Sunday, October 12, 2003

In Praise of Nepotism

The July Atlantic has an essay on the subject by Adam Bellow (based on his book by the same title).

It of course drew a fair number of letters. I thought the response from Karl Weber (scroll down) was right on the mark.

Adam Bellow argues that "the new nepotism represents a valuable corrective to the excesses of meritocracy." This ignores a huge moral contradiction: that during the past decade affirmative action has been under assault, in the name of meritocracy, by American conservatives—including most of the "neocon family network" that provided the first boost to Bellow's own career.

These neocons insist that the sacred principle of meritocracy must never be compromised when it comes to judging kids from less privileged families. But somehow, when their own flesh and blood stands to benefit from nepotism, meritocracy is suddenly "excessive" and in need of correction. As Dana Carvey's Church Lady used to say, how convenient.

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