The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World

The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World

by Adrian Wooldridge (Author)

Meritocracy: the idea that people should be advanced according to their talents rather than their birth. While this initially seemed like a novel concept, by the end of the twentieth century it had become the world's ruling ideology. How did this happen, and why is meritocracy now under attack from both right and left? In The Aristocracy of Talent, esteemed journalist and historian Adrian Wooldridge traces the history of meritocracy forged by the politicians and officials who introduced the revolutionary principle of open competition, the psychologists who devised methods for measuring natural mental abilities, and the educationalists who built ladders of educational opportunity. He looks outside western cultures and shows what transformative effects it has had everywhere it has been adopted, especially once women were brought into the meritocratic system. Wooldridge also shows how meritocracy has now become corrupted and argues that the recent stalling of social mobility is the result of failure to complete the meritocratic revolution. Rather than abandoning meritocracy, he says, we should call for its renewal.

In Adrian Wooldridge's "The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World," he delves into the profound impact of meritocracy on shaping the modern world. Wooldridge argues that meritocracy, the principle of selecting individuals based on their abilities and achievements, has been a driving force behind societal progress, economic prosperity, and individual empowerment. He traces the evolution of meritocracy from its ancient roots to its modern manifestations, highlighting key historical figures and movements that championed the idea of rewarding talent and merit.

Wooldridge emphasizes the transformative effects of meritocracy on various aspects of society. He explores how meritocracy has opened up opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds, breaking down barriers of social class, gender, and ethnicity. By recognizing and rewarding individual talent, meritocracy has fostered a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and upward mobility. Wooldridge also examines the challenges and potential pitfalls of meritocracy, such as the risk of creating an elite class that perpetuates its own advantages and the need to ensure that meritocracy remains fair and accessible to all.

Through vivid storytelling and rigorous analysis, "The Aristocracy of Talent" provides a comprehensive and thought-provoking exploration of meritocracy's role in shaping the modern world. Wooldridge's work sheds light on the complex interplay between individual talent, social structure, and historical context, offering valuable insights into the ongoing debates surrounding meritocracy and its implications for society.


504 pages