Night Music: Una furtiva lacrima

September 4, 2018

One of the great arias.

Competition Is Evil

September 4, 2018

There are a lot of things wrong — evilly wrong — with modern consumer capitalism, and so many of them start with the idea that life and every part of it is a competition.

From the very beginning, as tiny tots, we are taught, trained, indoctrinated to compare ourselves with everyone around us.  School tests, school sports, school grades are all based on comparing one child to another.  “Jimmy trues hard and does his best” is apparently not good enough; there is always a “but he doesn’t keep up with the others” even if not said. Baby shows and kids’ talent shows are nothing more than expanded public versions of the same affect.

Keeping up with the Jones’s, keeping up with the Kardashians, and white supremacy are adult versions. Conspicuous consumption is a vital part of keeping score. My whole train of thought was started this afternoon by seeing a clickbait headline; “Fifteen wedding dresses that are better than Kate Middleton’s”.

On the other hand, we are all (except preening CEOs and entertainment stars) very cagey and secretive about our own pay cheques because we don’t want to be compared unfavourably with those around us.  We all want more, sometimes for need, but more often it is because we want more than or at least the same as John Doe; and that is because we have been indoctrinated to think that way.

Capitalism breeds inequality which breeds envy which drives competition, most of it unproductive and wasteful. There has to be a better way.