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The book reviewed at the link below became my bible as i wondered and worried about competitiveness and inequality in our society.  Alfie Kohn's 1986 book does not address inequality but the implications for me were clear.  If one of the outcomes of competition is the division of life into winners and losers, and the process of creating this outcome has so many dangers and so few benefits, doesn't that suggest that inequality itself is a process and state with many dangers and few benefits?

"Kohn quotes the late anthropologist Jules Henry who tells a story of an episode repeated daily in classrooms throughout the world. Boris is unable to solve an arithmetic problem. The teacher asks him to think harder while the rest of the class responds with a forest of waving hands and much sighing. Finally Peggy is called upon and proudly delivers the correct solution. 'Thus Boris' failure has made it possible for Peggy to succeed; his depression is the price of her exhilaration; his misery the occasion of her rejoicing ... To a Zuni, Hopi, or Dakota Indian, Peggy's performance would seem cruel beyond belief.'"  --from the review below.

No contest: the case against competition, by Alfie Kohn (book review ), Share International Archives


Apr. 17th, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC)
what do you believe are some practical steps you and i, we, can take regarding competitiveness and inequality in our society?
Apr. 17th, 2012 09:09 pm (UTC)
It is my belief that politics is inherently a destructive and hierarchy creating process as is contentious debate.

This is one reason , but only one, that i am striving to pursue the "saint's path.' Control the behavior of the only person whose behavior i am (even partially) able to control; give my stuff away (with my spouse's permission), Follow Kipling's advice in the poem "If," (treat beggars and kings as my equals). If i am poor there will be one less person in contention for the rewards of this world.

In that spirit, i want to particularly apologize to you for my seeming criticism of your faith. I do not criticize your faith, least of all because i know nothing about it. I like to win arguments! That is a negative thing on my part because it puts me in competition with other arguers. Like the hypothetical Hopi in Jules Henry's anecdote above, i should find it unseemly to try to win an argument, especially with a friend,



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