Parlor Talk: The Case for Individualist Meritocracy

Gregory Hayes

Gregory Hayes

The modern world is whipsawed between the inclinations of corporate collectivism and the surge of meritocratic individualism. In many ways, this is the linchpin of societal strife that has endured since the advent of literate societal organization itself. When your examine the collectivist tenets that have been the mainsail for many authoritarian societies, you realize that the provenance of much despair has been attributable to the pigeonholing created by seeing the superorganism of society as a truckling endeavor to appease the crowd. Martin Luther King Jr. famously stated that “you should judge a man not by the color of his skin but rather by the content of his character.” This is the problem with the collectivist impetus because, by its very nature, it views the syntality of various groups with unique shibboleths and renders them by the strictures of stereotypes rather than by a delaminated glance at the partitioned human condition that survives despite the dudgeons of dubiety created by clannish fascinations of collectivists. Pure collectivism ratchets racism and upholds a muzzled comportment of delegated roles that masquerade in silence to erect a monolithic edifice of procrustean conformity rather than stoking the identity achievement endemic to more individualistic cultures. Unbridled collectivism barely exists anywhere in the world with totality except for extremely authoritarian East Asian cultures like North Korea where hero-worship takes the form of apotheosis and everyone congregates around a spartan mentality to conform to the brunt of asperity imposed by a top-down system. Individualistic societies buck this trend and encourage the demiurges of creativity to inseminate the world with formidable achievements and empower an agility of persona-taking that is largely absent in cultures that value the superorganism overriding tenets more than their personal livelihoods. Some corporations encourage a collectivist mindset in order to exert divestiture to prevent insubordination of lively debate among the inquisitive class and to stifle contrarians from counterphobic ventures with a largesse heaped on the travails of individual exemplars of beauty and truth. Nevertheless, collectivism by its very nature is a crutch for racism and nominal representation that apportions wealth and talent unevenly to appease the egalitarian streak of this zeitgeist. We should back away from this dangerous ideology because we want to preserve our rights as delegated individuals rather than sodalities of base conformity to achieve expediencies that are a demarche for a more monolithic consensus regardless of the casualties of individualistic flourish that often spawn many more achievements than polarized groupthink can fetch.

My main contention is the basis of identity politics waged by both parties and especially by the punditry of the media is based on a collectivist view of the mosaic society and serves as a neat heuristic that provokes antinomian discord between privileged and underprivileged classes, races and genders. In my academic career, I stumbled across many research articles that suggest that collectivism quashes identity achievement and leads to identity foreclosure which is a suboptimal outcome of undernourished individuation that prevents what Carl Jung calls “self-transcendence” or what Abraham Maslow called “self-actualization.” Although there is a utilitarian objective by many juggernaut corporations to create neatly compartmentalized bureaucracies of docile people abiding by a strict corporate decorum, this strategy of containment leads to a demotion of divergent creativity which is often the afflatus that impregnates the world with the progeny of seminal genius capable of revolutionizing society. We live in a world of nepotism created by a plenipotentiary aristocracy that bypasses traditional routes of ascent and appoints pedigree and talent over diversity much to the chagrin of many social engineers. To reckon with this reality it is best to see that meritocracy is a superior social contract than nominal credentialism which seeks to maintain a façade of egalitarian equipoise while discriminating against many talented people who might be recalcitrant in their ingenuity to devise better systems and more coherent designs but who belong to privileged classes. The ballast of individualism is the strident belief that the plumage of extravagance variegated by divergent trajectories of people following their self-decided passions is a better verdure to hedge your bets on rather than some manufactured tinsel of piebald bureaucracy interpolated as a supervenient goal that is incumbent upon the mentalities of many who seek freedom rather than servitude. Corporations should be more respectful of individualism because meritocracy combined with affirmative traction leads to a greater harvest of unique ideas because people feel empowered to sublimate their unique talents in the context of a broader organization which still governs their baseline agenda. Individualism sputters on occasion because if you value your own opinion with supercilious vehemence you become insulated by preferential attitudes that discard the contributions of others. Therefore, we should make it our solemn mission to create a world that feeds off a cyclical optimization of human bionomics that relies on the bedrock of convivial vitality while chiseling against the monoliths that stand in the way of the goals that aim for supernal acclaim by collective wits under the banner of some common agenda without viewing society as an indivisible superorganism. Collectivism in some cases can feed social goals such as unity and purpose which can be beatific but simultaneously it leads to outgroup exclusion and is limited in its revolutionary thrust because it sides too often with conventional thinking. Therefore, we witness the pitfalls of both attitudes which creates a compromised syncretism that might be superior to either strategy considered individually.  

The syncretism I have adopted is a general governance of relaxed orthopraxy that looks to fossick the hidden wealth of diversity with an earnest agenda to handpick talented individuals from all walks of life but emphasizes talent with more vehemence rather than lackluster headhunters who seek only nominal representation. In this manner we can vouchsafe the equilibration of society so that talent begets more talent without excluding traditionally oppressed groups and bequeathing more ingenuity in positions of executive control. If you examine the thrust of history, the people that side with neoteric heterodoxy often are the victors against the hidebound consensus because by degrees of rarefaction and sapience they revise prior paradigms and devise crafty solutions that drive lucrative ingenuity and, in an iterative process, inch ever closer to the closest approximation of truth permitted by the axioms of acatalepsy. Nevertheless, collectivism can be beatific in many circumstances and it serves to promote ulterior goals of neat conformity which can lead to fraternity. Ultimately, by viewing society as an assortment of different nations who differ by shibboleths rather than viewing each individual person as a unique being, you are vitiating the very goals of enlightened apportionment of wealth because stereotypes might lead to zany quips but they rarely lead to societal advancements that seek to promote people based on their propinquity to certain talents and positions throughout society. Collectivism can be a utilitarian philosophy among certain corporate cultures and countries. Without the brainpower of a meritocracy, we risk falling behind our competitors who siphon the talented from the brewed consternation of a mélange of different races, creeds and genders without neglecting the people that need specialized protections. A society that permits a meandering but gallant search for autotelic objectives forges more headway than a society that inculcates a baseline conformity to clinch the expediency of docile truckling servitude to a psychosocial paradigm prone to pandering a suboptimal truth for lucrative leverage over a society that values inclusion over ingenuity.