Revisiting the Issue of Competition

Competition Will Be The End Of Us

By Lionel Anet

December, 2009

The mass media is constantly placing the needs of a growing competitive market economy beyond the ability of nature to provide those demands. This is rationalized by the idealistic view of economist that with competition, the market will turn up with whatever nature cannot. Competition is claimed to have advanced us from primitive savages to sophisticate civilise living. Capitalism is then supposed to have enhanced us further with a competitively controlled market, which is claimed to give universal wealth and well-being. It’s also believed by most advocates of capitalism that competition is the basis of evolution and is part of human nature. Unfortunately, the competitive market is using so much of world resources that they will all require more energy to extract and process until this becomes impractical. This is when oil will be mainly used to extract itself. It’s the only material that can enable us to dig out, process and distribute all the minerals and grow all that food that’s needed to maintain our lifestyle. That dilemma will coincide with global warming and rising sea levels etc. Therefore, I think we need to question if competition is the force in evolution that produced the diversity in nature.

Animals have a wide range of interacting behaviours within each species and between species. Their most favoured way of interacting is by agreement and cooperation because competing is risky and wasteful; therefore, competition is avoided and is a last resort. This explains why there are so many species living in all imaginable places in a multitude of ways. Changes come about through the process of mutation, which gives life differences that produce abilities to explore new opportunities in the environment in preference of competing. Nature can only operate within the physical laws of the universe that is why nature only allows rational life styles in the end. A better functioning species may not be able to replace the well established one, but will instead find an environment in which it can thrive without having to compete, (such as when mammals coexisted with dinosaurs one nocturnal the other daytime). Competition on the contrary eliminates rivals, which would reduce the range of species. This is because nature will only support one species that can live in the same area, living in the same way, getting their food by the same method. One will always overwhelm the other. This is called “The Competitive Exclusive Principle”.

There are, in the main, three different ways that mammals live: the first is solitary, second is herd and third is social. None of those is based on competition and the comparatively small part that it plays between males during mating times for solitary and herd animals doesn’t make competition universal. Each of the ways of interacting within species must have different genetic motivations.

The increased brain size from the earliest humanoid to modern humans could have arisen due to changes in the body’s structure, which can manage a larger brain economically. A large brain uses a substantial part of the human’s energy needs. Because of nature’s constraint on energy, the changes had to be coordinated in a co-evolutionary way with our hands, which, to use them to their full capability, takes a major part of the brain. The changes to the brain and hands would probably have to occur gradually in one large land area where sexual interaction takes place by agreement. This can only happen in interactive groups of individuals which are cooperative. Competition by males for sex will produce fitter physical individuals but to win a physical combat a larger brain is a burden on energy needs, this would place the brainier male at a disadvantage in that sort of competition. In addition, women lacking the opportunity to participate in selecting a spouse would keep the intelligence quota static. While in a cooperative environment sex can be by agreement between males and females, this arrangement promotes intelligence.

Civilisation up to the industrial revolution maintained rigid societies by establishing, somewhat justified by religion, castes and classes. That static stratified social system was used for thousands of years by pre- capitalist societies to reduced competition. In contrast, capitalism uses competition to stratified society in a fluid way that appears classless because of the deceptive mobility. The apparent fluid social classes intensify the competition but the fluidity is no more than sporadic leaks, which gives the incentive to compete but only a few will rise to have an elution of unlimited benefits.

Competition in the market stratifies individuals into different social status of wealth, power and life style; in a way that is none-destine, often dishonest, at times unpredictable and even chaotic. The greater the disparity between the wealthy and poor the more potentially intense the competition is. The ramification of the different levels of power reduces the freedom of most of its individuals as well as society’s cohesiveness. Those different positions in society are alien for a very social being like us.

Competition in laissez-faire capitalist economies produces winners who will swallow the losers thus producing monopolies or cartels with power to control governments. Competition can occur within a social species when there’s a lack of food and habitat, but it will return to an avoidance of competition when enough food and habitat are available again. In contrast, competition in capitalism is expected to be intensive and perpetual within a midst of plenty, in a growing economy. This is an alien and dangerous way of life because it ignores natural laws.

Successful competitors must suppress their natural feeling of empathy and compassion: This is getting more obvious as competition becomes more intense. Secrecy and privacy is an integral part of competition this allows conspiracies, deals and shady schemes, which then is impossible to make any rational choice. A choice is one of the benefits that the market in democracies is supposed to give; it does not amount to much, whether it’s about politics or purchasing products or services.

On the other hand, cooperation is an integral part of social living. It facilitates a need for togetherness, affinity, security, honesty and facilitates the need to learn from one another. To gel into a well functioning social group the prime motivation of its individuals would have to maximise cooperation and the better it does that the better society will function. With that attitude, it’s a small step to a cooperative world. All the well-meaning campaigns of peace, giving aid to the destitute and advocating fair trade can only have minimal temporary results while competition is motivating society.

Competition is experienced early in schools this helps children to accept competition as a natural process and prepares students for a stratified society, which will facilitate the acceptance of extremely wealthy individuals while most people are desperately trying to catch up with the increasing affluence that one needs for the self-esteem to participate socially. However, with our survival at stake a new direction is needed for a new way of life requiring different education, which will entail the difficulty after centuries of a competitive ideology to unlearn the belief-based information and look at the real world for sustainable lifestyle.

Growth in the competitive economy has to be maintained to avoid intolerable unemployment but; the inescapability of our finite planet is now unavoidable. Compounding the situation is this competitive driven growth will heat up the planet causing sea levels to rise inundating many of the larges cities producing hundreds of millions of refugees with no where to go. The quandary we are facing needs to be faced up to and dealt with now to give humanity a chance of survival however, the dilemma is that competition prevents any agreements that can deal with the crises.

If we have enough food, water and cooperative world societies we may reach a population of 9 billion, although this isn’t a good result, but there doesn’t seem to be any alternative if we are going to survive. Any competitive system will bring on violent conflicts that will produce an increase of green house gases and toxic pollution as well resources will be used up even faster. The questionable outcome of competition for people will be who will be the last to die. The multi billionaires and their CEO need to look at the history of countries when they were in crises like France and Russia and appreciate how the all powerful ones faired in hard times.

Winning is not as important as not losing according to Olympians, this, unfortunately, since there’s so few winners compared to a multitude of losers can make contest hurtful for most competitors. Thus there’s a survival need to deceive, cheat and use diversionary means to avoid losing in business, sport and worst with politics in democracies.

For the sake of our children, the first change we need to make is to see competition as destructive; this will release our real nature of cooperative activity and compassion to thrive.

~ by Cory Morningstar on August 24, 2010.

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