Personnally I think that the biggest "problem" with the absence of competition in aikido is not so much the "illusions" or lack of authenticity this can allow. It is more that it allows people to be lazy in their training.
Agreed. From my paradigm competition holds us accountable and does not allow folks to be lazy and therefore you acheive a certain degree of authenticity. of course, you also have to be cognizant that there are those that will focus solely on competition and neglect other areas as well. however, I think that is more about the dynamic and leadership of the dojo and less than the precieved evils of a competitive model.
It can go both ways if you ask me.
BTW, the competitve arts and sports have to work on their PR if they want to convince me. I see the macho nonsense that accompanies all broadcasted sportfighting and the tears and crushing dissapointment of those that are merely second best in the world at their activity and I see things I want to stay clear of alltogether. (Note that I have experienced, observed and heard of a lot of bad behavior in the world of non competitive aikido, so you don't really need to remind me of it).
I think there is a broad spectrum when we look at the definition of competitive. On one end you have MMA schools and folks that are solely about being the best they can be in the MMA ring and strive to work with this end in mind. A competitive venture for sure. Also one I don't subscribe or personally identify with as, I agree, it does not fit my goals for long term, personal development...much like you.
On the other side you have arts like BJJ and Judo. they have a mix of folks and focus, but for the most part they take a more long term, holisitic approach to training and focus. We base our training on competitive models, AND the dojo dynamic and leadership will vary...as it does in ANY dojo competitive or not.
However, for the most part, you will find these dojos tend to force a fair amount of authenticity, mutual respect, support, and honesty through hard and accountable training models that are less nebulous than others. Competitive? yes and no.
Finally, I think Jon Reading sums it up fairly well above.