Note: the country is a socialist dystopia.

I have thought of the following system which could be a fair solution to the problem of different social classes and the distribution of people between them:

  • Any healthy child, regardless of the social status of his parents, is given a free and mandatory education that follows an universal one size fits all model. The education consists of a school that the child visits from the age of 7 to the age of 14 years. The minimum level of education equals that of a secondary modern school of the past British tripartite system that guarantees basic academic and manual skills. The student can attend completely free additional courses that allow specialization in various subjects if he wishes to.

  • At the age of 14, all children are subjected to a central examination that consists of an IQ test and of course tests their knowledge in the subjects taught at school. From then on, the further life of the children will be predestined by their results in the examination. The groups are based on the respective person

    • Lowest 75% - manual workers and farmers - will be sent to various factories or assigned to jobs such as street cleaners or servants. If they are not in the lowest 40% they can choose an apprenticeship instead that will lead to a more advanced manual profession (Butcher, baker, woodworker, etc...). Will either live in small apartments or in community dwellings and allowed a low life standard.

    • 75 to 90% - will be sent to school for 2 more years in preparation for professions that include some sort of leadership and management - e.g. secretaries, supervisors at factories, teachers and officials; those who will pass a physical test will instead be drafted into the army to serve as soldiers and petty officers. Will have a better life standard and some privileges (e.g. a month's worth of vacation time per year, larger apartments or private houses).

    • 90 to 97% - will be sent to school for 4 more years and prepared for leadership positions or to become scientists and engineers. Will coordinate factories, become military officers, work at laboratories. Doctors will also be drawn from this group. This group will enjoy large privileges such as having private houses and servants and enjoy a higher life standard that includes fresh food and advanced medical care.

    • 97 to 99% - will be sent to school for 6 more years (and possibly study at foreign universities) and involved in the government of the country in some way. Top military officers or advisors of the leader and of his ministers will be drawn from this group. This group will enjoy a luxurious lifestyle.

    • best 1% (>99%) - the leadership cadre. Will study at foreign universities and be predestined to positions as military commanders, top advisors, ministers or even the leader himself.

What do you think of this system? It is intended to offer a fair opportunity to everybody, regardless of their social status. The class a child will be ranked into will be based purely on his academic performance.

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    $\begingroup$ What happens to unhealthy children? Is that "fair"? Intelligence is not a quality that assures good leadership (or much else for that matter.) Schizophrenics are often very intelligent but would make terrible leaders. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Jul 28 '16 at 1:35
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    $\begingroup$ We are not a forum - "What do you think of this system?" immediately classifies your question as opinion based, and as such is off topic for this site. $\endgroup$ – Aify Jul 28 '16 at 2:14
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with the above comments. You need to change the question to be more to the point than "What do you think of this system." Is there an element of the system which you need help developing? That aside, I agree with anongoodnurse, in that this system is a dystopia indeed. Because intelligence is not the best predictor of leadership ability, and IQ tests are not the best predictors of intelligence, I'd expect the system to collapse within half a generation as you put the wrong people in the leadership positions. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Jul 28 '16 at 2:48
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    $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon I would go so far as to say that in general, IQ is (loosely) inversely correlated with leadership potential. Given that leadership requires a lot of social skills to bring a group together and work at maximal potential, and IQ tends to be inversely correlated to social skills. $\endgroup$ – Aron Jul 28 '16 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ This system, or a system not too far removed from your proposed system, was satirized in Michael Young's THE RISE OF THE MERITOCRACY 1870-2034 An Essay on Education and Equality (1958). Dr Young, a sociologist, had the distinction of coining the term "meritocracy". He projected the possible ills of a system where IQ, qualifications and effort into a future where they were the norm. It didn't end well. This bad future long foretold. Pity so much of it is like our present world. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 28 '16 at 7:02

So many problems:

  • Are 75% of the people you know farmers or manual workers? Modern society does not need that many people employed in that way. All agricultural, mining, construction, and manufacturing jobs in the US amount to less than 15% of all jobs.
  • 12% of employed Americans are in health care services (and not many of them are doctors) while another 10% are in retail and 10% in leisure and hospitality. What about them?
  • Manual labor comes with increased risk of disability, and 20% of Americans are disabled as it is. What do you do with them?
  • Only ~60% of Americans of working age are employed right now. Where do the other 40% fit into your scheme?
  • Does anyone get to be a housewife?
  • What happens to retirees?
  • It takes 10 years to make a doctor, you don't see too many physics professors under 30. Why do scientists and doctors only get 4 years of schooling?
  • What happens to people who don't want to do their assigned role? Soylent green? I don't think you have enough police accounted for to keep all the Divergents under control.

In conclusion, what I think about your system is that it is unrealistic.


Your fictional society might have some unexpected side effects.

  • 14 years is a time when many boys are just entering puberty while girls are slowly getting out of it. Your scheme might relegate more boys to the lower classes.
  • Standardized tests largely measure aptitude for test-taking, especially if the goal is to have the same tests across the nation. Are the course tests multiple choice or free-form essays? If it is essays, who grades them? If it is multiple choice, you get children who are good at answering multiple choice tests. That isn't intelligence.
  • There are many real-world societies where future status is largely determined by the testing of kids. It might not be a rigid class system, but you can't get a high-status job without a good university degree, and going to a good university is difficult if one does not do it immediately after school. (Yes, there are night schools and community colleges. But going to university after a hard day's work is even harder work.) Education researchers generally agree that this is a bad idea, but they run into established interests from parents who went to the "right" schools and want the same for their kids.

Like many other questions on this board about imposing social changes, the crux of the matter is who gets to decide.

How do you decide which sort of test(s) determine intelligence? How do you assign people to do the marking and evaluating? Who determines which traits are going to be weighted and in what order? And of course, who is going to adjudicate this system?

In addition to the various dirty dealings done in the principle's offices ensure the "correct" outcomes, people who already come from wealth will have access to tutors, extra resources like libraries and high speed internet and networks of people to provide enrichment that people from poorer backgrounds do not have.

I would not surprise me at all that the most "intelligent" children will all be coming from the upper class families after the first generation and all be streamed into banking and other high paying jobs, while children of lower class families will be stuck in factory jobs, and only a few, by heroic effort, might become doctors or veterinarians or engineers.

Since this is the outcome in every social system tried to date, fron the Res Publica Roma to feudal states to Socialist dictatorships and absolute monarchies, the real issue is not so much using schooling to achieve social mobility, but to ensure that the social order as a whole is loose and flexible enough to allow for social mobility through various channels. You could work your way up in the world through being a real estate mogul, develop a world beating invention, being a successful general, or maybe the society has lots of open land for you to move out and settle. The flip side is that the "three generation rule" should also be applicable, so a family can go from "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves" in three generations.

Using schooling is actually a way to harden social "classes" in modern western societies; you need a credential from a "recognized" collage or university, and if the credential isn't from a prestigious enough university, you are still locked out of various jobs regardless of how smart you might actually be. Conversely, having a degree actually means nothing. In my military career, I have had the misfortune to have taught officer cadets who were "idiots with degrees" and were absolutely unsuitable for command, but by virtue of having a degree in "Women's Studies" or similar courses they were credentialed to take the training and become officers, while my suffering staff who had to literally hold their hands and spoon feed them the whole way through (failing them was not an option) had no degrees so were not eligible. In the case of the army there is a way to ensure merit rises to the top, sadly it is called combat and many good people end up getting killed during the culling process.

So the real way to ensure a meritocracy is to provide lots of opportunities and a multitude of channels for people to exercise their talents. Free market systems with a light regulatory framework have worked out best so far (Hong Kong prior to the takeover by the PRC is an excellent example), and historically city states like Venice and the cities of the Hanse also had the flexibility to allow for more social mobility than competing polities.


High intelligence does not necessarily confer good leadership skills.

Just putting intelligent people into the top job will very likely result in disaster. Of course, this is a socialist dystopia, so that might well be the intended result. Leading, managing, and governing require an understanding of people, not an ability to recite facts learned. People that are great at maths, but don't understand social dynamics are going to be selected here when they shouldn't be.

Some criticisms:

  • This does not sound very socialist. It has a very authoritarian feel to it. Further, higher classes getting better leave allowances and higher standards of living is the antithesis of socialism.

  • One-size-fits-all learning models are not at all fair.


The IQ test only measures intelligence, Intelligence itself dose make a great leader or successful businessman. If you read the book outliers then you know that intelligence is connected to success like being tall is connected to basketball. I man that is 6ft5in is going to be better then the man that is 5ft8in but being 6ft9in doesn't really give you any advantage over someone who is 6ft5in.

Study show that most successful leaders, philosophers, generals, judges, world peace prize winners and so forth, had a least above averages intelligence. But most were not what we would consider geniuses. That because intelligence alone dose not make you successful any more then being very tall can by itself makes you a basketballs player. Instead successful people usually combine intelligence with other traits like, charisma or creativity, often the difference between a successful person and unsuccessful person is not intelligence but the ability to come up with out of the box ideas. These thing can not be measure in are current IQ test.

To summarize want I am saying is that the IQ (or any test that measures intelligence or academic ability alone) is not a very good measuring stick to decide a person place in society.


This sounds a lot like A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; you might look into that for ideas.

What you're missing is that intelligence is not a single term. You can have savants outstandingly good at one thing, but mediocre at everything else, or jacks of all trades, moderately good at everything. Till date, we still haven't found a system for reliably and consistently determining all of a person's aptitudes. Far too much depends on the examiner's expertise and objectivity, which is often sadly lacking. This is one reason why voting is universal, rather than reserved for the informed electorate.

Secondly, this principle was used by the Chinese in developing the mandarins of the Imperial Bureaucracy. The idea was copied by the British to create the English Civil Service and its successors in all the Commonwealth. Historically, the Chinese Bureaucracy was responsible for the collapse of more dynasties than all the barbarian invasions of China. As Sir Humphrey said, "the Civil Service exists to serve the interests of the Civil Service". You can't screen for ethics until you give them power.


Vision you ask about was actually used by someone in book. Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut plot is about this concept, except that, the most manual work is done by robots, so the not intelligent people are forced by country to join army, clean streets or maintain road infrastructure. Maybe you will read it, so I won't spoiler it.


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