A better subject line might be “Diversity vs. Democracy.” The current (Oct. 7) issue of The Economist has a special section titled “A Survey of Talent,” dealing with the world-wide shortage of really smart people. Some interesting stuff, though the solutions offered at the end–progressive taxation, childhood nutrition, pre-school education–are lame, lame, lame.
Which is not very surprising. The question raised by Michael Young 48 years ago in his book The Rise of the Meritocracy has never really been answered. That question is: When the cream has well and truly separated out, how will the milk react?
Postindustrial society is increasingly a conspiracy by the right-hand tail of the Bell Curve against the rest of us. Numerous quotes in this Economist survey illustrate this. (E.g.: “In the heyday of ‘company man,’ bankers married their secretaries; now they marry other bankers… A new aristocracy of talent is retreating into golden ghettos and running the global economy in their own interests…”)
Shall we go on being grateful to, and appreciative of, the talented elites for using their intelligence and creativity to make us ever more comfortable, better informed, healthier, and better entertained? Or will resentment build up (as it does in Michael Young’s book–the narrator of which, IMS, is torn to death by a low-IQ mob)? Can democracy take the strain?
And how will “diversity” play into this? Suppose, as seems inevitable, the high-IQ elites who (says The Economist) are pulling away from the rest of us are disproportionately drawn from one or two minority groups? Doesn’t that put us in Amy Chua territory?
“[H]ere comes Amy Chua to explain that over a large part of the Earth’s surface, globalization and democracy are at loggerheads, and may actually be incompatible. Ms. Chua, who is a professor at Yale Law School, knows whereof she speaks. Her family comes from the small but wealthy Chinese minority of the Philippines. Globalization has been very good indeed for that minority, opening up great new opportunities for them to practice their entrepreneurial skills and allowing them to network more easily with the overseas-Chinese commercial classes in other countries. It has probably benefited non-Chinese Filipinos, too, but by nothing like as much. Seen from the viewpoint of that majority, globalization has permitted the Chinese to soar up into a stratosphere of stupendous wealth, leaving ordinary Filipinos further behind than ever. Now invite that sullen, resentful majority to practice democracy, and what do you think will happen? Prof. Chua tells us. Her wealthy aunt in the Philippines was murdered by her own chauffeur, and the local police — native Filipinos — have not the slightest interest in apprehending the killer. In their report on the incident, under ‘motive for murder,’ they wrote the single word: Revenge.”
I must say, it’s nice to see some mainstream coverage of these topics. It’s a PC minefield, of course. Just talking about these things can get you read out of polite society by guardians of the egalitarian cult–people like the Southern Poverty Law Center. We should all be talking about them, all the time. This is our future–our near future, the world our kids will inhabit.