Re: seeking refs on comparative work

Robert Snower (rs222@WORLDNET.ATT.NET)
Mon, 5 Aug 1996 20:43:32 +0000

At 03:26 PM 8/2/96 +0000, John McCreery wrote:
>>We are not living in a world in which we have the option of competition or
>>no competition. We are living in a world in which we have the option of
>>competition on an individual basis, or a competition between ethnic groups.
>>Best wishes. R. Snower
>Sorry Robert, it just ain't so. Speaking as an informant who works for one
>of the world's largest advertising agencies (No. 4, billings around US$ 5
>billion/ year), I have to note that in our industry and the industries we
>service, we compete as corporations whose management is frequently
>multiethnic on both a group and personal level. The most frequently heard
>label in the way high-level corporate culture describes competition is the
>"team," and successful players are rarely isolated individualists or
>hung-up on ethnic identity.
>This statement is not intended to deny that there is both individual and
>ethnic competition in the world in which we live. But these alternatives
>are far from being the only games in town.
>Among the enduring accomplishments of anthropology is the demonstration
>that there is a quite extraordinary range of ways to organize human
>societies, but neither the pure market of isolated individuals nor the pure
>collective of people who move in lock-step to the same programming is among
>them. To assert that our choice is one or the other is ideological fantasy;
>Darwin, that fine observer of details, would not approve.
>John McCreery
>3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
>Yokohama 220, JAPAN

You raise a point which needs addressing.

The battle has to be fought on all levels. The member of the sports team
renounces competition between members of the team, obviously, opting for
competition between teams. But this does not provide an alternative to his
making that same choice (of competition on the individual level or the group
level) on yet a different plane. For him, the battle on the ethnic level
still remains. He must choose: compete with the members of his ethnic
group, or subordinate his self-interest to the interest of the group, and
thereby throw the competition to that level.

You are right the ethnic game is not the only game in town. You are wrong
in saying the other games are alternatives. The battle has to be fought at
each plane. And at some planes, e.g., the corporation level, there is no
reason to fight at all: the group competition is socially meritorious.

It is not impossible to strike a compomise. E.g. the man who capitulates to
his congregation on Sunday, and competes with the members like heck every
other day of the week. Or the man who competes with these individuals in
the economic sphere, and, in the political sphere, subordinates all to the
collective interest. These dilutions of the total subordination of
individual interest to the ethnic group are all to the good, but I do not
think they change the general truth of my statement, that the choice must be
made, at every different point in the decision making process.

However, I do want to emphasize that I am not condemning ALL decisions in
favor of ethnic collective interest, against one's individual interest. FOR
MANY SUCH DECISIONS ARE MADE DEFENSIVELY: to protect against hostile intent
from others, on the level of ethnic collectivism. Group attacks can only be
staved off by groups. The individual is at a loss. That's what makes
groupism so dangerous. And so powerful.

Best wishes. R. Snower