Quotations about   competition

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In the Feejee islands, it appears, cannibalism is now familiar. They eat their own wives and children. We only devour widows’ houses, & great merchants outwit & absorb the substance of small ones and every man feeds on his neighbor’s labor if he can. It is a milder form of cannibalism.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (12 Feb 1841)
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Added on 27-Feb-17 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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During the greater part of the nineteenth century the significance of the opposition between the two principles of individual rights and social functions was masked by the doctrine of the inevitable harmony between private interests and public good. Competition, it was argued, was an effective substitute for honesty. Today … few now would profess adherence to the compound of economic optimism and moral bankruptcy which led a nineteenth century economist to say: “Greed is held in check by greed, and the desire for gain sets limits to itself.”

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 3 “The Acquisitive Society” (1920)
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Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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“Which of them shall be accounted greatest?” Let the churches stop trying to outstrip each other in the number of their adherents, the size of its sanctuary, the abundance of wealth. If we must compete let us compete to see which can move toward the greatest attainment of truth, the greatest service of the poor, and the greatest salvation of the soul and bodies of men. If the Church entered this kind of competition we can imagine what a better world this would be.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Cooperative Competition / Noble Competition,” sermon outline
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Added on 30-Dec-16 | Last updated 30-Dec-16
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We must take note that the games of children are not games in their eyes; and we must regard these as their most serious actions.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, Book 1, ch. 22 (1580-88)
Added on 29-Nov-16 | Last updated 29-Nov-16
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Now Jesus himself saw the power that competition holds over men. He did not ignore it. Yet he does something with the conception of competition that hadn’t been done before. He takes the conception which has been used for lower purposes and rescues it from many of its dangers, by suggesting a higher method of its use. This is how he applied the term to his disciples. He saw them in danger of using it for low purposes. They wanted to compete for reputation and position — “which of them should be accounted greatest?” Jesus says so, if you must use the power of competition, if you must compete with on another, make it as noble as you can by using it on noble things. Use it for a fine, unselfish thing. “He that is greatest among you shall serve.” Use it for human good. Who shall be the most useful. Compete with one another in humility. See which can be the truest servant. It seems that Christ says, “Use it, but use it for higher and holier purposes. Use it not to surpass one another in esteem, but use it to increase the amount of usefulness and brother-help.” Such conceptions of competition lead to the surprising and ennobling position that there can be competition without hate and jealousy. Behold! You can struggle to beat and yet rejoice to be beaten.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Cooperative Competition / Noble Competition,” sermon outline
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Added on 23-Nov-16 | Last updated 23-Nov-16
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There are no friends at cards or world politics

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) American humorist and journalist
(Attributed)
Added on 12-Feb-16 | Last updated 12-Feb-16
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Competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people.

Sarnoff - competition - wist_info quote

David Sarnoff (1881-1971) Belarusian-American businessman and broadcasting executive
(Attributed)
Added on 10-Feb-16 | Last updated 10-Feb-16
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When I was introduced to art school, everybody was 20, 22, and 25 years old. Many of them had graduated from college. So there I was, and I was about half their height. And I looked at these guys and I thought, “I can’t compete with these birds!” So at the end of the first week I went home. I was so disillusioned. I was a failure at 15. So my uncle, who lived with us occasionally, came up and he said, “You look awful. You look like something the dog had under the front porch. What’s the matter?” “I can’t compete with these guys at school. They draw like Leonardo da Vinci. I’ll never catch up with them.” I felt like it was the end of the world for me. I could draw a little bit. But I couldn’t keep up with the big guys. So I suddenly blurted out and I said, “You can’t make a racehorse out of a pig!” And my uncle looked at me very gently, and he patted me on the knee, and he said, “No. But you can make a very fast pig.” And I realized that’s what it was really all about. I could only be as good as I could be, whatever my limits were. And I learned a second thing: creative work is never competitive.

Chuck Jones (1912-2002) American animator, screenwriter, producer, and director
Interview with Tom Sito, Archive of American Television (17 Jun 1998)
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Added on 7-Oct-15 | Last updated 7-Oct-15
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Recently I asked three corporate executives what decisions they had made in the last year that they would not have made were it not for their it not for their corporate plans. All had difficulty in identifying one such decision. Since each of their plans were marked “secret” or “confidential,” I asked them how their competitors might benefit from the possession of their plans. Each answered with embarrassment that their competitors would not benefit. Yet these executives were strong advocates of corporate planning.

Russell L. Ackoff (1919-2009) American organizational theorist, consultant, management scientist
“A Concept of Corporate Planning” (1969)
Added on 19-Feb-15 | Last updated 19-Feb-15
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[Wash is at his station on the bridge, playing with plastic dinosaurs.]

WASH [as Stegosaur]: Yes … yes, this is a fertile land, and we will thrive. We will rule over all this land, and we will call it … This Land.
WASH [as Allosaur]: I think we should call it … your grave!
WASH [as Stegosaur]: Ah! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
WASH [as Allosaur]: Ha ha ha! Mine is an evil laugh! Now DIE!
WASH [as Stegosaur]: Oh no, God, oh dear God in Heaven …

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×01 “Serenity” (pilot) (20 Dec 2002)
Added on 5-Feb-15 | Last updated 5-Feb-15
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The practical work of today is to abolish the cannibals of competition, warriors of supply and demand, tyrants of monopoly, monsters of the market, devourers of men, women and children, buyers and sellers of life.

Henry Demarest Lloyd (1847-1903) American political activist and journalist
Man, the Social Creator, ch. 5 (1906)
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Added on 27-Dec-13 | Last updated 27-Dec-13
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No sooner is a temple built to God, but the Devil builds a chapel hard by.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Jacula Prudentum (1651)
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See also Martin Luther.
Added on 10-Jun-10 | Last updated 19-Apr-18
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The chief difference between free capitalism and State socialism seems to be this: that under the former a man pursues his own advantage openly, frankly, and honestly, whereas under the latter he does so hypocritically and under false pretences.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Minority Report: H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks, #397 (1956)
Added on 15-Jan-09 | Last updated 2-May-16
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When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) American jurist, Supreme Court Justice
Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630 (1919) [Dissent]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jun-16
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Look around the table. If you don’t see a sucker, get up, because you’re the sucker.

"Amarillo Slim" Preston (1928-2012) American gambler [Thomas Austin Preston, Jr.]
(Attributed)

Though he used the phrase, he did not take credit for it.  More information here.Variants:
  • "If after ten minutes at the poker table you do not know who the patsy is -- you are the patsy."
  • "If you sit in on a poker game and don't see a sucker, get up. You're the sucker."
  • "If you enter a poker game and you don't see a sucker, get up and leave -- you’re it."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Jul-16
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It may be that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong — but that’s the way to bet.

Hugh E. Keough (1864-1912) Canadian-American sports journalist
(Attributed)

Variants:
  • "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but the betting is best that way."
  • "To be sure the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but it is ninety-nine times in a hundred."
Also attributed to Damon Runyon, Franklin Pierce Adams, Grantland Rice, and Burns Mantle, all of of whom in turn credited Keough. The saying itself, a take-off on Ecclesiastes 9:11, has a number of antecedents: see here for more background.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Aug-15
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Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 28 (1897)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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It is not best that we should all think alike; it is differences of opinion that make horse races.

Twain - horse races - wist_info quote

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 19, epigraph (1894)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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