Meritocracies Are Unfair – And That’s The point


There is a common perception that a meritocracy is the most fair way to run society. That because we are avoiding bias and favoritism and picking candidates purely based on their capabilities and achievements, a meritocratic system is the most fair of all. 

Such a belief is hogwash. There’s nothing “fair” about not selecting the surgeon who lost his arm in a car accident, and is now trying desperately to hold on to his career. There’s nothing fair about the fact that some people are born into good circumstances which confer a tremendous headstart in life. There’s nothing fair about the fact that so many of society’s most accomplished individuals grew up in upper-middle-class families that nurtured them, raised them well, and gave them access to highly regarded schools and teachers.

A meritocracy never was, and never will be, “fair”. And that’s the whole point.