Or lack thereof. Trying to grind out a thought here. I’m trying to think about disability as a category of power and inequality. Here’s a start.

I don’t know when or where this sort of thing got said, but I have a sense that there is or was a sort of meritocratic pro-capitalist ideology. So like “I worked hard for what I have,” that sort of thing, where success is a matter of merit understood morally – doing something difficult, something that wasn’t innate or necessary, something contingent. But there’s also like “I’m highly talented, naturally gifted,” where success is the result of being an innately better sort of person. Ideologies of race are one example, gender are another – whites and men being more industrious and smarter and so on.

Here’s a Marx quote, from chapter 26 of Capital v1, where he mocks political economy’s analog to the theological story of original sin.

In times long gone-by there were two sorts of people; one, the diligent, intelligent, and, above all, frugal elite; the other, lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living. (…)Thus it came to pass that the former sort accumulated wealth, and the latter sort had at last nothing to sell except their own skins.

Two sorts of people. Again, these two sorts can be understood as moral/contingent or as inherent/necessary, and each understanding could be considered a meritocracy. Each could be rhetorically useful – the moral bit for, well, moral outrage, along the lines of “we’ve earned this!”, invoking standards of fairness and being deserving; the inherent bit could be useful for saying “we are meant to be in charge of things and there really isn’t any other way.”

So, what I’m trying to get clear in my head is how disability relates to each type of merit or lack of merit. It seems to me that the idea of a sort of inherent meritocracy comes close to saying to equating the ruled and the disabled: the ruled are those unfit to rule, those fit only to be ruled. Regarding moral/contingent so-called merit, I think the disabled would be those unfit to compete in the first place, which makes it not so far from inherent merit.

Hmm. Not sure about any of this. Must think some more.