“Honestly, you can get by with Wikipedia and pass just about anything,” he said.
I’m afraid this was my attitude toward all of high school, as well as certain classes in college. (Fortunately, there was no Wikipedia then.) Motivation is more important than ability in someone who has multiple options, and so the most important enterprise becomes knowing oneself and setting priorities. Being stuck in the system and accepting its priorities means gaming the system, for someone like that.
Meritocracy, then, apart from its pragmatic function of getting things done efficiently on an organizational level, can be seen as an ideology of mediocrity. It helps people of moderate ability, intelligence, and resourcefulness figure out the best way to develop themselves. Those who don’t accept the ideology of meritocracy either know how to game the system or they don’t, and so they sort out as leaders or losers. Someone following the meritocratic track may also be seen as gaming the system, except that they are doing it in the prescribed way, by following the rules.