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Meritocracy vrs Democracy

Discussion in 'Perspectives' started by Firedraconian, Oct 20, 2006.

Meritocracy vrs Democracy

  1. Meritocracy

    3 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. Democracy

    9 vote(s)
    75.0%
  1. Firedraconian

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    Which government would you rather live with?

    "Meritocracy is a system of government or other organization based on demonstrated ability (merit) and talent rather than by wealth, family connections, class privilege, cronyism or other historical determinants of social position and political power."

    "Democracy is a form of government for a nation state, or for an organization in which all the citizens have an equal vote or voice in shaping policy."

    Basically, would you rather have people voted into power by the fickle will of a faceless mass of people, most of them uneducated or unaware, prone to fear-mongering and baseless prejudices...

    Or have people in power based on their abilities; both mental and moral, so that the brightest and selfless are in charge of things.

    The differences go into quite a bit more detail, but I'm gonna wait for a few replies before I go into it.
     
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  2. Beo

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    You give too vauge an explanation for me to decide.
     
  3. Noodle

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    Well, we know where you stand. By the way, the word you're looking for is oligarchy I think, rule by a small group (which is generally the best and brightest. "Philosopher Kings" I think was the term Plato used (was it Plato?).

    I'm for some mix of the two (what we have now. You'll never see an uneducated president). It makes sense that the ideas should springg from those that have something to offer intellectually. However, by your definition of meritocracy, you advocate the disenfranchisment of the majority of the population, a segment which has legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. A "meritocracy" will just serve the interests of the best and brightest if not tempered by the will of the masses. Besides, just because someone is stupid doesn't mean that he or she is dumb. The opposite can be said of the "educated" class. Just because your not stupid doesn't mean you're not dumb.

    For clarification:
    Stupid=lack of education/facts
    Dumb=lack of common sense
     
  4. Amaretti

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    I live in a meritocratic country at the moment.

    It doesn't guarantee a government free from corruption or keep them from making stupid mistakes. You still can't trust someone to do a good job, no matter how impressive their talent or ability is.

    And meritocracy and democracy aren't mutually exclusive.
     
  5. That NOS Guy

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    Come to think of it, I can't come up with one meritocratic state that ever lasted. The one that comes right off the bat is Emperor Napoleon's reign, but that was relatively short, can't comeup with much more then that. I can't help but think the end road (and even principal means) of such a system is dictatorship.

    "The problem of such a system is that it depends on the virtues of one man." -Yang Wenli

    Republican Democracy on the other hand has lasted and has more then a few accomplishments to boot. It does however have the problem of doing stupid, stupid things when the populace is in a mass mood.

    Being a Republican at heart, I'll uphold the democratic principles that my tradation so holds dear, even through the bad times.
     
  6. Toby

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    He is not referring to Oligarchy. Meritocracy is as he describes, and an interesting party for comparative analysis of democracy. I suppose I will give my answer in two forms; the personal preference and my assumed logical derivation on the efficiency (which is the superior).

    First I think we should use your basic terminologies to distinguish the fundamental advantages per rule of state: Whereas Democracy ensures that the population is given an equally beneficial opportunity for aspiring to the hights of social environment and education to all, regardless of apparent intelligence per individual. The Meritocracy however restricts the equally beneficial gains of society to their potential alone, thus fostering the single individual's personal inspiration to aspire to a higher level of social or intellectual status. The difference lies in which of the two ideologies provides for the masses and which of them appeals to the individual.

    Personally (how ironic) I believe the Meritocracy is the rule of state I would prefer. It is partly due to my impression of political awareness in society, where I can compare the British and Scandinavian. For having lived in both countries, I find that the British have more of a traditional conditioned education of political science in its youth from the level of lower secondary high school. This is very interesting as many British politicians, for example conservative ideologists, would stress the importance of Meritocracy as a form which should replace the old system of Democracy. This due to the fact that the political enlightenment in the case of the British school-system example has reached its apex, and the political knowledge influencing those graduates is now common knowledge rather than a higher level of political awareness. In order for the system to be of substantial use it would be ideal to teach the course in the manner of a Democratic system for outlining the basic grants and interests of politics, but providing the students a prerequisite for genuine interest in the subject if they deem it necessary to undertake for further study.

    In Norway, there is a tradition for political awareness where is more affected by the political state of the country's foreign relations than the education it is giving the students about the politics. This is because there in fact is no proper educational form for lower secondary high school students in the subject other than a two-week study of the parliamentary structure of the nation. The students therefore rely more on the political parties' youth factions, which are often very reactionary rather than politically and/or formally introducing the students into the very serious and mature system of the establishment itself. I would personally believe that is due to freedom of speech, but moreover also due to the culture of Norway Meritocracy is a very good system of approach known to the party which has ruled Norway the most; the liberals. When their rule was over, a Democratic instiution took over, the labour party actually, and its transformation lead to a complete change in the system of education. Interestingly enough, the British and Norwegian labour parties are considerably different in the approach to promoting political awareness; but nonetheless adhering to the same pattern of switching to the opposite where the first grade of political education draws to an end.

    I suppose it is debatable which should be implemented first, but as a liberal trying to find my way between libertarianism and liberal democrat I am placing my vote in democracy. Because it is the foremost in promoting the ideal that the state does not differ in the value of its citizens as people, but that it offers the same class to them and expects the individuals to do their best. Whether they do it just as well as each other or not is not the case, it is to inspire a variety of people to find an interest in politics. That creates a diverse generation of men and women suited to debate and deduce the best course of action for the modern state.
     
  7. Tsukiyomi

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    Based on their moral abilities eh? And who exactly decides who has the best moral abilities?

    The main reason we have democracy is because not everyone agrees on who should be in charge or on what we want in a leader. Thats why it works, everyone gets a say so we get the best of everyone.
     
  8. Firedraconian

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    A democracy is what we have now, at least in the United States. In terms of government, you have elections - every person (person = citizens over a certain age) gets a vote, regardless of job, intelligence, moral fiber, common sense, or independence. This means that the people in charge are, ideally, the choice of the majority. However, the problem is that the majority tends to be uninformed, ignorant, and vulnerable to fear-mongering, among other things. 'A person is smart. People are dumb, stupid animals.'

    Further, this also frequently leads to poor options for the populace to vote on. While any person can vote, not everyone can be voted for. For example, in Presidental elections, there are only two real options. I mean, name the last time someone other then a Democrat or Republican won. Thus, the most important election in the country appears to be a choice of... two. And also frequently, most people find neither is a good choice. This is because the only people who get into the position of being a candidate are the ones who are corrupt, extremely rich, or have good connections. Typically, the second two come from the first.

    In a meritocracy, most of this would be impossible. Every person would be judged solely on their merits, starting from birth. These merits, which would not just include intelligence, but also common sense, moral fiber, and tons of other attributes, would be determined by observation throughout your life.

    This means equality in schools. You wouldn't have the rich kids in one school, the poor kids in another. You would have all children in school, and those who do better and those who do worse. This would not lead to 'those who do worse, get worse'. Rather, those who are unsuited to school would be encouraged to find something else they are better at. Everyone has something they can excel in, and this would mean everyone is encouraged to find it.

    This follows into the idea of a job. You would be encouraged to find something you are good at and enjoy your entire life. By the time you're old enough to be out on your own, you'd have full knowledge of what sort of job you'd want, and the skills to do well at that job. This could mean you're very good with plants and become a farmer, or perhaps you're good with cars and become a mechanic.

    Now, jobs in general would be divided into three sections. Workers, Soldiers, and Guardians.

    Soldiers is self-explanatory. The army, the navy, the marines - all of that.

    Guardians would be leaders, senators, law-makers, politicians, etc. Government.

    Workers would be everything else. Merchants, farmers, craftsmen, teachers, professionals, doctors, etc.

    Workers would also be fairly uncharged. You'd become a teacher, teach, earn a living, yadda yadda.

    Soldiers and Guardians would be similar, but changed in several important ways. You would not be elected. You would be assigned a role according to your ability. The government would not have one man in charge - this is not a monarchy or dictatorship. There would still be balance of power, probably more so then exists now for one important reason.

    Guardians and Soldiers would not be able to own property or money. If you want to become President, you give up all your belongings and assets. You are taken care of by the state. You are provided food, shelter, and comforts within reason. But you own nothing and have no money.

    This, understandably, would cut down on corruption IMMENSELY. Not entirely, but to an incredible amount. If you're a greed-driven, selfish man, you are not going to want to be President. Only those who are selfless and actually want to serve their country would attempt it.
     
  9. digital_manic

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    then again democracy is said to be the worst type of government as it takes a long time for everyone to agree on something
     
  10. Insipidipity

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    Simiilar to what Tsukiyomi said, while a meritocracy would be ideal, there's no way to determine said "merits". Who would determine it? The masses? if they're skilled enough to determine who's meritous, then they're skilled enough to run a democracy. It's similar to my opinion on why there can never be an ideal IQ test.
    To develop it would require the most intelligent person. But to determine the most intelligent person would require an ideal IQ test.
    Catch 22 of sorts.
     
  11. ez

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    democracy doesn't discriminate, democracy ftw.
     
  12. Rhaella

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    Yes, it was Plato. The Republic.

    In theory, the idea is nice, but I've got a serious problem when people think that because they have certain qualities that they consider most important, this means that those qualities actually are the ones that are most useful in ruling a government. It suggests that there's one best way to look at the world, and if you don't fit in with this viewpoint, you are not worthy to get a voice. Democracy can have serious problems when it comes to rule of the masses, but I don't care for rule of the self-proclaimed elite.
     
  13. Firedraconian

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    No, no, no. That's not what it is at all.

    The concept is that everyone has something they do best, and that's what they should do. Some people are great at farming, so they should farm. Some people are great at teaching, so they should teach. Some people are great at governing, so they should govern.

    This would be opposed to the system we have now, where people good at farming try to be teachers because farming might be seen as less respectable. Or teachers try to be lawyers because they want more money. In a meritocracy, everyone would do what they are best at.

    This would lead the overall quality of life to improve. Since you're doing what you do best, you won't be dissatisfied. You won't have to worry about finding a job, or being unemployed, because everyone would have their own place in the world.

    This isn't saying that one person is better then another. It's NOT saying this AT ALL. It's saying that some people are better then others AT CERTAIN TASKS. You must realize that between you and one of your friends, there is something you can do better then them. This doesn't make you a better person. It just means you're more skilled at this specific task.

    And there would be no self-proclaimed elite. There would be no elite at all, for one thing. You seem to be thinking that the Government would sit around sipping martinis and ruling the world.

    In reality, the Government would probably be the LEAST desireable of jobs. You would have no money, no possessions, and you would have to spend all your time with paperwork and diplomacy running the country. You would be checked by the dozens of other government workers, all of whom are extremely smart, and selected for their selflessness and desire to improve the country itself.

    I simply don't see what your problem with that is.
     
  14. Insipidipity

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    Yea, the problem with it is very subtle(I actually read this book as part of a summer course while at the same time as taking a macroecon course so that's why I picked it up). It would likely lead to stagnation, economic and possibly technological. Although it can be argued that the desire for a constantly growing economy isn't a good ideal and technological probably wouldn't be as true with engineers doing what they do best. But the former can be countered by saying that people should therefore have no incentive to be super efficient in this society either, and the latter would be countered by saying that society itself would stagnate, etc. While I originally liked his vision, I realized after reading other Utopias for the class(it was a class on Utopias & Modern Technological society, and we actually did spent a week or so discussing the flaws of each), that there were insurmountable flaws. I mean one would of course be that perhaps a best society is simply one where people are happiest. Being forced into a job from birth could prevent that as people tend to like variety, etc.

    Also another thing was that it assumed inherent differences in people(he compared them to gold, silver, etc.), which, while it may be true, would be open to corruption of the view(much like darwinism), and thus might inflame racial or other types of tension.

    Anyways, that's all for now, I got a test tomorrow...
     
  15. Bananna

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    I can't see 'meritocracy' going well. Ever. Someone has to decide who's merited and who isn't, and that's so ripe for bias that there's no point in even debating it. And just because people pick what they're best at doesn't meant that what they're best at even has an economic impact. Someone who's really freakin' good at mass murder isn't going to be useful to society in any way. There are a lot of talented artists, but art doesn't really put food on anyone's plates.

    I don't think many people pick government jobs for the fun of it; they want to serve. If someone with ill intentions would take a government job, it would be for the POWER. Which you still have even if you're buried under paperwork.

    Yes, democracy has problems, but it's worked so far.
     
  16. Firedraconian

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    It's not having merit or not having merit. Everyone has merit. It's merit in what.
     
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