Meritocracy Is a Good Thing

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Political meritocracy is the idea that a political system is designed with the aim of selecting political leaders with above average ability to make morally informed political judgments. That is, political meritocracy has two key components: (1) the political leaders have above average ability and virtue and (2) the selection mechanism is designed to choose such leaders.

Political meritocracy has been largely eclipsed from political theorizing in the modern world, but there are three important reasons for reviving and reinterpreting this political ideal, particularly in a Chinese context. First, political meritocracy has been, and continues to be, central to Chinese political culture. Second, democracy is a flawed political system and meritocracy can help to remedy some of its flaws. Third, the Chinese Communist Party itself has become a more meritocratic organization over the last three decades or so. I will discuss each of these factors and conclude with some suggestions for reducing the gap between the reality and the meritocratic ideal.


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