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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Are we heading towards fair societies?

In one of my earlier posts, I had written about the case for selection based on inheritance. One of the most cherished goals of most societies has been to de-link privilege from parental lineage and to create a meritocratic society. And in the last years, most western monarchies have been reduced to tourist sights (similar to the fate of pampered zoo animals). Shareholder activism has gradually replaced family management with professional management. Inheritance tax has been institutionalized in many countries. Racism has become largely extinct, and in countries like India, the so called lower castes have come to dominate the political scene.

So are we slowly moving to a more fair society? Will universal meritocracy ensure that? Hold on!!!!!!!! It is now widely accepted that Merit (intelligence, looks, strength etc.) is an outcome of both nature and nurture. To what extent nature (inheritance) effects Merit is yet to be clear. But the point is that if one is born with the genes that to an extent provide him with the merit to claim success, is it fair to not endow the less meritorious just because he didn't have the right genes? So what is the solution? Of course it's all dependent on time and the research efforts in genetics, proteomics and neuroscience. Once it's known exactly how much genes are responsible for merit, one can impose a suitable Merit Tax on lines of the inheritance tax. The other option may be to endow every human being with the same genetic traits responsible for all forms of Merit - and that would be the next human species with uniformity all across.


Thomas said...

Have you ever read "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley? If not, you should look up a copy. It fits in with your post today.

(It's in the public domain, so you can download a copy free at

Shivaji said...

Hi FNR..

I have indeed read Huxley's book..But Huxley talks of a casteist society in which people are ranked based on their genetic capability and accordingly assigned tasks... I would rather advocate a uniform human species...
Also, have you read Michel Houllebecq's Atomised..builds on some of Huxley's ideas- a great read anyways

Dhiman said...

We could be moving towards one kind of fair system based on equality. What is wrong in proportional fairness where those who contribute more get more ? It depends on the objective function that a society is optimizing, e.g., capitalism, socialism, communism etc. Some seek happiness from a non-uniform efficient system, some from a uniform system but not so efficient one. Our goal decides our approach (e.g., imposing tax rules, favoring lower classes). Isn't Merit Tax already in place if you judge money reflects merit ?

Thomas said...

The reason I thought it fit was because the casts are actually created by modifying the embryos. The reasoning was that you could create manual laborers that like manual labor, thinkers that liked to think, and so on.

What I'm afraid will happen is that the rich will pay to have their embryos modified to be smarter, healthier, and stronger, and the poor will be left behind. We'll end up with a two-tiered society where one cast really is superior to the other.

Thomas said...

Oh, ps. I took the "fnr" off the front of my name. It's still me.

Shivaji said...

@ Dhiman....

Thats the whole point of my post- We can have proportional fairness, but as you see, genes to some extent contribute to which person can contribute more...
And no matter what the goal of a society, everyone agrees in principle that what you get in life must be because of your efforts rather than your biological composition at birth..