Adrian wooldridge

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There is much to be said for meritocracy, and Adrian Wooldridge, in his new book, The Aristocracy of Talent, says it very well. He is right: a society organised on anti-meritocratic principles will decay, making life worse for all, not just for the naturally successful. And yet I feel that meritocracy is inadequate. Most of us, sensing our lack of merit, feel left out. It takes small account of things that matter in real life — love of family and friends, relationships across generations, enduring ill health and bereavement, beauty, landscapes, animals, flowers, kindness, joy, pleasing idleness, traditions, prayer, being silly, jokes, song, meals, bed. Meritocracy rightly seeks results. But

The rise of the pluto-meritocracy

Meritocracy, a word coined by my father, gets a bad press these days. Two recent books — The Meritocracy Trap (2019) by Daniel Markovits and The Tyranny of Merit (2020) by Michael Sandel — hold it responsible for many of America’s ills, and in some settings saying you believe the most qualified person should get the job is classified as a ‘micro-aggression’ because it ignores the role that race plays in determining a person’s life chances. It’s one of those progressive doctrines that’s fallen out of favour. So kudos to Adrian Wooldridge, the political editor of the Economist, for producing a full-throated defence of the principle. In The Aristocracy of