Is Competition really healthy?

Some people may argue that Competition is considered as a natural way for society to develop and progress as a nation. Whereas to others, Competition can be distasteful. As when we compete with people we tend to focus too much on how to beat our competitors and less on what is good for society.

When we compare the articles from Bateson, Werron and Hutcheon you could tell that they all had a different ideology when it came to Competition. In this article on “Rhetoric and Competition” by Linda Hutcheon, she attempts to paint the picture of a world that is beyond agnostics and how we all could create new solutions and create new ideas by working together wherever we are in the world. Competition in her view was like Bateson’s “The Myth of Independence and Competition”. As in Bateson`s speech she mentioned that “If we are to survive, we are going to survive by thinking systemically, not as separate and competitive organisms, but as parts of a larger system, and acting together”.

Hutcheon stand was that competition has been ingrained into our society all the way from the classrooms. She mentions that the clever and the articulate wins in the battle of words which has become the defining characteristic of education. Which then connects towards institution that follows the model of corporate capitalism. She argues that in modern society these days, people are too caught up in destroying and demolishing the “enemy” work so that they would be one-upmanship. However, she poses a question that do we really need enmity in our society just so that we could be “better”.

When we compare Werron and Hutcheon arguments on the commercialization and corporatization of the universities that we all seem to have accepted as part of society. Hutcheon believes that it is a zero-sum game where the opposition must be destroyed, and profits must be maximized by capitalizing on exploiting the society. That is where Werron will have to disagree on this argument, as for why he thinks competition is necessary in a historical-sociological view makes a lot of sense as well. As a world without competition would be a total disadvantage for the consumers as proven by Adam Smith`s “Wealth of Nations”. As he stated in his book about Free Competition which is basically when companies operate without a lot of government prices and control. As it would then guarantee the prices that are set in the market do not exceed too drastically of its “natural price”. When competition escalates in the market, this would allow more pressure on the producers to drive down the prices of their products. This in return would improve the whole economy in general.

However, for the more popular discourse, the Brockhaus edition from 1883 argued:” Next to beneficial effects, free competition also unleashes bad effects, and sometimes it has become clear that the latter outweigh the former”. This can be shown in the modern world today, as we see the rise of many new competitors in the market that has caused a shift in focus on the economy. For example, Companies such as Sears were the dominant retailer that at one point in history they were Americas Largest Retailer so utterly dominant that it would obviously be No.1 forever. No competitors could see themselves toppling them due to their massive economic scale. Stores which causes many small and independent stores to struggle due to their competitive pricing. Consumers start flocking into these huge megastore, as they had a competitive advantage among the rest. Some might argue that this form of competition is unfair as it could create a loss of job in the retail sector and cause unfair competition. However, as shown by their dominance in their market, they did not see a real need to innovate and expand into other field which companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart has managed to seize and cause a seismic change to the retail industry. As they hold such a dominant size of the market with no immediate pressure from other competitors, they were in denial that they could possible be toppled which has clearly taken a toll on their industry when they lost to Amazon and Walmart. However, if we look at Amazons methodology on taking control of more market capital, is that really a fair competition? Does selling of goods at a loss just so that smaller companies are unable to compete financially fair in a free competition market?

Therefore, in conclusion I find myself torn between Bateson and Werron. As I agree on the point that Bateson has brought up in her speech that we need to look at the goal of raising human beings who see themselves as part of the biosphere and interdependent, not simply exploiting or dominating or ruling. I personally feel that we would just need to find a fine balance between raising the human beings as part of the biosphere and that they are motivated to make the world a better place without the motivation of profits in modern society. Perfect Competition would be an arduous task to undertake but I wish we could achieve it one day for the sake of our future generations to come.



1 Comment

  1. I agree when you (@chuadominic) say that you find yourself torn between Bateson and Werron’s views on the topic.

    I feel that I agree with some areas from both articles with opposing views. I agree with the point that Bateson makes when she says that we as a society should strive to work together and see ourselves as part of a bigger community, rather than to only see ourselves as individuals. Bateson really tries to push her audience towards an interdependence mindset. However, I also agree with Werron when he said that competition is an inevitable part of society. How could there possibly be a way to rule out competition when it has been a part of our nature (even starting from the cavemen ages when we needed competition in order to survive).

    Hence the conflict comes in where I believe that our society should work together. But realistically speaking, I feel that it may be impossible to ever be in a world where competition does not exist. I feel this especially in this era where most things in our society is taken so seriously, the role of competition has been gradually increasing.

    I feel that there will always be competition because there will always be opposing views. And since we tend to like to think that ourself is correct, it leads to us challenging and competing others on their views.


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