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Competition, Play, and Capitalism

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

Competition is fun, if you are good. (laughter) Actually, in our society, competition is always connected to oppression, and this is too bad.

In oppressive societies we are told that we have to fight for ourselves against other people, that there is not enough resource for everyone, and a lot of our games become part of that training.

In family work* we “fight” with children and let them win. This can be hard for adults; now they are big and can finally win, and they don’t get to. The distress shows itself right there. Who was not a smaller child? Who did not get beaten in games, or beaten up?

The point of play is not to win. The point of play is to play. The most interesting way to play is to encourage everyone to play more fully. Some of what’s most interesting comes from challenging each other, but the confusion and distress make us try to beat each other. It’s interesting to look at games and figure out how we can play our hardest, and encourage everyone to play his or her hardest. It’s a little like competition, but it’s not quite the same. We are trying to think of a larger goal.

We are forced by capitalism to compete against each other. That’s what drives the whole system. A large part of it is the exploitation of working-class people. But also owning-class people try to drive each other out of business; capitalists love to destroy each other. There is no caring about people at all. We call this competition, and it can infect everything we do

So we get to rethink things. How can we work together, challenging each other—not trying to do better than each other but encouraging each other to do the best we can? There are always ways to do this. However, because we are used to living with capitalist ideas, it is not simple.

(Present Time 183, April 2016)

* “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.

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00