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Olympism and democracy

Olympism and democracy



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Published by Nebojša
Excerpt from the book “Philosophy of Olympism” (pub.2004) by Ljubodrag Simonović, Belgrade, Serbia. E-mail :
His blog: http://ljubodragsimonovic.wordpress.com/

Excerpt from the book “Philosophy of Olympism” (pub.2004) by Ljubodrag Simonović, Belgrade, Serbia. E-mail :
His blog: http://ljubodragsimonovic.wordpress.com/

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Nebojša on Aug 09, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Excerpt from the book 
³Philosophy of Olympism´
(pub.2004) by LjubodragSimonovi, Belgrade, Serbia. E-mail :comrade@sezampro.rs 
OLYMPISM AND DEMOCRACYTransformation of Liberalism into Authoritarianism
Coubertin regards democracy as a political means of the bourgeoisie whichshould be applied as long as it is useful. Writing in the times of the great economiccrisis in 1929 on the basic conceptions of IOC, Coubertin concludes: "It was firstnecessary to establish the basic rules of the International Olympic Committee andto have them recognized by all nations. This was not an easy task, since itsConstitution was in obvious opposition to the ideas of the day. For it repudiatesthe principle of delegation so dear to our parliamentary democracies - the principlewhich, having rendered great services, seems to be less efficient every day."
 The "efficiency" of democracy is not assessed according to its possibility of realizing the basic human and civil rights, but according to its efficiency inkeeping the workers in submission and ensuring a stabile development of capitalism. At the same time, Coubertin openly states that IOC was founded as anauthoritarian organization and is thus a prototype of the political structure of society he was arguing for ever since he set out towards the Olympic heights. Itcan be said that IOC is a symbolic organic link connecting Coubertin's originalOlympic idea with fascism.Coubertin doesn¶t
trust democracy because it is such a political form of therule of capital over man which is not capable of ensuring a stabile development of capitalism and with its "political liberties" offers a possibility of a politicalorganization of the workers, which at the times of crisis can jeopardize the rulingorder. Concerned about the fate of capitalism after the Russian and Munich
Revolutions, Coubertin sharply criticizes the bourgeoisie which, unlike thearistocracy, neglected the "care" about the workers and thus turned them againstthe ruling order. Coubertin: "The capitalist bourgeoisie is taking a risk of paying ahigh price for the selfish calculation that made it establish democracy. It has never wanted to help the working class acquire other skills except the ones that can makeits service more productive by increasing its productive capabilities. It even deniedit access to those neutral knowledge¶s which, as it was nicely expressed by priestVagner, offer 'access to a sublime life'. It created spiritual wealth and keeps itunder close watch so as to preserve its monopoly."
 In fact, Coubertin wants to say that the working "masses" were given thecivil rights only to help the bourgeoisie to overthrow the aristocracy and seize power, and that it did not build an adequate mechanism of spiritual control over 
the workers which at the times of crisis would efficiently pacify (depolitize) themand thus "neutralize" the possibility of enjoying the (formal) rights they won.Instead of a social order based on the "rule of law", Coubertin advocates theestablishment of a new order of privileges analogous to the feudal order. He doesnot argue for 
since that order, like the Christianity, proved to beincapable of keeping the "masses" in submission. Coubertin opts for the bourgeoisie and entrusts it with a "historical" task to restore, by way of sport as themodern (positivist) religion, the indisputable dominant status of the nobility beforethe French Revolution, to give the working "masses" and the woman the statusthey had before the Revolution and to for ever deal with the emancipatory heritageof civil society and national cultures. He seeks to create a peculiar bourgeoisaristocracy which claims power not on the basis of its "blue blood", but relying onits power to gain it and its resolve to maintain it for good. Not a divine authority, but the authority of sheer force, which appears in the guise of a "natural right" -that is the power order should be based on. It is no accident that from the "heroicage" of ancient Greece, when
had not yet appeared on the political scene,Coubertin creates an idealized picture of the world which serves as a civilizatoryexcuse for the Social Darwinist order he advocates. In the civil and human rightsCoubertin sees a concession which the ruling "elite" had to give in order to preserve power - only one lost battle in the war between the "rich" and the "poor"(working "masses") that has been going on since the beginning of time - an evilwhich should be dealt with once and for all. From such a political conceptioncomes also Coubertin's "utilitarian pedagogy": to militarize the bourgeoisie and tocreate from it, through sport and physical drill, a "master race" is it¶s mostimportant task. The more sport and Olympism we have, the less democracy thereis! - This could be the "practical" postulate of Coubertin's Olympic philosophy."The seeds of authoritarianism" in Coubertin's conception, were planted withComte's idea of progress, which is the guiding principle of Coubertin's Olympic philosophy. Marcuse: "Comte's belief in the necessary laws of progress did notexclude practical efforts in the direction of such social reform as would removeany obstacles in the path of these laws. The positivist program of social reformforeshadows liberalism's turn into authoritarianism. In contrast to Hegel, whose philosophy showed a similar tendency, Comte slurred over the fact that the turn ismade necessary because of the antagonistic structure of civil society. Classes inconflict, he held, are but vestiges of an obsolete regime, soon to be removed by positivism, without any threat to the 'fundamental institution of property'."
 At the time when capitalism appeared the oncoming bourgeois class foughtfor a "civil state" not in order to abolish the class privileges and for the sake of human emancipation, but to acquire power. At the time of strengthening of capitalist dynasties and the creation of colonial empires, Coubertin tries to bringthings to a conclusion: the ruling bourgeois "elite" is to create such a politicalsystem that will insure indisputability and eternity of its power. In the newcircumstances, the advocation of the original conceptions of liberalism becomes
for "progress" a harmful moralism - it does not meet the interests of the class for which it was created, which means that it is at odds with the political spirit of liberalism on whose wings develops Coubertin's conception. Coubertin clearlyrefers to that when he speaks of the workers (as well as of the "lower races" andthe woman) as of people deprived of their elementary human and civil rights. The principles the new bourgeois class used in the 17
and 18
centuries to come to power and achieve its political and economic interests, now appear dangerous, for they offer a possibility to the proletariat, the child of industrialization, to come to power by using the instruments of the "civil state". Political realism is the basis of Coubertin's utilitarism and here Coubertin does not differ much from his predecessors. Indeed, his ideas are different from theirs, but politically he sharesthe same standpoint: he too defends the interests of the bourgeoisie by adapting tonew historical circumstances. Hence it is no accident that libertarian impulses of liberalism appear not in Coubertin, but in Marx and his followers: Marx is theadvocate of the emancipatory (universally human) spirit of liberalism, as opposedto Coubertin who argues for its political (class) spirit.Coubertin's Olympic doctrine deals with the emancipatory ideas of theFrench Revolution which are the basis of man's inalienated "human rights" (
droitsde l'homme
) and of the "rights of the citizen" (
droits de
) and thus are thefoundation of modern legislation. Speaking of the French Revolution, Coubertinconcludes that "only the form changed while the essence remained the same",
 from which follows an endeavour to abolish all those (customary, religious, moraland legal) norms and institutions that serve for the protection and execution of those rights. For Coubertin, the relations in feudal society are also "democratic",although not so democratic as in civil society. To what extent Coubertin, fightingfor an absolutization of the (self)willedness of the ruling "elite", ignores theacquired level of civil and human rights, can be seen from his shameful bearing inthe "Dreyfus affair": instead of asking from those who were campaigning againstDreyfus to prove their allegations, Coubertin asks
the accused to prove hisinnocence! Coubertin, with an aristocratic contempt, mocks the guiding principlesof the Revolution, proclaiming them a sheer nonsense. He denies man the right tofreedom: man is not born free, but as a master of a slave, depending on his race,gender and class. Coubertin, then, denies man the right to equality: "It is useless tofight against the oldest and basic social law - the law of inequality",
claimsCoubertin. Interestingly, Coubertin reduces the claim to equality to the claim touniformity, "overlooking" the fact that equality logically presupposes individualdifferences. The privileges acquired by birth are the foundation of Coubertin'stheory on human rights. Racial, class and gender differences are the basis of human (social) inequality. As far as the principle of brotherhood is concerned,Coubertin denies that human beings are brothers: "Brotherhood is not for people -it is for angels",
claims Coubertin reducing the bourgeois to a "civilized" beast,the worker to a "beast of burden" and the woman to a sow with a halo. Theabolishment of the rights of the oppressed to a happy life is another Coubertin's

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