistan, approximately 80% of special forces were white. Despite heavy diversity recruitment efforts in recent years, 84% of Navy SEALs are white. These special forces teams are filled with objective qualifications, performance, and candidate interest. It may be politically incorrect to say, but as a matter of math, in the current environment, a military that is less white is also a military that’s almost certainly less capable.
Even before the current recruiting collapse, we were already seeing the results of diversity uber alles in military performance. A recent article in Palladium Magazine described this growing competence crisis, and how it affects not just the military but all American institutions. On the military side, in a short period of just three months in 2017, there were three warship collisions resulting in 17 deaths. In 2020, there was a fire that resulted in the destruction of the USS Bonhomme Richard, a $750 million navy ship, resulting in 63 injuries. According to Palladium, a subsequent off-the-record interview with dozens of Navy officers (both current and retired) laid the blame for the incidents at the Navy prioritizing diversity training over warfighting capability. Yet, the armed forces are busy eliminating or de-emphasizing meritocratic tests for service in an attempt to “improve” diversity.
It’s not just the military. Whites, as a percentage of medical school students, are well below their population numbers. White college enrollment for 18-24 year-olds has dropped from 43% in 2010 to 38% in 2021, the sharpest drop for any major ethnic group (it is now essentially equal with African-Americans, though African-American students are, on average, far less college-ready than whites) Enrollment is down particularly sharply among white men, the group that has historically led America’s institutions, having collapsed from just 41% to 33%—an attendance rate far below Asian-Americans and just a couple of points above African-Americans and Hispanics.
Given that SAT Scores are on, average, much higher for whites than either blacks or Hispanics, it is clear that whites make up a hugely disproportionate number of the students qualified for college but not attending. Discriminated against by race-based preferences in both academia and the workplace, young white men in particular are increasingly dropping out. There has been an almost a continuous drop in white male labor force participation over decades now, a drop sharper than seen in any other ethnic group.
In the mid-twentieth century, American employers began focusing more intensely on objective measures to assess human capital, as standardized tests for everything from college entrance to the military reigned supreme. This differentiation allowed talented people from modest social and financial backgrounds to ascend the professional ladder. But, however well intended, the Civil Rights Act and its later interpretations, particularly disparate impact and affirmative action, have ended that brief meritocratic moment. Desperate to balance leadership demographics for political reasons and increasingly unable to game any objective system to reduce white influence further, colleges and even law schools and medical schools are dispensing with standardized tests entirely in the name of “equity.”
For decades now, the government has dispensed valuable contracts to preferred constituencies on the basis of their not being white—at the federal level, such contracts for which whites are ineligible run to tens of billions of dollars annually. As Palladium notes, racial and other quotas have even come to the supposedly sacrosanct halls of corporate finance. As of 2021, Goldman Sachs, perhaps the world’s most prestigious investment bank, will not underwrite the initial public stock offerings of companies that do not have at least two non-straight white men on their board. Interestingly, their gender board diversity rules do not apply to their clients in Asia.
There were certainly many problems, discrimination among them, in the old white-dominant regime that ran America from its founding through the mid-to-late twentieth century, but whatever its flaws, this was the America that people from all over the world—from every different color and creed—have scrambled to join.
Can America’s institutions run as well in the 21st century if white Americans are quiet quitting them in despair?
It looks like we’re about to find out.
Jeremy Carl (@realJeremyCarl) is a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, His book, The Unprotected Class, on the rise of anti-white racism, is available for pre-order and will be published this spring.