Meritocracy

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Types of government

A meritocracy is a system of government where economic and political power is distributed to individual people based on their ability to perform tasks relevant to their position. On basis of talent, personal achievement, or display of one's erudite; positions are either assigned or democratically elected by their peers. They would be assigned by the previous most skilled individual, or elected by people related to their field of study. For example, all doctors would vote a particular "most knowledgeable" doctor as a leader of their field. This most experienced individual would advise and direct their the field of medicine, under the assumption that because they have the most experience; they know what is best for their peers.

Social status within a meritocracy is gained through competition, where the most skilled or experienced individuals compete to become the most recognized for their work. Having more social clout, or merit, allow this person to advance up the ladder of that field. This arbitrary measurement of merit is determined by consensus, as is done in tribal societies, such as the Inuit or the Sioux.

History

A true meritocratic government has never existed in human history. In order to gain an understanding of how such a system might work, we can look to the small scale example of pre-historic societies. Bands of hunter-gatherers, in which the wisest and strongest member would become leader of the band. A hunter-gatherer would assume a meritocratic position after the approval of the members of their band. This dutifully appointed position would be based on prior example of their ability to lead. If their ability to issue their tribe was able to meet the basic needs of survival, they would become more trustworthy to their peers. As their social standing increases, so does support of that person's knowledge and experience. This puts them into a position of power, where they are able to make decisions on behalf of their tribe. Additionally, when that person would appoint a successor, their judgement is less questionable; due to that persons social standing as the most experienced person to make that decision. In short, there is no person they would rather have make that decision.

Criticism

Granted that this is a simple allegory, but it conveys the idea of what a Meritocracy is, how one would function, and shows that such an idea is not new. While such a form of government works on small scales, in small groups of people with few needs; it is outclassed by other types of government. Other types of government are more compatible with large groups of individuals. Where the problem with a more populous nation, is a populations inability to remember every person they hear of. It is difficult for each citizen to remember who is the most experienced person within each field, and what field they are experienced in. For this same reason most presidential elections, especially in the United States, are founded on the basis that the presidential nominee is the most qualified person in general for that position.

Notable Examples