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A society built on nepotism and inequality keeps the rich powerful and the poor downtrodden

Letter of the day: social mobility

In his letter (Write Back, December 6), Noel Flannery makes two key points. The first is that the reign of Fidel Castro should be subject to critique. This is a valid insight often ignored by many on the Left, who tend to downplay the more unsavoury aspects of Castro's dictatorship.

His second key point, however, is one that I take issue with: "Men are not equal, but they form a normal distribution of IQ and talent and earning power reflects that.

"Prosperity comes from each one reaching their potential."

To assert that earning power is somehow reflective of IQ and talent smacks of an elitist, social Darwinian viewpoint, which sees those who are most vulnerable in society, in both economic and social terms, as there through their own fault; either they have not worked hard enough, or they do not have the intelligence, or talent, to earn big.

Such a reductionist view ignores inherited wealth and wider social structures, which not only promote, but are built upon, inequality, as Marx and Engels pointed out.

There are undoubtedly individuals who are self-made, intelligent and have worked very hard to get to where they are today.

But there are many more individuals who are equally capable and hard-working and, yet, are in low-paid employment and can never reach their full potential; those for whom structural barriers place a glass ceiling on their advancement - women, lone parents, individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds, those with the wrong accent, or lack of family connections to secure an internship.

Therein lies a world where nepotism, rather than meritocracy, is the order of the day.

Perhaps we should consider the words of Enlightenment thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau: "Man was born free and he is everywhere in chains."

J BELL

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