Cooperation and Competition in modern society.

One thing we cannot deny is that cooperation and competition coexist in all societies known to mankind since the beginning of evolution.  I personally agree that these are one of the biggest contributors that made us progress this far in technology and social skills. As from personal experience, I once went for a training exercise in the jungle during my time in the military where we were grouped in teams of 9. Our mission was basically to survive and forage for food and shelter as a team for 9 days with just 48 hours of food rations. Right from the get go, just as what Tomasello et al. (2012) mentioned, we became obligate collaborative foragers so that individuals became dependent on each other and started to have a direct interest in the well being of their group members. We also understood that we would not be able to survive well if we decided to be independent and only put our interest first. We knew at that moment cooperation was the only way forward to survive.

We can then totally relate to the theory on direct reciprocity where it shows (i.e. A helps B and B subsequently returns the favor). As from the results it shows that it may be more beneficial for everyone to defect than to cooperate, but if two individuals are to meet repeatedly, cooperation may be more beneficial to each other. This theory is very applicable to our modern world as we can see from countries like the United States whom spends about 1% of their federal expenditure on foreign aid. At times, people tend to have misconception that foreign aid is a form of humanitarian work but in fact cooperation with other countries could potentially lead to forming of strong and important allies. For example, South Korea was provided foreign aid after the ceasefire on the Korean peninsula in 1953, which today it has created one of the most important allies with America and forming their 6th largest trading partner.[1]

Competition in the other hand could also be beneficial to societies to a certain extend. However, it must be regulated properly as it could be hazardous to the ones in the lower spectrum of society. As social stratification and inequality become more important, we can derive that some people compete for power and prestige within the group. We must take note the fact that as people start to hold too much power it tends to corrupt a person. As researched by an UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Kelter he explains that this corruption is not only limited to economics, politics, or even notions of morality but also the functioning of the brain. Power tends to make people behave selfishly.[2] Which would then result into a patron-client relationship. If this was not controlled properly, it could cause individuals of a lower status to revolt when their livelihood is being jeopardized. This could lead to a social unrest which can cause an unnecessary problem to have.

Therefore, as we accept that cooperation and competition will be in us for a long time, we must develop ourselves towards a “moral community”.  Where we grow as a society to do better, solve world problems and make the world a better place for our future generations. We must progress as a whole and not as an individual as proven that by working in interdependence it could benefit the world better.



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