Sounds like Imperial China's civil service exams, with emphasis on different skills. (The civil service exams focused on Chinese classics, which is probably a decent proxy for conscientiousness and intelligence but not so good at measuring social skills.)

There's obviously something to be said for the system, since it lasted for better than a thousand years and weathered several dynastic changes. But plenty has also been written about its drawbacks, and the main ones seem to revolve around regulatory capture: empowering experts to rule also empowers them to decide the meaning of "expert", which we might expect to incrementally make a system less meritocratic and more aristocratic. Goodhart's law is also worth thinking about.

I guess using the classics is also good for preventing standard drift, since they are set in stone.

But reading the Wikipedia page, the exams seem a lot more subjective than I had imagined, basically entirely based on free-form essays on political problems? It seems this would lead to a ruling class of The Economist columnists, which is a pretty terrifying prospect. :)

5skeptical_lurker6yFrom what little I know, Imperial China was a highly functional civilisation, and as you say, any system that can last a thousand years is impressive. Of course, far more thought would be needed to set the system up. Perhaps the examination-writing body should be separate from the rest of government? Perhaps it alone should have some form of democratic oversight? Would there be a constitution as well? Overall, I think the best thing is to have fluid intelligence as an essential component of the tests - if the tests focus on Shakespeare and medieval Europe then they can be accused of cultural bias, or if they mainly recruit experts from elite universities then the administration process there wields tremendous political power. But Raven's progressive matrices for instance is completely objective. Anyway, isn't democracy somewhat aristocratic? The current UK prime minister is the 5th cousin twice removed of the Queen, and politicians tend to come from very posh public schools (one school in particular produced 19 PMs). In the US, the Bush line has been described as aristocratic, and it takes a lot of money to run a presidential campaign.

Non-standard politics

by NancyLebovitz 1 min read24th Oct 2014235 comments


In the big survey, political views are divided into large categories so that statistics are possible. This article is an attempt to supply a text field so that we can get a little better view of the range of beliefs.

My political views aren't adequately expressed by "libertarian". I call myself a liberal-flavored libertarian, by which I mean that I want the government to hurt people less. The possibility that the government is giving too much to poor people is low on my list of concerns. I also believe that harm-causing processes should be shut down before support systems

So, what political beliefs do you have that don't match the usual meaning of your preferred label?