Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eamonn McCann and Kevin Ovenden to speak at Marxism 2010

Though this year's Marxism festival in London in July can't promise Terry Eagleton outlining his controversial thesis on the World Cup, it does include critical eyewitnesses to two bloody massacres resulting from modern Western state terrorism - Eamonn McCann, veteran Irish revolutionary socialist and civil rights activist, will speak on 'The Bloody Sunday Inquiry' while Gaza Flotilla-survivor Kevin Ovenden will be participating in a meeting entitled 'Palestine’s fight for freedom'.

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1 Comments:

At 8:14 pm, Blogger Doug Nesbitt said...

Loved the Eagleton essay because it really opens up the possibility of going into the game itself as opposed to the usual Marxist rant about the social function of the sport in terms of class relations.

The aspect of football that strikes me as endemic of "late" capitalism is the widespread internalization/acceptance of the corruption of the professional sport by the fanbase as well as opposing sides, referees and administrators. This is most evident in the absurd prevalence of diving. I know of no other sport which has such a widespread acceptance on all sides. The closest thing is NBA basketball which no longer calls traveling, allowing spectacular dunks and other plays.

It appears as though the players, the referees, the coaches and, most perversely, the fans are all "in" on the diving. Everyone accepts it in practice while perhaps deriding it in the abstract and the referees providing an occasional yellow card.

I can't watch football because of this just as I am having difficulty watching my favourite sport, ice hockey, which is gravitating towards this corruption, this unacknowledged yet open bending of the rules.

This pressure on the rules is no doubt present in every level of a particular sport. It is fuelled by competition on the field, but with professional sport, competition on the field becomes competition for dollars. Successful teams get television contracts. Poor teams do not. As a sport is corrupted at the professional level, it filters down to the amateur level.

When it comes to international competition, international governing bodies modify rules and even physical aspects of the game (the ball, shape of playing surfaces, types of equipment) to benefit one or more nations, or as often the case, a bloc of nations.

I think of Marxists are going to get anywhere on critiques of sport they actually have to do what Eagleton notes sports fans doing: erudition about players skills, the game itself, trades, team strategies, etc. These factors are shaped by the broader economic and social forces shaping professional sport (ie: competitive accumulation). Sport itself is being corrupted by capitalism, slowly suffocating its liberating qualities by corrupting the rules. In many respects it reflects the potential but ultimate failure of liberal capitalist democracy.

 

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