Bill Maher Defends Meritocracy

I make it a habit to check in on Bill Maher’s weekly closing rants on his HBO show to see whether he’s attacking the leftist line again, since this seems to be a growing theme of his. I thought he was going to skip politics this week when his “New Rules” closer began with observations about “Nepo babies” in Hollywood, that is, the high number of Hollywood actors who are the children of stars from a previous generation (think Charlie Sheen) or media executives (Sigourney Weaver’s father was president of NBC, which surely helped open some doors for her).

But instead of what looked to be just a social critique of petty corruption or favoritism in Hollywood that made me nearly quit the segment after about a minute, he suddenly pivoted to defend the idea of meritocracy, which is under direct attack from the left these days, because the principle of meritocracy is an obstacle to the left’s race-obsession and determination to implement massive wealth (and power) redistribution schemes. His observations about how professional sports is the last bastion of pure meritocracy are pretty good, along with the point that there may be an intrinsic relationship between meritocracy in sports and the high degree of racial harmony that can be observed on sports teams—the suggestion being that our society would be better off if we restored meritocracy more broadly rather than trying to tear it down by dumping achievement tests and other standards of excellence.

He plays it for laughs of course, and omits my point about the radical egalitarian motive behind the left’s attack on meritocracy, but as a popular culture barometer, Maher’s continued salvos at leftist orthodoxy seem significant. (Just see how the left complains about him on Twitter every week.)

The usual language warnings apply, but actually this week’s segment has fewer f-bombs than usual:

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.