In this literary discourse by Linda Hutcheon we are asked to take a look at the current situation in our academic world with regard to it’s competitive tendencies, and in this case not necessarily positive ones. Throughout the article we see Hutcheon address the problem of competition in the academic world turning into a zero-sum game. She then tells us what actions the academic community should be taking to make it a more inclusive and positive place.
Looking at the content and structure of these three articles of writing (one of them being a speech) we are able to see a distinct similarity in their particular arguments for eliminating our current system that values individualism. However, Werron’s piece ‘Why do we believe in competition? A historical-sociological view of competition as an institutionalised modern imaginary’ seems to take a rather neutral stance on the thought of competition in our world. While we seem to grasp a more distinct connection between Bateson’s ‘Myths of Competition and Independence’ and Hutcheon’s works, with some settle differences in their messages, these differences stemming with the actual application of competition in the world.
In Bateson’s speech we are told that society, as a whole will only be able to progress evolutionary through co-operation. She states that independence and competition are a “myth” that we need to eliminate from society. This argument is similar to that of Hutcheon’s research article as they are both wanting humans to be less individualistic and work together. However, also notice how Hutcheon believes that we can use criticism and competition as long as it is used to help the other person improve in his or her field, and doesn’t come at their expense. Hutcheon notes that in today’s society the academic elite are too focused on destroying their opponents opinions and beliefs in an attempt to better themselves. I believe her argument is properly shown in her article when she calls on an example of counter-discourse in which Richard Terdiman stated, “For every discourse there will be a contrary and transgressive discourse.” Where instead she argues for every discourse there should be a “complimentary and inclusive discourse.” This example builds on her belief of people assisting each other in the academic world as opposed to “one-upping” them.
Nowhere else was Hutcheon’s theory more apparent than in our current world than in the 2016 US presidential election. The world saw candidates Donald trump and Hillary Clinton have nationally televised debates, where for the entirety of the debate were primarily focused attacking the other and their works. These actions came as attempts to make themselves look better, in a zero-sum game for political victory. It is this individualistic thinking that Hutcheon and Bateson seek to eliminate from both everyday life and the academic society.
When we see these scholars use the word competition they are not talking about the same thing. Bateson sees competition as the idea of us as human beings having to fend for ourselves in the current world, rather than work together to increase our quality of life. With Hutcheon, the word competition is something that the academic elites (in particular) do with the hopes of destroying their competitor and their work, rather than pushing them to do better. Which in today’s world, especially politically, has never been more apparent.