Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and the University Center for Human Values, Stephen Macedo, will give the Center for East Asian and Comparative Philosophy Annual Lecture 2019 on: "Meritocracy, Globalization, and the Populist Backlash: Democracy in Action, Revolt of the Resentful, or Both?
ABSTRACT: In Europe, the US, and elsewhere, we have witnessed a populist backlash against political elites and globalizing policies: these include Brexit, Trump, and the wider revolt against immigration. How should we assess these developments, given widespread concerns with meritocracy and democracy? Do these developments represent merely an upsurge of xenophobic resentment, or does the recent upsurge of populism reflect (in part at least) genuine grievances to which elites have paid too little attention? I argue for the latter view and consider what these developments may portend for liberal democracy and meritocracy, as we reassess aspects of globalizaion. In doing so, I point out that democracy and meritocracy are in many ways compatible: constitutional democracies delegate wide powers to meritocratic institutions insulated from direct electoral accountability, and these include international institutions. Populism can be democracy's way of reminding out-of-touch elites of unaddressed grievances. Is there any reason to think that elites informed by Confucian values will be immune to these problems?