Three definitions for meritocracy, provided by dictionary.com, are:
1. an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class, privilege, or wealth.
2.a system in which such persons are rewarded and advanced
3.leadership by able and talented persons.
Meritocracy proposes that if one works hard enough towards one’s dreams, no matter her ability, background, gender, sexual orientation, socio economic class, etc. she can achieve said dreams and be successful within her society. Anyone who has lived within society long enough without their blinders on knows that meritocracy is a utopian dream. We call it the “American Dream” here. When one thinks of this dream one thinks of perhaps an immigrant, or maybe someone from a poor neighborhood, working very hard to network, building up an empire from nothing, and becoming successful in the end. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as it seems. You see, in the media we’re constantly bombarded with such “success stories”, diamonds in the rough if you will. We’re exposed to these images so often that it almost seems as if this utopian meritocracy exists. However, these diamonds in the rough are a small minority, not the majority.
There are people who fight their whole lives trying to climb out of their social situations, but the world works very hard against them and they’re never able to achieve their dreams due to discrimination, circumstance, or otherwise. This is the sad reality. In order for a meritocracy to exist, money would have to stop changing hands, promotions would be based on merit and not upon namesake/relationships, taxes would be fair, and wealth would be equally distributed. Within our capitalistic society this is the exact opposite case and the conditions needed for such a meritocracy in which one could truly climb the social ladder based solely on effort and desire is not only highly unlikely, it is a near pipe dream within this society and country in which people fend for themselves. As long as Mr. Jones has all he needs, he isn’t concerned about the injustice done to his neighbor.
The question is, what are we prepared to do about it?