Liberty and meritocracy

It might not surprise you to hear that I don’t care a great deal about democracy. I’m willing to admit that democracy as a system has a lot of potential for positive outcomes to happen within it, but it’s inherently weak. Democracy is based on a government being formed based on the people who are favored the most. People think that it just means a potential leader or politician gaining office through a mandate from the masses, but in reality such favor can be just as easily bought by the wealthy few and often is. And just because a leader is elected in a democratic system, which would mean him/her being popular or favored enough to win, it doesn’t mean he/she will do any good. Will he/she resolve any injustices in the system? Will he/she vow to preserve or enhance the liberty of human beings within the state, and commit to that vow? Will he/she resist corruption? Will he/she get rid of useless laws that protect no one (and lets face it, in a lot of countries there are laws that simply make no sense or are simply no longer enforced, and should be eliminated)? Will he/she make an effort to protect or improve the quality of life enjoyed by human beings within the state? Will he/she inspire the people? Will he/she be a wise, just, strong, talented, or just competent leader or official? In my opinion, a popularity contest cannot guarantee any of those things. In fact, history shows us that sometimes democracy can give way to nominal autocracy, and the people would be the ones ushering it in. All it can ultimately guarantee is that someone will be granted office based on how he/she is favored by the people, or by wealthy sponsors. But you can’t necessarily trust the people as a whole to know what is best for the future or not to be mislead, and they will likely vote only for the person who is either “their guy” or will make them feel the most secure with their dubious promises. And those who sponsor candidates ultimately sponsor the one who they believe will look out for them and you can’t rely on them to be interested in the welfare of the country or of liberty.

Until our species reaches a point where all individuals grasp self-rule, we need leaders, but we need real leaders, not need simply politicians or figureheads. And for me logic dictates that only the talented should attain political office, rather than the person who is deemed worthy of office on the basis of being favored by the people (or the wealthy).

The role of a good government, as I see it, should be to preserve order and liberty for all who wish to live in an ordered community, and for a government to do that it needs officials and leaders who know exactly how to do this. It should only follow that the most talented, the most fit, and the most committed should be allowed to lead and to govern, and no one other than the most fit to govern should be allowed to govern. In that sense, being a government official and a leader would be just like any other profession. In any other profession, you would rather trust the most competent and qualified individuals do get the job done. With doctors, you’re effectively putting your health in their hands, so you would usually trust a more demonstrably competent doctor. With teachers, you’re putting your child’s education in their hands, so you would trust a more qualified teacher. With chefs, you want them to make something that’s delectable on top of being entirely edible, so you would want to put your trust in a chef who knows what he/she is doing. It’s the same for almost every profession. Unfortunately, it seems that in our world we do not apply the same principles to politicians, leaders, and government officials. We might expect them to do a good job, but somehow we feel that people in the government shouldn’t have the same sort of regulations that every other job has, that we should only have to like them and vote for the ones we like, or that they should be allowed to make us love them without giving us any reason to do so.

However, the problem with meritocracy as it stands is that it requires a way to properly and objectively determine merit. And I have a massive problem with the idea of using grades to do so, because it would result in potential leaders and officials seeking only the status attained by earning a grade without them being determined to grow and become talented in honest ways. All I can be sure of is that merit is likely to be more accurately determined by having potential officials, politicians, and leaders looking to become leaders go through a series of checks and balances before they can be determined as qualified to be govern.

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5 responses to “Liberty and meritocracy

  1. Running a nation comes with a certain skill set, so I totally agree if those skills are known then the leader should be selected based upon merit rather than a popularity contest aka a democratic vote.

  2. I really liked the fact that you questioned things that people tend to avoid, without putting forward an easy answer. And I agree it is definitely constructive to think in terms of professional regulation – people need to be properly qualified, bound by a code of conduct, and subject to withdrawal of “license to practice”. I do think these are entirely sensible, though how you arrange it, and regulate the regulators is something to think about, what recourse the public has to genuine grievance etc. But overall, it would be a much more objective system than the “popularity contest” model, which no one would use to determine who should operate on you for instance

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