When people compete, they must not harm. Competing by doing their best, their way, and seeing who is best at what, is fair competition. Competing by harming, denigrating or excluding others (or their contributions) is unfair.
Fair competition tells people who is better at different things and what methods produce the best results. Fair competition provides a driver for improvement. It helps people find niches where they are best and steers them from areas where they are worst. Fair competition is an important, democratic method of sorting and filtering effort and stimulating improvement without central planning or control.
Competition is not a zero sum game. There are not absolute winners or losers. It is not a game with a fixed beginning and end. It is unending, with limitless options. Only in unfair competition, when the overriding principle is the pursuit of power or money with harm, do people try to win absolutely by putting others out of business.
There is a place for all people in the market if they have equal opportunity to realise their potential, for there are as many niches as there are differences, and the larger the market the greater the number. The internet has further expanded markets, increasing their diversity by connecting producers and consumers internationally.
Markets are not always fair. They distribute wealth less evenly than optimal when people compete for power or money by harming others efforts. A situation that diminishes productivity.
Unfair competition, in markets closed or controlled by the state or large corporates, bends people toward pursuing financial accumulation at the expense of realising their true potential. Unfair competition informs on who has greatest control of the market. It does not inform on what products are best or what methods are most productive.
The internet undermines unfair practices as it opens up channels between producers and consumers, increases information on products so they can be properly differentiated, and enables distribution outside the outlets of dominant players.
A re-balancing of global wealth is taking place through free and fair trade. It is far from over. China’s products are still cheaper, at least in part, because its people are still poorer. Until this changes the balance of trade will favour it.
[Excerpt from The Common Purpose Manifesto]