Drawing on some of the greatest thinkers Western civilisation has produced, Christopher Thomason argues that the ambition of moral and political philosophy was - and should still be - the creation of a meritocracy. Despite their differing analyses and solutions, Aristotle, Hobbes, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Mill, Nietzsche and Sartre all saw notions of equality as double-sided - offering both the opportunity for personal achievement as well as a justification for difference.
Equality meant equal access to law allied with state action against nepotism, cronyism and the formation of cartels. Yet today that meritocratic ambition is being buried under an avalanche of well-meant yet intellectually-lazy good intention. To advocate equality of opportunity is to rejoice in the expectation that people will rise to a position in society that matches their virtue and talent. Put another way, to desire meritocracy is to see inequality of outcome as the rightful consequence of a well-ordered state; a state that protects individual freedom.
Within his argument Thomason offers insightful analyses of Aristotle's idea of justice, Machiavelli's critique of morality, the contract theories of Moses, Hobbes and Rousseau, Kant's categorical imperative, Mill's harm principle and Zamyatin's novel We. He concludes with the optimistic belief that to stand against those who want to suppress individuality we need nothing more than the power of imagination and the comfort of joining together with people like us; people who understand their responsibilities, not just their entitlements. In other words, that the defence of Méritocratie lies in the use we make of Liberté and Fraternité.
Also by Christopher Thomason, the novels: Got Love If You Want It; and For The Want Of Beauty.