February 9, 2010

Is Competition Sustainable?

I keep hearing that we need to be more competitive to make it in the global economy, but I can't believe the multinational corporations that dominate the global and industrialized economies will ever let anyone else win.
Plus which, I've been reading some great stuff about how we are at least as cooperative by nature as we may be competitive. What if Nature Herself were cooperative too?
Rebecca Solnit's book "A Paradise Built In Hell" describes how disasters seem to attract lots of ordinary people who just pitch right in the start cooperating to help in whatever ways make sense. In fact, it turns out that often official disaster relief and security actually get in the way and make things worse by imposing their bureaucratic and hierarchical plans on what is already spontaneously underway, as was seen not just after Katrina but after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
"Elite panic" is behind official efforts to control the situation, whether it is caused by fear of being unnecessary or fear of vengeance by the have-nots. Elite panic is why people who are taking necessities from stores after a disaster are seen as looting if black and as requisitioning if white, as happened in New Orleans and Haiti.
I've also been reading about Open Space Technology, guidelines from originator Harrison Owen. He shares some of his philosophy about jobs, a view that's very relevant to economic competitiveness.
"After all, if we did only what we cared to do, not much would get done. Or would it? Isn't it true that jobs done by people who don't care are not worth much? Is it not also true that people who care greatly accomplish incredible things? And fortunately, there are a lot of different people who care about a lot of different things, which means there is a high likelihood that the majority of things needing to be taken care of will be taken care of--by someone who cares."
What if we could all, worldwide, have economies where we took on the tasks we care about the most? We can all have work that matters, if we care about doing first what matters most.
And we can still compete--with ourselves, to just keep improving.

Dear readers, please ignore the comment below which it turns out leads to porn-spam. I will delete it as soon as I figure out how.