The (de)merits of meritocracy

…elite education is structured not only to replicate the status quo but to find a way to collect the best minds across society and dedicate them to the replication of that status quo.

… the best working-class minds … would be scooped up by the meritocracy and become the foot soldiers for management…

If you view entrepreneurial activities as the act of challenging and disassembling powerful incumbents … meritocracy poses a very similar problem.

…our best minds are hard at work making sure JP Morgan can squeeze local businesses with ever increasing interchange fees, instead of at work in Silicon Valley coming up with a way to circumvent and take apart that oligarchy using technology. They’ll continue to find ways to create regulatory arbitrage, or find obtuse mechanisms to manipulate earnings reports, or help one group of corporations sue another group of corporations, instead of creating real new value and innovation. The carrot and stick of meritocratic rewards and debt collection push our elite onto this track

via Peter Thiel and the Challenging of the Meritocracy | Rortybomb. HT interfluidity.







2 responses to “The (de)merits of meritocracy”

  1. Olav Martin Kvern Avatar
    Olav Martin Kvern

    I think there’s an odd definition of “merit” buried in here somewhere. If “good families” and “good schools” add up to “merit,” then something is wrong. I offer the Bush family as Exhibit A.

    I’d always thought that rewarding merit was an antidote to the status quo–maintaining the status quo is only a job for mediocrities. Our problem is that mediocrity and unquestioned assumptions are rewarded–not merit.



  2. Asymptosis Avatar


    Only the market can deliver a numerical measure of “merit”. That measure is in dollars.


    Presto-change-o, confute the measure with the definition.

    So merit is measured by how much you make, and how much you make defines your merit.

    This makes me think of J’s wonderful slip of the tongue a few months back: “It’s hermeneutically sealed!”