February 4, 2021

One book I'm reading looked at the myth of meritocracy. It pointed out one of its flaws that stuck with me: the idea that someone who believes they got their high status through a meritocracy feels justified in any further action. Even if it's harmful.

Let's put aside if meritocracy is a true part of America or something used to justify inequality. Instead, let's say someone who believes they rose on merit is willing to abuse their power. For example, they stack the deck in favor of their friends and family with things like access to influential networks, higher education, and specialized tutors. Isn't this willingness to abuse their merit a sign they lack the merit itself?

America's main response seems to be "no." If so, meritocracy would only apply to peoples' skills, not what they do with them. Only talent and power matter, even if someone uses them to set the world aflame.

That's institutional terror right there.