Social Narratives

I was reading this interesting take on the woke meritocracy by Blake Smith. The similarities to Singapore is uncanny not least because we have similarly competitive systems that have evolved to take into consideration academic grades and a myraid of criteria for university admissions.

What is more similar, despite cultural differences in our preferred kind of leadership, is the narratives expected of our elites and accordingly engineered into the social consciousness. The point has become to narrate one’s background in such a way as to simultaneously acknowledge the existence of inequality but to subtly suggests the system of meritocracy is still being able to pull up able members of those seemingly disenfranchised groups.

The contemporary ideal, increasingly, is no longer someone so charmingly personable that others forget he is in fact a ruthless competitor, but a person who so convincingly narrates her having overcome some kind of social injustice that others forget she is in fact a beneficiary of systems of privilege.

Blake Smith

These stories are no doubt powerful and casting skepticism do not help with building up the social fabric. But what I want to point to is the fact that we ought to have a more objective view of the meritocratic system and be more aggressive in combating the downside of the system.

One of the key assumption of the system is that merit as defined by the prevailing narrative and system is independent of your access to resources and opportunities. That is just patently untrue. If the inequalities are actually perpetuating structural inferiority amongst the disenfranchised, then how are we dealing with that?

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