‘The stories in our heads’
The tug of war between market forces and cultural forces in our contemporary society has altered the way we look at our identities. ‘What we are?’ is essentially transforming into ‘What is that we can produce for the market?’ or ‘What is that we are capable of?’. The author tries to establish a cause and effect relationship between neo-liberalism and meritocracy by proving that there is a discriminatory class dimension to the world created within the framework of meritocracy. Before coming to how and why he tries to establishes the link, let’s first find out what entails the world view of neo-liberalism.
Neo-liberalism envisions a world where an ideal individual is someone who can contribute the maximum amount of value in the minimum amount of time. An idea that one can attribute to Jeremy Bentham. In a world where forces of market sets the ground rules, material prosperity is equated with success and a prerequisite in achieving a normal identity. However this proposition also prompts us to think how brutal world would be to those individuals who have tasted failure. The next time when we find ourselves talking to somebody whom we would normally classify as somebody with a disturbed identity, we need to remind ourselves that there is much more than what meets the eye.
The entrenched class dimension that is perpetuated by meritocracy eliminates the possibility of building a society that is based on competitive solidarity. Infinite number of people is competing for a finite amount of resources in a world that is better defined by balance sheets than higher human virtues. The author urges the world at large to reverse the pathologisation of human emotions and behavior as a consequence of which qualities like shyness is shunted and ability to socialise and network is encouraged.
The Greek aphorism ‘Know Thyself’ by Socrates has never been more relevant.