Wednesday, May 24, 2006

random rant on meritocracy - brought to its logical extreme, it is worse than Noblesse Oblige

Elitism can create misperceptions of reality.

Many a scholar do not come from a fishmonger background, or a roadsweeper background. Many come from more privileged backgrounds.

Basic principle - the rich get richer, the poor well, have the "opportunity" for social mobility.

The elite study in elite schools, mix with smart students, and think, all of Singapore is like them. It is not that they are unable to empathize. They just haven't been exposed to other perspectives. I once had a long discussion over elitism with a friend who went through Tao Nan Primary, Raffles Secondary, and Raffles JC before ending up in NUS. It took about 3 hours to get him to comprehend the reality that he had no opportunity to be exposed to in his education process.

So, do we blame the products for being completely out of sync outside their perfect operating world, or the system based on the philosophy of meritocratism that shaped these elite in the first place?

Even kings understand the concept of Noblesse Oblige... our modern elite, many are incapable of understanding people other then their own, for they live in a different world. Looking at my 'last post on being in 3 Cities in one week, I cannot deny that I am becoming one of them, but at least I still remember what it felt like to had to find enough money to take the bus to work and back. (At least I didn't have to walk 15km just to work for 4 hours and back, though it came rather close then.) So hopefully, I will never forget that time, and how people can get caught in situations beyond their ability to affect. And to react and help out of empathy, and not sympathy.

Guilt of the elite is not the path to assuaging the soul. Noblesse oblige is. Noblesse oblige is not waiting for that once a year donation, or "community visit", but simple acts of kindness and support for your fellow man whenever you can. For it its society that recognizes wealth, and every man is part of society.

Without peasants, there can be no food for the king.



Anonymous Anon said...

You cannot absolve them of being socially unaware simply because they are not exposed to the lesser priveleged due to their path in society or education. You must have been really oblivious to notice that poverty or difficulty is abound in our society, no matter how affluent you are. I do not believe that these people who live among us can be thus blinded to the economic inequality of the world, much less our own world. Moreover, the affluent in our country are not royalty nor aristocracy. They do not have high walls and palaces to shield them. Therefore, there should not be excuses.

I do agree that charity should not be limited to donations and/or community service projects. And people from every strata of society has a part to play.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anon said...

Haha. Correction - "You must have been really oblivious to NOT notice that poverty..."

12:17 PM  
Blogger KiWeTO said...


what I was ranting on is that the elite cannot empathize enough to come up with solutions that are solutions and not band aids. They can understand societal issues rationally, but not at the emotive level. Solutions that would be completely rational can be completely unworkable on an emotive level, thus dooming the solution to failure.

Oh well. at least somebody reads the rants ;-)


12:22 PM  

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