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Day 18 — The Meritocracy Trap

Earlier this year, I read The Meritocracy Trap by Yale Law Professor Daniel Markovits.

He first outlines an aspirational view of meritocracy: that meritocracy is actually they key to our problems, but that we don't allow it to "run its course." Supporters of this view believe that if we simply replaced aristocracy and corruption with more meritocracy, we'd be much better off.

Markovits takes a different view. He argues that meritocracy itself is the problem, producing rampant inequality and stifling any semblance of social mobility.

At the same time, he argues that meritocracy causes those at the top — the doctors, lawyers, and consultants from Ivy League schools and wealthy families — to become more miserable as well, having to constantly compete for status within their class.

By no means do I believe that any meritocracy is bad, but an unjust society that believes it would be just if it drank more of the poison certainly isn't the solution.

Markovits's solution, which I'm aligned with in principle, is to promote "compressed meritocracy": making the roads to success more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

The question, then, is how do we make that happen?

I don't believe that we can reform a broken system. Capitalism will never allow for an accessible meritocracy, but eliminating meritocracy isn't the answer, either.

What would a post-capitalist meritocracy look like?