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The duel: Should we give up on meritocracy?

A rigged system or driver of social progress? Our contributors battle it out

Image: Myriam Borzee / Alamy Stock Photo

Yes—Daniel Markovits

One of meritocracy’s great attractions is that it beats the familiar alternatives. Surely it is better for people to get ahead based on their accomplishments than, say, race or social class. Another attraction is that “merit” itself remains pleasantly vague. Accomplishments are not easy to measure.

Eventually, an actual meritocracy must fill in the picture. We measure merit first by exam and then market competition. In each case we worship superiority. We rank students and workers, asking not who has done well but who is best. This reality undermines the abstract appeal.

First, marks…

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