Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Virtues of Meritocracy

I do apologise for having been absent for a lot of time, regular readers will know that I am now the proud subscriber to a bar job, and I am thoroughly enjoying it at that. A lot of heavy keg lifting but nothing that I cannot handle, furthermore a sudden realisation that British people are at large very rude in the pub - something which made me rather sad since the Kiwis and the Aussies are perfectly delightful (the majority) yet the indigenous do not seem to be able to quite handle the pressure of being humble when requesting something as simple as a pint. But alas I digress, I believe what is on the agenda today is meritocracy for the reason that it is slowly seeping back into the roots of Britain again.

'Death of the Fox' is a book by George Garrett, an American poet and novelist. He was the poet laureate of Virginia from 2002 to 2006. His novels include 'The Finished Man', 'Double Vision', and the Elizabethan Trilogy, composed of 'Death of the Fox', 'The Succession', and 'Entered from the Sun'. I am currently reading Death of the Fox and rather enjoying it since it revolves around Walter Raleigh but rather annoyingly all the spelling is american so it is just about readable for any English speaking person. I shall leave the content for the reader himself to google but it centres around Raleigh's life and covers the arrival of the Tudors in England in 1485 to the execution of Raleigh in 1618.

There is a passage which I would like to rip right out of the novel for it is very striking and pertinent in these days as well, even though intended to read of the 14th century.
Great men rise above their peers like the tallest trees of the forrest. Proud, but first to catch the eye, and therefore soonest to be cut down. And down they come with a groan and brief thunder. When they are gone there is only rotten stump and empty space of sky to prove they have ever been there.
Now I ask; is this statement true? Is there such a check to limit the reach of the most ambitious of men? I would say this statement has become largely moot in today's society. We live in an age of celebrities, be they politicians who are famous for the broadside of their jaw or celebrities who are famous for being simply famous but that is just about where their personal agility ends. One must for the sake of society argue that if someone who is reasonably ambitious today would stand up and declare his intentions, people would to all intents and purposes follow that man regardless of the nonsensical ideas that are spewed out of his midst. We do not question what should be and we do not replace dangerous paradigms with our own common sense. I argue that this is down to meritocracy. What is more I take the strongest and most fervent of objections to what we have become: nightingales. We close our eyes when we sing and see nothing and hear nobody but ourselves and it is quite frankly killing the whole foundation of man as we know her and turning our brief stay in this place into a perpetual opprobrium which, no matter how you argue, is detrimental to all of us.

This narrator has had the good fortune to have grown up in more than one country - it gives one perspective and perspective is good for it lets us judge things from two sets of books. "Merit" is a bad word in most of the European continent and Britain today, the best and most suited for a position are not necessarily the most likely final occupants of that post as logic would dictate. Instead rather spurious sets of selectors are used such as sex, skin colour, background, religion and many other very strange denominations which, at least in my view, should be nowhere near the academic process that is selection. This is because of biology and more importantly evolution. I subscribe to evolution and not creationism so if you are expecting an essay on that I bid you farewell for you are not about to get one.

Natural selection is the process of survival: a process resulting in the evolution of organisms best adapted to the environment. You can extrapolate this to the rather mundane task that is everyday life of the hoi polloi, you and me and everyone else in our curious little 16 hour battle period, 365 days a year which we have come to denote as our 'lives'. Regardless of what you might think of the human species we are rather fine example of what natural selection is capable of; there are certainly a lot of deceases but seen in the light of what our species has accomplished it is nothing in comparison. What is more we are able to heal ourselves out of our own means - a mighty feat which few other species can master. Now we think of this in terms of economics and more importantly the private sector and the operators within; namely the companies. The companies that provide the daily bread for million of people around the globe, if not billions. A lot of these organisations are very powerful and are powerful, wealthy, because they work hard and more relevant to us; they select people based on their ability and not their appearance. A single bank interviews thousands of people for maybe just 10 jobs and by doing this they ensure that they will get most profitable person, the person who is willings to work the hardest to deliver most dividends for himself and the company, the sort of person who constitutes and investment in itself. They select the brilliant from the brightest.

If you invest in people you want to make sure that your investment will not go to waste, that said person will come to work for your organisation for at least a couple of years so that all that training is not lost, it is simple quid pro quo economics and is used by most business outfits to reach their combined goal of making more money for such is the marked based economy that we live in today. But, what if you break the system, what if you have a planned jobs market where not only are your employes selected for you but you are obliged, under law, to accept them no matter what whacky nut jobs you end up with. You will loose money, your profits will shrink and your status in the social hierarchy will stumble and fall. Why? Because we are not all equal, we do not have the same motivation, outlook, dreams, background, parents, environments or any other number of factors. We are different and that is what makes us different from any other species. Look at birds; they are homogenous they move the same, look the same and for all intents and purposes act the same. We are omnivorous entities who succeed because of our difference, because it fosters a sense of competition; and urge to be better after the initial failure, an urge to prove to the world that you can do better that you are not part of the dregs that inhabit the lowest pits of this world. Those who refuse to work even though they are perfectly capable, those who betray, those who let others suffer for personal gain etcetera. That list could be made endless of people who have no business in interacting with decent hard working folk but such is the situation in which we perceive; we are different for good and for bad, and if we break that pattern, if we engage in social engineering we are dabbling with powers well beyond our comprehension and understanding. And it is not a matter if something very horrible is going to happen as a result, it is a matter of when.

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