The Rise of Virtuocracy

Virtuocracy : A society which is ruled by the most virtuous.

Aristocracy, where one’s station in life is tied to the accident of birth, is plainly unfair.

Theocracy, where one’s station in life is tied to one’s proximity to the nexus of clerical power is likewise unjust.

Meritocracy, where one’s station in life is tied to ability, while better than aristocracy and theocracy in many ways, is also unfair (for what lies beneath the fruits of work ethic, talent or skill other than the result of nature and nurture – or fate and fortune?).

Virtuocracy, where one’s station in life is tied to virtue, in the form of formalised (as in the case of China’s social system that explicitly rewards and punishes the most and least virtuous) or informal (in the form of western social media and consumer credit culture, where social status and even pricing is tied to our popularity) is emerging as a contender to the prevailing meritocracy.

Virtue is, of course, highly subjective and malleable by the hands of power, in this case, specifically the nexus of socio-political power which controls the narrative of right and wrong in contemporary culture. In some ways, therefore, virtuocracy, although allowing for more social mobility, can be seen as a secular version of theocracy (complete with public confessions, self flagellation, and figurative crucifixions). How sustainable will a society built on social credibility be? Well, we are about to find out. In the mean time, fellow futurist, Dr Ian Pearson, has some ideas of the possible “new dark age” ahead.

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