Consider a system of social organization where everyone took a standardized test (perhaps related to their field of study, perhaps a general test). The people who scored the highest on that test were given positions of power. The people who scored lower became the peons. Is this desirable?

First, who decides what questions should be on these tests? Would it only be promoting people who are good at test taking? For example, people with good short term memories may be able to memorize lots of facts for a few days, but would later on show that they have poor judgment when making decisions.

Of course, no such test really exists to establish social organization on any wide scale. What happens in today's corporations is that people in power (supposedly there because they have demonstrated merit) choose their underlings based on their personal judgments of merit. When those at the top retire, die, or quit, then those they promoted based on merit replace them in their positions of power, and subsequently judge who else has enough merit to be promoted.

While this system may seem like meritocracy, it is the same excuse given by dictators for maintaining their current political structures. Those at the top of authoritarian governments claim they got there on the basis of merit and are therefore fit to judge who else has merit.

The ultimate question is, how is merit determined? Supporters of democracy would say that everyone should have equal say over what is considered good and what is considered bad. Therefore, even in the case of attempting to establish meritocracy, it ends up in a debate between the authoritarians and the democrats.