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This land is our land

Yglesias turns his puzzlement about criticism of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book into as astute a description of our time as you’ll find anywhere:

I’ve seen a few people express the notion that Gladwell’s conclusion—that success is determined largely by luck rather than one’s powers of awesomeness—is somehow too banal to waste one’s time with. I think those people need to open their eyes and pay a bit more attention to the society we’re living in. It’s a society that not only seems to believe that the successful are entitled to unlimited monetary rewards for their trouble, but massive and wide-ranging deference.

Beyond that, it’s a society in which the old-fashioned concept of noblesse oblige has largely gone out the window. The elite feel not only a sense of entitlement, but also a unique sense of arrogance that only an elite that firmly believes itself to be a meritocracy can muster. Gladwell not only shows that this is wrong, but he does an excellent job of showing why it feels right. He explains that success does, in fact, require hard work—lots of it—and that people who think they got where they are through effort rather than good fortune are at least half right.