Here in America, based on your “pluck and drive and ambition and talent, you could rise as far as your abilities will take you.” Right? Of course not, says MSNBC host Chris Hayes.
Hayes, author of the new book “Twilight of the Elites,” sat down with Lean Forward blog editor Ned Resnikoff for a precise and informed discussion of the merits of meritocracy, the idea of broadly available upward mobility described above.
“In real life—not as theory, but in reality—when you try to implement this system,” Hayes explains, “it turns out you cannot so neatly divide inequality of outcome and inequality of opportunity. In a society in which there is such vast inequality of resources in money, social capital, networks, resource, cultural capital, those vast unequal resources will come to corrupt and subvert any mechanism you put in place to try to preserve some vision of equality of opportunity. And so eventually … you go from something that’s meritocracy to something that looks a lot more like aristocracy, plutocracy, oligarchy.”