The Merit Revolution

There was a time when rewarding merit – the mysterious amalgam of talent and commitment – seemed to be the main way to fight inequality, the perfect antidote against nepotism and class privileges. Today, on the contrary, so many intellectuals, scholars and politicians think it is a source of discrimination, selection, humiliation of the weak, and wage an astonishing battle against merit. In everyday life we have no problem choosing the best cook, the most experienced surgeon, the best school for our children, or admiring the most original artist, the soccer player who scores the most goals, the scientist who makes a great discovery. Why is it that as soon as we talk about male and female students, everything changes? Why does the word "merit" in the world of school and university unleash all sorts of fears, accusations, clichés, prejudices? What if, instead, talent is precisely the most egalitarian of gifts, since it can rest on a palace as well as a hovel? In this new book of his, Ricolfi traces the history of ideas about merit, from the ideals that inspired the Constitution, through the philosophical theories and dystopian novels of the twentieth century, to the recent and deleterious confusion between merit and meritocracy. And it shows how retrograde, unfounded and far from common sense the battle against merit is. Supporting the able and deserving – starting with girls and boys from the working class – is the revolutionary gesture that can get the social elevator moving again. It is a gesture that was at the forefront of the Constituent Fathers' thoughts, but which so far no political force has had the courage to make its own.

Details +

Publication date: 05.09.2023
Publisher: Rizzoli
Number of Pages: 216
Country: Italy

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