Very good question.
First, let me point out a meritocracy cannot exist without the principles needed to secure a free-market. The principles we have failed to define and abide by. Hence we do not have free-markets today, and as a result, we do not have a meritocracy today. The main reason why our economy is non-renewable today, but I digress.
Today, we have marketplaces controlled by various degrees of oligarchies, driven by the inherent short-sightedness of wealth, and without regard to how that wealth was acquired and how wealth contributes to the evolution of humanity. Today’s elitism is driven by the assignment of merit attached to the accumulation of wealth, and if you know anything about how finance eleven times the size of production (as a contribution to GDP) here in the U.S. works, much of said wealth is acquired by robbing the bank of a renewable evolution.
With the aforementioned in mind, and no improvement to the marketplace models we have built, your supposition of intellectual elitism would likely yield more positive contributions to the evolution of humanity than the short-sightedness the rat-race for money alone will ever generate. So, I would first surmise intellectual elitism is not so bad, were it not that any form of static elitism is bad.
But when we, for the first time, establish and abide by free-market principles, the definition and assignment of merit will be as fluid as the product of the marketplace needs it to be. That is, with our government having established the paradoxical rules of the game to secure evolutionary value beforehand.
Hence, when marketplaces adhere to free-market principles, the definition and assignment of merit to drive them will be free and dynamically assigned based on what the marketplace requires. Hence grandiose elitism will be systematically eroded when marketplaces become free, which is the main reason behind our ignorance and lack of adherence to free-market principles to date. Those who benefit so handsomely from the established oligarchies of today will no longer be able to rest on their laurels.
So, to answer your question directly. No, in marketplaces in compliance with free-market principles, no single and static assignment of merit will be the sole driver of the evolutionary prowess we aim to secure.