Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Competitive Ideal

I used to think that "ambitious" and "competitive" were synonyms. Somehow, during my days on the conservative-right bandwagon, I came to think that ambition was the ideal to follow, and the pinnacle of ambition is self-interest.

That is false.

I was never comfortable with the idea that an unwilling society is dragged forward into the future by "captains of industry," "masters of finance," and "the smartest guys in the room." My experience with these sorts of people has been that society usually progresses in spite of, rather than because of, them. Because they have such competitive personalities, they put an enormous amount of energy into achieving their own success, and history tells us only about the most famous competitors. This is bad statistics; we are not told about the vast majority of competitors who failed, and we do not count the cost of innocent, unnamed civilians who get caught up in their self-absorbed madness.

Instead, Edgy now reveals that ambition need not be competitive! Edgy has discovered what many have known for a long time: it is very possible to be ambitious and also to have a cooperative nature. We are seeing even now an explosion of new outlets driven by such people. The popularity of the internet as a distributed information source, and its success at revealing diverse viewpoints and overthrowing entrenched media is one success of a network of ambitious-cooperative people, many of whom receive little monetary reward for their efforts. (When Edgy grows up, he wants to be cool like that.)

More about this to come.