Adrian Wooldridge #UNBOUND. The complete eighty-minute interview. July 10, 2016

Aug 01, 12:00 AM
Photo: Confucius (), according to writings the progenitor of the notion of appointing civil servants based on their personal and intellectual merit.
            Some of the earliest example of an administrative meritocracy, based on civil service examinations, dates back to Ancient China. The concept originated, at least by the sixth century BC, when it was advocated by the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who "invented the notion that those who govern should do so because of merit, not of inherited status. This sets in motion the creation of the imperial examinations and bureaucracies open only to those who passed tests."

CBS Eyes on the World with John Batchelor
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Adrian Wooldridge #UNBOUND. The complete eighty-minute interview. July 10, 2016

The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World. Hardcover – July 13, 2021 by Adrian Wooldridge  (Author)

'The Aristocracy of Talent provides an important and needed corrective to contemporary critiques of meritocracy. It puts meritocracy in an illuminating historical and cross-cultural perspective that shows how crucial the judgment of people by their talents rather than their bloodlines or connections has been to creating the modern world. Highly recommended'  Francis Fukuyama

Meritocracy: the idea that people should be advanced according to their talents rather than their status at birth. For much of history this was a revolutionary thought, but by the end of the twentieth century it had become the world's ruling ideology. How did this happen, and why is meritocracy now under attack from both right and left? 

Adrian Wooldridge traces the history of meritocracy forged by the politicians and officials who introduced the revolutionary principle of open competition, the psychologists who devised methods for measuring natural mental abilities and the educationalists who built ladders of educational opportunity. He looks outside western cultures and shows what transformative effects it has had everywhere it has been adopted, especially once women were brought into the meritocractic system.

Wooldridge also shows how meritocracy has now become corrupted and argues that the recent stalling of social mobility is the result of failure to complete the meritocratic revolution. Rather than abandoning meritocracy, he says, we should call for its renewal.