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Competition is not healthy. I enjoyed the summer’s sport as much as the next lazy asthmatic. I felt proud of my city, the drama was exhilarating and many athletes had an endearing humility or cheekily-harmless hubris. And it must have been irksome to racists. Mo ran so well that hardly a soul in the land questioned his nationality. It’s only right he should run for the country in which he lives: America. I jest.
But watching the long-distance running, I started to wish each athlete had run separately, unaware of how others had run. All the ‘intelligent’ and ‘talented’ stuff seemed to involve messing up the opponents, deliberately tiring them, making them run at a pace they didn’t like, getting in front to slow the race down, holding back to let others burn themselves out. It’s quite cynical, and realising that is like the moment you realise boxing is genuinely fighting.
I’m being too serious; sport isn’t important. That’s the joy of it. People can be competitive because nothing much is at stake. And competitiveness is not the whole story. Courage, dedication and the pursuit of excellence are involved and all have value in other areas of life. But competition doesn’t, so why inculcate kids with it?
Did sibling rivalry make you happy? Would you like to be treated by a more competitive doctor? Would the roads be safer with more jostling for position? Do you want hypermarkets to win the battle with local shops? Do you want your kids fattened on competitively-farmed fried chicken? Do you want the sky full of cheap flights and greenhouse gases? Do you want elections determined by a tiny margin of difference among the runners and the amount of money spent on them? Does it matter that this isn’t the best column you’ve ever read?
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns