OMG read this right now(25 Posts)
I am saying that competitivness is built into being human
Working hard and trying to achieve more doesn't mean you have to be competing with your neighbours or anyone else but why do most people work hard and strive - to achieve things that no-one else has done, to obtain money/promotion etc - all this is competitive - you may only be competing against yourself. How many people would give up their jobs if they didn't need the money - most, so without competition society doesn't function. Also improvements in life, why do companies spend money improving products, because their competition does. It is corrolated to the fact every country that has tried to ignore competiton has produced a worse standard of living and a worse product.
your argument that the UK would have to accept a drop in living standards doesn't say anything about what is normal and natural if it was normal and natural to share across boundries we would do that - people give to charity no more than makes them hurt - I am not aware of anyone in the UK living in a tin shack and suffering hunger because the give all their money away to the needy - if it was normal and natural to do this, some people would be doing so but they look after themselves and family first - again competition between groups of humans.
My point about short-sightedness is that, again, this is part of human nature and we all do it - it is hard wired even if bad for us. Society is like this because humans are like this.
Any changes to society have to be based on the hardwiring which is part of the human animal else it is doomed to fail.
agree happiness is not caused by having, but unhappiness is caused by lack - 30 years ago no one was unhappy about a lack of, for example, a computer, but they are now, because other people have them - again shows the basic competitivness in us all
I agree with you Carol. All those who believe that we do not compete for survival - if your child had a contagious long term illness that was not yet curable would you be ok with him/her being put to death (years before the illness would kill them) so that others didn't get the illness?
Would you be ok with your dd working hard to qualify as a doctor then earning as much for her intelligence/training as a chocolate taster?
We protect our own interests (especially our children) and value them over the interests of people we don't know/love. That's a fact and it's a normal animal instinct. We do cooperate but only when there is mutual gain. True selfless altruism is very rare because it goes against our survival instinct
What I don't agree though is the fact that this is a feminist issue. You don't need to be a feminist of refuse competition in the way we know it nowadays.
There are other philosophies that would go along similar lines and quite a few men who do agree and live by them.
I would also add that as you said improvement have been driven by growth. Unfortunately, the resources of the earth aren't limitless and there will be a limit to growth (when the Earth resources will be no more). And then what?
Also this is the assumption that having more of <<whatever>> is better. Maybe better for health and life expectancy. But what about happiness? A lot of studies, both in the UK alone and comparing the UK to other countries, have shown that having 'more of' doesn't make you happier.
If so, what is the point?
1. Competition does not equal striving, or efforts. Working hard and trying to achieve more doesn't mean you have to be competing with your neighbours or anyone else. This is a mistake, it is a conflation of two different things.
I am very happy to live in this world rather than the one 100 years ago but I don't think the material steps forward we have made need to be regarded as necessarily the result of competition.
2. you are mistaken - I am not talking about how selfish or not people are, at any given moment in history. Actually I am very happy that we (in general) seem to be moving towards greater acceptance and inclusion (by certain measures, anyway). I am talking about political philosophy. I am talking about the idea that it is being successfully self-interested not to put in, and expect to take out anyway. Lots has been written about this.
3. your argument that the UK would have to accept a drop in living standards doesn't say anything about what is normal and natural.
4. right, people act in short termist ways all the time - for many of us (including me) it is a problem. that isn't to say that, if you were to interview those people, they would stand up for those decisions and say they were right. If you ask someone who has just spent their last £20 in the pub and now has nothing to eat, "was that the right decision?" he would very likely say "no".
Competition and competitive attitudes are currently winning. It doesn't make them right, or the best things for us.
Totally disagree -there are a number of significant fallacies in that post:
1. interests of the material winners to promote a notion that we must have winners and losers competition does not necessarily produce losers. Due to the competative nature of modern society, we are all significantly better off than we were 20+ years ago by any measure. The fallacy is that the pot to be shared is fixed so someone's gain is another loss. Actually competition increases the size of the pot, so everyone gains.
2. Only recently has rational self interest been accepted as the "I'll turn my light off" position As a society we are much more tolerant and helpful to people than historically - the welfare state is less than 100 years old. In the past we had the workhouses, starvation etc
3. This defeatist attitude that harsh competition is natural, normal and unavoidable unfortuately it is normal and natural - if you wanted global equality today, then we in the UK would have to accept a significant drop in living standards, health and income. Going back to point one, the growth and improvement in worldwide living standards is driven by growth, which is driven by competition.
4. Only by a stupid, very shortsighted sense of self-interested can it be seen as acting for immediate gain in order for overall decrease in benefit people do this all the time, see smoking, being overweight, drinking to excess, affairs, unsafe sex, etc - all activities that have an immediate gain for an overall decrease in benefit but things that most people have done on multiple occasions.
"It is in the interests of the material winners to promote a notion that we must have winners and losers." Completely agree.
Excellent post youretoastmildred
Actual applause and bump for this.
Actually this issue (caroldecker's point) has really been playing on my mind and I really want to talk more about it.
Competition is not necessarily a natural state. BUT:
- once a particular context has been affected by competitive behaviour it is hard to contain competitive behaviour and its effects. Only a concerted active effort can do this;
- more worryingly, this is what they want us to think. This defeatist attitude that harsh competition is natural, normal and unavoidable is a key part of neo-liberal propaganda and it is no accident that it is, sadly, devastatingly, becoming so generally and unthinkingly absorbed. That is why this latest exchange has been haunting me so much, and why I think it is so important to challenge it.
It is in the interests of the material winners to promote a notion that we must have winners and losers.
But if we all decide to believe this and become too afraid to think cooperatively, socially, you get a sickening sort of moral bank run - leading to moral bankruptcy - and far more losers than we ever needed - if we needed any at all - and losing to a much nastier degree.
Please please don't fall for it.
Consider this: imagine you live in a place where the social norm is that everyone puts a light outside their house. When everyone complies you have a well-lit neighbourhood with all the safety and convenience for all that comes with that.
Now suppose that it occurs to one person that he can not light his light and save the costs. One light doesn't make that much difference, so he retains the benefits of living in a lit neighbourhood without bearing any costs.
Then imagine that others see what he has done and decide to turn their lights off too. Soon there is no point in any individual keeping his light lit, because individual lights dotted about don't do much to keep the neighbourhood safe or feeling safe when you go out, so why bother to pay the costs?
so you have a nasty, dark, treacherous neighbourhood.
Now, conventional thinking has changed. Only recently has rational self interest been accepted as the "I'll turn my light off" position. It used to be seen as not just altruistic, but ultimately self-interested too to do things for the common good, on the basis that you were one of the people who got to live in a nicer place as a result. (There is research on this.) Only by a stupid, very shortsighted sense of self-interested can it be seen as acting for immediate gain in order for overall decrease in benefit.
This change of attitude has been brought about deliberately.
I am very tired, and very sad, about hearing a shrugging defeatism "that's what people are like". that is what people have been made like.
Not at all. Your examples prove that it only takes one dickhead competetive element to ruin it for everyone, not that that element is universal. Eg: if one arsehole smokes in a restaurant, you now have a smoky restaurant. You may get a couple more people going, what the hell, and lighting up. This is certainly now a shitty place for nonsmokers. But it doesn't mean that everyone smokes or likes smoking. It just means THST for now the smokers are winning in imposing their culture on everyone else
The fact there is war between nations suggests this is universal - and aht happened to any native americans that helped? they got slaughtered
How do you know this? And that it has always been universal? Didn't the native Americans shelter some if the European immigrants, for instance, their first winter, out of habit and custom - not knowing how they would be treated later - not conceiving of people treating other people that way?
each small group may have been cooperative within itself, but did not cooperate with other groups - again competition for food/resources ensured a 'battleground' existed
I agree we have only survived because of cooperation with others. Anthropological evidence suggests that many early human societies had relatively egalitarian societal arrangements and there was a division of labour. What they didn't have though was a division of labour and an attendant cultural philosophy that dictated that child rearing was women's work and therefore of lower value.
Competition for resources comes about in more advanced and complex societies where people try to create a surplus that can be exchanged for gain. So under capitalism we are all in competition for jobs, resources and wealth.
There is no such thing as a transhistoric human nature, immutable and unchangeable, I think we change and develop because of changes to the mode of production. Our social relations change, therefore we change.
Yes humans have only survived by working in co operation. I remember when they found a skeleton of a man with a broken leg, who had been alive in the time of basic cave dwellers. The archaeologists said he had lived for at least 3 days, and this would only have been possible with lots of help from other humans. Because with no help, animals would have quickly killed and eaten him.
Agree there are plenty of examples of cooperation and symbiosis between and within species - however, there are no species I am aware of where all members cooperate. They have a tribal system with groups who are antagonistic of each-other - same as humans
I think in this context one of the meanings of "not a demand" is "you don't have to have them". Alongside that comes "but if you do, you are supported to enjoy them as much as you can rather than finding them a pure drain"
caroldecker. I disagree with
"fundamentally against the way humans and any other living creatures exist - life, for every living thing, is a battle for goods and resources"
1 - because even if that were true of nature in general we as humans can make ethical and political choices that go beyond a biological urge to sieze and grab
2 - actually in nature symbiosis and cooperation are as prevalent as competition. depends what you are looking for. certainly within species (though not solely) you can find a million examples of survival by cooperation and altruism
Well I certainly agree that I cbased to read all that.
And because I haven't read it properly I don't get the quote.
Children are a delight, they are also demanding.
What does 'not a demand' mean?
I'm exhausted trying to read all that, not surprised to see she's a Philosophy lecturer.
Loads of words saying bugger all.
But humans are unlike every other creature and there is no such thing as a universal unchanging human nature. So, yes I think it is possible to start to imagine a very different sort of society. Change relies upon some people having the imagination and not just the critical thinking to pull apart our present reality.
not as a battleground where competition for goods, resources, cultural power continued to be fought over, but where an image of expansiveness and co-operation replaces that of scarcity and warring
IMO this is not a solely feminist point but a complete change in society which is impossible because it is fundamentally against the way humans and any other living creatures exist - life, for every living thing, is a battle for goods and resources
I think children can be both a delight and a demand.
"children are a delight, not a demand"
that line really got to me
It is the exhaustion that is so unfair. So fucking unfair.
Join the discussion
Please login first.