26th Selected Links

1 min read

Happy weekend! Here are some links to things I've been reading that you might also enjoy:

1. 'Down with meritocracy', a 2001 The Guardian op-ed by Michael Young — the same Michael Young who drafted British Labour's 1945 Manifesto. Young coined the term 'meritocracy' in his 1958 book The Rise of Meritocracy. In his conception, meritocracy was a dystopia. (Merit is good, but meritocratic hubris is bad.) Young imagined a populist backlash against the meritocratic elite in 2033, a prognostication which would turn out to be true, only seventeen years ahead of schedule. This was not to be the last time a satirical term has been imbued with positive connotations, as denizens of "the lucky country" may know. Like Horne, Young hit back. The killer quote from his 2001 piece sums up the politics of resentment and humiliation that would produce Brexit and sweep Trump to power fifteen years later: "It is hard indeed in a society that makes so much of merit to be judged as having none. No underclass has ever been left as morally naked as that.”

2. 'Booming Sector and De-industrialisation in a Small Open Economy', the classic 1982 paper by Max Corden and Peter Neary which described "Dutch disease". Neary passed away during the week.

3. 'Twelve Virtues of Rationality', Eliezer Yudkowsky's 2006 blog article.

4. Thucydides' description of the plague that killed around one quarter of the Athenian population during the summer of 430 BC, taken from Richard Crawley's translation of History of the Peloponnesian War (the best translation). The passage follows Pericles' Funeral Oration and is one of the most remarkable in Greek literature (Pericles died of the plague in 429 BC).

5. 'Technology Saves the World', a new blog article by Marc Andreessen for a16z's newly-launched media property Future.

Have a great weekend,