RHETORIC AND COMPETITION by Linda Hutcheon

In this article that was published in 2003, Linda Hutcheon and other scholars such as Werron, and Bateson, attempt to explain what kinds of roles competition plays in our lives today, and how society as a whole could change the way we look at competition by finding a better, more collaborative way to improve ourselves and our environment while remaining a well structured community.

There’s no doubt that competition plays a big role in all aspects of our lives- some more apparent than others. Competition is often seen as a negative portion of our lives especially in the eyes of Hutcheon, Bateson and Werron, but as Hutcheon states: “our profits must be maximized by minimizing the profits of others.” We achieve maximum profits by competing against our peers to accomplish bigger and better things than the people or ideas that came before us. Without this sense of competition it would be  virtually impossible for society to have evolved in the ways or at the rate it currently has. A world free of competition is a world free of change; if we all settled for the present standard and didn’t long for a product or ability that would make our lives different or better than those around us, then we would have never invented the things we have now or pushed ourselves to improve the skills we have. 

Bateson believes that in order for humans to coexist, evolve, and continually improve as a whole, they must depend on others and remove competition from their lives. She believes that they must collaborate with each other to improve their current ideas. We talked a little about this in class, focusing on what would happen if we referred to competition, arguments and fights as a “dance” instead of seeing them in a negative light. 

From my perspective it can be very helpful to collaborate with others and to build ideas together, but without a form of competition whether that be internal trying to “one-up yourself’ or external trying to ‘one-up’ someone else, form of competition, there is no reason for anyone to change anything, which is not human nature. Human nature as I see it, is the need for everything to be more accessible than it was before. Humans carry the inherent need to constantly make things faster and more efficient whether it is necessary or not.

Reading Response References:

Reading Response- Rhetoric and Competition by Linda Hutcheon

Something More Than Just Competition

4 Comments

  1. Hey ! I liked your reading response ! Agree with you on the idea that competition is part of human nature -necessary and inevitable. Competition always means there are going to be winners and losers and more losers than winners. Now as you correctly pointed out, competition often leads to enhanced performance and further development of society. Without competition we probably wouldn’t see such a rapid advancement in societies, however it would probably lead to a more harmonic and peaceful environment as no one tries to outperform one another. Do you think a peaceful, probably more pleasureful and happy society without further advancements would be better (for humans) than a rapidly developing society, which is increasingly focused on individual success and competition?
    Regards,
    Benedikt

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  2. I also agree that some form of competition is necessary to keep humans motivated and moving as well; however, I feel like what Hutcheon is getting at is the more wolfish competition; the one that make people believe that they must tear each other apart in order to come out on top. This immediately makes me think of the Communist ideology, do you think the lack of competition for better pay would make people less productive and ambitious?

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  3. Hey ksteu, I really enjoyed your response about competition and collaboration in todays society. I agree with you on your point of how its human nature to want to improve things and make them more efficient. This is exactly what is going on in all aspects of society today with technology of coming up with the fastest, most convenient and advanced technology. Therefore, I see how there can be two sides to competition of good and bad. As I believe when it comes to certain businesses, competition is seen as a positive thing if they are not possessing “wolfish” behaviour towards each other, as this pushes one another in a good way to become more innovative and invent more things. As I liked your point, “a world free of competition is a world free of change”. Whereas, in certain aspects competition may not be as good when it comes to the need to cooperate with each other rather than compete such as where Bateson points out about the need to cooperate to work on serious issues like climate change.

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