Capitalism is Not Meritocracy

Friedrich HayekI was just listening to a lecture by Slavoj Žižek where he quoted (of all people) Friedrich Hayek. In it, Hayek says that capitalism necessarily rewards some unworthy people and that this is good. If it were only the meritorious who made it to the top in capitalism, people on the bottom couldn’t deal with it. As it is, poor people can look at the rich and rightly think, “Idiots!” And thus they can live with the fact that life is unfair.

This remark is unheard of from most free marketeers. They want to pretend that the capitalist system is a meritocracy—that only the good, hardworking, and clever make it to the top. Modern free market philosophy is based more on Hayek than anyone. And in case you don’t know, Hayek (like most free marketeers) was not a good guy; Corey Robin has a series of article about When Hayek Met Pinochet.

Here is Žižek’s lecture, queue up at the Hayek quote:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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