Meritocracy Frequently Asked Questions!
Q: Why are there people who follow you and who promote white nationalism, Nazism, anti-feminism, and other forms of extremism, and why do they call themselves meritocrats?
A: First off, meritocracy is a universalist and Jacobin project, and the central tenets of meritocracy repudiate racism and misogyny, among other things. Unfortunately, trolls and other disingenuous individuals have latched onto the meritocracy label and have tried to twist our work into something that it’s not. However, this isn’t new, as our work has been the victim of trolls in the past. Our ‘fellowship’ just happened on some nazi-type Gollums this time. Don’t worry, though: weirdos and loners have latched onto many a movement and political party in the past—the problem just seems bigger because our movement is much smaller. Focus on what’s important, and focus on getting real meritocracy out there. These lampreys will fall off in due time.
Q: What would borders look like in a Meritocracy? Is Meritocracy intended to include every nation of the earth?
A: The end goal of a meritocratic state is a global government, free from borders, and with maximized living standards and development across the globe. There will be no need for any fleeing of conflicts or any requirements for borders because they'll be obsolete.
In the meantime, some meritocratic states might have free trade treaties, no-control border zones like the Schengen Zone, or even borders between each other for security purposes. It all depends on the immediate geographic needs of a nation. In Europe, for instance, a stronger Frontex program might be needed to deal with future security and immigration concerns, while in America, the notion of a larger border wall with Mexico is particularly wasteful and needless.
Meritocracy at large does not support xenophobia or isolationism, and especially not arbitrary castling of countries for isolationistic reasons. That does not mean, however, that we would support the mass-migration seen in Europe today, which is a logistical and sociopolitical nightmare for all involved. The EU had raised the hopes of millions of people who travelled far to get to the EU, only to let them down by demonstrating that the EU is not a safe haven or bastion of support. Furthermore, one cannot feasibly accommodate so many people without causing incredible tension and political upheaval. The policies here were entirely based on sentimentalism and moral righteousness, and have resulted in a crisis. Now, the far-right has become empowered and they are far more dangerous than the fear-mongering they perpetuate against immigrants.
Meritocracy supports evidence-based policies, with rational deliberation. We're opposed to reactionary policies, sentimentalism, and moralizing.
Q: What if you do everything the right way, go to school, get a career, etc. but the the worse happens for whatever reason, injury, mental illness, etc. Will the state help you until you get back on your feet?
A: First off, for some context, the questioner is from the United States. In most advanced economies, the state already provides such services, and it is only the USA which is the exception to what is typically the rule. In a meritocracy, not much would be different: if you are injured or ill, you get the help you need to return to work and keep up your A-game. It would be an incredible waste to put in so many resources to raise someone to a level of technical proficiency, only to throw them under the bus because of some freak accident. Meritocracies praise efficiency and resourcefulness—not wastefulness and unnecessary tribulation.
Q: How do Meritocracy advocates view the institution of the EU?
A: The EU, as an institution, was originally an over-glorified industrial-consumer management authority. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the impetus of the EU’s founders was thrust onto the new generation of EU leaders, and this management authority developed political clout over and above its original mandate. A United States of Europe wouldn’t have been a bad vision, if it weren’t for the indirect and overly idealistic means put forth to realize this vision over three decades. The EU was based on a vision of political and social stability through economic prosperity—this is the most fragile and mercenary way to build trust, but, then again, this is also the heart of the neoliberal vision. Had the EU not been so beholden to finance and other private interests, and had the EU been more focused on actually delivering political and social stability, perhaps it would have turned into something good. Now, it’s rotten from the inside out, and just awaiting a slow death.
Meritocracy promotes a unified world system, but not one that is run by a hereditary elite obsessed on hoarding as much money as possible at everybody else's expense. For there to be a global system, it needs to properly integrate the needs of localities, regions, continents, and the world at large. This is a very difficult thing to do, and this task can only be accomplished by policymakers who have a deep knowledge of dynamical systems, complex social systems, psychology, and many, many more technical subjects. The EU demands none of this, and hence, is bound to fail. Meritocrats should look to keeping alive the vision of a united Europe that promotes strength in diversity, such as through emphasis on the city-state model and more efficient programs for cooperation. Until then, the EU can only hold us back. Our future — meritocracy's future — lies beyond the EU.
Q: The AC/GS spent a lot of time criticizing Islam, Judaism, Christianity, etc. How should the reader square your distaste for religions with accusations of Islamophobia and antisemitism?
Well, first off, neither are we ‘Islamophobic’ nor are we antisemitic. The extent of our criticisms of both Islam and Judaism has been on a social-historical and largely theological level, and our criticism of these religions is not unique to these religions, but has also been directed at Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. The point of our attacking Abrahamic religions so strongly was to show just how much of a sham they really are, and to get it out of the reader’s head that they should have any sympathy for Abrahamism.
We criticized the Abrahamic religions so that people can get a sense of just how fucked up they really are. It’s not all that often that you have the opportunity to call a spade a spade. When a religion is founded on lies for the self-gratification of a small set of elite families, and when a religion is used as ideological cover for endless crimes against humanity, then it’s insane to sit idly by and let these viewpoints slide so freely. How would you like it if you had seen a crowd just shrug off the promotion of slavery, genocide, wanton destruction, and bigotry as if it’s just another ‘alright’ sort of belief? Therein lies the rub.
A: Of course we’re not Islamophobic or antisemitic. As a people, the Jews have been nothing short of world-historic, and have delivered countless geniuses—of course, few, if any, of these brilliant people ever took the Jewish religion any more seriously than the Daily Mail. As for people hailing from Muslim countries, they often perform as good or better as anyone else when they’re freed from the theocratic constraints they have had to witness at home. Meritocracy’s goal is to offer freedom from religion to everybody, and to offer people the freedom to partake in massive state-directed projects, such as the Apollo program or ITER.
Q: In the TED talk by Eric Li and in the book, “The China Model,” by Daniel Bell, I have understood China to be a bureaucratic meritocracy, where members of the CPC get promoted from local governance into governors and beyond. What do you think we can learn from China’s meritocracy?
China is NOT a meritocracy. China is an extremely byzantine and totalitarian bureaucracy, where governors and political leaders offer patronage to business leaders and vice versa in order to secure state power. The questioner here, unfortunately, has been too enthusiastic about Chinese communist propaganda, and has a very scant understanding of politics in China. The path to political power in China is a highly indirect one—Trump could never get in because he’s too rude, too brash, too ‘arrogant’. One needs to grasp a labyrinthine level of social graces, secure support, undermine one’s opponents, backscratch, and lie—albeit in a way that always saves face, and always preserves a certain ‘dignity’. If you think this is just like Europe or the USA, then you are mistaken: any sort of machinations you see in Europe or North America are always turned up to 11 in China, but are always low-key, and anyone who dares reveal these machinations ends up dead, in prison, or exiled. If you’re in the good books of the Politburo, the media will censor out any unsavoury events, but if you’re in their bad books, you might end up as one of Xi Jinping’s ‘flies’ or ‘tigers’, and end up in prison or shot.
There is nothing meritocratic about this process. It’s heavily greased on corruption and patronage; it emphases connections and wealth over actual talent; it emphasizes slavish obedience to moral norms for the ordinary people, while justifying the crimes of their elite as part of the virtues needed to gain and maintain power. If you ever want to see what the effects of the Chinese government are, simply look no further than Tiananmen Square, the Tianjin explosion, the countless PCB-laced rivers, the oppression of minorities in favour of the Han, etc. China has become one of the most frightening visions of humanity possible, and most frightening is that this system of theirs is being exported all across the world with tacit approval.
Meritocracy — real meritocracy — proactively seeks to minimize the connection-based and patronage-based politicking in favour of being elected and promoted based on your actual competencies. What’s your CV like? Experience? Education? Do you have any feasible, socially beneficial, and resourceful plans for improving society? Then prepare to get tested, grilled, and possibly elected if you pass muster.
Q: Is there currently any nation in the world that is moving towards positive liberty and meritocracy?
A: An absolutist answer to this would be to say no, there is not. More contextual answers that one might give would be to say that Germany and Norway are demonstrating more attention to meritocracy. For instance, in Germany, their finance ministry is meritocratic by way of making sure real, effective leaders are elected to office, and the ministry works closely and publicly with loose associations of businesses to make sure productivity stays strong, exports are managed well, and that the economy overall functions properly. In Norway, a budding meritocracy is slowly developing insofar as the government takes seriously the erudition of professional ethicists and other publicly-employed philosophers. A country which exemplifies a certain positive liberty ethos on the small scale is Singapore, where public spaces are effectively managed and the education system stresses entrepreneurship in service of the city-state. One of the largest positive liberty projects at the moment, the ITER nuclear fusion project, is a based around an international consortium centred in France; another similar positive liberty project is CERN, in Switzerland. Of course, all such countries have their problems, but at least they are showing significant promise in certain sectors.
A truly meritocratic state would aim for top performance like this in all sectors, and would place exactly the right sort of qualified people in exactly the official position that fits them best.
Perhaps one day we can have a meritocratic governance index in order to scrutinize various states and their sectors, and compare and contrast their performance.
Q: Why do you say you are opposed to the contemporary model of multiculturalism, but you continue to repudiate racism and even say that immigration is not intrinsically a bad thing?
A: Currently, the European model of multiculturalism is unsustainable: the EU promotes itself as a beacon of hope and refuge on the international stage, only to treat people who reach its shores with utter disdain. It simultaneously promotes some vague vision of ‘tolerance’, while forcing people away into ghettos and hoping that they will one day ‘figure it out’. The EU emphasizes worker’s rights, while exploiting immigrants for cheap labour and has even tacitly approved of slave labour (!). Of course, many ordinary people are then stuck wondering if they should support this further, or try to react against it. Instead of there being a rational response to this, the rational vacuum has been filled with far-right extremism.
Multiculturalism is deeply affected by the debate of positive versus negative liberty. A positive liberty multiculturalism supports a single, rational culture (independent of particular cultures) to which every culture integrates into via a ‘melting pot’. We take away all the bad portions of our different cultures, and combine the good ones into a single culture. Reason also mediates between different cultures, and gives everyone a way to communicate their differences and learn to reconcile them, and eventually unite. That’s a positive liberty vision of culture.
The negative liberty vision of culture is the EU vision. It’s about assimilation, where you lose your culture and join with a new one; or, it’s about being entirely left alone to your ends. Ghettos produce alienation, and eventually crime and radicalization. You can’t possibly expect people to wish to assimilate when you treat them like shit. That’s where we are now.
Additionally, the European model of immigration has been further fuelled by sentimentalism and moral self-aggrandizement. It takes billions of euros just to properly integrate just 50,000 people, let alone 2 million. You can’t just admit everyone, and then let them down the way they have. You have to know your limits, and how much you can take on before the system becomes strained. The European system has become more than just strained—it’s toxic and at the breaking point. Instead of there being a voice of reason acting for moderation of a highly critical issue, instead there’s simply been a narrative of self-righteousness against xenophobia. That’s not the narrative you need to properly deal with international issues. Europe is heading for a crisis, and the people it pretended to save will become its unfortunate victims. This is what happens when you don’t have an effective leadership which can make clear-headed decisions on the basis of evidence, and not just what ‘feels right’. Science and philosophy come first; heart pangs must come last. When a state is not ruled by clear heads, it’s doomed to failure.
Q: Capitalism have proven time and time again to be able to evade regulations and evolve into a monstrosity. What would be different this time? HOW can capitalism be contained? What will meritocracy do differently to be able to truly tame the beast of capitalism?
A: You can’t beat capitalism by playing your own game. Capitalism has become the game, and it’s the nature of this game that has to change. If you try to resist with protests, petty rebellion, etc. then you will only get so far (not to say that protests aren’t useful, or rebellions aren’t fruitful — they can be!). The most pertinent example of this is seeing Che Guevara hats for sale in every hipster apparel shop, or going and buying your Guy Fawkes masks, made in China, from a costume shop. Everything becomes objectified.
If you feel discouraged by this, it’s because you aren’t playing the game at the right level. Capitalism can only be tempered through rules and regulations, and the capitalist ‘ecosystem’ can only be changed by changing the nature of the institutions that perpetuate it. We need to put the right laws in place, the right attitudes, the right advertising, the right schooling, etc. that creates a culture of cooperation and healthy competition—not zero-sum games and wasteful purchases. These are forms of ‘passive systems control’, where by virtue of a system’s design do you get optimal outcomes—you don’t have to directly intervene on the system to keep it functioning properly. One of the core goals of a meritocracy is to identify and implement the correct set of passive systems so as to improve society, and to continue to refine said systems as humanity’s needs change over time.
Remember, you’ll always have greed, avarice, envy, and pride. The question is how to make it work for the benefit of all, instead of just for a few.
Q: Should we fear Jacobinism the same way people feared Stalinism?
A: The Jacobins only used violence as a last resort, and the total death count from the terror was minuscule by any standard. The Jacobins were specifically taking down spies, saboteurs, informants, and underground political leaders who were trying to restore the monarchy and to crush the newly-founded Republic. The Jacobin leaders knew the terror would lead to their deaths, and accepted that reality. Modern-day Jacobinism needs no such thing—the times are different.
Stalinism is as far removed from meritocracy as possible. Stalin got to where he was by setting his ‘opponents’ against each other and picking them off until he was the last one standing, and then he consolidated power in one of the bloodiest terrors of the 20th century. To compare Jacobinism to Stalinism is to compare apples to oranges. You can’t compare the relentless terror perpetrated against millions of innocent civilians to a life-or-death struggle between a newly-minted state surrounded by enemies. The later communist party were just a bunch of apparatchiks afraid to do anything. Their system was rotting from the inside-out after Kruschev.
Meritocracy is about getting right level of power for exactly the right type of person for the office that befits them. It’s not about power struggles, backroom politics, or anything like that. The design of meritocracy is meant to exclude that possibility entirely.
Q: What is meritocracy’s relationship to communism and socialism? Why haven’t you addressed communism and socialism?
A: Communism is the sort of thing that meritocracy has surpassed. Communism has become one of the most discredited ideologies on the planet now. Everything from Stalinism to Perestroika has left communism entirely bereft of the capacity to mobilize people to action. Even contemporary communists and socialists understand this. At the moment, both communism and socialism are politically bankrupt, and the main texts and inspirations are from such a bygone era as to make them hopelessly outdated. To add insult to injury, Marx’s own Kapital is now used as an education tool for advertising specialists.
Meritocracy takes the best of capitalism and communism, and discards the worst, along with adding a whole slew of contemporary insights that both lacked access to, or are too blinded by politics and greed to see. Zizek has said that the left needs a new ideology, a new vision. Meritocracy is that vision. All leftists are friends of Meritocracy, and we freely welcome them in our ranks.
Q: What is meritocracy’s relationship to the left we see on university campuses in America and elsewhere? How does it view feminism?
A: Our criticism of the left today has been the same criticism levelled by other leftist philosophers: the left has become too fragmented, too focused on particular issues. Meritocracy stresses equality of opportunity, and difference in outcomes. What makes you perform is you and the powers you can develop with the assistance of the best education the state can offer. That means you're free from discrimination and from racism, and free to contribute the best work of your life to the betterment of humanity.
The left today has lost its sense of progress. It has reached a ceiling where the only ideals left now are simple equality, egalitarianism, etc. These are all fine and well, but there needs to be more imagination. We need to see beyond the simple struggle of capitalism and the left. We need to take the sick system and make it work for the benefit of all. Only a positive liberty-oriented state, run by meritocratic principles, can actually deliver that. Then you can really have equality of opportunity; you won’t be anyone’s servant or pawn, and you can determine who you are and will be as you wish.
The wealthy elite will be all too happy to grant you whatever freedom of expression you want, while taking away your power and your ability to stand up for yourself when you become a threat to them. While it’s wise for minorities to use democrats and liberals as a shield against discrimination, don’t think for a second that the political elite today will help you beyond whatever serves them. If we don't make the system work for us, we'll all be back in the same place we were before: all toil and no freedom. Only when universal values and positive liberty are placed dead-centre of the political arena will you really be free.
Meritocracy entirely embraces all of the ideals that leftists fight for, and improves upon what they’ve developed thus far. A meritocratic state — focused on positive liberty and universal values — will take us all to the stars. Anyone who wants to fight for justice, liberation, and equality can find common cause with us.
Q: There are a wide variety of liberation views, such as movements for minorities, LGBTQ, etc. What room is there for this in a meritocracy party or movement?
A: Meritocracy is a de facto liberation movement, and we want to push farther than ever before. The core principles of meritocracy secure everyone against discrimination and give them the freedom to engage in the things that make one great. Since many of these liberation movements do a very good job so far (in most established democracies, at least), and since our resources are very limited, we understand that any nation capable of reaching a level of governance like a meritocracy will embody the principles that people fight for. So, we don’t put too fine a point on it: our view is pursue the aims of a meritocracy, embody them in your day-to-day life, and work to establish a meritocracy, and when it has been established, then make sure it becomes the best place on Earth. Everything else will fall into place.
So, in other words, if you want to knock as many birds with one stone as possible, and finally deliver an answer to corruption, partisanship, and incompetence, then meritocracy is your best bet forward.
Q: Do you believe in free speech?
A: Not necessarily. Free speech is not an absolute guarantee; the freedom to express an intelligent, well-thought out, and well-defended viewpoint is certainly something we believe in, but we don’t think it’s good for society to let any old wingnut or bigot run their mouths and poison public debate.
Free speech is also something subject to evidential validation, i.e. it is not so much a rationally-defensible principle, but one that may be subject to tests and experimentation. Fortunately, there is plenty of evidence to show that in societies that favour minor restrictions on speech and politics, the people end up more stable and much smarter.
For instance, Germany outlaws Nazism and any sort of antisemitic hate speech, and although they have a far-right movement, it is nowhere near that of the United States. The KKK couldn’t survive in modern Germany, except as a mere shadow of itself.
In Canada, hate speech is categorically restricted, so you don’t see Muslims making antisemitic chants at rallies like in the UK, nor do you see white supremacists roaming free. You can't legally arrange for religious patrols in Canada. You couldn’t organize a far-right march in Canada like you could in Sweden, and it seems that the political debate isn’t nearly as toxic as it has become in the U.S., the UK, and Sweden.
Singapore — which falsely prides itself as a meritocracy, but comes close (all it would need are equality of opportunity and stronger anti-corruption laws) — has anti-libel laws and these, in turn, make mudslinging in politics illegal. Despite most Singaporean parties drawing their members from their wealthy upper classes (and, indeed, their elite families), Singapore’s political debates are some of the most sober in the world. Moreover, the citizen’s forums for political discussions in Singapore actually focus on key issues for their city-state, rather than degenerating into crass popularity contests and reality TV-style showboating. People end up having to discuss the merits of policies, and vote for candidates based on this.
So, as you can see, in some of the finest and best-performing countries on Earth, a little bit of regulation of speech goes a long way to making things less dysfunctional, less toxic, and more productive and focused on more important issues. Outlawing fascism, nazism, and mudslinging has a low cost, but a high benefit, and it isn't subject to any slippery slopes. It's targeted, effective, and reaps big returns.
Q: Why are you for universal principles (such as dignity, self-actualization, impartiality, rational imperatives, etc.) but you reject unconditional tolerance?
A: It’s a simple matter of payoff and of what delivers the most positive liberty while also giving people enough negative liberty to become the best that they can be. In a society that espouses rational principles, it makes no sense to tolerate the intolerant, and to protect people who perpetuate harm against others on the part of their intolerance. Liberals go OUT OF THEIR WAY to apologize for religious intolerance and to give it an audience in the name of tolerance, hoping that the intolerant will eventually become like them. No, eventually, the intolerant will abuse the liberals’ goodwill and use them as a platform to perpetuate their intolerance even further.
Most organized religions, for instance, value the diktats of their faith over reason, and over the benefits of society as a whole. Only when religions are brought to value reason over faith may they be accepted into the rational social contract, otherwise they can’t be allowed to roam free. There are numerous sects in the US and Canada which promote child abuse as a policy, and the US and Canadian governments have done precious little to prevent, let alone stamp out such behaviour—they fear infringing on religious freedom more than they value protecting their own citizens.
We believe in a minimum amount of negative liberty needed for you to free yourself from the influences of family, religion, and peer pressure, so that you can self-actualize to the fullest. If you believe in this, you cannot believe in unconditional tolerance or unconditional religious freedom. The freedom of religions needs to be curtailed so that people can escape from abuse, determine their own beliefs, and come to their own conclusions without coercion, threats of ostracism, or threats of violence. You shouldn’t need to separate from your entire family or community just because you think differently, and nor should a religious family or community have the power to do this to you in order to punish you and make you an example to others who want to do the same. So, to reiterate, in order to have TRUE freedom of the person, you must curtail some freedoms of religions, and that means we need to let go of unconditional tolerance, and embrace conditional tolerance wedded to rational, universal principles.
We say that you mustn’t tolerate intolerance. Rationality must triumph over faith. Religions mustn’t dictate to individuals, the society, or to the state, but rationality must determine the limits of religion. This is not a paradox, this is the formula for true freedom.
Q: What is Meritocracy’s view of The Venus Project? Would a Resource-Based Economy replace our current monetary system in a Meritocracy?
A: The Meritocracy movement, worldwide, has great respect for The Venus Project (TVP). There are only two points of constructive critique to be made about The Venus Project. The first, is that despite TVP eschewing politics, it remains a deeply political vision with political implications for the people of today. It will not become reality until there is political support for it. Meritocratic Jacobinism has put all of their support behind TVP.
Second, TVP happens to ‘skip too many steps’ in the course of history. What TVP envisions and what we have now are worlds apart. The point of Meritocracy and Jacobinism is to make a bridge between the real and the ideal. Only under a meritocracy will something like TVP become possible, and indeed a meritocracy emphasizes knowledge and seeks to empower knowledge and knowledgeable and responsible leaders.
With regards to the Resource-Based Economy (RBE), yes, one day money will eventually become useless, but it is not something that can happen overnight or by a legal fiat—at least not without major problems. In a meritocracy, eventually the very idea of money will become absurd because resources will be managed so efficiently, and at that point will the monetary system wither away. It’s a matter of bureaucratic efficiency; of information collection and management; of systems management; of empowered and effective leadership; and of minimizing waste. But this will not happen for a very long time to come. It may not even happen if meritocracies aren’t instated the world over!
Q: If Meritocracy does define itself as exclusively leftist, can it be said to be truly dialectical at that point?
A: What you have not considered is whether or not the dialectic has a centrist, rightist, or leftist conclusion. The ideas of left and right are human ideas; the dialectic and world history is not human, but transcends humanity. It may fluctuate left or right, but may settle down somewhere far from centre. Meritocracy is, dialectically, what points to the end of history, and it is undeniably a left-wing end.
"Additionally, does Meritocracy try to appeal to people of a right-wing persuasion at all? If not, why not?"
We could if we would, but everything meritocracy stands for is in opposition to everything that the right wing insists on. Religion, the nuclear family, and a society ordered by hereditary and financial elites—this is not the 'natural order'. Humanity is defined by how far we can overcome the limitations of our nature, not by how much we can give into it. The right wing, in addition, wishes for negative liberty and for the particular wills of a society to rule—this is, again, entirely opposed to meritocracy: we are a positive liberty-oriented movement, and one of the general will.
There will be conservatism in the future, but only in the formal definition of the term. The right wing as you know it will cease to exist in a meritocracy.
Q: Why don’t liberals and the rest of the regressive left try to ally with the progressive left? Why aren’t you trying to always be ‘nice’?
A: The debate between the progressive left and the regressive left is straightforward. The progressive left, such as Jacobinism and meritocracy, seek to leave behind religions and their brainwashing, and step into a new era of science and philosophy. The regressive left wants to go out of its way to emphasize small victories, but we want the big victories. The regressive left wants to protect any old backward religion out of purely sentimental reasons. They are saying that faith is more important than reason; that a religion’s own laws and interests can override universal rights. We say religion has no place in the future—ancient beliefs cannot dictate the future, only science and philosophy can.
Being nice is not the way of the real progressive. We can be likable when we need to be, but niceness is not how you win out against your enemies; niceness is how you get eaten alive. We progressives must be devious, cunning, resourceful, and willing to play dirty in order to defeat our enemies. Everything is on the table now. It’s the progressive left against the regressive left; it’s Jacobinism versus fascism. We can win, we must win. Failure is not an option.