meritocracy-as-racist-and-imperialist-towards-a-new-inclusive-elite|opinions delibeRatio - Meritocracy as “Racist” and “Imperialist” – towards a New, “Inclusive” Elite?

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Meritocracy as “Racist” and “Imperialist” – towards a New, “Inclusive” Elite?

Time to read: 5 min
The “people versus elite” dichotomy, a distinctive feature of the populist (and to some extent sovereignist) discourse, continues to hold sway in contemporary political debate. Over recent years, however, the composition of Western and European elites has changed, and they have not only moved further and further away from the needs of the people, but have also become radicalised.

This trend was investigated in the latest issue of the British magazine “The Spectator”, which dedicated its cover to the theme “The new élite, the rise of the progressive aristocracy”, with a long essay by Adrian Wooldridge.

Wooldridge is the author of the book “The Aristocracy of Talent. How Meritocracy Made the Modern World”, where he traces the history of meritocracy, arguing that this concept is increasingly under attack.

It was from questioning of the concept of meritocracy in the 1960s and 1970s that a new elite began to form. In 1968, the first Black Studies Department was created at San Francisco State University, and two years later, the first Women's Studies Department was created at San Diego State University. Thus the principle began to spread that radical activists were “advocating collective rights (based on gender or skin colour) rather than equal opportunities for all based on ability”.

According to Alison Collins, former education commissioner in San Francisco, meritocracy is “racist” and is “the antithesis of fairness”. Hence the radical view that “the best way to promote members of ethnic minorities is through ‘fairness’ rather than ‘excellence’”.

According to Wooldridge, a further shift has taken place in recent times with a “woke assault on meritocracy”, and “we are moving towards a more ambitious phase of the Left's long social revolution: from simply dismantling meritocracy to creating a new social order”.

The concept of meritocracy is thus rejected and considered “legacy of the eugenics movement and imperialism”. For Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist”, “the only remedy for racist discrimination is anti-racist discrimination”. This theory is explained by Wooldridge as follows: “the idea is that some groups, by virtue of their history of marginalisation and exploitation, are wiser and more moral than others. The belief that racism is not limited to intentional acts of discrimination, but woven into the DNA of society, implies that whites are automatically guilty of harbouring racist thoughts and seeing the world through racist eyes.”

This generates the creation of a new social hierarchy in which the more oppressed groups or minorities you belong to, the more moral virtues you possess, and conversely - the more privileged characteristics you have, the further down the moral ladder you are.

American universities are the emblem of this trend. It is no coincidence that objective assessment criteria, such as tests and grades, are increasingly being replaced by subjective criteria in which the central value is diversity. At Yale, for example, in recent years there has been a proliferation of offices and figures dedicated to diversity, from the “chief diversity officer” to the “deputy chief diversity officer”. The woke culture is so pervasive that students who submit projects with related themes are much more likely to get funding for their research. This does not only apply to individual students but also to universities. In Great Britain, the Athena Swan system is in operation, which monitors compliance with diversity and inclusion criteria even in the number of employees and, if they are not met, the universities cannot receive research funding. Of course, curricula and teaching subjects are also shaped to meet the DEI criteria: diversity, equity and inclusion. As Wooldridge explains: “this is not simply a struggle between the educated elite and ordinary people for control of culture. It is a struggle within the educated class, with a new class of woke bureaucrats taking away power from the traditional members of professional society.”

Thus, for the ruling classes, there is a substitution of the criterion of merit for that of belonging to the woke culture, with the consequence of reducing economic efficiency since “meritocratic societies and institutions are much more productive than non-meritocratic ones”. Secondly, there is a “politicisation of the distribution of opportunities and jobs by privileging some groups over others on an ethnic basis”.

The result, Wooldridge concludes, is that the new woke elite, if it continues to grow stronger, “is destined to rule an increasingly divided society. Perhaps we should think a little more about replacing the talent aristocracy with the woke aristocracy”. Ideologised minorities want to change our society, and doing so requires a new elite capable of directing and changing peoples' customs, identity and lifestyles - this is the real goal of woke culture.


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