“Do you think I’m special, do you think I’m nice
Am I bright enough to shine in your spaces
Between the noise you hear and sound you like
Are we just sinking in the ocean of faces”
“All the Right Moves” (One Republic)
The prior post referenced the major three controlling ideologies of the regime, Egalitarianism, Individualism, and Meritocracy, focusing on the third, and it’s intertwined sub-concept, pre-selection. There are many things that can be said about pre-selection, but the topic today is that it functions mainly as a “filter”, to exclude people, not as an inclusive system.
Throughout history, there have been a number of powerful societies who applied a very sharp line to determine in-group status, even to people we would consider children.
The Spartans probably have the most brutal pre-selection process ever implemented in history, and unsurprisingly, had trouble maintaining their society after only two defeats, one of them comparatively minor. Their issue was that once a person, no matter how young, was considered “not good enough” for Sparta (1), that was the end for them, they had no chance at redemption. They could hope to be treated as a non-citizen with limited protections, or they could go into exile. If they were bad enough to be striped of even that, they would become a helot slave.
While not as brutal as Spartan citizenship, the USG also has a sharp form of pre-selection. As mentioned before, a large number of organizations use pre-selection to fill their own ranks, some more than others. While this could be explained as administrative necessity, where it becomes destabilizing is when one realizes how strong the pre-selection machine has become.
For those not born into the elite, access to the very top positions in society, CEO positions, Federal Politicians, Cabinet slots, Judgeships, White-Shoe Law Firms, Big Four Accounting Firms, Hedge Funds, Silicon Valley start-ups, is taken from a fairly limited pool of Undergraduate and Graduate programs. Read the profiles from the organizations, and you will see the same schools over and over again.
Contrary to the theorists of a “Cognitive Elite” or a “Creative Class” (2), while it’s likely that membership in the “recruiting classes” of these institutions requires above average cognitive skills, it’s not a perfect correlation. Because of that, believing that the “Cognitive Elite” has already separated themselves from the hoi polloi into enclaves is premature.
There is a reason for this lack of a correlation.
Pre-Selection relies on the group before the level one is examining. For the elite Undergraduate programs, that means the American Secondary Education System, in short, High School. To oversimplify the end result, no one outside the Elite, who presumably would be in private schools to begin with, is going to get to Harvard, or any other elite Undergraduate program, without the active and dedicated support of their “home” educational institution. For students, and these are legally children, who have somehow displeased their educational institution, for whatever reason, they are already banished from the pool. It does not matter why they displeased them, how rational that displeasure, or if there are any outside factors. There is no appeal from that judgment.
Let us be absolutely clear what this means. The highest ranks for the children of the near-Elite are determined by a system that relies on the American High School and all that goes with it.
(1) One story indicates loss of citizenship for having too many eating plates.
(2) The author has mixed feelings about the author of the first reference.