Social mobility or meritocracy?


Many people talk about social mobility as though it were a good in itself but I don’t see why. If someone moves up the social scale then someone must inevitably move down and why would a constant churning of society be preferable to stability? Just so that each family could have their day in the sun?

I suspect that most people want poor but talented people to have the opportunity to rise in society and relegate incompetent Hooray Henrys to the Third Division. I’m all for this too, but surely the goal here is meritocracy, not movement for its own sake. After all, it is perfectly possible to have a meritocracy with almost no movement up and down the social ladders. How? Well, if talented parents tend to give birth to talented children – and they do – and untalented parents tend to give birth to untalented children one really shouldn’t expect much social mobility.

Of course genes aren’t the whole story since only about 50% – 80% of our intelligence is heritable and only about 45% of our personality. Also there is the law of ‘regression towards the mean’, which predicts that the children of talented parents are likely to be less talented than their parents while the children of thickoes probably won’t be quite so thick. However, children only regress towards the mean of their gene pool, not to it, so the children of talented parents still have an edge. Still, because of these factors there should at least be some social mobility in a properly functioning meritocracy.

Yet the end goal of all this is meritocracy, not mobility per se. The latter is just a means to an end. It’s like adjusting a thermostat to get the right room temperature. Your ultimate goal is the correct temperature, not the adjustment.

Of course if you are a Social Justice Warrior then you will want equality over everything else, even if this means putting mediocrities like Dianne Abbott into powerful positions. Meritocracy won’t interest you. Since SJWs believe that everyone would achieve exactly the same if given the same opportunities then the fact that some people do better than others must be due to privilege. For this reason SJWs resent successful people, especially those who have a family history of success. They call this success ‘privilege’.

If your definition of social mobility is simple movement up and down the social ladder then this post can stand. However, if by social mobility you mean the opportunity for talented but disadvantaged people to rise up in society then, kind reader, you can disregard this post.

2 thoughts on “Social mobility or meritocracy?”

  1. This is a comment I posted on a forum recently:

    “IMO politicians are almost always dishonest when they talk about social mobility. Imagine a politician who only ever talked about how money would be spent and never how it would be collected. That’s what they’re like on the subject of social mobility: they only talk about the winners, never the losers.”

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