Meritocracies and other fairy stories.

It’s interesting/fucking annoying that people like me are often accused of being dreamers. You know, idealistic simpletons who believe that a civilised society takes care of their vulnerable and less fortunate members. 

For some, that sounds a lot like Christianity—sorry, Communism. Such ‘far left’ thinking is a direct threat to greedy bastards wanting more. It’s sad that being decent is a partisan issue. 

I can’t help piss myself laughing when I’m called a fantasist. 

Because a smidgen of those people name-calling claim we live in a meritocracy. And yet they look indignant as I continue to laugh. I’m probably way off the mark but I don’t think wealthy powerful people become so because they worked really fucking hard. I mean, if that were true, my mum would be the head of some FTSE 100 company.

Amassing fortunes of stratospheric proportions can only realistically be obtained from the low-paid labour of others. And loads of billionaires often start moneyed life because of tasty hand-outs from the bank of mum and dad.

100k is super helpful when you’ve got a great business idea.

These ‘self-made’ men (and very occasionally, women) rarely start with nothing. 

All right, Karen, there are, of course, exceptions.

And those exceptions are made into the poster child for the ‘working hard and you’ll reach your goals’ argument.

Margaret Thatcher came from humble beginnings. (You weren’t expecting Mags to pop up, were you?) Who’d have thunk that the daughter of a Grantham tobacconist would one day become Britain’s first woman PM? 

That’s pretty impressive.

And I’ve no doubt Maggie worked her arse harder than most—not only because she didn’t have the right kind of background befitting the highest office in the land but because she was in possession of a vagina.

It’s no wonder she was keen on individualism. 

She was proof: if she could do it, there would be no excuse for anyone else not to. Again, the Iron Lady was most definitely the exception to the rule. And remember that I said she didn’t have the right kind of background? Well, just like the billionaires, having the correct socio-economic status is no coincidence. 

A disproportionate amount of people in the top jobs are well-off.

They nearly always come from money. Their social circle is small and exclusive and they’re educated in very select private schools. They all seem to know each other.

(And have wanky names like Crispin and Jonty.)

Fellow school chums also go on to have really pukka positions in finance, government, and journalism. It’s the case of not what you know but who you know when landing that dream role. 

They don’t call them the ruling classes for nothing.

Britain is no stranger to this phenomenon. We know this is true but we don’t seem to care. It makes no difference to many of us how skewed the system is and how it influences every aspect of our lives. We’ve always accepted that people from the higher echelons of society, lord it over the rest of us—christ, we even have a House of Lords.

We, as a nation, find it hard to shake off our preoccupation with class. 

It could be something to do with having had a monarchy for so long. We love to be deferential towards people we consider posh and many folks take comfort in knowing their rightful place beneath their ‘betters’. This is the reason why Conservative governments do so well here. Most MPs in any given Tory cabinet will be from privilege. (Labour doesn’t seem to be much different these days so they probably went to the same schools and clubs.) It makes sense that those who vote for them are also from money but the Tories are the party for the aspirational middle class.

Social issues aren’t very sexy.

But the idea that we can all get rich (or richer) if we put in the effort in, is. Healthcare and public transport is sooooooo boring, no?

People from seriously elite origins are detached from the average person’s lived experience and that spells disaster for you and me because a government made up mostly of toffs is unlikely to have the public’s best interests at heart. 

In fairness, it’s hard for an Etonian to understand what it’s like to struggle to pay a lecky bill or know the cost of a pint of milk. These chaps are raised the same and in an environment so far removed from the great unwashed, it makes them terrible at running a country.

There’s a great article that explores this in more detail: Why public schoolboys like me and Boris Johnson aren’t fit to run our country

The system of wealth and power is geared towards wealth and power.

But hang on, we’re living in a meritocracy. Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Convincing the poor that this is true has got to be the greatest illusion of all time.

And one way to persuade them (and have them align with people they have nothing in common with) is to blame their lack of economic status on something else—usually Johnny foreigner and the benefit fraudster. It’s a diversion tactic and it’s one as old as time. Whilst you’re bemoaning all the spongers and disgusting ‘cockroaches’ coming into this country—you won’t notice the homegrown spongers running the country. Giving ‘jobs to the boys’ via eye-watering PPE contracts and allowing huge corporations to avoid paying their fair share are just some of their career highlights.

And I’m not even mad at the likes of Amazon. 

What Jeff is doing isn’t illegal. The system makes this kind of thing possible. So unless the billionaire in question is some altruistic empath, they’re not going to be paying their way if they don’t have to. I mean, would you?

In times of economic uncertainty, there’s nearly always a resurgence of nationalism. 

We get the usual (and obvious) scapegoating of a minority on which all our problems are dumped. It was no different in WW2 and it’s no different in recent times with caricatures like Trump and Nigel Farage.  

The Brexit campaign was underpinned by fear.

Hysteria was whipped up by the right-wing tabloid press, telling nightmarish tales of the immigrant invasion, bringing criminals, rapists, and benefit cheats. Many voted to ‘take back control’ on that alone, not really understanding what leaving the EU actually meant.

Murdoch got everyone glassy-eyed on patriotism. Thoughts went back to a time that never really existed and like fools, we fell for it. Many in government didn’t want us to understand the nuances and complexities that such a vote would throw up—complexities that they themselves had no experience of so how could we truly assess the consequences?

Thanks to good ole Dave Cameron we were lumped with a huge task. But for plenty the message was clear and that message pandered to xenophobia and the promise of a fuck-ton of cash for the NHS.

(Which we’re still waiting for.)

I digress… 

If you don’t succeed, it’s entirely your own doing.

So you think you’re working hard do ya? Oh really, then why are you struggling to make ends meet? You must be a lazy bastard. Although benefit fraud is much lower than the average Brit thinks it is, people get sneery about those that have to lean on the welfare state. Programmes like Benefits Britain demonised people that had nothing—which made us believe every claimant was a half-witted scammer.

We live in a vacuum.

The environment around us has no bearing on our circumstances. Your own success is solely down to how much you want it. So don’t balls it up. All the libertarians are nodding in agreement right now and they’re cooing “We are masters of our own destiny”. 

Sounds fucking good, that, get that on a t-shirt.

We all have personal responsibility.


However, you can have all the autonomy in the world but some will excel quicker and further than others. And that’s for lots of different reasons, reasons like gender, race, disability, sexuality, social status et al. 

Without cash, you’re fucked. 

If you don’t have enough of it, it can seriously hamper your chances of creating a decent life for yourself. A government (and any institution of influence and power) should be balanced and reflect the society it represents.

Patronising MPs, bursting at their pores with contempt for a ‘feckless’ electorate is not what this country needs. We’re not all spending our benefits on widescreen TVs and vape juice, some of us are working more than one job and still not putting the fucking heating on.

But just work harder, yeah?

Like to get this shit in the mail?

Published by Sarah Wilson-Blackwell

B2B SEO content writer, copywriter and business blogger. Reviewer of useless blogs and tired-ass websites.

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