It seems to me, those who are low in conscientiousness and orderliness, always seek to move society from a merit based system, to a politically based one. They do it out of simple self interest. Those not able to compete in the marketplace, if they are to get ahead, must change the system from merit based to something they can compete in… and that is almost always based on political favor. Alvin Gouldner hinted at this when he said, all Marxist revolutions are commanded by university graduates who couldn’t get a job. Those with a work ethic only tangentially participate in politics. They are too focused on their job and being good at it. Those who lack a work ethic however participate in politics as their main career. This results in a strong tension within our society. The one side pushing to politicize everything, and the other trying to keep merit, as the basis for getting ahead. Obviously, those who see politics as their be all end all, have more political power than others who focus on their work, and so society tends to evolve from merit to political favor as the measure of a man.
The market system is merit based while socialism is based on political favor. Capitalism is all about merit. All true capitalist transactions are a win win. The customer gets something he or she needs, in trade for something the firm needs, ie, money. Therefore, employers hire those with superior skills, work ethic and intelligence over those who are ignorant, lazy, and stupid. This is only logical since the role of business is to produce a good for the customers. If customers do not receive a good for their money, they will not purchase the goods and services the firm produces. The market system must operate on a strictly rational basis. Those work places that hire the ignorant, lazy and stupid, cannot meet the needs of their customers and therefore go out of business. This is a powerful motivator to give opportunities to those who merit them.
Empirically, merit based systems deliver a much higher standard of living than politically based systems, and that higher standard of living increases over time. When people who deserve their positions by their personal merit, get those positions, clearly, the jobs are done with more efficiency than if they were given out of political favor. This was highlighted during WWII, by both the German and Italian armies. The German army based promotions on the merits, coolness under fire, strategic thinking, intelligence and fortitude. The Italian army however based promotions on political merit. As a result, despite the fact that there was little qualitative difference between the German soldier and the Italian soldier, the German was commanded by officers who merited their positions, while the Italian soldier was commanded by poltroons, who lacked even a basic understanding of tactics. The difference was obvious, and the results were clear, by the fact the Germans had to bail out the Italians in both North Africa and the Balkans.
The big five personality traits are, openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness and extroversion. The work ethic is based on orderliness and conscientiousness. Agreeableness and low narcissism are handy but are of secondary importance. Openness is mostly helpful in the creative pursuits, and there is utility in both introversion and extroversion, depending on the job requirements. Those who are low in conscientiousness and orderliness then, are at a very powerful disadvantage in any merit based system. They often are high in openness, and so will embrace any idea they see that helps them better their situation, as all human beings are self interested… regardless of their score on the big five. Open people, especially those with low conscientiousness and low orderliness, will gravitate to political favor as the basis of who gets ahead, and therefore those ideas that may have been shown to be antithetical to prosperity. Because they will both be open to the possibility of it working sometime in the future, and out of self interest, since their personal interests are served by moving the paradigm from merit to political favor.
This is why the political establishment is so full of people who believe that political favor should be the final arbiter of who gets what. They argue unendingly that their system is “rational,” when it clearly is not, but instead based on naked self interest. Their lack of conscientiousness allows them to work against the best interests of humanity as a whole, while their openness keeps them clutching to a glittering lie. They mistakenly believe they are the most empathetic among us. This is why we see those with political favor are above the law, while they hold the rest of us, below it’s protections. It is the reason we as a society are moving away from a market based meritocracy and to a politically based socialism. While these changes may be against the best interests of humanity, prosperity and civil accord, they do work to advance the interests of the ignorant, lazy and stupid. But that is progress for you, or is a better word for it… progressive?