The Grand Illusion

In this hilarious piece in Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple argues that self-deceptive optimism inevitably leads to bitterness, and it occurs to me that mediocrity and disillusionment are unfairly maligned.

In a pure meritocracy, everyone would find his true, utterly deserved level; but it is a mere prejudice that if there were justice in the world, everyone would be better off. In a pure meritocracy, there would be no paranoid defense against one’s own nullity—one could blame only oneself for it and no one else. That is why the concept of equality of opportunity, besides implying a kind of Brave New World world, is so deeply vicious, and why so many people who promote it are obviously hate-filled. They do not want to serve humanity but torture it.

Of course, they also know that their ideal is not reachable or even approachable. It is, short of cloning and hatcheries, barely even conceivable. Nor do they truly want their ideal to be realized, for then they would have no providential role to play and would have to sink back into the great mass of humanity, their work done. No; they criticize the world from the standpoint of an impossible ideal not to improve the world but to stir resentment, that emotional equivalent of the perpetual motion machine. The resentful are easy to manipulate and willing to confer power on those who offer to liberate them from the supposed causes of their distress. Therefore it is important to keep inequalities of opportunity firmly before men’s minds; important, and easy, too, for it is always the case that if things had been different, things would have been different. Though we are enjoined—less and less frequently, to be sure—to count our blessings, it is far easier and more gratifying to count our curses. It accords with our desire to explain, or explain away, our failure. There are whole university departments set up to train students to do nothing else.

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