It saddens me greatly to admit that as I read your post I found myself agreeing with you 100%. I feel you couldn't have put what you said in better terms.
I do have a few things I would like to comment on.
You wrote -
"These competing interests are an extension of mechanical processes"
If you mean that competition is an extension of natural instinct, I would agree. Although I am still not sure I like the term "competition".
I think competition has a negative connotation with it that promotes the idea that it is a self-serving act. The act of one species has an effect on another group of species, that is the dynamics of a flourishing ecosystem. If species didn't behave in a way that promoted the survival of their DNA, then their extinction would promote the death of another species. This action in turn would cause the eventual rise and decline of other species - thus evolution takes place.
Competition is defined as the interaction between two species over a limiting resource that negatively affects one or both of their population rates. When you say that a cat catching a rabbit is a war, or a competition, then it implies that the populations are affected. Quite the contrary. The cat has gained food that will enable it to survive to reproductive age and pass on its good hunting abilities. The rabbit that was too slow to avoid the predator has now lost its ability to reproduce thus ridding the gene pool of its slow running genes. This is not competition or war, in my estimation; it is simply the foundation of natural selection.
You could even make a case that it is a mutalistic relationship where actually both species benefit from the interaction. Now, the individual suffers so I think that term doesn't apply, but the species, as a whole benefits, in the long run.
You wrote -
" Misapplication of Darwin's thought was promoted in the 1800s both by
1) religion, saying God apparently likes the rich and powerful better and
2) industry, saying the same and adding that it is very efficient, and inevitable"
I must ask if you view this statement as fact or opinion. If so then it appears that you do believe in power structures that abuse their power. I think that in our corporate world today the idea of competition and survival still rule the motto's and creed's our business world. I am saying that this entrenched philosophy is still keeping groups "down" because the rich and powerful of our country believe they should stay at the top by any means necessary. This is hogwash in our "modern" society. As I have already mentioned, competion exists when resources are scarce and limited. Are resources scare and limited in the USA today? I hope we can agree that they are not. They are scarce amongst poor and uneducated peoples which is why... surprise, surprise... most crime is committed by poor and uneducated. They are "competing" in the world they exist in. Is that nature? Maybe so.
You wrote -
"I don't like judging "nature" as if it were
a case of bad ethics."
I agree 100% Mike!!
I am always waiting for PETA to come out and protest the cruel acts cheetah's do unto gazelle's. It is downright ridiculous that that sort of behavior goes on in the world. Eating for nourishment and energy. How dare they?
I know that is a poor analogy, but... one that I like to use.