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Reflecting on unbridled competition: a relic from the Pleistocene?


One of my fellow students posed the following question to me after reviewing some comments I made in the chapter we are co-editting re: socialism and unbridled competition:

Ken,

             Your argument on unbridled competition looks solid, but some may disagree that it is THE cause for disharmony and mutual survival.  I not sure if you are getting at the power of monopolies, or if we should rethink Capitalism and the pursuit of happiness?  I know you are a non-supporter of Socialism, so what gives?

 I replied:
well we dont really have unbridled competition i guess, except probably at the national level, between socialist entities (competing protectionism and in currency exchange rates and spheres of influence in the 3d world)
 
my thought was that we are hard wired for competition and zero-sum based on the scarcity model we inherited from survival mode in the EEA (Era of Environmental Adaptation, in the Pleistocene). Our politics are dominated by winners and losers and sound bite persuasion whereas every significant political challenge requires long term thinking, win-win thinking, innovative cooperation, but we are farther from realizing that systemically now than ever before.
 
the concept behind debategraph.org for example is a way that global scholars are trying to improve the quality of the debate on many topics, and actually try to harness reason and heart in support of solving wicked problems, like Gaza.  This is not the kind of analysis and cooperation that briefs well on the news or in press conferences or in primaries, where we are reduced to the most trivial of soundbites
 
Obama’s powerful rhetoric consisted of saying hope and change and i am not bush 3
 
adopting an attitude of abundance, taking the long view, valuing restraint over consumption, systenms thinking: these are all things in opposition to our inherited mental processes, residing in the rat brain of evolution.
 
It’s convenient on talk radio to characterize cooperation and dialogue as “central planning and socialism”, neither of which am i in favor of (the opposite). My sense is that it will take generations of modelling systems thinking, humility, abundance and action research style cooperation and inquiry in the classroom at every level to effect a culture shift, which is why the real radicals have maneuvered their way into the schools to win the long war for the minds of the children.
 
on a societal level, unconstrained consumerism threatens spiritual values and is a driver of the short term over production that leaves the planet in tatters and our society morally bankrupt. and yet i firmly beieve in the pursuit of happiness as one of the highest goods, the liberty to pursue dreams. a real conundrum to value pursuit of happiness, delayed gratification and restraint, and selfless service 
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  1. Terry Lesniak
    January 17, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    As we move from “right” to “left” along the social and economic spectrum, I imagine capitalism will lose its robust sheen. Dilettantes will gut it up to the point where it pays for their social programs but questions of its perversity and unbridled immorality will become the new focus of change. Capitalism will be filtered through a “green” prism of morality where harmony becomes the fundamental world view and fundamental issues will be resolved by those “in the know.”
    Haven’t we seen this “cinematic reel” before?…

    Terry

  2. January 17, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    it’s a real problem, central planning is far worse than the market in finding sensible, cost effective solutions thru the interaction of free people pursuing their own self interest. Its a thought experiment to expland the “targedy of the commons” to a world-wide scale when because of our proximity, denisty of populations, and the consequences of our technology are so rapidly manifest.
    it seems to me that we want free market capitalists who value being their brothers keeper and who respect eahc others property. We know conclusively that provate property is the best way to preserve and nurture natural resources. now, if the greens could just understand that.

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