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Competition

From a talk by Tim Jackins at the Central European Workshop, in the Basque Country, March 2014

In capitalist society, competition is always connected to oppression. We are told that we have to fight for ourselves against other people, that there is not enough resource for everyone. We are all trained to fight for ourselves, and a lot of our games become part of that training.

The point of play is not to win. The point of play is to play, and the most interesting way to play is to encourage everyone to play harder. One of our most interesting challenges is to challenge each other. But the confusion and distress make it into trying to beat1 each other. It’s interesting to look at games and figure out how we can play our hardest and encourage the other people to play their hardest. It’s a little like competition, but it’s different. It’s about a larger goal.

In family work2 we “fight” with children, and lose. This can be hard for adults at first, because it seems like now that they are big, they can finally win—and then they don’t get to win. The distress shows itself right there. Who was not a smaller child? Who did not get beaten in games, or beaten up?3

Capitalism forces us to compete against each other. That’s what drives the whole system. As a result, working-class people are exploited, and owning-class people try to drive each other out of business. Capitalists “love” to destroy each other. There is no thought about people at all. That’s what we call competition. It infects everything we try to do, because we live in it.

So we get to rethink things. How can we challenge each other—not try to beat each other, not even try to do better than each other, but try to encourage each other and find out how well we can do? There are ways to do this, but because we live with and are used to living with capitalist ideas, it’s not simple.


1 “Beat” means prevail over.
2 Family work is the application of Re-evaluation Counseling to the particular situations of young people, and families with young children. It entails young people and adults (both parents and allies) interacting in ways that allow the young people to show and be themselves and not be dominated by the adults.
3 “Beaten up” means violently overcome.


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00