From Status to Merit and Back to Status, by Paul Craig Roberts

It took centuries for humanity to partially move from status to merit. Reversing that is a giant leap backwards. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.com:

Henry Sumner Maine in 1861 wrote that “the movement of the progressive societies has hitherto been a movement from Status to Contract.”  Maine is referring to the rise of merit from the Enlightenment and its replacement of aristocratic status as the basis for advancement.

In the past few decades today’s progressives have turned this movement upside down. The new progressive movement is from merit to status based on race, gender, and sexual preference.  Already in law there is a two-tier system of rights and privileges governing university admissions, employment, promotion, and criminal law that mimic the medieval era of status-based rights.  Astute observers would also point out that in the 21st century both Republican and Democrat presidents have resurrected the power of medieval governments to confine people in prison on suspicion alone and to execute the accused without due process of law.

In 1995 in my book, The New Color Line, I said that the failure of the House and Senate to hold the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accountable for implementing a racial and gender quota regime despite the explicit prohibition in the 1964 Civil Rights Act would result in the restoration of status-based rights and inequality under the law.  At the time my point was acknowledged, but the advocates of racial quotas and preferential hiring and promotion claimed the privileges were only a temporary measure until blacks had caught up and were proportionately represented in government and the professions.  It was obvious to me that once merit was abandoned because it was disadvantageous to preferred races, merit could not be easily restored.

Merit was first abandoned in university admission requirements for blacks alone.  This was followed by a general lowering of grading standards and then to pass-fail systems so that there was no way to measure the relative performance of the races.  Since then we have gone much further long this road.  Merit has been written off as racist and meritocracy as a tool of white oppression.

We have come full circle.  Henry Maine saw merit as liberation from status-based systems.  Today merit is regarded as suppression of status-based rights.

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