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  • The Tyranny of Merit

  • What’s Become of the Common Good?
  • By: Michael J. Sandel
  • Narrated by: Michael J Sandel
  • Length: 11 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (66 ratings)

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The Tyranny of Merit

By: Michael J. Sandel
Narrated by: Michael J Sandel
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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.  

These are dangerous times for democracy. We live in an age of winners and losers, where the odds are stacked in favour of the already fortunate. Stalled social mobility and entrenched inequality give the lie to the promise that 'you can make it if you try'. And the consequence is a brew of anger and frustration that has fuelled populist protest, with the triumph of Brexit and election of Donald Trump.  

Michael J. Sandel argues that to overcome the polarised politics of our time, we must rethink the attitudes toward success and failure that have accompanied globalisation and rising inequality. Sandel highlights the hubris a meritocracy generates among the winners and the harsh judgement it imposes on those left behind. He offers an alternative way of thinking about success - more attentive to the role of luck in human affairs, more conducive to an ethic of humility and more hospitable to a politics of the common good.

©2020 Michael J. Sandel (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Tyranny of Merit

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Moralistic preaching without practical solutions

The author spends 80% of the book moralising about haves and have nots while not really supporting his premise. While he provides strong evidence that meritocracy unchecked leads to a class hierarchy in society, he doesn't provide any useful suggestions on how to fix the issue or consider the economic impact of the world being any other way than meritocratic.

Very US centric, get ready for quotes about how many times various US presidents over the past 50 years have used a problematic phrase.

He even sneaks in the term "equality of condition" which is a thinly veiled approximation of "equality of outcome".

Even if you agree with a premise, the author states his idea and then beats that dead horse for another 2 hours in each chapter without adding value beyond the first 10-20 mins. His arguments are all moral and disconnected from pragmatism.

Save yourself the time and read a summary or listen to his interview with Sam Harris.

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Stimulating Ideas / fact

Writer narrates his work well (unusual). Erudite and possibly controversial but also compelling. If only society could learn this. Essential reading for politicians, policy-makers, educators, economists and anyone with views on class structures. US-centric but perhaps this is important as it is the least socialist place in the world. A must for the enquiring mind.

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  • Sid
  • 28-09-2022

Insightful and important

This book is a brilliant insight into the social and political climate we find ourselves in. A must listen/read.

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Sandel tells a very important and timely message.

The final few chapters are the highlight. Insightful and important communitarian diagnoses of, and solutions to, our present circumstances.

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Finally and explanation to why life feels unfair.

In life we are taught life is unfair. This finally explains how "fairness" is dished out. It's sobering but also hands back dignity to those of us who live and honest life of useful contribution.

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For better understanding the politics of our day

If you want to hear a new angle that will enrich your understanding of our current political moment then please try this book.
Michael traces the possible origins and supporting justifications for current American political thought then thoroughly illustrates the various holes therein. He explains well the reasons why people are so divided and frustrated today and points to a better way forward for politics and society.
The most profound statements are mainly found in Chapter 7. If you only read one chapter, make it that one!

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