Sunday, October 26, 2014

Yves Smith — The Unattainable Illusion of Meritocracy

The reason that meritocracy is an unattainable illusion is that it is based on an illusory view of human nature and society — methodological individualism grounded in ontological individualism. The reality is, however, that human beings are not atoms, on one hand, and human society is no longer in the state of nature where the rule of law does not apply.

Homo economicus is an illusion; the reality is homo socialis. Homo socialis is embedded in community. In ancient times, banishment as a punishment was tantamount to a death sentence. Human communities are cultural and institutional artifacts, and modern societies function under the rule of law.

As a result, "a self-made man" is an oxymoron in an interdependent world. Merit and just deserts are of limited significance in the overall picture of human life in community in that the context is much more complex and interdependent than these concepts ordinarily imply, and any theory of human action based on methodological individualism is simplistic.

Naked Capitalism
The Unattainable Illusion of Meritocracy
Yves Smith

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