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Which one would you choose? Egalitarianist and/or Meritocratic society

1 : a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs
2 : a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people

1 : a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement
2 : leadership selected on the basis of intellectual criteria

  • Mar 19 2014: The problem with a truly egalitarian system is that no one works (hard). If your reward is detached from effort, why bother?

    The problem with a truly meritocracy is the tendency for wealth concentration allowing manipulation and reducing total productivity.

    The best economic system is well-regulated capitalism, where effort is reward, but limited to the point where wealth concentration becomes an issue.
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    Mar 22 2014: Hello Eugene. I see that fundamental ethics are missing in all categories -

    how would people or chosen-authorities JUDGE and recognize what Equality, or Talent, or Achivement are? How people would select Leadership "on the basis of intellectual criteria" ? Can avarage people judge based on "intellectual criteria" other than to simply select someone already well-known, having a "high" position or title?

    I think that almost all our social and personal problems are brewing from our own endless ignorance and arrogance, from the poverty of ethcs. Only basic ethics when leared in our childhood may prevent us from mindless arguments and bloody war.

    The New Golden Rule shall say:

    NEVER treat others as you would like to be treated yourself -- unless they agree to it first --because what is good for you may be damaging for others.

    The majority either go along with whoever rules above their heads, or protest against these made-up rules, however, in any case, they have NO CLUE about what they want for real, because of lack of any experience of living differently compared to what they already know.

    The only society that I think may make great sense is where every individual is respected as a unique person - this is the fundamental law of nature - every living creature is unique. We are never the same, never "equal" in a sense our society treats us, and we cannot live happily if our systems treat us as one non-existing collective prototype.

    What may solve our recycling for millennia social, economic, political, scientific-industrial and even educational problems?

    Small societies and many varieties of lifestyle, culture, mentalities, even technology, along with one-of-a-kind infrastructure, architecture, schools, healthcare, and even fashion, when all that is created for locals, for unique individuals within their specific environment and demands, not for the mindless masses.
    • Mar 23 2014: Hi Vera no disagreement, and off the top of my head as I am split between really wanting to reply to your post and this other subject I am working on; so maybe I wont get this quite right but heres the jest of it.

      When we look at the anatomy of living creatures, what we see are specialized areas/organs of activity, and in between these we see the transport systems of the blood and lymphatic system etc; and there is no competition between them or any resultant confusion within the living system.

      Therefore if industry and commerce were to mimic this system, whereby the most suitable areas of the world were designated to produce a particular product or commodity, relative to their environment, infrastructure, and geographic position, relative to national and international transportation systems, and international demands; and so reducing or removing the conflicts of international competition between those producing the same products or commodities in competition with each other;

      I think that given the aid of computerization and the Internet in regard to such a process, this world wide revolutionary process,. would bring about unimaginable benefits, relative to the whole of humanity and the entire living biosphere.
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        Mar 23 2014: Carl, Your example of how you see harmonious society comparing it with a living organism, is wonderful, I think.

        (But I do not think that "computerization and the internet" as you put it, can replace any vivid real and direct interactions with our natural environment in order to build and maintain lively systems. Technology cannot live and sense as a part of a living organism, it can only work as temporary crutches. Unfortunately we praise technology as if it was our forever salvation, but it is only pointting out how limited, weak our human sense perceptions, and the rest of our natural abilities are... It shall be some sound balanced combination I think... )
        • Mar 23 2014: Hi Vera absolutely agree with you

          I am only thinking of computers and the Internet as a tool to "helping us" to analyze and create an extensive overview, of all aspects relative to developing all aspects of human activity towards not attacking, altering and destroying the natural kingdom; but rather respecting its workings, working with it, and merging our own activities in with its workings; relative to respecting all living creatures/our neighbors, who have as much right to this world as we do, and to be able to exist in safety from mans constant depredations against them, and their living environments.
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        Mar 23 2014: Thank you for clarifying the thought! That's I support with my heart! :)
        • Mar 23 2014: Only problem is, it would take international cooperation of all of the people of the world, and this I think could only happen, via the means of "true" and universal democracy; but thats another topic.
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        Mar 23 2014: Would love to see your new topic, Carl.
  • Mar 20 2014: Seem like the rest of the group likes both ideas. I say neither in the purist sense, but there are attractive aspects to both.

    In an Egalitarianist society, is it more important to keep everyone equal in every aspect of social political and economic affairs than to allow for natural stratification? Socially, is it more important to include the obnoxious, disrespectful, arrogant, boorish, selfish and hostile personalities in all activities equally with those having the opposite positive characteristic? No. People deciding to act out these behaviors need to be scorned to reflect societies displeasure with their application. This is the only way for them to realize that their behavior is wrong. However, a social pre-diposition of openness and acceptance for various personalities is a good thing and very desirable until such bad behavior warrants action. Does the person that takes an active role in helping lead and govern deserve a little more consideration than those that do not? I think so. However, should this consideration be for sale of provided as a result of ethnicity, religion, or financial status? Absolutely not. Should those that work harder, take bigger risks, and are more effective workers get paid more? Yep, but again not based on gender, ethnicity or political party.

    In a meritocracy, who chooses who is talented and what constitutes achievement? This is an important power. Is the best leader the smartest person? No. There are many other factors. However, should achievement be rewarded? Yes.

    I think these are two purist extracts a more generalized society models. There are many more aspects to consider.
    • Mar 22 2014: I agree totally with what you have said.

      I think also that a great social improvement upon our so called democratic systems/societies, would be that all candidates seeking office as a politician; should first have to sit a nationally approved examination as to their suitability, for election to office.

      And as when applying for a position with a business, they should have to present their CV to the electorate at the start of their campaign, and a summary of their intentions post election.

      Addendum; and be held accountable.
  • Mar 20 2014: Why not both?

    What is wrong with a meritocratic society based on egalitarian principles?

    What does that double-speak gobbiltygook I just spewed mean? Am I just babbling nonsense?

    Maybe not, to wit:

    Such a society would reject the concept of "talent" entirely or at very least make "talent" merely another trait with no more importance than any other. What would be rewarded would be DEMONSTRATED ABILITY. It would not matter if you did it through "talent", "gumption", or "dumb luck". If you can do the deed, you get the reward. Your "talent" doesn't matter. Likewise, since it's performance that matters, if you slack off, there go the status and rewards.

    That being said, people ought to be permitted to have voluntary charities--not through some "egalitarian" principle but through compassion. Meritocratic leanings DO NOT MAKE COMPASSION IMPOSSIBLE. If I earned umpty-gazillion dollars through being so "talented" or through doing something amazing or a lot of little amazing things, it's my money. I am free to give it out to nice people, mean people, hot young women, hungry kids, whoever and however I want. If I want to spend my trillions on old-fashioned charity, it's my right. Maybe it just makes me feel all giggly inside. Maybe I've got a Santa Clause complex.

    Also, people are free to set aside for the future, in case their performance slacks off.

    In matters of political government, since the issue is ability, and ability is NOT a matter of permanent "talent", the only sensible way to handle things would be a form of indirect democratic representation. There is no way to know if one set of "tests" will find the most "talented" individual for all possible tasks. Thus, throw it to the masses and let that method at least weed out the extremes. You won't get the best (alas), but when you're dealing with government, which ALWAYS has the power to kill people, the risks from a bad leader outweigh this.
    • Mar 21 2014: Santa. Ha ha ha. Love it. Great reply Bryan. I agree. A meritocratic society that provides a decent quality of life for everyone. Those who perform are entitled to the scarce resources and those who do not can still enjoy their lives without fear of starvation, poor medical care, etc.
      • Mar 21 2014: How will you measure the performance ? The society only believes in and appreciates what is tangible and visible ? How will you measure the performance of those who will contribute in intangible and invisible way ?
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      Mar 21 2014: Good Point. But you are not allowing for political evolution. History has shown that large groups of people create a political system beginning with the individuals end up as weak dictatorships and fall to a stronger aggressor.
      Even today, in the USA there are calls to end the electoral college and become a straight democracy. The next step toward the end of Pax Americana.,
  • Mar 20 2014: Eugene
    Which, of the two would you prefer?
    You are providing a choice between two, essentially, totalitarian forms of government. As you define each, in egalitarianism, who decides when humans are equal? What is that standard of measurement? If one has an IQ of 160 and one has an IQ of 100, do we add the total and divide by two and assign each an IQ of 130? That way everybody is smart. If one has the talent in the range of a Monet and one in the range of a stick figure; do we outlaw one or both to promote this equality and, in the process, ban art, as it has a tendency to be un-inclusive?
    Meritocracy is, perhaps, worse. The talented are chosen by whom and for what reason? Would it be purely altruistic, in that, those chosen are in the best interest of the community or the State? Leadership is based on an intellectual criteria.How does this manifest itself in governance? Are we to have philosopher kings, perhaps our leaders should be those who have read the most books and can spout tidbits of useless information. Perhaps the Harvard or Oxford graduate who is well versed in academia and whose post graduate work was sitting around a camp fire and singing songs of peace and tranquility. Have you done away with democracy here or is this in the keeping that, "Democracy is the only road to socialism." Socialism is the only road to Marxism."
    Although, I am a bit bias, I would vote for the American Bill of Rights, whereby the government stays the hell out of my business.

    I would be willing to hear your choice.
  • Mar 19 2014: Equal opportunity.

    Merit based outcome based on relative value created through your efforts/labors/production.

    Policies such as monetary, fiscal and tax, designed to keep inequality to a minimum. It should be possible for individuals to amass money savings in the 100s of years of median income as that does not create massive imbalances in the economy. It should not be possible for people to amass money savings in the 10Ks years of income as that DOES create massive imbalances that takes away opportunities from others.
    • Mar 21 2014: Relating money to time, agree.
    • Mar 23 2014: I agree

      Merit based outcome based on relative value created through your efforts/labors/production.

      However would add without discrimination; by this I mean that e.g. a laborer digging a hole in a road in China, or e.g. a Surgeon working China; should receive the same monetary reward, as the same working in e,g, America.

      Money at its simplest is mechanical energy/labor, converted into a transportable energy token; that can then be subdivided; in order to buy other mechanical energy/labor produced products.

      Therefore the only way to end racial monetary discrimination (Corporate use and misuse of overseas cheap labor), is to have a standard international monetary unit.
      • Mar 24 2014: You simply cannot regulate pricing in the way you suggest where everyone in every country earns the same.

        At its core, economics is a price discovery mechanism that will balance supply and demand, and that price discovery is the result of near infinite number of decisions made by billions of people on a daily bases as to what to buy and what not to buy, what to produce and what not to produce, what things have what value to them.

        At best, our controls are secondary, controlling the amount of money in the economy via interest rates and lending standards, controlling the velocity and pooling of money via income tax code (rates and deductions), trade barriers, etc.

        Because supply and demand will ultimately overrule our desires for equality, a country with high population but few natural resources will always have difficulty trying to achieve and maintain a standard of living equivalent to a nation with low population and abundance of natural resources.

        At its most basic level, one group of humans does not have, and can not create sufficient wealth to trade with a nation which simply needs to dig a hole and have resources come pouring out.
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    Mar 19 2014: I believe that true equality is the equality in reaching your utmost potential. Equal opportunity to be the best that you can be. That means everyone is treated in the most agreeable manner to THEM as an individual. Everyone has a shot at being able to use their gene-given potentialities, and free to pursue their own happiness in the most conducive environment to them as an individual. That means understanding everyone you meet and treating each person as a unique human being. Highly idealistic, but its my version of Utopia.
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      Mar 26 2014: Your comment is the wisest... I think these ideas are doable too, if we, humans, will learn something really practical, some day, in the future.
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    W. Ying

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    Mar 19 2014: .
    That is, meritocracy based on egalitarianism.
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    Mar 24 2014: A problem with a meritocratic society is that not everyone gets to where they should/supposed to be. I have personal acquaintances who are highly skilled and talented and yet are underemployed. I have also seen people with zero skill/talent get every promotion known to man. Alain de Botton talks a lot about a meritocratic society. He had an excellent interview with Riz Khan about a meritocracy. He mentions how it's impossible because of where the "justice" is in everything. I have a colleague who entered a competition that was held at a different university than his. He performed flawlessly while the other students from the university where the competition was held at made errors left and right. The judges from that university gave the awards to their students. Did my colleague "merit/deserve" the loss? Absolutely not. There was a similar story in the Sochi olympics. I think it was ice skating. So once again, where's the justice? As the saying goes it's not what you know (merit/talents), but who you know.

    Our own TEDster Richard Wilkinson lays out the benefits of an egalitarian society:
    I really love his quote "Are you growing up in a world where you will have to fight for what you can get, watch your back and learn not to trust others because we are all rivals, or are you growing up in a world where you will depend on cooperation, reciprocity and mutuality?"

    There was also an article recently that ranked the happiest countries. The highest had more egalitarian elements to them. Personally, I'd lean more towards an egalitarian society unless we could figure out how to make a very just/non-biased meritocratic system.
  • Mar 23 2014: Hi Vera have been thinking about it and how to phrase it, but pretty worn now as my opinions and views, definitely are not orthodox; and have upset a lot of people.

    Will continue to consider it, and thank you for your openness of mind, and your very worthwhile thoughts and comments.
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    Apr 8 2014: Eugene,
    It has been a very interesting question and you have many views expressed.
    But, my concern has been the nature of the question.... it is sort of asking if one would rather be hung with a silk rope or a hemp rope.
    Neither system can meet all needs for a large group of people to be governed well and fairly. Worse, I am beginning to think there is no system. We have seen in history and even today, a vast number of variations on a vast number of different governing methods. Which is best?
    First question... are you the governed or the governing?
    and we go downhill from there.
    So, I guess it comes down to who you are and where you live. If it was me on a disserted island, I could probably live with anarchy.
  • Apr 6 2014: I would prefer a egalitarian government because of the equality which a meritocratic government does by equal opportunity but not social equally
  • Mar 24 2014: I would prefer Meritocratic society in business and government and an Egalitarian type in general. The problem is both needs a sense of responsibility through out the population.
  • Mar 24 2014: Obey No1kinobe 100+ +1
    2 hours ago: Ironically most of the farmed food animals would not exist of it weren't for humans.

    They would not have any life.

    however suggest there is a reasonable moral argument to minimise the suffering of animals grown for food.

    I'm not sure animals grown for food and treated well are worse off than others in the wild. but we have more responsibly for those we rear.

    personally I lean towards eating meat as being slightly immoral of not required for survival or health.


    I suggest you re-read what I wrote about what is happening to the cattle in Indonesia awaiting to be slaughtered, and then facing and seeing the sheer horrendous hell, they are about to go through, before they themselves are mercilessly chopped into bits by cold blooded fiends in the name of religion. Better still access the visual footage on the internet, and the equally hellish and nightmarish brutality meted out to them and sheep in the middle east; and in the USA where they start their lives from parents packed like sardines into a paddock, where they literally grow with their feet trapped in their own shit, and virtually no space to move in; and the maximum length of distance they walk in their entire lives, is the distance to their slaughter; and for what; in order to line the coffers and pockets of Corporate executives, and punters on the share markets; sickening.

    And if you cannot, and clearly you cannot, empathize and sympathize with such horror, being meted out to your fellow living creatures; I do not feel sorry for you, nor do I equate to you in any way whatsoever; nor do I wish to discuss any thing with you in any way whatsoever.
    • Mar 24 2014: I think that many people fail to understand the difference between human intelligence, and the intelligence of other species.

      People see a cow slaughtered, and imagine how they would feel in that situation. The reality is, you can not possibly understand what the cow feels, because your brain is so much more advanced then theirs.
      • Mar 24 2014: I've always assumed that pain is pain, as our nerve endings function the same way. I figure the difference lies in the amount of anxiety we can feel as our imaginations build up the experience with fear.
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      Mar 24 2014: I agree with you on the examples where humans cause unnecessary suffering of animals.

      However if an animal is grown for food and has a reasonable life free from fear and pain, and the slaughtering is done in a more humane way, this is not the same as caged chickens or lambs dying from heat on boats.

      It may possible that an animal treated for food has a less fearful life than a wild animal.

      I've seen some of the Indonesian footage, and to Darrell I would suggest while a cow may not fret about the future in the way humans do, and we need to be careful about projecting human perspectives, they are mammals like us and when frozen in fear it seems reasonable they to assume they are suffering emotionally in a similar way

      hen frozen in fear
  • Mar 23 2014: One thing is persistent in the folly of humans; the notion of "either/or", when inevitably "and" will be the result.
  • Mar 23 2014: Meritocracy seems well and fine as long as the basic needs (not wants) are secured for all contributing citizens. I don't agree with our current value system that leaves so many working two and three jobs to survive in this society. In the world I would like to see, I picture free healthcare to everyone under the legal working age and some form of college education to anyone who seeks it out. Why are some children receiving below standard healthcare because of where they are born or the credit score of their parents and why is education a commodity instead of an open opportunity?
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    Mar 21 2014: What's behind door number three?
  • Mar 21 2014: None of the above .
  • Mar 21 2014: Nature has been working very well for.... ever on the meritocracy system, we are animals after all, why screw it up.
    The system humans came up with sure as hell ain't working out to well. There are almost 7 billion people on this planet, would you like to take a vote to see how many like the current plan?
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      Mar 21 2014: Nature is cruel and brutal.

      Suggest we can do better than that.
      • Mar 21 2014: "Nature is cruel and brutal."
        And we are not???
        Last year we killed 150,000,000,000 animals
        Last year:
        17 million people died of heart disease
        7 million people died of cancer
        1.5 million people killed in auto accidents
        1.5 million people starved to death
        .5 million murdered
        I would call that pretty damn cruel and brutal.... and none of these violent deaths were caused by nature.
        • Mar 22 2014: 1.5 million starvations out of 7 billion people would be a human starvation rate of 0.00002%. And doubt there is any species other than humans that come close to that.

          150 billion animals killed a year? That would be only 21 per person. I kill about 1000 times that many every time I spray my yard for ants.

          As for heart disease and cancer, how is that NOT nature? You do realize that everyone dies of something, and heart disease and cancer are the ones waiting for you when you do not die of something else first.
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          Mar 24 2014: We can be cruel and brutal.

          I just suggest we are the only animal we know of that has the intellectual capability to rise above or instincts, to use our empathy and reason to do better than survival of the fittest.

          not many animals other than us reflect on the morality of eating other animals.

          I think we can do better than other animals at reducing suffering, and suggest it is a worthy goal to reduce suffering whether human or other.
      • Mar 22 2014: Darrell this is not counting natural deaths if there is any such thing any more. These are disease stats, dying of heart disease or cancer is anything but natural. It is a horrible way to die sometimes taking many years of bed ridden, pain and suffering. These stats also vary widely from year to year especially when we go through a world war or genocide or famine. Anyway if you don't get the point I can not help you. If you are happy with the situation, good for you, you have a lot to be happy about.
      • Mar 23 2014: Nature in relation to its laws of the jungle/predation is generally brutal and swift,whereas in regard to environmental changes, such as water holes drying up in seasonal changes etc, causing the painful and slow death of animals, it appears at times to also be very cruel.

        However when I consider 45, 000 slaughter houses in Indonesia; where the cows waiting to be slaughtered in the paddock outside, can smell the blood and hear the agonized sounds of their herd mates, after they have been dragged into and across the blood drenched floor the carnal house, and between hanging limbs, heads, and torsos of their previous herd mates; and see the same that is being done to the last one is about to be done to them.

        Then add in the poor creatures that go through far worse suffering as they are, continuously tortured in science laborites, and then carved up in the name of science; and far worse e.g. the continuing mental agonies/tortures. inflicted upon the babies and mother primates, during his experiments in the name of science, and within his pits of despair, by the;

        "Vile inhuman abomination Harry Harlow" and such inhuman and vile practices still continue in the name of science; despite exceeding in every possible way, the types of atrocities committed in the Nazi death camps; and internationally condemned.

        Then add in human trafficking, the white and asian female and child sex and slave trade, the inhuman activities of drug syndicates, Mafia's, Tongs, Triads, etc and dictators such as Hitler, Stalin, Amin, Hussein, Saad etc.

        The brutality and cruelties inherent within the "essential cycles" of nature, pale in comparison to the unnecessary evil sand vileness. that has been, and is being, continuously committed by evil human beings, over and over again.
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          Mar 24 2014: Ironically most of the farmed food animals would not exist of it weren't for humans.

          They would not have any life.

          however suggest there is a reasonable moral argument to minimise the suffering of animals grown for food.

          I'm not sure animals grown for food and treated well are worse off than others in the wild. but we have more responsibly for those we rear.

          personally I lean towards eating meat as being slightly immoral of not required for survival or health.
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          Mar 26 2014: Carl, may I ask you to publish the copy of this comment on my new topic-thread ?

          I'd like to continue on ETHICS IN SCIENCES/RESEARCH.

          Thank you! I guess it's some of those topics people try to avoid...too hard to handle, emotionally.

          Thank you again!
      • Mar 24 2014: Obey, the most noble thing any animal ever does is lay down there life for his fellows, for the survival of their species.
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    Mar 19 2014: As we already have inmost of the western world, I would choose a meritocracy with mandated egalitarian minimums.