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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Competition & consumerism: The Darwinian narrative of strife

Competition and consumerism are the mantras of Capitalism. Both are critiqued effectively in comment pieces in today's Guardian:

Chibundu Onuzo - '[Namwali] Serpell’s decision points to an arena where it is even more futile to compete: life. Increasingly our existence on this planet is framed as a struggle – for jobs, resources: for oil, water, land.

This Darwinian narrative of strife continues at an individual level. I am not yet halfway through my twenties, and already I am fatigued by the way the world is determined to frame my life. Someone always has more money, a better job, more vibrant social life, more attractive postcode. I am forever to be in competition with this ever elusive someone who is always a stride ahead, their shadow darkening my progress.

At a concert I attended recently, the MC asked who was dissatisfied with their life. More than half of the audience put up their hands. We live in perpetual fear that we have missed out, that just across the road from us, someone is getting more out of life. I watch my friends and family go through the rigmarole of finding school places, assiduously comparing which Ofsted report is more outstanding than the other. No matter how good the school, someone’s child is always in one that is better. Extracurricular clubs and classes thrive, not because of any love for dance or drama, but because one’s children must not fall behind, one’s toddler must begin to make their way through the jungle gym of life. Slowly but steadily, we are banishing contentment from the world.

As individuals respond to this meta-story of competition, we become discontent in a world where there is enough space for everyone to go at their own pace. Serpell said in her acceptance speech: “We don’t want to compete. We all want to be honoured.” There can be no winners as long as life continues to be depicted as a competition. We will all lose.'

Giles Fraser - 'How quaint, sniggers the Tory business minster, Anna Soubry, on the Today programme. Before we were liberated to spend our Sundays down at the shopping mall, “Sunday was the most miserable day of the week,” she says. And there you have the Tory business philosophy in one. In fact, it’s not a philosophy, it’s a dogmatic theology. For nothing, absolutely nothing, must get in the way of shopping and our ever increasing productivity. Instead of all those tedious family gatherings, we should be out there buying more things we don’t need with money we don’t have. A day of rest? God, no! We must be turning those wheels of finance, building those pyramids, getting into more debt.

A strict monotheist, Soubry wants us to worship the god of finance on a Sunday. All other gods must be smashed, smeared, ridiculed. Only the god of money deserves our true and unquestioning obedience. Well, I do wish she’d stop ramming her religion down our throats. I don’t want to be more productive.'


The Clash - Lost In The Supermarket.

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