by Lewis Marshall, PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering
America is not a Christian nation.
But America is a nation of faith.
In Twilight of the Elites, Chris Hayes (of Up With fame) explains that America has faith, more than anything else, in systems of meritocracy: systems in which people gain power, not due to birthright or personal connection, or appearance, but because of their skills. Are you good at your job? If so, you should be promoted. And if you stop working, if you stop improving, if you fall behind, someone hungrier and sharper and more skilled should take your place. We have built this idea into our educational system, our economic system, and our government. In American mythology, meritocracy is both salvation and moral obligation.
So when Twilight opens with the line, “America feels broken,” it’s disheartening. Hayes recounts the disappointments of the last dozen years: Enron, the Iraq war, the housing bubble, the great recession, pedophiles sheltered in the Catholic church and at Penn State, the failed response to hurricane Katrina. Has meritocracy failed? Have we failed to live up to our ideal?
Twilight of the Elites doesn’t address the day-to-day politicking that led to these failures. Instead, Hayes creates a theory to encompass the whole broken decade: The Iron Law of Meritocracy. Continue reading