RE: [OPE] Working Overtime Is Linked to Depression, Anxiety

Date: Mon Jun 23 2008 - 09:59:33 EDT

Hi Jurriaan:
Aren't all of the 'contradictions' you raise below a _necessary_ consequence of 
the the value-form (and, hence, generalized market activity) and capitalist 
relations of production?  If so, then the focus should be clearly on the structural 
ways in  which capitalism affects individual subjects and limits the extent to which their 
subjectivities can be manifest. What you point to below should be seen as a partial 
explanation for why personal choice and initiative do _not_ primarily decide these social 
issues under capitalism.
In solidarity, Jerry
On a previous occasion I already indicated my view of one of the root problems in modern society: the fact, that a culture has come into being where people are asked to take responsibility for things that they practically cannot take responsibility for, while being practically unable to take responsibility for things that they should take responsibility for - the result being a sense of powerlessness to affect things. It is one thing if adolescent kids feel that way, but another if a whole society begins to live that way. It is a sort of social malaise which leads to the fudging of responsibilities, and endless political controversy in which blame is shifted from A to B - all of which becomes especially confusing if consensual social values are lacking, and mutual understandings have to be constantly negotiated within a framework of competition for power. Yet it does not absolve anyone from the need to take responsibility for the things that they can, and fairly assess what can be credited to oneself and to others. I am working on and off on an interdisciplinary article on this subject. You might like to consider meantime this significant extract from John McMurtry's ideological survey, "How Competition Goes Wrong". (Journal of Applied Philosophy, 8(2): 200-210, 1991):
"The generating inner core of disagreements about competition is identified by the following set of exactly opposed claims.
- Contradiction 1. On the one hand, it is held that competition promotesexcellence, stimulating participants into better and better performances by theirtrying to surpass each other. On the other hand, it is held that competitionencourages apathy and mediocrity by the fear of failure it generates, whichkeeps people from participating, or doing as well as they can.
- Contradiction 2. On the one hand, it is claimed that competition promotessocialisation and moral development by the lessons of fairness and co-operationit teaches in situations of conflict and stress. On the other hand, it is claimedthat competition promotes systematic selfishness and moral insensitivity by itsoverriding requirement to seek to win at others’ cost.
- Contradiction 3. On the one hand, competition, is commended as a structure ofequal opportunity for all where no-one is allowed a special advantage. On theother hand, competition is condemned as a structure of eliminative selectionthat ultimately leads to monopoly by a dominant elite.
- Contradiction 4. On the one hand, it is believed that competition encouragesdiversity by its play of opposing forces in creative contention. On the otherhand it is held that competition by its nature imposes uniformity by thesameness of conditions, standards, means and goals it requires.
- Contradiction 5. On the one hand, it is supposed that competition provides theacid test of achievement in the crucible of trial against others. On the otherhand, it is claimed that competition produces distorted and misleading results bythe rule-bending, cheating, intimidation and so on it enjoins by its imperativeof victory before all else.
These contradictory understandings of competition pose deep conflicts of meaningand value which run to the heart of the human condition. We cannot resolve themeasily, but we can understand them better if we do not take one side or the other, as isinvariably done , but instead recognise that competition can admit of opposed generaltypes."

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