10 December – Meritocracy and the money society
Meritocracy teaches us that everything, including happiness, has to be earned. When this outlook becomes entangled with capitalism we begin to see money as the main indicator of how much (of anything) someone deserves. Meritocracy by definition is not democracy and it is not democratic. But it is nonetheless used, within democratic societies, as an alternative sense of justice (an alternative to democracy) to rationalize why we are willing to reward some people with immense wealth while we subject others to poverty and humiliation. Meritocracy is also not exclusive to capitalism, although it is clearly quite popular as a necessary rationale for explaining the excesses of capitalism and justifying them as a natural – inevitable – occurrence rather than a product of our choices. It is very possible though for meritocracy to exist in other forms as well, the only key factor being that some deserve while others do not. In a religious society those who do the works of God are deserving. In apartheid South Africa or Nazi Germany race was the criterion for determining merit. When put in this way, alongside its historical counterparts, meritocracy is glaringly barbaric and unjust.
As a final note we may consider the following: if religious societies earned their rights by serving a god, how much wiser are we for dedicating our lives and making sacrifices of our neighbours in the name of capitalism and economic growth?
06 November 2013 – Stepping out |part 1| the village
About a month ago I twitted that I had quit my job to focus on my music. The response that I got was a huge flurry of friends and family and university professors (who I didn’t know were on twitter by the way!) all twitting back and forth about why this was either good or bad. Of course in reality I had long left the office – about four months before that – and I had simply kept a lid on it because I wasn’t quite sure yet how to tell people about this very big change in my life. It’s probably easier to announce this sort of thing via a broadcast on a social medium than to do so sitting down face to face with someone who truly cares and has a direct interest in my life. But it’s this “direct interest” that holds many people bound to the opinions of others. What is your interest?
We must all try to break free from the herd at least once in our lives. Does anyone recall that scene on the movie 300 (of course I believe we should all remember every frame of that film) when Leonidas is cast into the wild as part of his initiation? Away from society and away from other people’s accounts of the gods and the world they’ve created, that is where the young man discovers the world in its wildest form and where he finds himself. It is interesting to me to note how many other cultures also initiated their young men by sending them out into the wilderness.
But we are afraid to step outside.