Remember the New American Century. The neocons loved planning for it, strategizing it, and talking it up. And they fully believed their own press clippings! Well, here we are now… in the fucking midst of it! And what do we find? War campaigns against imaginary enemies, or enemies constructed out of whole cloth and spit (more propaganda to prop up the machine), global chaos financially, socially and politically, brought on by our very own guardians of virtue and their directors of operations and communications. So here we stand alienated and alone on a planet that no longer needs us, because it never really did need us. Again, we deluded ourselves with visions of righteousness and perfectibility. We have entered into our one hundred years of solitude my friends. All of our neighbors, friends (if we ever had any) and enemies alike are exhausted, tired from and of our arrogance. But they, as well, are in many cases too enthralled with the spectacle to see that the politics of arrogance is directly linked to the competitive ontology grounding capitalist economics. And so, they want the one without recognizing the signs of the disease of the other.
The “can do” spirit! The spirit of “competition”! These were the mantras of a state-based religion that captured the American soul, the hollow-soul of the West. These were the tools that would lead us to the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And when the populace became unmanageable, there was always room to “go West” young man. And so we took that which was our “manifest destiny.” We took it from those lazy good-for-nothing redskins and turned the desert into an oasis of casinos and casino capitalism. These were the props for our propaganda machine, the pitch man, all the way from Madison Avenue to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Some say, there is nothing wrong with competition, and of course, I could not attempt to mount a full-scale critique of the concept. And there have been elements of religious doctrine over the millennia which have suggested moderation on most if not all fronts. But, religion as well (as we know it in the modern world) is itself complicit in this charade. Competition among the ‘faiths’ is rampant, even among those denominations of the same faith. And, of course, the most competitive and well-heeled among us, make their appearance before the alter of their gods, as much as they do before the alter of the mighty dollar or the diverse alters adorning Wall Street.
The global chaos into which we have stumbled (or rather, catapulted ourselves) by means of our own blind excess and greed, this is the direct result of competition for depleted resources. For, to those at the top of the pyramid, while they understand that the game can not go on forever, they firmly believe that ‘he who dies with the most toys wins!’ And so, the race must go on, and on, and on… until all is used up in the interests of progress and self-glorification.
But, as I said, the ontology of competition may be presupposed as a given of the human condition, despite the preponderance of research suggesting that cooperation — indeed, sharing — and not competition, was the foundation stone of human community for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of years before the ‘competitive spirit’ took center stage in the civilized drama of history. And so we continue to exercise that competitive spirit, despite the fact that 1) it has no soul, and 2) it requires adherence to a worldview that empties out all the parts of the whole, while creating the progressive hierarchy of value.
I mean, why do you suppose we instigated revolutions, insurrections and coups across the Middle East and Northern Africa, in (formerly Russian) Georgia and Ukraine? Because we want to spread freedom? Yeah! Right! That may be the prop holding up the propaganda machine; but in reality we want access to more resources, greater marketshare, and cheap labor. Remember, they know we are on a finite planet, and the name of the game is winning at all costs. It does not matter to the competitor if the end comes sooner or later; it’s all the same to him or her, as long as We Win! So let the competition begin.
The ontology of competition, and therefore the existential pleasure of winning, has become embedded on the souls of the weak and the alienated, the twice smart animals who forgot their place in nature and how to survive through cooperation. This condition of lethe (Λήθη), that forgetfulness or concealment of the sharing that underlie our Pleistocene beginnings – has infected the symbolism of our discourses, hiding from human memory the un-concealment (ἀλήθεια) or disclosedness of who we are fundamentally. It is this unrestrained ascendency of the ontology of competition that not only drives “progress” but also drives us to the point of no return on a planet designed for cooperation, giving as much as receiving.
This profound forgetfulness is what characterizes our alienation from the other, from nature, and from ourselves. It defines the hundred years of solitude we now experience in this, the heart of darkness, the new American Century. But a century, it will not last. You can make book on it. Winner take all.