Thursday, August 09, 2018

Why Merit Lacks Merit

Everywhere has been invaded, usually several times. As a rule, the invaders steal everything, killing some and enslaving the rest. A few of the natives help them. There is a continuum, between such collaborators and the dead, on which the majority of the original people find themselves. Most of them tend not to volunteer for anything, after invasion. But among the new ruling class there are many volunteers, eager to prove their metal. People pair up, and new generations give way to even newer ones. Now, some people do well, and often it is in large part because their ancestors inherited stolen goods. Of course, such people have still, themselves, done well. Perhaps they also had good genes. Perhaps they were lucky. They hardly thereby deserve advantages over people who suffer, while doing badly, because, in large part, their ancestors had stuff stolen from them, or because their genetic inheritance was also poor, or because they were unlucky. Note that according to standard evolutionary theory, every genetically fit individual owes that fitness to the immense sufferings of a huge number of other individuals who died without leaving any offspring behind. Of course, it is in general much more complicated than that, too complicated for simple words to do it justice; but it would certainly, therefore, be quite unjust, to say the least, to talk up meritocracy. (More details: this from last year.)

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