Corporate Sports Nexus 300x224 Olympics Games & Manifestation of Sports under CapitalismA little more than a month ago, less than a billion people and yet a sixth of world’s population, had viewed ‘London 2012 Olympics’ and by now are through with the ‘Olympic hangover’. The post Olympic exodus of thousands of tourists, people switching back to their usual ‘TV favourites’, the news media again getting bombarded with fresh reports of billions of pounds overspent in the 2012 Olympics, the Dow chemicals company getting ready for the next big game in 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); and the victims and the survivors of the ‘Bhopal Gas disaster’, who had organised numerous protests, are still awaiting for their compensation. Olympic Games, the greatest sporting spectacle is also the finest show-piece of the establishment in diverting the attention of the ordinary people from the real issues of the day.

The London 2012 Olympics, a Corporate sponsored spectacle at the expenses of the ordinary people in Britain, was once again widely received by the sport lovers throughout the world. Paralympics was similarly received and well appreciated; the spectators were hardly bothered about the race or the nationalities of David Weir, Mo Farah, Usain Bolt etc. According to all the mainstream press, through this London 2012 Olympics the world celebrated the spirit of humanity. It is again important to clear the smoke screen and to look into the facts that matters most to the millions of the oppressed and the deprived people around the world.

It was not so long ago when massive demonstrations from various campaigning groups were raged over the presence of the Dow Chemicals as one of the official sponsors of the London Olympics. The outcry of the protesters was heard not only in Bhopal in India, but also from Vietnam, England, etc. The victims of Bhopal even organized a ‘Bhopal’s Special Olympics’ as a sporting demonstration to protest against Dow’s Olympic sponsorship. Transcending these widespread protest demonstrations vis a vis manoeuvring political class and the unfazed giant business corporations, there are other forms of massive exploitation and consequently refined elements of oppression that are also part and parcel of the games. The unfolding details of Olympic Games and also sports in general including its wide-ranging expressions are important to be discussed about, to understand the degeneration of sports under capitalism.

Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony 300x203 Olympics Games & Manifestation of Sports under CapitalismThe Opening Ceremony

In Olympics the records are often broken and standards are raised not only by the athletes or the sporting team, but also by the profiteers in accumulating wealth in showcasing the global talent, technology and creativity peppered up together with purposefully added subtle jingoistic elements. 2012 London Olympics was no different. British traditions of imperialism – the Union Jack and the Royal family were strategically cropped up into the ordinary lives of Londoners and sports enthusiasts all over the world. The Londoners also witnessed one of the largest security mobilisations in their living memory with around 13,500 soldiers being deployed in the streets, along with ten thousand police and private security personnel.

The grand opening ceremony could not help itself from downplaying the intensity of hardships encountered by the workers during the industrial revolution times from which the modern history of Great Britain unfolds. Even before the spectators could take in to the oppression and exploitation of the working class during the period, we were diverted to World Wars, patriotism and the armed services. The ceremony also witnessed the simulation of the Suffragettes protesting for women’s right to vote; the Jarrow hunger march of 1936 where the protesters were marching against unemployment and extreme poverty; and the much celebrated evolution of National Health Services (NHS). However the ceremony ended up in a more populist note and just superficially embraced those collective peoples’ movement rooted deeply in the working class traditions of Britain as mere colourful pages of fairy tales. The closing ceremony was carefully intended not to provoke any thoughts whatsoever among the people except to feed them with flashy junk.

In the 2012 Summer Olympics, around 10,500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) competed in various events featuring 26 sports and a total of 39 disciplines.

Olympics Ancient Greece 286x300 Olympics Games & Manifestation of Sports under CapitalismOlympics in History

It all began as a series of athletic competitions, predominantly restricted to free men who could speak Greek, in every four years span termed Olympiad. The consensus is that the first ever Olympic Games took place in the summer of 776 B.C and the popular myths suggest they were more ritualistic than gladiatorial. The accepted gods of those days Zeus and Olympians of Mount Olympus in Greece were honoured. The Zeus, the mighty god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology, could not help the ancient rituals of Olympic Games from being banned as a persecution of Paganism by the Theodosian decrees in 389–391 A.D. The decrees by Roman Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the official state religion and imposed it on the Roman Empire.

A range of attempts to resurrect the concept of Olympic Games or to commemorate its namesake were made. The Cotswold Olimpicks, an annual event of games and sports by Robert Dover (early 17th century) which like its predecessor ancient Olympics during the Roman period faced disapproval from Puritan Christian sect; the First French Republic held an annual national Olympic festival during 1796-1798; Dr William Penny Brookes made a notable effort to engage the working class people in Wenlock (a small town in the West Midlands region of England) towards sports based recreational activity. One of the two mascots for the London 2012 Summer Olympics had been named ‘Wenlock’ in tribute to the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games.

Pierre de Coubertin was inspired by the Wenlock Olympian Society in 1890, after which he started up the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Pierre de Coubertin (who hailed from a French aristocratic family, a specialist in the theory of education and also a historian) is widely considered as the founding father of the modern Olympic Games. Apparently the combination of Coubertin’s knowledge of history, his aristocratic affiliations and his thoughts concerning the progressiveness of the society had all driven Coubertin to bring about the modern Olympic Games which was bestowed with elements to become the finest artefact of institutionalised capitalism.

The first modern Olympic Games, organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was held in Athens in 1896 and there were 14 nations and 241 athletes who took part and competed in 43 events. From then on the modern Olympics have seen many changes and at times reflected the influential socio-economic elements and also evolved along with the progressive, scientific & technological developments that were collectively accomplished by the society. Some of the notable developments include: women taking part in the 1900 Summer Olympics, the inclusion of Winter Olympic Games in 1924 and the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin being broadcast on television for the first time. There were sporting competition held among the World War II veterans at the initiation of German born Dr. Ludwig Guttmann of Stoke Mandeville Hospital (Britain) in 1948 coinciding with the summer Olympics held in London that year and the 9th Annual International Stoke Mandeville Games (1960) is also considered as the first international Paralympic Games although the term ‘Paralympic Games’ was accepted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only in 1984. In 2010, Youth Olympic Games was initiated where athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 could compete.

The modern Olympic sporting events cannot be separated from the political dynamics of the times. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, for instance, Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler displayed its political and economic might achieved through their central planning policies, heavy military spending and increased infrastructural expenditure. The Nazi leadership undertook every possible attempt to exclude the Jews in Germany from participating in Olympics. This clear attempt of the ‘Third Reich’ to orchestrate the Nazi propaganda of Aryan racial superiority was challenged by the threat of boycott by other countries, eventually resulting in a shallow compromise by the Nazi leadership with its subsequent permission to Helene Mayer (a fencer and whose father was Jewish) to participate and also the cleaning up of Berlin from the anti-Semitic signs and slogans. There were also cleansing up of the Romani people (Gypsies) to forced labour camps by the ruthless Nazi state machinery.

The Second Spanish Republic had witnessed the formation of the anti-Fascist Popular Front which not only boycotted the 1936 Olympics but also planned to organise the People’s Olympiad as a corresponding major sporting event in Barcelona. The peoples’ Olympics acquired the support and the registration for participation of around 6,000 athletes from 22 countries. However ultimately the People’s Olympiad was cancelled as the Fascists far right forces represented by General Franco attacked the Spanish republic and started the Spanish Civil War.

Jesse Owens faceoff Nazi Germany 300x230 Olympics Games & Manifestation of Sports under CapitalismIn the meantime, 1936 Berlin Olympics also witnessed the triumphant victory of the African American Jesse Owens by winning four Olympic Gold medals in the track and field events, thus rebutting all the tall Nazi claims on Aryan superiority. However, even after a span of more than three decades, a little would have changed in the lives of black American/ African-Americans in the US, in terms of racial discrimination including segregation and political disfranchisement, which later out-poured during the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968). At the 1968 Summer Olympics, the African American track and field athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who finished first and third in the 200 meters, performed the iconic Black Power salute on the medal presentation podium. Also present was Peter Norman, the silver medal winner, who showed his support to his co-winners Smith and Carlos by wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badge in the awarding ceremony.

There were many other political and international events which had its impact on the Olympic Games. They were repeated boycotts of many nations in participating in the Olympics, often due to political and diplomatic developments, especially during the cold war when both American imperialism and Stalinist USSR took turns in boycotting Moscow Olympics in 1980 and Los Angeles Olympics of 1984 respectively.

Indian sports infrastructure: ‘A sorry state of affairs’

In modern Olympics, for India it was mainly the field Hockey team, which possessed the likes of the ‘Hockey wizard’ Dhyan Chand winning those consecutive gold medals. Hence after independence from British imperialism, Hockey was considered as the national sport of India. However in the last three decades neither Hockey nor any other sporting events have showered in the medals in proportion with the massive population of the subcontinent. The 2012 London Summer Olympics was so far the best in terms of the overall medal tally for India.

Statistics reveal the unbridgeable gaps between more than one billion population of India and its sporting performances in Olympics. Solutions are desperately looked into by the so called experts thoroughly patterned in capitalism. Fingers been pointed over the bureaucracy, corruption and the sociological phenomenon in India, especially in middle class households, that prioritize the rat race in professional courses over sports. Although the media have often reported about the lack of sufficient sporting infrastructure, the lack of support to ordinary people to pursue any professional training even for a popular sport like cricket and the lack of adequate support & nutrition to the majority of families etc; strangely enough not many have linked them to the root cause due to the failure of capitalism in India.

To even discuss about lacking sporting infrastructure is sometimes inappropriate, when millions of people live in extreme poverty with 37.2% living below the national poverty line and a staggering 42% of children under five being underweight. The Indian ruling class however continuously manipulate and divide the people on various issues to sustain its rule, without significant oppositions from the so-called mainstream left parties including the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India (CPI).

Worse are the conditions of the physically and mentally disabled people, which is a sizeable population of around 40 to 80 million people according to the estimate of the World Bank report (2007). Majority of those who are disabled are in rural areas where they lack the basic disability services. It is true that the valiant efforts of the Indian Paralympics team will definitely raise the spirits of millions of disabled people in India, encouraging them to take up sporting activities, but sadly the opportunities and the adequate support network are not in existence. Yet again it is most likely the people from affluent and supportive environment who often get the access to schools with adequate sporting facilities, well funded colleges & universities, state and central government employment (army, railways, etc.,) where there are increased likelihoods of sufficient infrastructure and training.

Corruption in Commonwealth  300x221 Olympics Games & Manifestation of Sports under CapitalismLike every other sectors handled by our government including healthcare, education, agriculture, public distribution, communications and information technology etc., the sports sector is also infested by heavy corruption and unsurprisingly it is in the new found standard set by the recent scandals and scams in India which are all amounting to billions of dollars. The ‘sport mafia’ as former Indian Hockey team captain and Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Pargat Singh famously accused Suresh Kalmadi (currently President of the Indian Olympic Association – IOA) during the run up to the 2010 Common Wealth Games, has echoed well among the sports followers and the sports fraternity in India and abroad. (see: The criminal syndicate of the big corporate interests and the political class in India has also extended its spread in nearly every elements of the sports organisational network. The 2010 Common Wealth games scam, multiple allegations cropping up in the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket league with the valuations of the league franchises sky rocketing, accusations of bribery in the Indian Hockey Federation etc., are all just the tip of the ice berg on the sorry state of affairs in Indian sports.

There is also the need to address the cultural component of sports. In the Indian subcontinent, there are culturally rooted sporting games of the soil like Kabadi, Kho-Kho, Gilli-danda, kite flying, Kancha (played with koli marble), Mallakhamb (gymnastic performances), Jallikattu (a dangerous bull taming sport popular in Tamilnadu) and the traditional martial arts of the subcontinent like Gatka (weapon-based martial art in Punjab region), Kalaripayattu (Kerala), wrestling etc,. Most of them are a part of the lives and culture of the rural people who still form the vast majority of the Indian population. However most of these traditional sports are not even represented or promoted in any mainstream sporting events in India (leave alone Olympics). Playoffs like Kabadi, Kho-Kho, Gilli-danda, kite flying, Kancha, etc., which do not need any expensive sports gear, accessories or even shoes often very well fit into the deprived environment of rural India and its culture.

The shameless ‘populist’ politics and the market driven capitalism have never missed any opportunities to felicitate cricketers and cricket alone with money, luxury cars, advertisements and awards, than any other sports. The step motherly attitude shown towards other sports has provoked a wide and utter discontent among the marginalised sports fraternities, which in India is ‘sports excluding cricket’.

The Indian political class easily dismissed the wrath of the entire hockey team players in many occasions. In one instance, the then Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy declared a Rs 2 lakh reward for the hockey team members when the Indian national Hockey team coach along with four members of the team were threatening to go on a hunger strike before the Karnataka Chief Minister’s house for ignoring their championship victory in the 2007 Men’s Hockey Asia Cup, whilst the Karnataka CM joined the bandwagon in showering the Indian cricket team with money when they were already pampered by millions worth in cash and luxury items as rewards.

The stories of poverty, deprivation, lack of opportunity, gender inequality, etc., are often told by successful Indian athletes when they are finally heard; regrettably there are hundreds of millions of ordinary people who are still waiting to be heard.

Greenwash 20121 300x225 Olympics Games & Manifestation of Sports under CapitalismCorporate Olympics

London 2012 Olympics has witnessed an escalating throttle-hold of big business corporations. The sponsoring companies have overall provided £1.4 billion for the Olympic funding from which they are desperately seeking to multiple their returns. Whilst the people of UK are burdened with the rest of the staggering expenses of up to 24 billion pounds according to a recent figures disclosure, which only means more austerity measures such as jobs & public services cuts, inflation and pay freeze.

The junk food mongers like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Cadbury, etc., were severely criticised by various campaigning groups and activists for their inappropriateness as official sponsors of Olympics, which is about health and fitness. Tax breaks were on offer for the sponsorship companies operating in the Olympic site, which was eventually declined by companies like McDonald’s fearing wide spread discontent among the people. The sweat shops operated by Adidas and the labour rights violations by sports gear manufacturers, the destructive environmental practices of British petroleum etc., seriously questioned the so-called fundamental spirits of the Olympic sports.

Accentuating the silver lining of all corporate-sponsoring mess up is the listing of the Dow Chemicals company as one of the official sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics. A worldwide partner of the 2012 Olympics, Dow came into the scanner of activists all over the world, including from India for ‘1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster’ and also from Vietnam for supplying American imperialism with hazardous Agent Orange and Napalm during the Vietnam war.

The Bhopal gas disaster is one of the world’s most terrible industrial disasters. Huge, heavy volumes of the fatal Methyl isocyanate had leaked into the densely populated environment from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant killing more than 15,000 people, inflicted injuries of varied severity in hundreds of thousands of people and increased by numerous folds the rate of still birth and infant deaths. The Union Carbide Corporation, apparently one of the first American companies to invest in India, possessed more than 50% shares in the UCIL. The reckless cost cutting measures of the Union carbide management and the ensuing breach of safety controls, the non compliance to standard operating procedures etc., purely to increase its operational profits, are all widely cited as the cause for this devastation. From the 1999 merger, Union Carbide Corporation is now a totally owned subsidiary of Dow Chemicals. Dow Chemicals has repeatedly declined any liabilities including the $1.7 billion as demanded by the Indian Government towards compensation for the dead and living victims of the Union Carbide plant gas leak; and also refused to clean up the environmental damages including the polluted soil and water sources.

Industrial disasters on the scale of Bhopal disaster were not new to Union Carbide, a giant corporation and a leader in chemical industry. The Union Carbide employed thousands of workers among which the majority where African Americans to mine silica and the management never provided the workers with protective masks or equipments to prevent them from inhaling fine particles of silica. Thus hundreds of these workers succumbed to Silicosis, a severe occupational lung disease. This corporate driven tragedy referred to as Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster (1927-32) is still considered one of America’s worst industrial disasters. The human catastrophes and environmental disasters caused by Union Carbide Corporation including the spilling of thousands of gallons of cancerous propylene oxide in the Kanawha River in West Virginia (USA), as well as in the Sydney harbour, caused dioxin poisoning of the water bodies and the aquatic lives etc.

During the escalated phase of American combat over Vietnam, Dow Chemicals was given the contract to manufacture Napalm B, an explosive agent to start and spread fire generating temperatures of 800 to 1,200 degree Celsius, causing severe burn injuries and death. Dow continued to supply the deadly Napalm even after the other companies discontinued the production because of the popular protests by the anti-war groups. In fact Dow continued to be the only supplier of napalm to the United States Military till 1969.

In addition, Dow Chemical was one among two largest producers of the hazardously destructive Agent Orange. Agent Orange a destructive herbicide was infamously used by the American army in its chemical warfare against Vietnam to destroy the South Vietnam’s dense forest area and agricultural land, thereby depriving the Guerilla fighters and the rural people from cover and food. The consequences, from the millions of gallons of Agent Orange sprayed by the U.S. Army, were the destruction of more than 20% of the dense forest and 10 million hectares of agricultural land in South Vietnam, and also causing multiple health problems and severe birth defects among the Vietnamese people, prominently in the South Vietnam region.

Claimed to be the ‘green games’, in spite of the sponsorship from the second worst polluter in the world[1], Olympics and its organising committee faced the pressure from the campaigners who in turn demanded the removal of Dow from the list of sponsors. The respective governments in India and state government in Madhya Pradesh, compelled by the growing protests have also sent feeble request to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider their tie-up with Dow. At the same instant, the news media were bashing the hypocrisy of the Indian government and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on their supposed opposition towards Dow, while doing business with them during the Common Wealth Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) later justified its association with Dow and declared that it is not contradicting the ideals and the values of the Olympics games!

Sports under Capitalism

In an interview Noam Chomsky, the eminent political critic, pointed out the role of the mass media and the over hyped sporting events as some of the most manipulative modus operandi of the existing global capitalist system in rendering the whole population to divert their attention from their day to day problems; therefore reducing their ability to think critically over the rationale behind the issues, and also an important factor in squandering the valuable time of the workers’ thus holding them back from collectively organising to liberate themselves from the shackles of exploitation. As Chomsky further explained the irrational loyalty to sporting teams and in addition the elements of jingoism are all cultivated by these sporting events.

It’s often stated that in Olympics the quintessence is all about participation, however it is now entirely about competition. Noticeably Coubertin’s support for the Games was underpinned on an idealistic basis. His very famous quote “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well”. As well as Coubertin also believed that the early ancient Olympics encouraged competition among amateurs, rather than professional athletes. Ironically the amateur athletes have no scope in the present modern Olympics or in any major sporting events. It is the professional athletes who are flaunting the merchandise of the capitalists to evolve as the publicity cover-up for the corporate companies.

The extent of professionalism developed in sports has already alienated the sporting person from natural ethos of sports which is presumably relaxing and a liberating means from the day to day tedious labour and exertion. Professionalism in sports is all about continuous hard work, constant physical exertion, and thoughtless discipline hence submitting to the whims of the sports management. The expensive sports gears and kits are often not affordable for many sports aspirants, who are most often socio-economically under privileged, and it is worse in poverty ridden countries. What’s more is the pattern of investment into Olympic sports by respective national Olympic committee in developed countries, like in Britain, a sizeable chunk of funding sourced from British national lottery (£150 million) were given more to elite sports which promises medal.

The prevalence of blood sports, where money could even be made out of death of participants, the increased use of steroids among the athletes which is often suggested to them by their coach, the sheer inability to face defeats in competitions especially when the stakes are high etc., all clearly shows the reality behind mainstream sporting events today. Participation – the very opportunity to play, team work, passion towards the game have all become secondary. ‘We all make the Games’ as the popular catch phrase of McDonald’s puts it, but in the end it is only the giant multinational corporations who reap excessively high profits from these events. In capitalism sports has degenerated into competition, celebrity status, market forces and not just about participating.

Paralympics 2012 300x225 Olympics Games & Manifestation of Sports under CapitalismThere was a great deal of support from the crowd to the London 2012 Paralympics, which now overwhelmingly established itself as a mainstream sporting event. The whole hearted cheers by the crowd and the record television viewers in support of the athletes overcoming their physical shortcomings not only with their hard work and determination, but often equally with the excellent supportive team of trainers & therapists, and technology designed to overcome their inadequacies of their disabilities to a great extent. Sadly enough, in a capitalist society this Paralympics would be another event which will eventually restrict participation and dominated by corporate businesses to merchandise their products rather than facilitating the disabled population to pursue their aspirations and live their lives to the fullest.

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) was selected as the host city for the next 2016 Summer Olympics and the big businesses and corporate would be certainly looking forward to it as any sports lover, except for their differences in purpose. Though international events like this would definitely raise the spirits in participation and internationalism among the various countries, Olympic Games with some exceptions would be the show of the establishment and funded by the taxes and wealth belonging to the ordinary working people.

For the privileged and the big businesses, the show must simply go on…

Workers Olympics 300x170 Olympics Games & Manifestation of Sports under CapitalismWorkers’ Olympics – Solidarity and Proletarian Internationalism

In many parts of the world, there was a general restriction of participation in sports by majority population as they were toiling long hours in factories and agricultural fields; sports were widely perceived as the leisure of the aristocrats and other privileged in the society. During the late 19th century, the organised workers collectively won the eight hours a day work and thus found more time for recreational activities including participation in sports. Very soon there were remarkable initiatives of workers’ organisations in organising a socialist alternative to the ‘nationalist’ and ‘bourgeois’ Olympics. The concept of a working class based sports federations was started by the initiatives of the working people. ‘Workers Gymnastics Association’, ‘Solidarity Worker Cycling Club’, ‘Worker Swimming Association’, ‘Worker Track and Field Athletics Association’, etc. By the time of World War I, the German proletarian sports movement included more than 350,000 participants.

The workers’ sporting events considered patriotic feelings and national chauvinism as unnatural elements to promote internationalism. The workers’ unions and the revolutionary organisations unanimously agreed that the international competition have to be on the basis of athletic performances and the efforts behind it rather than the country or the nation that the athletes represent. During these events, there were neither any national flags displayed nor the national anthem played, which are all evidently the tool of the ruling class and the bourgeoisie in dividing the ordinary working people and the oppressed. The ‘Internationale’ was sung and only red flag were displayed throughout these events.

The First Workers’ Olympics 1925, held in Frankfurt was organised by the Socialist Workers’ Sport Internationale (SASI), an international socialist sporting organisation founded in 1920, consisting of six national federations and with a combined membership of about one million working people. The athletics and sports participants in Frankfurt Workers’ Olympics were numbered more than 100,000, making the Workers’ Olympics the largest demonstration of athletes in the sporting history. There were equal participation of men, women and children and all were encouraged to participate in the sporting events and in the mass exercises.

The Second Workers’ Olympiad (1931) was held in Vienna, Austria, where 80,000 athletes actively participated and was witnessed by about 250,000 spectators. These workers’ sporting events organised and participated by the workers were larger than the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, both in number of participants and spectators; again due to a wide appeal for participation and the show of international solidarity among workers. There was a subsequent third Workers’ Olympiad held in Belgium (1937), which witnessed 200,000 taking part in the closing rally.

Consequently the capitulation[2] of the Second International[3] to imperialism before the First World War also reflected with the split in workers’ sports movement. The Communist International which was set up to aid the international working class revolution to overthrow capitalism argued the importance of workers’ sport movement to take part in revolutionary struggle. Accordingly the Red Sport International (RSI) also called Sportintern was founded in 1921, which thereafter organised summer and winter sports called ‘Spartakiad’ named after Spartacus (who lead the major slave uprising against the Roman Republic). The Stalinist tendency which gained prominence after Lenin’s death in 1924[4], watered down the revolutionary nature of the ‘Spartakiad’. The ‘Spartakiad’ was eventually dissolved in 1937 during the Stalinist purges of the 30′s. A fourth Workers’ Olympiad was planned to be held in Finland in 1943 but never materialised because of the 2nd World War and the dominance of Stalinist Soviet Union on the other, which completely diluted the working class struggle, consciousness and its expressions.

Recently, Youth Fight for Jobs & Education, a campaigning youth organisation based in Britain, which is backed by many British trade unions & student unions has organised the ‘Austerity Games 2012’ in London parallel to the London 2012 Olympics, to highlight the issues of mass poverty, unemployment, tripled tuition fees and homelessness.

Reclaim sports from big business corporations – the need for a Socialist Alternative

Many Marxist analyses have always maintained that the actuality of sporting events like Olympics and apparently its ideals are evolved in the structural framework of socio-economic – political order of the day. In the present world where big business and corporate are thriving from massive exploitation of people, Olympic Games are simply providing the capitalists one of the numerous outlet to exploit people over and over again. It is essential to raise the level of consciousness among the masses at this present crisis of global capitalism where class struggle is again heightened; for a genuine alternative against the corporate controlled Olympics. The leadership of the primary working class organisations in India like the Trade Unions, agricultural workers and peasants unions are all in the hands of the political parties which are an array of the ruling class. Therefore there is a growing need to not only reclaim the Trade Unions, from the bureaucratic party machinery and control, as a primary working class organization for leading struggles. But there also the need to set up and establish solidarity among the rank and file of the other national and international working class organisations to challenge the corporate control over the sporting and cultural events and also to:

# Call for a non bureaucratic International sporting community with its roots in working class organisations.

# Encourage participation rather than competition.

#Provide adequate and free access for people to witness the games with arrangements not based socio economic privilege.

# Need for international working class based sports committees to conduct an independent assessment and enquiry of the present disciplines of sports and rally in supporting mechanisms to make available adequate infrastructure throughout the deprived parts of the world.

# To randomly choose among the volunteering countries for hosting Olympics or any other international sporting events.

# To seize the Olympic Games and other sporting events away from the control of the corporate to the community as a whole.

Sports are activities which promote physical fitness, mental and social well-being, and thereby promote health. Capitalist establishment considers sports as nothing but a means for accumulating wealth, marketing their goods and to divert the attention of the masses from the real issues haunting their lives. Unless the working people, peasants and other oppressed people have their say and representation in every facets of the society, nothing is going to change fundamentally. Only by overthrowing capitalism through the collective struggle of the working people, peasants and students lead by a mass revolutionary party, only then can we establish a democratic socialist society which would really represent and fulfil the actual needs of the masses.

We need to reclaim sports to the ordinary working and toiling people and say NO to corporate controlled sporting events.

Sajith Attepuram

London

Notes:

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1.  Dow Chemical Company was listed by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 as ‘the second worst polluter in the world’.
  2. In the wake of the First World War, in the Second International, the anti-war socialists trying every possible means to prevent the military action among the states and to promote international unity and solidarity among the working people who otherwise be used as mere cannon fodders of the ruthless ruling class war machinery in the name of nationalism and patriotism. This doctrine of antimilitarism was not supported by many social democratic parties and their leadership and many of them were supporting their respective nations involved in the war resulting in the betrayal of Proletarian internationalism – the core element of the Second International. The Second International was dissolved in 1916.
  3. The Second International (1889–1916) was an organisation of international workers and socialist parties.
  4. After Lenin’s death in 1924, the Soviet Union witnessed the development and the rise of the Stalinist tendency which supported bureaucratic control over the workers and the economy. Stalinism espoused the two stage theory/ stages theory of revolution (a Menshevik idea originally) to safeguard the interests of the bureaucracy within the power structures of the Soviet Union. Socialism, in which an important element is workers’ democracy and control over the means of production and distribution, was suppressed by the rise of the Stalinist bureaucracy. The rise of Stalinism also lead to widespread persecution and mass murder of dissidents, including the assassination of Leon Trotsky, who along with Vladimir Lenin led the great October Revolution of 1917.
3 comments
Richard Shattock
Richard Shattock

An excellent and thorough analysis of the Olympic games under capitalism! Sport driven for profit and not for social well being!

Alma
Alma

All good! Makes you see the uglier side of a beautiful event.

Anand Kumar
Anand Kumar

A very good analysis of sports in the contemporary world, especially in the wake of last month's Olympics and the many controversies surrounding it.