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Sport and cult

Sport and cult

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Published by Nebojša
Excerpt from the book „A New World is Possible“ by Dunja and Ljubodrag Simonović, Belgrade, 2007. E-mail:
comrade@sezampro.rs
His blog: http://ljubodragsimonovic.wordpress.com/
Excerpt from the book „A New World is Possible“ by Dunja and Ljubodrag Simonović, Belgrade, 2007. E-mail:
comrade@sezampro.rs
His blog: http://ljubodragsimonovic.wordpress.com/

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Nebojša on Aug 12, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/20/2013

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Excerpt from the book ÄA New World is Possible³ by Dunja and Ljubodrag Simonovi,Belgrade, 2007. E-mail:comrade@sezampro.rs 
SPORT AND CULT
 
The Cult of Competition
Sport is a capitalist competition. Not every historical form of competition issport, but the one which is the embodiment of the Social Darwinist principle
bellumomnium contra omnes
and the absolutized principle of the quantitatively measurable performance shaped in the Olympic maxim
citius, altius, fortius
± which corresponds tothe market economy and the absolutized principle of profit. Just as capitalism isessentially different from the Hellenic slave-owning and feudal order, so is sportessentially different from the ancient
agon
and knight tournaments. The Olympic Gameswere an authentic play of the aristocratic Hellad; knight tournaments were an authentic play of feudalism; sport is an authentic play of capitalism. The theory of sport reducessport to a suprahistorical phenomenon the essence of which comes from theÄunchangeable human nature³, whereas man is reduced to a Äbeast³ and human society toa Äcivilized³ menagerie. However, individual competition (achievement), which is basedon the principle of «Equal chances!», is a historical product and corresponds to theoriginal spirit of capitalism (liberalism) which atomizes society according to the principle
homo homini lupus
. The elimination of the Äopponent³ through victory achieved by anever better result (record) becomes a capitalist form of a (Äcivilized³) natural selection.ÄPrimitive peoples³ do not know of individual competition and individual achievement,nor do they know of the principle of record. The same applies to the Hellenic society:man is a member of 
 polis
and ÄGod's toy³
 
(Plato). The purpose of competition is not arecord but a victory achieved by the Olympic
agonistes
as the Ägods' electee³ whichgives him the possibility of acquiring a place on Olympus among the immortal Olympicoligarchy.The history of sport is the history of capitalism. In its original sense the termÄsport³ (since 1828, before that
desport 
,
desportare
) does not denote a competitiondominated by the cult of victory and the cult of record, but a pastime, a voluntary participation in the activities designed to act out the aristocratic way of life through asymbolism and forms of behaviour deriving from the aristocratic world, and which arethe embodiment of the aristocratic system of values expressed in the principle Äorder andmeasure³ (
ordre et mesure
). ÄSport³ was a privilege of the aristocracy through which itsexclusive ruling class status was confirmed, which means that it was not a way of integrating the working Ämasses³ into a spiritual orbit of the ruling class, as it was to become in the bourgeois society. It was not dominated by a fight for victory through theelimination of the opponent nor by the idea of progress, but by such a way of behaviour (Ägentleman's manners³) which distinguishes the members of the aristocracy from theÄlower classes³. Likewise, the original concept of Äsport³, as an entertainment, is notderived from the relation to work and the Äworld of concerns³; it rather denotes thelifestyle of aristocracy as the parasitic class. It is only in the developed capitalist society
 
that the term Äsport³ came to designate the Äindependent³ spirit of capitalism which is theembodiment of the principles
bellum omnium contra omnes
and
citius, altius, fortius
andappears as the sphere of Äfreedom³ opposite to work. As far as the principle of Ächivalry³is concerned, which is used by the ideologues of sport in order to give it a Äcultural³legitimacy, in its original sense it corresponds to a static aristocratic order in which thedominant social status is not acquired by a merciless struggle for survival, as it is the casein capitalism, but by birth.Sport acquired its institutional character in the second half of the XIX centuryand represents a way of dealing with the leading ideas of the French Revolution, criticalrationalism, emancipatory possibilities of the newly formed democratic institutions, aswell as with the philanthropic and dancing movements. It is not a product of an advanced bourgeoisie which, inspired by the spirit of the Enlightenment and ideals of the FrenchRevolution, strives to create a new society, but of the imperialist circles which strive todeal with the emancipatory heritage of the XIX century civil society and conquer theworld. The modern Olympic Games are an expression of the Ämondialist³ spirit of imperialism and as such rejection of the cultural (religious) being of the ancient OlympicGames, as well as of the Olympic ideas and movements of the Modern Age ± which are based on the Hellenic spiritual heritage, national cultures and the emancipatory heritageof civil society (Gutc Muths, Schartan, Brookes, Lesseps, Grousse...).In its original form, sport does not rely on bodily activism which is supposed toenhance the development of working or artistic capacities, but on the Ächivalroustradition³ which is of a belligerent character. Sports contests represent a war not waged by weapons, but by the bodies of Äopponents³, and thus are a struggle with the pacifistconscious and preparation for an armed conflict. Hence the ruthless Ärivalry³, whichinvolves the ability and readiness to kill the opponent, represents the main characteristicof sports Äbrotherhood³.
 
Sports terminology indicates its essence: sports contests whichdo not involve elimination are called Äfriendly³, which means that the competitions inwhich the victory is an imperative ± are hostile. The natural selection being the carrier of Äprogress³, it is understandable why the bourgeois theorists speak of war with suchenthusiasm: they regard it as the highest and the most direct form of the law of naturalselection. From Coubertin's Olympic doctrine it clearly follows that sport belongs to thesphere of war and military training and that it is the main vehicle for dealing with the pacifist conscious. The view of Carl Diem, a loyal interpreter of Coubertin's doctrine andone of the leading ideologues of German (Nazi) expansionism: ÄSport is war!³ (Ä
 port ist  Krieg!
³), most adequately expresses the essence of sport. It should not be forgotten thatCoubertin started the Olympic campaign with an overt aim to effect changes in theFrench education system, in order to transform the French bourgeois youth into colonial phalanges. A colonial
 
campaign
 
Äwithout proper sports preparations³ represents,according to Coubertin, Ädangerous
 
unmindfulness³. It is no wonder that England, as theleading colonial power, where there is place only for Ästrong individuals³, was the mainsource of Coubertin's Olympic inspiration. Furthermore, it is no wonder that Coubertin,in the bloody fights on ancient Olympic playgrounds and medieval tournaments of haughty aristocrats found a source of the Ächivalry spirit³ which a bourgeois should strivefor. War on a sports field was meant to preserve the militaristic traditions of the warringaristocracy and Äovercome³ them by a belligerent and progressistic spirit of monopolisticcapitalism. The ability to Älook death in the eyes³, which appears in the form of a man
 
reduced to Äopponent³, is one of the most important characteristics of Coubertin's Änewman³, while the ability and readiness to kill a man represents the highest challenge for hisÄutilitarian pedagogy³. Writing, after the First World War, on the highest evaluativechallenges of the British ruling circles, Bertrand Russell, one of the most importantBritish philosophers in the XX century, concludes: ÄIn an ordinary high class Britishfamily the killing of birds is considered to be quite honourable and the killing of peoplein war ± the noblest of occupations.³
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A Äneed³ of the aristocrats to kill is not anexpression of human nature, but an expression of the pathology of the aristocratic order which degenerated man and regarded the killing of people as the supreme virtue. Thesame applies to greediness: it is not an authentic human need, but is an expression of the pathology of capitalism attributed to man in order to Äprove³ that capitalism is based onhuman nature and therefore eternal. The behaviour of Ähooligans³ is similar: it does notindicate the nature of young people, but the nature of the ruling order and the position of young people in society.In sport, the belligerent spirit of capitalism becomes Äindependent³ and, by wayof Äsports competition³, strives to resurrect the spirit of the ancient slave-owningaristocracy, as well as the Ächivalry spirit³ of the bloodthirsty medieval lords. Themilitarization of the body, spirit, human relations and the relations between nations andraces is the highest Äcultural³ form in which the ruling belligerent spirit appears. Inantiquity, in the form of the struggle of individuals for acquiring a place on Olympus theruling class struggled to preserve its privileges; in modern society, in the guise of a sportscompetition, the parasitic classes struggle against the emancipatory heritage of humankind and man as the universal creative being of freedom. A sports competition becomes a combat with a competition which does not involve elimination and dominationof one man over another, particularly with a competition which involves the developmentof man's universal creative powers and offers the possibility of overcoming the existingand creating a new world. In sport, there is no outplaying; it is rather that the contestcomes down to a struggle for survival and domination which is completely in line withthe dominant spirit of capitalism: the stronger go on, the weaker are eliminated. The purpose of sport is not the development of play, but the preservation of the ruling order.Interestingly, it does not occur to the bourgeois theorists - according to whomgladiator's fights, knight tournaments, duels and war are Äcompetition³ - to refer to theclass struggle, struggle for women's emancipation, struggle for liberation from thecolonial yoke and particularly revolution ± as Äcompetition³. Likewise, in spite of the fact
 
that they emphasize the struggle, it does not occur to them to include in the concept of  play the struggle between old and new which involves the expansion of the horizon of freedom ± without which there is no true play. Basically, the purpose of competitive playis not the development of the human, but the release of Änegative energy³ so as to preventit from being channeled into a political struggle aiming to eradicate the causes of socialhardship. Play becomes the sterilization of a critical and changing conscious. In Russell,also, competition does not involve a struggle against the unjust and destructive rulingorder, meaning a struggle for freedom and survival; a struggle between old and new; between good and evil; the development of man's artistic (erotic) nature ± it rather involves a struggle against nature, which means the acquisition of technical skills the purpose of which is to establish control over nature and its exploitation.

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