Our capitalist society is understandably based on the adulation of ‘winners’; those rare individuals who have cracked open the head of success and feasted on the goo inside. But alas, to ‘win’ - in and of itself - means nothing, without those who make it all possible: the losers. For what is success if everyone is successful? As the saying goes, ‘It’s not enough that I succeed, my friends must fail’.
To lose is often a lonely and silent affair - which makes it all the more painful - as one often takes to believing that their grief is unique, and that they have been singled out for misery by the gods. It often comes with connotations of shame and disgrace, and people think that their defeat must be hidden from public view as much as possible.
In truth, we are all losers, in one way or another. To lose must be one of the most common occurrences in the modern world, with the vast numbers of people vying for limited resources and positions of success. Indeed, each and every day we are swimming in an ocean of defeat, yet most of the time we are blind to it, whether due to our proclivity to hide our failures or our tendency to fall victim to sample bias, whereby we overestimate the likelihood of winning because we base our expectations on a small sample (of winners).
To paraphrase Stalin, ‘A Single Loser is a Tragedy; a Million Losers is a Statistic’. Indeed, a million losers is a requirement, for if the majority of people were ‘winners’, to ‘win’ would become passé, and the definition of ‘winning’ would simply extend further to those at the extremity of success . To make it to a first world country like Australia may be considered ‘winning’ while in a developing country, but for the new arrival, the success is likely to be short-lived as they grow accustomed to a new, higher base level of success.
Even though they are a necessity for winners, the sheer ubiquity of losers means they are never quite given their credit in the success of others. While we could publish all of the losers of the lotto every week in thanks for providing the winnings for the lucky few, it is much simpler to just congratulate the winners, and provides a much needed point of focus.
Thus, akin to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, The Spear proposes a monument to the Universal Loser, to act as a point of focus for all of those who have risked something - whether it be their body or their time or their reputation or their capital - and have come up second best or worse, so that somebody else may succeed.