April 8, 2012

The meta-competition for a participatory society

The models for a participatory society are grounded in an ethos of solidarity rather than rivarly. We believe it is better for ourselves and our planet to explicitly help one another rather than harm one another. And we believe we have some concrete models of our values in order to put our values into some kind of tangible, everyday practice.

The models in our present society -- those of racism; patriarchy, sexism, and heterosexism; the state; and the retentionist economies of capitalism, markets, and command planning -- are all grounded in an ethos of rivalry. Every person for oneself (every man for himself?), to hell with the rest. Upon examination or actual practice, these models of rivalry often result in destructive ends, which are claimed to be necessary or the best options currently available.

Here's a question: If they are the best options currently available, why not seek out better options? And if better options are found why not try them out to see if they're worthy of our time and attention?

The answer is ironic in multiple ways, and what follows could be a bit confusing so stay with me here. Advocates for a participatory society, which use models based on solidarity, are effectively calling for a competition between their models of solidarity and the current models built on rivalry. But it appears advocates of the systems of rivalry don't want a competition between their models based on rivalry and the models based on solidarity because, one would surmise, their models would lose in any fair assessment.

Put more succinctly: The solidarity folks want a rivalry with the rivalry folks because they (the solidarity folks) think they can win, but the rivalry folks don't want a rivalry with the solidarity folks because they (the rivalry folks) think they would lose.

More succinctly still: The "non-competition people" want a competition, but the "competition people" don't.

When the "competition people" complain about those who don't want to play their game of competition (at least when it comes to economics), they would howl loud complaints of "protectionism". But when it pitting their supposedly vaunted models and values against other more positive models, the "competition people" shy behind the very same protectionist cloak.

So, those of us who strive for a more participatory society, and believe we have the models to put theory into practice, we want to compete, curiously enough, because we think we can win. And not only would we win, so would the planet and its peoples and future untold generations.