Andrea Knezović’s text “Love in the Age of Meritocracy” was published as part of Simulacrum Journal for contemporary art and culture No.2 Vol. 27 on the theme of Love. Simulacrum is a non-profit cultural publication in affiliation with the University of Amsterdam in English and Dutch. The publication may be bought at Perdu (Amsterdam), Athenaeum Boekhandel (Amsterdam), Boekhandel Kirchner (Amsterdam), De Literaire Boekhandel (Utrecht), Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterloo), and Museum Het Schip (Amsterdam), or through their online subscription.
Looking at the ontology of love through the lens of social structuring, we can sense that its meaning is relational to a factor of achievement. The positioning of love as a factor with a tradable currency, instead of an inherent, given notion emulates emotional responses seen as precarious labor that can easily be lost if not continuously consumed, produced, or competed for. When sociologist and politician Michael Young published his satirical novel The Rise of the Meritocracy: 1870-2033 in 1958, he described a future dystopian society set in the United Kingdom where merit is the integral and central tenet of social structuring and class stratification. Within our contemporary neoliberal condition, meritocratic attitudes are used to encourage hyper-individualization, comparative social measurement and constant referencing to progress value. So, has the notion of love become a cheap, precariously-globalized prostitute for those who wish to manipulate, govern, or mobilize disoriented crowds who are waiting to be converted into some better existence? Or is love a privilege, reserved only for the best of us who deserve only fine and exquisite sensations?