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Many pundits have presented the case that society needs to reward the achiever. It is argued that the most talented should attain positions of authority, based upon their superior ability. The end result is the formation of a power structure of Elite’s; making the decisions, formulating policies and directing the organizations that carry out the plan. It is most difficult to quarrel with the notion that talent is not distributed equally, but it becomes a giant leap to conclude that the very attribute of aptitude, is the sole criteria that justifies positions of authority.
Democracy has failed miserably to ensure a Just society, but so has rule by a cadre of whiz kids. The problem with ALL attempts to design and implement social systems through central planning is that it ignores the dynamics of the market place of individual needs, aspirations and fears. Neither Government nor NGO Institutions have the ability to mold humanity to their conception of paradise. Only the accumulative interaction of countless individual dreams and nightmares, can set the course on this ‘ship of fools’. Mankind, by the nature of its common humanity, is unable to achieve perfection. Those who seek and scheme to be the architects of paragon, and those who lust and plot to be the regents of dominance, possess the same flaws.
‘Meritocracy’ attempts to establish a standard by which motivated crusaders can achieve success. Well, that’s fine and commendable if we could all agree upon the criteria for defining achievement. But society has such a varied view of significance in collective accomplishment, that consensus is virtually impossible.
In addition to this problem, the methods used to demonstrate and constitute access to the reins of power, must be established. However, this seemingly rational approach to test the merits of the prospective leader defy our Nature, when a system of empirical formulas are solely used. The parameters for merit must include the moral basis for behavior. But the proponents of ‘Meritocracy’ accept situations ethics as a substitute for principle. Their faith is founded in the belief that Man is capable of reaching an ideal, that THEY define for all of Mankind. Their rational is simple, who is more qualified to delineate the proper social order, than the members of the ‘Meritocracy’?
This begs the real issue, for the conflict which is inevitable from such reasoning has a dire record, when sincerely reviewed. Even if one disagrees with the conclusion that the chronicle of controlled conduct is replete with corruption and depravity; one can hardly concur that it has been well managed. If those of influence, are really the best and brightest, why are they so unsuccessful in the implementation of their vision?
Again, we need not look very far for the answer. An examination of HOW one becomes part of the ‘Meritocracy’, reveals its ultimate failing. Advancement in the ranks of most organizations requires a conformity, to the culture, of that particular gang of achievers. Bureaucracies invariably place a premium on compliance and congruity to established policy, practice and puissance. Independent initiative is suspect. And individual action is soundly condemned. To the ‘Meritocracy’, conformity is a virtue and autonomy is a vice. Isn’t it obvious that the very entree into the ‘Meritocracy’ requires that one proves their superiority by way of accepting the tenants of the enlightened?
But reality is much different from the myth. The practice of advancement dictates that ‘Mediocrity’ is the prime and indispensable ingredient, to ensure acceptance. With acceptance comes admittance to the clique. Yes, ‘Meritocracy is the clan of ‘Mediocrity’, and is founded upon the principle of uniformity.
When Ayn Rand argues her ‘Objectivism’ as an alternative moral code for a world that has doubts in a Creator, she attempts to establish the truth that moral conduct is the ultimate standard for individual achievement. The morality of the individual pursuit of happiness, is achieved and justified by the very act of independent accomplishment. But the ‘Meritocrat’ is opposed to her philosophy because it removes the ‘Mediocre’ foundation upon which their power rest. Why is it that so often these protectors of the inferior are Harvard graduates? Might, we not be better served with Crimson drop outs?
The core question rests upon the character of achievement. Is advancement conceived in individual inspiration or does it require the collective allusions of mediocre toadies? Absence of moral authority leaves man equipped to ravage his fellow neighbor; in the name of ever noble objectives, that can be reduced through the accumulated delusions of the geniuses of amorality.
Irrational behavior becomes the norm when, the know it all, is allowed to rise to positions of influence. Those who claim to be the ‘cream of the crop’ are buffoons in the circus of the absurd. If you still doubt that this cannot be true, point out the last independent mind of moral courage, to achieve a position of authority in this gulag of unanimity? No Solzhenitsyn comes to mind!
The solution will not be reached through rational systems, devised by Man. Rand said her guiding inspiration came from a forgotten sage, who said: “I will not die, the world will end”. Too many of the ‘Meritocracy’ similarly accept this falsehood that the world will cease without their wisdom. They are unwilling to acknowledge that they are a mere cog in the plan of an ‘Existential’ reality. Unless one is ready to humble themselves to accept revealed authority, all the pseudo intellectualism from the ‘precocity of phantasm’, will be for naught. Haven’t we all suffered enough under the normality of the chaotic reign of the ‘Meritocracy’? Or are you content to be part of the ‘Mediocrity’?
SARTRE – September 9, 2001
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One thought on “Mediocrity of the Meritocracy”
I worked for a place where the Gm self promoted his “meritocracy” program.
While it was nice to get raises sooner for being a better worker it made the shop a little more cut throat and pitted the workers against each other. When a few of us “good workers” banded together and looked out for each other the system fell. They could no longer give us more raises and we had smashed the slackers into quitting. The company had a big problem replacing them. We all went into overtime starting on Wednesdays and the payroll was triple with about 2/3 the workforce. The GM was replaced and most of us where hired by the competition(s) as supervisors and managers. The interns ended up being flung from free labor into supervisor positions and the company tanked a couple times before downsizing and re-evaluating their market share.