This paper traces the process whereby competition has come to be valued in our economies. Taking a step back in history, we show how it all started not with competition but with cooperation in fact, in the last decades of the 19th century. Comparing Germany with the USA, we then show how national paths diverged after that. While cooperation remained the accepted and dominant rule in Europe, a particular understanding of competition, what we call oligopolistic competition, came to triumph in the United States. After World War II, this particular understanding was diffused to other parts of the world and particularly to Western Europe. When it comes to competition, we thus show that the basic and formal rules of the game that structure Europe today owe a lot, historically, to American models. However, we ponder in the conclusion on the limits to that process of "soft convergence".