I wrote here about the (IMO opinion unrecognized, or under-recognized) conflict between top-down control and peer- or equality-based support.
The line between support and control is not intent. It is method. Process.
And the thing that is stopping us from being able to implement the changes we seek in ways that don’t end up feeling abusive to the recipients is partly (as the media is currently coming to recognize) about trust – but also about competition.
We (as a culture) have a pretty dysfunctional relationship with competition. We compete in ways that destroy alliances and unions, while interfering with the sorts of competition that is healthy and normal – and inevitable.
Instead of recognizing what competition is for and when it is appropriate, we try to set rules that justify the rules based on our feelings – our fears and hopes and aspirations, and just plain based on who we do or don’t like.
I have been running into this a lot lately just from seeing people arguing that, in essence, whether governmental checks and balances should be rigorously applied, guarded, maintained, and/or defended is a function of whether your party is the one likely to be constrained.
But we’ve seen it also in arguments about whether a given company or even industry needs to be legally restrained. Those who get most passionate about the evils of corporations are likely to exempt the popular companies that make their favorite toys and gadgets. Sometimes they’ll even do this as they mumble about socialism vs. capitalism – without being able to formulate any rules or statements about when, why, or whether competition is a good thing or a bad thing.
But it also does harm in the domestic sphere – when people insist that the “marketplace of ideas” needs to be replaced with a top-down approach based on sweeping ideals and the assumption that “I, me, mine” will be the one whose ideals and whose values and whose agenda is worthy of being made the center of our cultural life.
There is no recognition that the reason competition is healthy is because, when the rules are properly and appropriately constructed, competition is the fairest way of determining which of several options is best suited to the situation at hand.
And how do you figure out how to make rules that are properly and appropriately constructed? Well, isn’t this the very essence of the “marketplace of ideas” concept?
Why should some idea you just had last week be better than one that has successfully competed and thus evolved through years, decades, centuries, or even longer?