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Saturday, October 21, 2006

On Young Republic on the Wee Shu-min outrage:

A: entirely disproportionate response to an unkind, unwise, but otherwise trivial rant of a private individual, just like the lucy gao/alexsey vayner brouhaha.

i suppose she will learn a good lesson about public diplomacy, but it seems like you're all too eager to see someone fall from grace, since if it had been anyone else less fortunate who said it you'd be praising them for having the right values about individual responsibility for success. why the double standard? or is it to compensate for your guilt-trip for being so fortunate to be on the right side of the bell curve distribution?

also i think it is sad that her opinions about society will only be reinforced by response from the celebration of mediocrity and culture of victimhood that condemns her.


>also i think it is sad that her opinions about society will only be
>reinforced by response from the celebration of mediocrity and culture
>of victimhood that condemns her.

Actually it was the celebration of excellent final outcomes, condemnation of those who lag behind and culture of "meritocracy" that led to her having the opinions that she has now.

It's no wonder people are so skeptical about the benefits of the free market and turn to reactionary socialism. Someone once sent me an article asking: "Why isn't socialism dead?" A fear of such ideology is, I think, a major reason why.

That the ends justify the means is a principle often propounded in undertaking distasteful tasks. A belief in market radicalism seems to take a different tack - the means justify the ends (free market outcomes must be right) which is, frankly, puzzling.

Those who believe that economic might is right and who thus oppose such wimpy bleeding-heart liberal policies as a progressive tax system and subsidised basic health care should bear in mind that a corollary is that political might is right - if the poor, frustrated and disenchanted masses rise up against you and loot your property, you shouldn't have any right to object.

Some might try to impose false dichotomies on me again: that if I do not support the untrammeled forces of the free market, I'm advocating giving the lazy and the stupid as much as the hardworking and the intelligent, or that if I think discrimination and environmental factors must totally account for why a certain group is disadvantaged compared to the rest I must be racist or support eugenics/Social Darwinism. Bizarrely, the post-modernists label me as simplistic and close-minded, and others (right-wing positivists, perhaps? Or maybe my neologism of "altar men", after the "either you're kneeling before the altar, or on the altar watching others kneel before you" philosophy) accuse me of spewing post-modernist bullshit.

It's so hard being a centrist these days. No wonder everyone likes to be an extremist though it's obviously wrong.

"In “The Rise Of The Meritocracy”, published in 1958, Michael Young, a British sociologist and Labour Party activist, conjured up an image of a society obsessed with talent. The date was 2034, and psychologists had perfected the art of IQ testing. But far from promoting social harmony, the preoccupation with talent had produced social breakdown. The losers in the talent wars were doubly unhappy, conscious not only that they were failures but that they deserved to be failures. Eventually they revolted against their masters.

The rise of the talent elite has bred resistance, which started on the right. T.S. Eliot, a 20th-century poet and critic, argued that choosing people on the basis of their talents would “disorganise society and debase education”. Edward Welbourne, a Cambridge don, dismissed IQ tests as “devices invented by Jews for the advancement of Jews”. But after the second world war the resistance spread leftward. Leftists argued that meritocracies were not only unpleasant but unjust. If “talent” owed more to nature than nurture, as many social scientists insisted [Ed: This is one reason I suspect why the PC people are so dead against nature arguments], then rewarding people for talent was tantamount to rewarding them for having privileged parents...

There are plenty of signs that another backlash is on the way, from John Kerry's complaints about American companies outsourcing jobs to a rash of riots in China. Much of this resentment focuses on growing inequalities. People complain that these are straining the bonds of society to breaking point: a new aristocracy of talent is retreating into golden ghettos and running the global economy in their own interests. “The talented retain many of the vices of aristocracy without its virtues,” said the late Christopher Lasch, an American historian, in one of the best analyses of the trend. The logic of talent wars is meritocratic: the most talented get the most rewards. But the reality of democracy is egalitarian: the people can use their political power to defeat the bell curve."
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