NSN 1774 Thomas Paine He left England for the United States to become a radical pamphlet and a revolutionary instigator. In “Common Sense,” published two years later, he explained why he chose to move. Britain was built on heredity, an unpleasant practice rooted in theft (William the Conqueror was the first bandit to steal people’s land) and was perpetuated by stupidity (because of who his parents are). What’s more silly than giving someone a job?). “Artificial aristocrats sink into dwarfs before natural aristocrats,” he said, and Britain was a land of artificial aristocrats. In contrast, America was energized by the principle of glorious achievement.
Payne’s argument has since been a fixture in British thinking. “England is the highest class country in the sun,” George Orwell complained in 1941: “Snobs and Privileged Land.” In William Golding’s novel Rites of Passage, published in 1980, the character laments that “classes are the English language.” And it’s the United States that British people habitually look for opportunities that aren’t disturbed by the nonsense about parent-child relationships and the pronunciation of the letter “h.” Chartists in the 1830s and 1840s sang “Yankee Doodle” and waved the American flag. In the 1960s and 1970s, moderate leftists such as Toni Kroosland and Shirley Williams wanted Britain to be more American. English-American transplants like William James and TS Eliot were eavesdroppers. The United States has fascinated British militants such as WH Auden and Christopher Hitchens.
This contrast between the hierarchical Britain and the pay-for-performance America has always been exaggerated. There is no monarchy or House of Lords in the United States, but there are dynasty families such as Adams, Kennedy, and Bush. There is no equivalent to the British aristocratic cut-glass vowels, but there are factions such as Boston Bramins and Proper Philadelphia, not to mention the gentlemen of the South. The United States gives ambassadors to large party donors rather than professional diplomats, a practice abandoned by Britain in the mid-19th century. As president, Donald Trump relied on his daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, for terrible nepotism. But compared to Bush, Clinton and Kennedy, this was an evolution, not a revolution.
Social mobility stagnated in both countries as the winners of the Thatcher and Reagan revolutions combined their interests. But Britain is working much harder than the United States to make it happen again. The combination of British anxiety and American self-satisfaction may be the beginning of a major reversal. Britain is becoming more pay-for-performance, even if the United States is declining.
Indeed, two Old Eatians, David Cameron and Boris Johnson, have recently jumped to the top of the Conservative Party.But the number MPEspecially with the conquest of northern members in 2019, s from a modest background is increasing. The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Health are all headed by immigrant children. In broadcast journalism, and arguably in business, the upper class Bray is becoming more and more handicapped.
The different trajectories of the two countries are perhaps most apparent in education, especially in admission to universities that act as gatekeepers to the elite. A comparison between Oxford and Harvard speaks for itself. Oxford is working hard to attract poor working class applicants, and some of its universities have introduced a “founding year” to speed them up before starting a bachelor’s degree course. By 2020, 68% of enrolled undergraduates attended public schools, excluding undergraduates from abroad. This increased from 62% in 2019 to 55% 10 years ago.
This meritocracy promotion was initiated by the Labor government in the 2000s and supported by school reforms continued by the Tories since 2010 to create schools in the city center that provide the highest standards of education. The first is the Brampton Academy in Newham, a poor London borough, where most students come from ethnic minorities. Last year, it won 55 locations in Oxbridge and Cambridge, more than 48 at Eton. Its sixth form is highly selective and provides intensive coaching for Oxbridge entrance exams.
In contrast, Harvard University, like other elite American universities, practices plutocracy modified by affirmative action against African-American applicants and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic applicants. increase. The intent is to compensate for the terrible injustices of slavery and, more broadly, to find benefits where they were once overlooked. But it is undermined by almost deliberate blindness to the disadvantages of class rather than race. Harvard University hires more students from the richest 1% to the poorest 60%, and tends to mysteriously pick up faculty and alumni relatives (known as “heritage”), star athletes, and descendants of politicians. It discriminates against a “list of dean”. , Celebrities and donors.Candidate’s “overall evaluation” is encouraged ResumeWe are proud of our expensive trips to Africa to help the poor. It boosts connected people who can get letters of support from impressive names. Peter Arcidiacono of Duke University calculates that three-quarters of successful white applicants in these favorable categories were rejected if treated in the usual way.
And instead of setting up an institution like the Brampton Academy to admire the Gates of Open Harvard, American policymakers are dismantling elite public schools. Boston Latin School in Boston and Lowell High School in San Francisco, which have a proven track record of enrolling students in Ivy League colleges, are forced to quit entrance exams and enter the lottery. This probably marks the end of academic excellence.
Even though America’s deep-seated belief that it is pay-for-performance is taken as a license to act in a significantly anti-pay-for-performance manner, Britain’s anxiety about being tied to class makes it an unacquired privilege. It seems to have made it irritable (as a monarchy, except for some institutions that have been given special status). This anxiety, as was common in the past, is less useful than self-doubt and may ultimately produce positive results. ■■
This article was published in the UK section of the print version under the heading “The great reversal”.
Is Britain more pay-for-performance than America?
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