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How ‘Competitiveness’ Became One of the Great Unquestioned Virtues of Contemporary Culture via @EvonomicsMag

[via rt by timoreilly]

When we view situations as ‘competitions’, we are assuming that participants have some vaguely equal opportunity at the outset.

equity – everyone getting a go everyday..

But we are also assuming that they are striving for maximum inequality at the conclusion. To demand ‘competitiveness’ is to demand that people prove themselves relative to one other.

spaces of permissionnothing to prove.. ness


Why would it be remotely surprising, to discover that a society in which competitiveness was a supreme moral and cultural virtue, should also be one which generates increasing levels of inequality?


For Friedrich Hayek in London, the ordoliberals in Freiburg and Henry Simons in Chicago, competition wasn’t just one feature of a market amongst many. It was the fundamental reason why markets were politically desirable, because it conserved the uncertainty of the future. What united all forms of totalitarianism and planning, according to Hayek, was that they refused to tolerate competition. And hence a neoliberal state would be defined first and foremost as one which used its sovereign powers to defend competitive processes, using anti-trust law and other instruments.


Sovereign power does not recede, and nor is it replaced by ‘governance’; it is reconfigured in such a way that society becomes a form of ‘game’, which produces winners and losers

binary ness


By studying these intellectual traditions, it becomes possible to see how an entire moral and philosophical worldview has developed, which assumes that inequalities are both a fair and an exciting outcome of a capitalist process which is overseen by political authorities. ….we need to understand how competition, competitiveness and, ultimately, inequality are rendered justifiable and acceptable – otherwise their sustained presence in public and private life appears simply inexplicable.

pluralistic ignorance ness

manufacturing consent ness


For several years, we have operated with a cultural and moral worldview which finds value only in ‘winners’.

value ness

Our cities must be ‘world-leading’ to matter. Universities must be ‘excellent’, or else they dwindle. This is a philosophy which condemns the majority of spaces, people and organizations to the status of ‘losers’.

99 and 1 ness

It also seems entirely unable to live up to its own meritocratic ideal any longer. The discovery that, if you cut a ‘winner’ enough slack, eventually they’ll try to close down the game once and for all, should throw our obsession with competitiveness into question. And then we can consider ..

how else to find value in things, other than their being ‘better’ than something else.

perhaps.. if we all.. had he luxury of .. something else to do ness…


from Heather Marsh as she writes about stigmergy:

Most systems are now run by competitive organizations. Competition creates redundancy, is slow and wastes resources on idea protection, advertisement, and more. Competition also requires secrecy which blocks progress and auditing and causes lost opportunities and ideas. Patents and copyrights further limit speed and the potential for mass input of ideas.


wikipedia small

Competitiveness pertains to the ability and performance of a firm, sub-sector or country to sell and supply goods and services in a given market, in relation to the ability and performance of other firms, sub-sectors or countries in the same market.





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