A word that comes up frequently in support of industrialized states built on democracy: ‘meritocracy.’ The idea is moving up in society by one’s actual merit instead of by being the dictator’s favorite nephew.
Of course any society must be imperfect at best in this regard. It always helps(a lot) to be born into a family of millionaires. But the idea is that meritocracy is something enlightened societies do much better than despotic states.
As good as it all sounds, however, there’s a critical aspect most people don’t stop to think about.
In a perfect world where we really were advanced by our true merits, what merits are we talking about?
In other words: what does the society and/or organization value in its people?
Our perfect world ends up not being so perfect after all if the meritocracy is looking for and rewarding the destructive and the meaningless.
Truly a merit based system can only be as worthwhile as the merits it promotes and rewards.
Read the news or turn on the television, watch a movie. What kinds of personalities and what kinds of values does industrialized society idolize and reward? Take a look at the leaders of powerful organizations and government. What type of person gets praise and acclaim? Are these worthwhile people with worthwhile values?
This is where the idealistic concept of meritocracy falls flat. Faulty ideas of merit are just as destructive and tyrannical as an actual tyrant.