The Nameless Ideology Causing Humanity to Self Destruct
Oedipus killed his father, taking his father’s wife and wealth. This ancient tale lends insight into how perceived competition and the fear of usurpation causes some parents and teachers to unwittingly suppress children.
Evolutionary theory does not suggest a belief in “survival of the fittest”.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, but rather, that which is most adaptable.”~Charles Darwin
This distinction is important to note because, the most pervasive ideology in the world is based upon this zero sum distortion — “survival of the fittest” — put forth by the economist Herbert Spencer:
The result is a glorification of competition over cooperation.
Herbert Spencers’ contortion creates a moral philosophy which exemplifies suffering and oppression.
It was this distortion which incorrectly endorses hierarchy — human inequality — as a “natural law”.
This misappropriation led to the codification of Social Darwinism, the belief that some people are better than others (see: Moral justification of hierarchy, inequality, exploitation, and general treachery).
This belief then shaped the philosophy and economic policy known as “Neoliberalism”.
“Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations.”
Furthermore, neoliberalism purports that:
Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. [And that libery requires]the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers.
Even in reading this, you may be thinking to yourself: “Yes, this is truth”…
But, you would be incorrect.
The book NonZero demonstrates irrefutably how humanity thrives upon cooperation, not competition.
This is significant, because, in world where the “survival of the fittest” misunderstanding is so internalized, the moral justification of oppression is not only embraced by those in power, but also sanctified as immutable by the oppressed.
“IF I WERE BETTER, I’D BE IN POWER. BUT, SINCE I AM NOT IN POWER, I AM LESSER. I CAN ONLY HOPE ESTABLISH DOMINANCE IN MY TIER.”
And thus, the oppressed are trained to exploit and degrade one another. This is competition, at its most pernicious, unhealthy level.
As George Monbiot states:
What does this have to do with Oedipus, Parents, and Teachers?
When competition and inequality are believed to be more than virtues. When competition and inequality are purported as
An inescapable system of abuse and exploitation is created.
These internalized “Laws” go so far that they corrode even the behavior of parents and teachers.
Even parents and teachers, people who supposedly exist to uplift and improve their charges, often sabotage their own attempts to teach and nourish because of their belief in hierarchy.
Conscious or unconscious, many parents and teachers internalize the belief that they must be superior to their charges.
“Human mediocrity is a cultivated manifestation of munderstood and inaccurate calculations. It is commonly believed that humans, like most things, are plotted along a spectrum:”
“This assumption has shaped teaching, parenting, and economic worldview for the better part of the last century. Because of this, parents, teachers, and business people have hoped for the spectacular, but expected the mediocre. Programmed to believe these outcomes as natural law or mathematically certain probabilities… most teachers taught accordingly. Whether explicitly or implicitly, teachers focus on one part of the spectrum while abandoning the others, all the while, doing little to change the ultimate outcome.”
The error here is that humans are not seeds or animals bound to certain predictable proportions of performance.
Every human being, with the necessary freedom and support, can evolve within their formative years to become spectacular and genius in the way which is best suited to their unique abilities.
The only limiting factor is the presupposition of competition:
“To have ‘Winners’ you must have ‘Losers’…”
The reality of humanity is that unless used constructively, competition is foolish.
To ‘win’ is the individual accomplishment of self-actualization.
Everyone can do this.
Most importantly: A fundamental component of self-actualization is the improvement and actualization of others (it is difficult to actualize when surrounded by disadvantaged and marginalized people). Imagine that!
Survival and evolution is not determined by domination or elimination, it is determined by cooperation, adaptability, and mutual benefit.
Still. What does this have to do with Oedipus?
In a world where competition, hierarchy, mediocrity are the supposed “Natural Laws”… Parents and teachers do not only believe that overperformance and actualization are unlikely… They actively fear and they hope against their children.
To be ‘surpassed’ is tantamount to death.
This is the pervasive and deleterious effect of a culture founded upon competition.
A world of egos so vulnerable and insecure, that they will sabotage the lives of those they care about most, just to maintain order and the illusion of self-esteem.
[You may believe this does not apply to you. You celebrate the accomplishments of those you love… You may be right. But, as yourself, do you celebrate the accomplishment and innovation of others, regardless of your love for them?…]
Furthermore, know that if you do have the self-confidence, humility, and love necessary to appreciate the accomplishment of others without insecurity, this is not, by any means, the general human perspective, just take the Stanford prison experiment, or studies like it, and you will see that most people of our culture have been condition to judgment, oppression, and hierarchy like moths to flame.
What’s The Alternative?
In his book Linchpin, Seth Godin insists that everyone is a genius. Definitively, a person becomes a Linchpin, according to Godin, by assessing problems, spotting opportunities, and creating products and experiences which evoke positive change in the world.
Parents, teachers, business people can begin deconstructing the subtle degrading effects of standardized expectations and Zero-sum Neoliberalism by recognizing that competition is not the rule in their lives or the lives of the people they guide.
The rule is cooperation and niching.
- Help existing forces cooperate.
- Find opportunity doing what others don’t want to do.
- Do something valuable that few other people can do.
- Help others help you.
That is all for now.
Notes for later:
- Trump vs Deadpool. The lose-lose resistance against neoliberalism.
- Mediocrity like an accent. Motivation to the middle, like language, is a bid for posterity, acceptance, and understanding.
- Cradle to cradle. Permaculture.
- Write a more simple version… Are Teachers and Parents the most limiting factors in Human Development?