The Flip-Side Of Meritocracy

Douthat examines it:

Part of the problem with meritocracy is that it homogenizes in the name of diversity: It skims the cream from every race and class and population, puts all of the best and brightest through the same educational conveyor belt, and comes out with a ruling class that’s cosmetically diverse but intellectually conformist, and that tends to huddle together rather than spreading out to enrich the country as a whole. This is Christopher Lasch’s lament in “The Revolt of the Elites” that meritocracy co-opts people who might otherwise become its critics, sapping local communities of their intellectual vitality and preventing any kind of rival power centers from emerging.

Well, yes. But what's the alternative? Keeping the able down? Or recruiting a more diverse meritocracy, as Ross suggests, one that ensures that the rural and traditional populations are not excluded from the elite? I favor the latter on both moral and pragmatic terms. The question then becomes: what skills make one a member of the elite? And if they are increasingly centered around intellectual innovation, then the elite will be increasingly diverse, but also, one imagines, smaller.