On the Common Good and Competition

The society that determined that “the common good” would be its common goal; would accomplish that very task.  Everyone would be fed; everyone would be sheltered; everyone would be provided healthcare; everyone would be educated; and everyone would be encouraged to pursue their interests and skills for the benefit of the common good.  Commodities would be produced for consumption and practical use, and there would be absolutely no partiality in the distribution thereof.  Such is stated as a “could be”, because among the challenges to the noble concept of “the common good” is the contemporary myth that competitive markets are a superior way of life to any other, and sufficient to satisfy to the needs of humanity.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Competition is what it is.  It is a struggle which yields a winner and a loser.  In any competitive setting, such is the result, for such is the nature of the very concept.  To assert that competitive markets address OR EVER COULD address the basic needs of humanity is an insult to one’s basic intelligence, a misrepresentation of the basic nature of the concept, and a most unfortunate myth.  Competition is merely not a natural or an efficient way to live.

Not that competition is wrong.  Competition is a form of entertainment, but entertainment by reason of common sense should be experienced as a way to pass the time; not as a way to live one’s life.  I have enjoyed the experience of competition in a variety of fashions and formats my entire life.  As a child I spent many an hour playing board games with my two sisters, and  participated in countless games of “pick up” baseball, school yard basketball, and touch football.   I recall with fondness these experiences, for they were harmless bouts and feats of wits and physical skill which endeared me to my loved ones and allowed us all to enjoy some quality time together.  Yet even in those minor settings of competitive fun the logical yield was the end result:  Someone always won and someone always lost.  Such is the basic nature of competition.

To live life by means of competition is foolish at the very least, and vicious at a most rudimentary level.  Reflect upon the reality of the results of free markets:

Some have food in abundance; others go to bed hungry.

Some have shelter from the elements; others have no bed  AND are hungry.

Some have cosmetic surgery; others suffer continuous agony due to health needs.

The stomachs of those of who “win” in a society of competitive markets can be fed to excess; whereas the stomachs of those who “lose” must do without.  Those who “win” in a society of competitive markets enjoy the security and comfort of a home; whereas those who “lose” must do without.  Those who “win” in a society of competitive never lack the funds for even selective surgery; whereas those who “lose” must bear pain and physical breakdown for lack of means to health care. 

Allegedly wiser minds than mine say that such does not have to be the case.   Proponents and apologists for a society based upon competitive markets assert that those who lack in a capitalistic society are to blame for their own state of poverty.  Yet such is not consistent with the countless examples of the poor and needy who are overworked, underpaid, and oftentimes unemployed.

Competition is what it is.  Competition is a struggle which yields winners and losers.  Real life winners are those who bask in the pleasant rays of the excessive supply of capitalism.  Real life losers are those who are burned by the reality of the natural yield of competition.

Competitive markets do not, nor will they ever supply the needs of humanity.  A society which would seek “the common good” requires depth of thought, sensitivity for the needs of others, and impartial distribution of practical resources for the benefit of every single person.  There is no place for allowing anyone to lose in the all too real experience of life.  At least, not in a society which seeks the common good as its common goal.

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3 thoughts on “On the Common Good and Competition

  1. I disagree with you.

    Competition is natural. You should read some of Nietzsche’s works. Life is a struggle to survive. There is a finite number of resources. There simply isn’t enough for everyone. So even when there is cooperation, as opposed to competition, there will still be the possibilities of some being winners and some being losers. Finitude and competition are two elements of the human condition. They are simply inescapable. Only if finitude is transcended can we move past competition.

    • Competition is a natural form of entertainment. The resources are plenty, the distribution thereof is the issue. Just because humanity has sold out to competition as a way of life, does not make it a natural way of life. A group of folk on a stranded island with limited resources would work together for the sake of survival. Competition as a way of life is a convenient means of hoarding for the selfish, and selling the notion that such is natural ensures the permanent state of being on behalf of the selfish and the greedy elite who exploit such to their benefit. Thank you for your comment though. You sound like a sincerely nice person, I hope my reply is accepted in the same spirit that I feel like you presented your thoughts. Davey Lee

      • Davey,

        Thanks for the reply. I guess we just see things differently. I agree with you though. I agree that we can and should try to work past competition as the system we have. I just think that ultimately it would not work. We’d make a great deal of progress, but we’d never truly attain it. But great post. Looking forward to future ones.

        -Nick

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