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+2 votes
My question is on the mention of competition in, what I think could be called, Proudhon's Economic Mutualism and Kropotkin's Mutual Aid.

From Kropotkins Mutual Aid I took competition to be a part of our species but far, far, less than our mutual aid. That mutual aid is interlinked with intelligence,  thus competition being "phased out" as our species evolves. And currently - in  our natural form - competition is barely noticable compare to our mutual aid.

From a more basic knowledge of the Proudhons Economic Mutualism, there is mention of competition, alot, and it is being some natural part of our production? I get a hin t of competition and production being natural ... without the evils of wage slavery, heirarchical wage system, central big brother's etc, but that its being promoted.

My question is based on my takings of the above, which I hope I'm not wrong, but should competition not be an evolutionary blocker to our mutual aid - our mutualistic/intellectical evolution. A blocker in all aspects economic or social. Thus humans having ANY form of competition anywhere should be avoided at all costs and, definitely under any circumstances not be promoted?
by (210 points)

1 Answer

+3 votes
I don't really feel qualified to answer this, but since no one else did...

I'm familiar with Kropotkin, but not the specifics of Proudhon; one thing to keep firmly in mind when reading the Old Men w/ Beards is that their writings are part of, and a reaction to, the periods they lived in and the ideas current at those times.  Everyone was seizing on Darwin and pulling little passages out to support their pet theories - often out of context if not in complete contradiction to the points he was trying to make - thus 'Social Darwinism'  So while the Old Men are wonderful firebrands, and a source of many good ideas, take their writings with a large grain of contemporary salt - and glass of something inspirational.

Your final paragraph indicates that you are trying to do this.  I would caution against falling into the trap of 'either-or' (or binary logic, or dialectics, or whatever the hell itis called these days).  For example, birds may be extremely territorial and competitive during certain phases of the year but very social/mutualistic during the rest of the year.  Humans are more variable and we can often be competitive and mutualistic within short times, if not concurrently.
The problem we have with competition is that it is now used to 'atomise' the individual (is terminology correct?) - to separate every person from every other, to alienate, to prevent meaningful social contact with the 'other', to prevent feelings of solidarity and mutual aid, to more fully exploit us as mindless consumer-drones.  The problem is the view of competition to the exclusion of all other.

If you are trying to outrun the cop who is trying to club you down - then competition is very healthy.  Context.  :)
by (2.0k points)
Thanks for the answer ;) Your definitely right about "content", "binary logic" etc. Men with beards are just men after all lol
I should have said that i prefer cooperation to competition, and peace to conflict, but we probably can't and shouldn't try to do away with competition and conflict and their cousins.  Just to view them as dangerous but potentially useful in the right place and time, and to limit the harm they do us.
hmph. in my experience (vs theoretically) cooperation and peace are more dangerous than competition and conflict, but cooperation and peace are also potentially useful in the right place and time...

edit:... i guess...

Oh, dear.  I've earned an 'hmph'!  ;)

Actually, your comment is well taken.  Gelderloos' critique of pacifism, or at least institutional pacifism, crystalised some nagging doubts i'd had.  my tendency toward peace is directed to the people i interact with everyday - who by and large treat me with good faith; however we live in a time of domination/conflict, and the forces we are in conflict with  do not afford us the luxury of peace or good faith - i recognize this.