Competition Is Cultural Inbreeding

Plump and Juicy--What lurks there?

So, against my better judgement, let’s pretend we can make do with this soul-crushing, resource destroying economy that we call “Capitalism.”

It’s just a name that means something like a dogma (which can be considered a law or rules but also a faith) that says a capital economy, and really, a way of life as actions within an economy redound to all things similarly “eco” (gk “oikos”), is the organizing principle of our society.

Well, that’s serious and as it’s such a “whole enchilada” kind of thing we should be very thorough about how those capital mechanism work within “all things eco” besides just the “use” of money.

Somehow, the capitalist has managed to avoid risk, or rather he has shared risk so effectively that if there is a “bust,” the shared nature of investment rarely hurts the originator of that production process.  And if there’s a success, the originator tends to profit well beyond the actual amount invested–he reaps the rewards of the work he does not do.  This is why the system is an abject failure in terms of the idea of equality or even the fairly new coinage “social justice.”

It begins in inequality, someone has something to invest; it shares one thing, risk of failure; it absolves itself of failure, often claiming any number of external factors as reasons; as it requires to be replaced before the profit/loss outcome it can leave the process “whole”; it benefits the investor disproportionately upon “success”; and success itself is a mixed bag across the “eco” of it’s actions.

Let’s look at “competition” as an “idea” within economy systems.  First, as always when it comes to understanding capital, Marx was there before us.  We might argue with everything else he did and you might want to attach his name to the horrors of Mao, and Stalin, and well any other thing that sullies a single, scholarly man’s name with the actions of despots who controlled masses of men and armies, but his description of capitalism and its effects is unassailable (though assailed constantly).

That said, one primary point to make about a business venture in capitalism involving something other than finance, is that owners and managers, if in competition with other owners, managers, business ventures for the same market share, tend to make cuts in costs as their “competitive” maneuvers begin to cost them more capital outlay.  A business with owners and managers who believe in social justice, a living wage, a safe workplace, a quality product, will spend a whole lot of money making that product.  If competitors have no compunctions against disregarding any or all of those particular points of quality then they’re product will cost less and drive the responsible, “steward” of economy (all things “eco”) out of business.  And so to stay in business the steward of economy begins the “race to the bottom” (teachers take note!) where he will eventually lose to the business who has already “economized” or he will find a way to beat that business at its own game of cheap tricks.

Okay, so competition, in this sense, and I would argue in every sense, creates a race to meanness.  We don’t “rise” and stand tall while we are put out of business; we don’t rise and stand tall as we are defeated at the polls by a unprincipled and unscrupulous Rove.  (God, I would dearly love that “Rove” become a lexical albatross of evil.)

Only the very strongest, and most principled among us WIN and stay pure (.0000000001%?); and even these wonderful beings are routinely destroyed by meanness.

In other words, competition creates and sustains a culture that is mean and base as a matter of necessity.  It “selects out” all that is best in us and amplifies the errors; in this way it is akin to inbreeding

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Now, our mean economy shows this in every sector and quarter.  Just spend a small amount of time thinking about prisons, healthcare, food production, schools–all the things that require social justice and human understanding–as “products” for a capital economy.

We already know what capitalism has done to healthcare–it provides neither health nor care; food production–there’s a lot of corn our there, all genetically modified and all of it altered in the chemistry lab as the basic building block of packaging and “ingestibles”; prisons–corporate owners of prisons make profits, like all capital production, by growing the business–this means they need inmates.  Do you think they have folks lobbying FOR strict immigration laws and greater “terror surveillance”?; schools–already in the auctioneer’s dock for sale–how does a race to the bottom cutting costs replacing personnel and curricular arts and replacing these with computer games serve our human social development?

You can already answer all those concerns with two seconds of thought.  What advertising sells is lies.  This clorox is not new and improved; it’s the same poison it always was.

Unfortunately we are in thrall to all “new and improved” mantras–progressives and liberals believe in “science” and “humanitarian” war to advance “enlightenment.”  Machines will advance the cause of human love and peace don’t you know.

We are lost, have been lost, as humans, as people in communities, as people in families.  We are so confused that we ingest toxins on and in our foodstuffs every second of the day and yet believe we should worry over the cholesterol in an egg.

What are your suggestions?  Capitalism is a bust as a human paradigm, as an economy that does anything besides exhaust resources and capacities.

We desperately need a “what’s next” that doesn’t spring from the minds of those who brought us to this point.  We need time and patience to consider what we left behind, what we’ve excised from our being in order to become consumption engines.

The best “what’s next” might now be thought to be a deep consideration of “what once was.”

Photo Credit: WayTru

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  1. focus February 21, 2012 at 10:17 am

    two phrases stood out to me particularly–perhaps because they can be read as the most personal–and reading them made me so discouraged.

    “so competition, in this sense, and I would argue in every sense, creates a race to meanness.”

    “Only the very strongest, and most principled among us WIN and stay pure (.0000000001%?); and even these wonderful beings are routinely destroyed by meanness”

    much to think on, as always, Doug. Your pieces in turn animate, disturb, depress, instigate, and motivate me. I am sure there are many other words I could use also but at the very least they make me THINK.

    1. Douglas Storm February 21, 2012 at 10:27 am

      we are weak on the whole and it’s why so many who want the “good” for all are willing to entertain the totalitarian scheme. The good leader. The Left is as dangerous as the Right in that sense.

      Competition and Capitalism require the base (that’s what “meanness” is here) and profane “pleasure” of the WIN. It must be seen as THE end.

      Notice how joy at victory is always fleeting and must be achieved once again.

      It is the key to all addictions.

  2. focus February 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    yes exactly. You may win but there is always another race, game, prize to be had. The eternal carrot. You don’t have the chance to realize what WIN costs in terms of personal issues and that there is a WIN that has nothing to do with personal possessions, competition etc. but is simply the WIN of personal interaction for more than personal gain.


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