Legacy?

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On the London 2012 McOlympiCola Games.

To those of us who look beyond glittering surfaces and misleading headlines, the London 2012 Olympiad was a spectacular carnival of conspicuous consumption which demonstrated much that is wrong with what we like to call ‘civilisation’.

If aliens had visited Earth during this Olympic Orgy they would have been amazed to see stupendous sums spent on a largely inconsequential jamboree, while all around massive cuts are being made to vital public services that are central to the health, wealth, and happiness of human beings everywhere.  And while millions around the world remain at risk of starvation, thirst, hypothermia, disease, war, poverty or disaster, the hundreds of millions of pounds spent on these Games and the air of supreme importance attached to them, just cannot be justified in any sane universe.  In a time of so-called ‘Austerity’, when people are losing their homes, their livelihoods, and their lives, this extravagant luxury is pretty much offensive to me.  Somebody somewhere is making out like a bandit from these Olympics, and it sure as hell isn’t the taxpayers who subsidised the success of the UK athletes, to the tune of, according to this article, about £4.5 million per medal won.

I do feel a little sorry for the athletes though.  No blame can be attached to them for what the Olympics has become.  All that hard work, dedication, and sacrifice in pursuit of extraordinary feats of physical ability or endurance, only to find their efforts in effect hijacked by corporate and political vultures.  The athletes have become little more than pawns, or lures.  And indeed, in my own case,  I was lured into watching through the sheer brilliance of the athletic displays, despite my initial ambivalence.  In an ideal world sport would be just about sport, but sadly the ideal world is still some way off.

As David Cameron has admitted, the Olympics are about “more than medals”.  There are games being played around The Games, by politicians and businessmen.  For these people, the Olympics is not about the sport, it is about the opportunity to exploit the event for their own ends.  And their efforts in that regard are as single-minded and determined as that of any athlete.  But instead of a constant quest for Personal Bests, this is a  constant quest for power and profit.

And while we know already that Team GB enjoyed a heady yield from London 2012 in terms of medals won, only time will tell about the ‘return’ for the likes of the Coalition Government, and the host of corporate sponsors.  Already the indications are that the Games have served some of their political purposes.  The Sun claims that the Olympics has sparked a “massive feelgood factor”, whose “afterglow” will “help us through these tough times”.   Cameron is quoted in The Scotsman outlining exactly what the message of these games is supposed to be –

We do face a very tough economic situation and I do not belittle that at all.  It is a very tough economic world we are in.  But in a way, what these Games show is that if you work hard enough at something, if you plan something, if you are passionate enough about something, you can turn things around.  I think that is the lesson people can take from these Games.

What we have there is the reinforcement of neoliberal capitalist myths, that anyone can make it if they work hard enough, and that competition is good and healthy.  Never mind that most of elite sport in the UK is subsidised by the State, or from semi-nationalised Lottery funding.

The Independent claimed just before the opening of the Games that –

Mr Cameron will say he intends to devote his energy to drumming up business on the back of the global event, which will give the Government a chance to sell Britain to the world.

On other words to find investors for the public services he is selling off, and increase the profits of his buddies in major corporations.

In the Daily Mail, David Cameron is said to be pleased that the Games provided a “boost to the Union”, which no doubt will be useful to him when it comes to the referendum on Scottish independence.  The jingoistic coverage of the Games by the BBC will have, of course, played a large part in that.  All those lingering, loving shots of the union flag.  And of course, when the Conservative MP Aiden Burley tweeted “Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multicultural crap. Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!“, it allowed Cameron, who had previously claimed “multiculturalism has failed”, to position himself as the soft, liberal and tolerant face of British nationalism.  In the same speech he claimed the UK “needed a stronger national identity”, and undoubtedly he is using the success of the UK Olympians to further that cause.

The sensational success of Mo Farah has already been utilised by David Cameron for propaganda purposes, namely to lend credence to the myth that the UK government is sincerely committed to tackling the problem of world hunger.  Millionaires Against Poverty don’t ya know?  It’s kinda like when in 2005 the Labour Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, claimed the Games would help advance the good health of the nation.  Presumably that is why McDonald’s, and major  environmental polluters like BP and Dow Chemicals ended up as major sponsors of the Games….?

Forgive me if I think it’s all a load of bollocks.  And dangerous bollocks at that.

There’s a lot more that could be said about this, the failure of the Olympic Truce – Syrian delegates were refused visas into the country,(incidentally, this article is a must read for the outrageously biased reporting), UK troops remaining on active service in Afghanistan, surface-to-air missiles on roofs in London, or the kettling, beating, and arrest of nearly two hundred Critical Mass cyclists at the same time as Danny Boyle’s feelgood Opening Ceremony was extolling the virtues of past protest in this country. But at least Boyle reminded us a little of that legacy.   One of solidarity in the struggle for a better tomorrow, won for us by the struggle of our dissenting foremothers and forefathers.  And that is the real legacy we should take from these Games, not some tawdry promises from the likes of  Coe, Cameron, or  Johnson.

We should not be content with bread and circuses.

Stop That Brain!

For the last couple of days I have been re-reading Galapagos, by Kurt Vonnegut.  A theme of this book is mankind evolving to have smaller brains, because big brains as we currently have them are just more trouble than they are worth.  Big brains are nothing but the “irresponsible generators of suggestions”.  I can dig that.

Take tonight, for instance.  I spend a couple of merry hours this evening researching for an epic blog post I was working on about the London 2012 Olympic Games.  But after a brief digichat with an ex-girlfriend my big brain became distracted.  The epic blog post became harder and harder to concentrate on, and took longer and longer to write.  About half an hour ago my big brain made me delete a whole evenings work, probably five or six hundred words worth.  Fuck you, brain!

Mind you, I have always been easily distracted.  My Mum still has my school report cards that say exactly that on them.  It was a girl called Mhairi then.  Not that I ever actually spoke to the lass.  She lived near me, and I remember I would do anything to get on the same bus as her.  I shudder to think what her big brain suggested to her about me, the strange boy in braces who loved her from a distance, without the gumption to actually say or do anything about it.  Though I did get myself the belt once for throwing a brick in a puddle and splashing her.  My brain thought it would impress her.  I was 12 or 13 or thereabouts.

Of course, I’m nearly 40 now, and my days of throwing bricks in puddles to splash lassies are over.  Age has caught up with me, any bricks I throw now I only splash myself.

Word of advise, if you ever get an awesome woman in your life, and I mean A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Woman, don’t fuck it up.  It’s harder than giving up fags fur fox sake.  I’m trying to find consolation in the fact it’s my brain’s fault, not mine.

PS – Epic Olympic Blog Post Coming Soon 😉

Black Athletes Should Thank Slavery, Suggests BBC

In the short film below, the BBC suggest that the reason black athletes are so successful in sprint races is due to slavery.  Only the strongest survive slavery, say the BBC, and so the descendents of slaves are naturally fitter and stronger than those who did not have slavery as a beneficial birthing pool for their genes.  I do trust I am not alone in being utterly nauseated by this offensive and patently ridiculous suggestion.

Empire Olympics

I was on night-shift last night, so did not see the Olympics Opening Ceremony, excepting a few little snippets here and there.  On coming home this morning I find that the internet is ablaze with comment and outrage because a man apparently gave a Nazi Salute as the German Olympians entered the arena.  Admittedly, it does not look great, but I do not think this is a Nazi salute at all.  The Nazi salute is a straight, right arm gesture.  This man was waving his left arm about, and not his right.  A quick search on Google images for ‘nazi salute’ reveals a rather different posture.

Interestingly, what has not been talked about so much is a tweet by Piers Morgan which read We need to be an Empire again – seriously. #ProudOfBritain“.   Some might argue that the British Empire was at least the equal of the Nazi regime in terms of terror, racism, and murderous intent.  But there is no outcry when a prominent Brit makes a call for a return to the good old days, when Britain claimed the “white man’s burden” in dealing with, and controlling the ‘inferior’ nations of the world.

Hypocrites?  Us?  Nah, surely not….