A ‘Fair’ Review of The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good

Merit’s become of the Common Good.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

So, I stumbled upon Michael’s work while scrolling through YouTube. The title read: Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? The series could not really reach any conclusion on ‘what’s the right thing to do’ because, you see, justice is complex, situational, and difficult. But as Michael says, we must not stop questioning because of the fear of skepticism.

In The Tyranny of Merit, Michael has decided to reach a conclusion, and that too, a really simple one. That a good society (I kept reading it as a just society) should ideally aspire for equality of condition, not equality of opportunity, because:

1. Without equality of condition, equality of opportunity through a ‘meritocratic system’ is a hollow promise that is never fulfilled;

2. Merit is an illusion that breeds conceit among the already affluent who are looking for ways to justify their ascribed status;

3. Meritocracy alienates the already marginalized;

4. The meritocratic system is too individualistic;

5. A society that depends on the success of scattered and detached individuals and hopes it would miraculously work out for the common good is no good.

And finally, because merit does not mean fairness.

While fairness is compassionate and forgiving and encouraging, merit is cold and demanding and discouraging.

I’d choose fairness over merit any day.

Author’s Note: I wanted to give it four stars initially because I ‘wanted’ it to be as engaging as Michael’s video lectures. Then I remembered that I just claimed that I’d choose fairness over merit any day. Today’s just another day.





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Zainab Jafri

Zainab Jafri


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