Let Go of Winning

Posted on 14 December 2014

So long as we have a competitive society we will not overcome inequality: sexism, racism, ageism, ableism are all inherent to a system where somebody has to come out on top.

If you are in a room which is predominantly purple people and you are green, you already know that purple culture is going to dominate. If your position in the room determines whether or not you will have enough to feed yourself, you are going to want to find a room where green people are dominant. A recent online game and thought experiment The Parable of the Polygons demonstrates this, but doesn’t look at the problem broadly enough.

In a world of competition some are going to be winners and some are going to be losers. That’s what competition means. You have people justifying this by saying it’s “rational” and it’s “how nature works”. Nature in part does work through competition, but it also works through cooperation and other methods of survival. Everything is tried. Madagascar has its peculiar diversity of lemurs because instead of competing, these creatures diversified to take over unfilled niches where competition was unnecessary.

We all know when we go to a job interview we have to find some way to distinguish ourselves, so that we are more likely to get a position. When competition is fierce employers may not express prejudice, but will choose what is safest for their own survival.

When I look for work people of a right-wing persuasion will decline my application because of my age and gender. I had a friend trying to get me a position at a university teaching storytelling for computer game design. His boss was uninterested because, “What would an older woman understand about this subject.”

When I apply for a position where employers of left-wing persuasion are in control, I’m a US migrant, I regularly get told they want to hire an “Australian”. This happens so frequently, I started bringing my passport to show that I’m an Australian citizen. This just made people mad. I have regularly been put in the position where I take the brunt of people’s anger and frustration with US governmental policy. I’m one person. I cannot help where I was born. I left that country because I didn’t like the policy either.

This is all about putting people into convenient boxes. Once they are in the box most people like to think they know something about that person, because they know the box. Oh! You’re Japanese? You must like sushi and anime. You’re gay? I know a place where you could buy pretty dresses. On the surface this seems harmless, but we are all individuals and most of us are self-determining. You can be Japanese and not like anime. You can be Australian and not like beer. But if you are in a situtation where people keep putting you in that box, it becomes grinding. Worse, not only are you not being treated as an individual, you are also being divested of your humanity and as such dismissed quickly as part of the competition game.

Most of the time no one is trying to be bad. They just want to get by, but as things stand they find themselves pushing, pulling, manipulating, even lying to ensure their security. Most of the changes that are being made to relieve the pressure from this system are palliative. We offer an old age pension, because people of a certain age can no longer handle the stress of competing and we want them out in order to allow others to compete for their positions. This in no way lessens the overall fear of losing, or the suffering that comes when a person does lose.

The future lays in giving up competition as a way of life. The future lays in non-profit cooperatives, universal basic income, and a greater capacity to simply share goods and services as in Star Trek NOT Uber. People are terrified of letting go of what little competitive advantage they feel they have for fear of losing what little security they have. But in a cooperative paradigm there would be nothing to lose, it would just be a matter of loosening your grip and relaxing. Give up having to win and you have an economy of peace.

Peace and kindenss,


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