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The merit principle of “hard work leads to success” turns schools into classification machines

shine trader live reports:

Professor Michael Sandel smelled a disturbing smell in this increasingly competitive society.

Sandel has been teaching political philosophy at Harvard University since 1980. For 40 years, his life did not seem to have changed much, but one thing surprised him: “among my students, it seems that more and more people believe that their success is the result of their own efforts and deserve it.”

Michael J. Sandel

One of the “most popular course chair professors” at Harvard University

At first glance, Sandel’s words seem difficult to understand – Harvard students are “thousands of troops across the single wooden bridge”, how can we not say that the seats they “earn” are well deserved?

However, the famous professor of political philosophy challenged people’s concept of “common sense”:

If you work hard, can you succeed?

Do elites really rely on their own talents and efforts to achieve success?

Can education really be a solution to inequality?

… Sandel has covered the above issues in his famous “justice” series of courses. The course has set the record of “the largest number of registrations” of Harvard for many years. After the implementation of the open class project, it has triggered extensive discussion all over the world.

Facing the social reality that elitism is rampant, Professor Sandel is no longer satisfied with only discussing in class. Recently, his new work “pride of the elite” met with Chinese readers. We might as well follow Professor Sandel and rethink the issues of “justice”, as well as what is “success”, “effort” and “education”

“The last grandiose prejudice”

According to the survey, up to 77% of Americans believe that “as long as they are willing to work hard, most can succeed” – that is, what Sandel calls “merit ism” in his book.

Merit doctrine does not believe in luck or grace, and believes that success depends on oneself. During the period when the hereditary aristocratic rule gradually collapsed, entrepreneurs who “started from scratch” flocked to become believers in the merit system.

On the surface, merit doctrine ousts the “artificial aristocrats” who have no merit and benefits, and encourages the growth of a group of truly talented “natural aristocrats” – that is, the elite group we call today.

However, under the atmosphere of advocating “elite” in the whole society, the environment has changed quietly. One of the important signals is that diploma has unconsciously become the basic condition for people to gain social respect.

“One of the most embarrassing features of elite arrogance is diploma ism,” Sandel said.

Even high-ranking politicians are obsessed with diplomas:

Trump, who is obsessed with “IQ genetics”, often mentions that his uncle is a MIT professor and an academic genius, so as to prove his high-quality genes. The outspoken president often expressed contempt for the elite, but he was so eager to be respected by the elite;

When responding to the “sexual assault scandal” in 2018, former Supreme Court justice cavano was full of his brilliant experience at Yale University. It seems that the diploma can become an excuse for exoneration and a proof of a person’s innocence.

Sandel summarized these phenomena as “diploma weaponization”:

“Diploma doctrine has become a ubiquitous basis for judgment, a universal credibility rhetoric, and has been deployed in moral and political struggles far beyond the gate of the campus.”

The moral judgment of “winners” implied in merit doctrine has had destructive side effects: high education has almost automatically been linked to “elites”; On the contrary, people who have not gone to college are more and more difficult to be respected by the society.

Sandel believes that although there is little correlation between political judgment and the success of standardized tests, the United States has turned Congress and parliament into the exclusive territory of the degree class – these arrogant elites are alienated from the working people and make mistakes in decision-making.

Discrimination does not exist only at the top of society.

A group of social psychologists have conducted a series of surveys in Europe and America, and the results are surprising: among various elements such as “poverty”, “obesity” and “race”, the “low level of education” has become the object of unanimous discrimination among all levels – without a diploma is simply an original sin, and even the people at the bottom think so.