What is the importance of meritocracy?


Meritocracy is highly valued for several reasons, as discussed by various guests on the Lex Fridman Podcast:

  1. Equity and Fairness: Meritocracy promotes fairness, offering everyone the opportunity to advance based on their abilities and achievements rather than their background or connections. This was highlighted by Randall Kennedy, who appreciated meritocracy for moving society from feudalism and status-based systems to ones where individual capabilities matter, ensuring that personal achievements define success, not ancestry or social status. He also emphasized working on bridging gaps in opportunities that exist, acknowledging potential deficiencies without stigma, thus promoting a spirit of improvement and competitiveness that is fair and equitable 1.

  2. Societal Advancement: According to Bhaskar Sunkara, meritocracy in governance and organizations can lead to efficiency and innovation since it ensures that the most capable individuals fill roles that require high competence. This can reduce corruption and increase organizational effectiveness. Meritocratic systems are seen as crucial in both capitalist and socialist systems for their potential to reduce corruption and improve overall societal function 2.

  3. Positive Externalities: As argued by Ben Shapiro, meritocracy ensures that the most capable individuals lead, which results in overall societal benefits. The positive externalities of meritocracy include innovations and solutions that can arise when the most skilled and capable individuals push boundaries in their fields. This system encourages everyone to improve their skills and contribute meaningfully to society 3.

    Testing and Meritocracy

    Randall and Lex discuss the importance of testing and meritocracy in society. While acknowledging the existence of gaps, Randall emphasizes the need to focus on developing oneself and getting rid of societal features that deprive people of opportunities. They also discuss the value of meritocracy and the importance of distinguishing between excellence and goodness while maintaining the basic worth of every human being.

    Lex Fridman Podcast

    Randall Kennedy: The N-Word - History of Race, Law, Politics, and Power | Lex Fridman Podcast #379

These principles underlying meritocracy are seen as essential for creating a just, innovative, and progressive society where individual efforts and skills are rightly rewarded.