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Olympism and positivism

Olympism and positivism



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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 
The positive thought of the 19
century is the most important philosophicalsource and foundation of modern Olympism. Coubertin does not try to develop a positive philosophy, but to use its original spirit and postulates that couldcontribute to an efficient struggle for preserving the ruling order. The "fullness" of Olympism is not primarily determined by positive philosophy, but by new"practical" challenges. In that sense, Olympism is not just an attempt to revive positive philosophy, but it is also an attempt to give new positive answers, whichmeans to develop a more efficient mechanism of power, according to new classrelations, for holding the "masses" in submission. Modern Olympism is not just aconception of the world, it is above all an active (conserving) attitude to the worldthat appears in the form of a struggle against those who want to see that worldchanged. In spite of being a scribomaniac, Coubertin's basic intention was not todevelop a theory, but a political practice. His writings are a peculiar elaboration of the strategy and tactics of the struggle against the working movement, colonized peoples and women. Coubertin does not try to make the bourgeois more clever andnoble, but to stir the "lazy animal" in him, to develop his greediness and incite himto set on new colonial exploits. That is why a fanatical conquering spirit becameone of the dominant features of Olympism.Speaking of Comte's positive philosophy, Marcuse states: "Rarely in the past has any philosophy urged itself forward with so strong and so overt arecommendation that it be utilized for the maintenance of prevailing authority andfor the protection of vested interest from any and all revolutionary onset. (...)Positive philosophy is the only weapon able to combat µthe anarchic force of  purely revolutionary principles'; it alone can succeed in 'absorbing the currentrevolutionary doctrine'." And he continues: "The lords of earth will learn, also,that positivism inclines 'to consolidate all power in the hands of those who possessthis power - whoever they may be'. Comte becomes even more outspoken. Hedenounces µthe strange and extremely dangerous¶ theories and efforts that aredirected against the prevailing property order. These erect an 'absurd Utopia'.Certainly, it is necessary to improve the condition of the lower classes, but thismust be done without deranging class barriers and without 'disturbing theindispensable economic order'. On this point, too, positivism offers a testimonialto itself. It promises to 'insure the ruling classes against every anarchistic invasion'and to show the way to a proper treatment of the mass."
Coubertin's relation tothe antiquity, Christianity, the Enlightenment, the guiding principles of the FrenchRevolution, the philanthropic movement, the democratic institutions and nationalcultures, expresses his endeavour to remove from history everything that creates
the possibility of developing a libertarian thought and stepping out of the existingworld. Olympism is more then a spiritual counterrevolution: it does not only dealwith the emancipatory heritage of the nineteenth-century civil society, but with thecultural tradition of the West. Using Marx's
"XI thesis of Feuerbach" 
, we couldformulate the following Olympic postulate: philosophers have only interpreted theworld - but the point however is to prevent it from being changed by all means andat all costs.Among the scholars who have been concerned with Coubertin's work thereare those (Prokop) who hold that Coubertin did not have direct contact withComte, but that it was Frédéric Le Play who introduced him to the world of  positive philosophy. Either through Le Play or by reading Comte, Coubertinadopted the basic methodological and doctrinaire starting points of Comte's philosophy and with his Olympic idea and practice tried to realize Comte's idea of "positive society". It can be said that international sport represents an attempt torevive and institutionalize positive philosophy and to turn it into a global spiritual(political) movement. Urlike Prokop rightly sees in international sport an"institution analogous to positive philosophy".
The Olympic philosophy andsport appear as a unity of thought and practice in the construction of positivesociety.The basis of Coubertin's Olympic doctrine are the ideas which make thecorner stones of Comte's "social physics": the ''idea of order'' ("social statics") andthe ''idea of progress'' ("social dynamics").
Idea of Order
The starting point of Comte's theory is a social state characterized by a"profound anarchy" (
anarchie profonde
springing from the revolutionaryturmoils in the end of the 18
and in the beginning of the 19
century, and anattempt to insure a stable development of capitalism. What is needed after all is areconciliation (synthesis) of order and progress. Order exists in society when itsfundamental principles are stable and when almost all members of society are of equal opinion. According to Comte, such a state existed in the period of feudalismin places ruled by Christianity. Following Catholic counter-revolutionary thinkers,Bonald and De Maistre, Comte deals with Protestantism as a "negative ideology"(De Maistre) which creates nothing but an intellectual anarchy. With thedevelopment of social science, as the spiritual framework, people will again think in the same way and thus insure social stability. It follows that a positive educationis the necessary basis for the establishment of a positive order. Comte holds thatthe French Revolution was indispensable, since the old order was founded on theobsolete theological knowledge which, with the development of science, lost itscredibility. The French Revolution did not offer a possibility of reorganizing
society, as it was "negative" and "metaphysical" in its demands. Hence a need tocreate a new (positive) religion and new clergy which, like the Catholic Church inthe Middle Ages, will unite society.
A positive one-mindedness, which iscontrary to political pluralism, is the basis of Comte's political conception.Starting from the changes introduced by the French Revolution, Comtetries to deal with its radicalism by curbing its original power and to use it toconsolidate and develop a new order. He wants to "reconcile" the revolutionaryspirit, which eliminated from the historical scene the obsolete "metaphysical"stage in the development of history, to the new "progressive" spirit of the"victorious bourgeoisie" (Enthoven) and thus ensure a stable development of capitalism and the establishment of the positive as the final stage in thedevelopment of civilization. Although Coubertin claims that the rapid industrialdevelopment, which deprived life of purpose, is the starting point for hisendeavour to offer an Olympic philosophy as a new integrative spiritual force of society, the real reason is his endeavour to militarize the French bourgeoisie andurge it to embark on new colonial exploits, as well as a fear of the ever stronger working movement and the new revolutionary (communist) thought. Frightened by the Parisian Commune and the ever louder slogans of the French (andEuropean) proletariat, Coubertin does not even think of a "reconciliation" to therevolutionary spirit that opens the possibility of overcoming the class society, but, by his reforms, seeks to destroy the germ of a
created in modern society. Inthat context, his Olympic idea is at odds with the emancipatory impulses of Comte's positivism. For Coubertin, the bourgeois is not only the advocate of capitalism, but also a privilege of the rich "elite" acquired in the periods of slaveryand feudalism. Hence his political allies are the aristocracy and the CatholicChurch - the sworn enemies of the French Revolution and the emancipatoryheritage of the 19
century; that is why the ancient world, in which
did notyet appear on the political scene, is the ideal world that should be sought for; thatis why Coubertin sought to reduce the relations between workers and capitalists tothe relation between feudal lords and serfs; that is why he concluded that with theFrench Revolution "only the form changed, while the essence remained the same",and claimed that the feudal order was "more democratic".The fight between contradictions is excluded from both Comte's andCoubertin's social order. They are dominated by a "spontaneous harmony"(Gurvich) and not by the "integration of parts together with the existence of socialcontradictions".
As a consistent social prophylactic, Coubertin has a holisticattitude to society: society becomes an organic whole that functions in harmony.Unlike Saint-Simon, Fourier and Marx, who in the conflict between social groups(classes) see the moving force of social progress, Coubertin, like Comte andSpencer, holds that political conflicts threaten the health of the social organismand slow down its (inevitable) advance, and therefore seeks to bring all (positive)social phenomena into an organic unity and remove those (negative) that threatenit. Coubertin rejected the struggle of the oppressed for freedom, equality and

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