An essay against competition

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reval
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An essay against competition

Postby reval » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:21 pm UTC

Three elevator pitches for https://peermorgan.wordpress.com/a-person-in-trouble/:

1. This essay starts with a definition of life as a thing that uses information to survive. It says there are two main kinds of life: evolution and thinking. People came out of evolution, but they're now using thinking instead. Thinking works best when people talk to each other. It gets messed up when they try to compete with each other. Evolutionary competition is bad for people.

2. Progressives need a new argument against greed. They need an effective challenge to the idea that competition is always a good thing. Competition creates inequality. It hurts everybody except a few greedy people on top. That is the purpose of competition. But the purpose of good government is decency. Everyone can have a decent life. The greedy people can't stand decency, because they need to control people. For everyone else, the thinking and talking works best when no one gets left behind.

3. The essay tries to tell a complicated idea in simple words, and it uses 8,000 words. If you read one sentence on its own, it may sound crazy, obvious, or wrong. "The fairness of games is meaningless" sounds pretty crazy on its own. "People do better when they're decent to each other" sounds obvious. "Good government doesn't need police" sounds wrong. But these are moving parts. They connect to a large number of other moving parts. Put them all together, and it's a complicated idea. To decide whether this idea makes any sense it may be necessary to look at the whole thing (or maybe the first half, "Part One"). Then tell me if it's crazy, obvious, or wrong.

Sure, it would be nice to talk to someone who would read the essay. But I'll be happy if someone looks at these three pitches and give me feedback on them. Is any of this reasonable?

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Re: An essay against competition

Postby Chen » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:37 pm UTC

Even in just the first part of part 1, there are so many unjustified assertions that I stopped reading it. For example, distinguishing thought process from evolution is not immediately obvious and its not evident one has somehow supplanted the other. Or the "everyone is a valuable part of the shared thought process", which is fairly trivially untrue.

It's also not clear if this is how things are supposed to be or envisaged being in the future or a telling of how things are actually are. There is no real introduction to the entire point of the essay which makes the whole thing read as sort of a stream of consciousness without knowing what the point is.

reval
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby reval » Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:01 pm UTC

Part One attempts to summarize, while Part Two tries to provide a bit of a logical framework. Thank you for taking a look and telling me what you think.

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Re: An essay against competition

Postby ahammel » Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:17 pm UTC

Can you give us a summary of the summary? I read through part one and I don't know what point you're trying to make.
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reval
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby reval » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:09 pm UTC

Wow. Thanks for reading. I expected this to be judged just on the three paragraphs above.

Ten years ago, an attempt was made to carefully support each argument in turn. That resulted in a 50,000 word book http://www.lulu.com/shop/peer-morgan/the-house-of-sufficiency/ebook/product-17533169.html. No one read it.

There is a progressive political angle, but the essay is really about re-thinking personal values. That is a difficult thing. For example, the words "fairness" and "cooperation" are generally taken to be positive things. I think of them as negative things, because I see them as part of the game of competition between people. This makes it very difficult for me to use the words "fairness" or "cooperation" in a sentence that makes sense to anyone other than myself.

For example, I am currently re-thinking how I drive in traffic. I have been driving poorly, thinking of traffic as a situation where I was trapped by the competitive behavior of other people, and I had to act the same way. But now I think I can see a way I can behave better, despite their actions. That is the usefulness of the essay to me.

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ahammel
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby ahammel » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:11 pm UTC

reval wrote:Wow. Thanks for reading. I expected this to be judged just on the three paragraphs above.

Ten years ago, an attempt was made to carefully support each argument in turn. That resulted in a 50,000 word book http://www.lulu.com/shop/peer-morgan/the-house-of-sufficiency/ebook/product-17533169.html. No one read it.

There is a progressive political angle, but the essay is really about re-thinking personal values. That is a difficult thing. For example, the words "fairness" and "cooperation" are generally taken to be positive things. I think of them as negative things, because I see them as part of the game of competition between people. This makes it very difficult for me to use the words "fairness" or "cooperation" in a sentence that makes sense to anyone other than myself.

For example, I am currently re-thinking how I drive in traffic. I have been driving poorly, thinking of traffic as a situation where I was trapped by the competitive behavior of other people, and I had to act the same way. But now I think I can see a way I can behave better, despite their actions. That is the usefulness of the essay to me.
OK, I think I see what you're trying to drive at. But your essay still has far too much stuff in it, and not enough facts. If you want my advice: start cutting the stuff. The first paragraph should read something like:
People value fairness and cooperation. These things are actually bad because of x, y, and z. Instead they should value [something else], which has benefits thus and so.
The rest of the essay should be arguments supporting those assertions, and maybe a very small hand-full of illustrative examples.

There's a whole big section in there about the benefits of some science fictional medical technology. I don't see how it supports your point and you should think about cutting it.

There's quite a lot of verbiage in there about evolution. I don't mean to be harsh, but I don't think you understand that topic as well as you think you do. You should think about cutting it.

There's a lot of words about the political implications of your idea. That's fine, but before we talk about that you need to convince me that I should value fairness and cooperation less than [whatever]. The political stuff can wait for another essay.

Finally: there are literally thousands of years of prior research on the topics of fairness and cooperation. You should be reading some of that and citing it.
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reval
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Re: An essay against competition

Postby reval » Sun Jan 08, 2017 3:12 pm UTC

Thank you for your advice. Yes, there should be a narrower version that focuses just on personal competitive versus non-threatening behavior.

I would be very anxious to know about any errors in the discussion of evolution and reciprocal altruism. It's true that this discussion has provoked skeptical glances from biologists, but no formal corrections so far.

I guess the stuff developed from an attempt to show that the consequences of an unthreatening non-competitive society could be acceptable. You're right that some of this goes right back. Various religions have been talking about a golden rule for thousands of years. Individual people have been able to be "good" on occasion. But they have, in my opinion, failed to get inside the motivations of people in society. No society works this way. That could be changed.

Incidentally, the derivation of "good" from materialistic rather than theistic premises may be useful.


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