There is a theme running through the social democratic discourse about this elitist, militarised, privatised and commodified Olympic Games which has arrived in our neighbourhood as a vast invasion of strength through joy missionaries. It is that if only we can get the responsible authorities to understand that they should pay attention to a widely shared desire to return to the humanist ideals of the original Olympics as created by the enlightened Baron Pierre de Coubertin we can all calm down and carry on.
However the ideals behind Coubertin's successful co-opting of many pre-existing strands of fictional revivals of ancient Greek Olympic Games, towards the end of the nineteenth century, were far from genteel. According to a great deal of scholarly research into the writings and activities of Coubertin, conducted by Ljubodrag Simonovic, the development of a super-fit elite class of visionary white male leaders was essential to Coubertin to prevent French and European civilisation falling under the dire influence of the emerging organised proletariat. The promotion of these ubermenschen was essential also to carrying forward the sacred task of the imperialist colonisation and exploitation of other races across the World.
The myth of Coubertin is based on the assertion that he devoted his life to the creation of a "better world" governed by"peace" and "cooperation between nations", and that it was the reason why he "restored" the ancient Olympic Games and inspired them with a "new" spirit. If that is so, the question is: why are the works of Pierre de Coubertin - whose written legacy amounts to over 60,000 pages - unknown to the public? How is it possible that in most countries, in which the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic Games was pompously celebrated, not a single line from Coubertin's writings has been published? To make things even more bizarre, the main censors of Coubertin's work are the official "guardians" of his Olympic idea. The major reason for the Olympic gentlemen to assume such an attitude towards the "divine baron" lies in the fact that in his main works Coubertin appears as a militant representative of the European bourgeoisie, who elaborates the strategy and tactics of dealing with working "masses", women and "lower races". Coubertin's political writings are political instructions to rulers of the world how to efficiently deal, by means of sport and physical drill, with the struggle for liberation of the oppressed and establish a global supremacy. It is one of the main reasons why, even six decades after his death, the gentlemen from the IOC, together with those from the national Olympic Committees, do not consider publishing Coubertin's collected works, presenting instead to the public excerpts from his writings in the form of "Selected texts" ("Textes choisis"), from which almost everything indicative of the true nature of his Olympic doctrine has been omitted. Since Coubertin openly stated that capitalism was an unjust order - something that the bourgeois ideologues attempt to hide at all costs - it is quite clear why the bourgeois theory systematically "ignores" Coubertin's work.
As far as the popular thesis about the "apolitical character of sport" is concerned, even those who glorify Olympism and its "founder" think that Coubertin's real "greatness" lies not in his contribution to the development of sport, but in making sport the "means of establishing bridges of cooperation between nations". Coubertin's Olympic engagement became the symbol of a "policy of peace", and Coubertin himself - a "politician of peace". It is therefore quite understandable why the last decade of his life, during which Coubertin openly appeared as a promoter of the Nazi regime, was not included in his 'biography, and why one of the leading interpreters and propagators of Coubertin's Olympism Yves-Pierre Boulongne, trying to "explain" Coubertin's blind devotion to the Nazis and admiration of Hitler, proclaimed him a "schizophrenic". The preservation of the myth of a "peace-loving Coubertin" - who was in reality a fanatic advocate of authoritarianism and colonialism - stands before the ideologues of Olympism as an impossible task. Thus, one of the main concerns of coubertenologists is how to protect the Olympic myth from the "father" of the modern Olympic Games: in order to preserve the "credibility" of the copy, the "followers" must destroy the original.
According to the same criteria by which Coubertin was pronounced the "divine baron" and "one of the greatest humanists of the 20th century", the Nazis should also be regarded as "humanists" and "peacemakers". Were the Berlin Olympics not held as a "symbol of peace" and "international cooperation"? Was it not Hitler who at the Berlin Olympics said the "famous" words: "May the Olympic flame never be extinguished!"? Were the Nazis not those who completed the archaeological excavations of ancient Olympia, with Hitler's generous contribution of 300,000 Reich marks? Was it not Hitler who instructed his architect Albert Speer to design plans for the largest Olympic stadium in the world with a capacity of 400,000 people? Were the Nazis not the first to have organized the carrying of the "Olympic torch" from "holy" Olympia to Berlin, which symbolized the organic closeness of Hellenic civilization and fascist Germany and was to become one of the most significant symbols of the Olympics? Was it not Coubertin who declared that the Nazi Olympics, which according to him were "illuminated with Hitler's strength and discipline", should serve as a model for the subsequent Games, and that Hitler was "one of the greatest constructors of the modern era"? Was it not Coubertin, together with the gentlemen from the IOC, who fervently supported the Nazis, and bequeathed to them his written legacy, with an appeal to protect his Olympic idea from distortion and a "mission" to bury his heart in ancient Olympia?
As for Coubertin's fanatic endeavour to protect the "pureness" of sport, as an idealized embodiment of the original principles of capitalism, from the disastrous influence of commercialism, it has been clear from the very birth of the Olympic Games that it is a lost battle. From its beginnings, sport has been part of the capitalist system of production and a means of integrating man into the capitalist order. In this line Jean-Marie Brohm commented: "Historically, sport followed the development of industrial capitalism. From the very beginning it has been closely connected to the mechanisms of investment, circulation and reproduction of capital. The institution of sport immediately came into the hands of trading capital and was used as a source of profit. The sale of sports spectacles and betting did not emerge together with sports professionalism, but with the first forms of the institutionalized organization of sports competitions."
As capitalism entered the final stage of its development ("consumer society"), sport has become entirely commercialized: instead of displaying national banners, the Olympic Games are becoming increasingly dominated by the symbols of capitalist companies; instead of religio athletae*, reigns the spirit of money; instead of a "Church", the Olympic Games are becoming a "fairground"; instead of embodying the "sanctity" of the Olympic ideals, sportsmen have become "circus gladiators"; instead of being the honorable "guardians of the Olympic spirit", the gentlemen from the IOC have become unscrupulous merchants who turned the Olympic Games into a dirty "business" worth billions of dollars.
Lubodrag Simonovic, Philosophy of Olympism, Introduction, (pub. 2004.) by Ljubodrag Simonovic, Belgrade, Serbia
* "The first essential characteristic of ancient and of modern Olympism alike is that of being a religion."
Pierre de Coubertin, The Philosophic Foundation of Modern Olympism,p131, In; P. de Coubertin, The Olympic Idea, Discourses and essays, Carl Diem Institut. Ed, Karl HofmannVerlag, (1996)
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Thu, 02/08/2012 - 09:02.
After the Real Torch Relay, the Olympics for the People have begun, the ones you can actually participate in. Fattylympics kicked off the season at the Memorial Park in West Ham - without a corporate logo in sight. Regrettably this writer missed the opening but was there for some critical parts of the day, maybe others will provide further more detailed reports!
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sat, 07/07/2012 - 23:37.
Earlier reports of the closure of the London Fields Lido seem to have been exaggerated. According to Hackney an agreement was signed to allow the American Paralympic swimming team to use the pool 'for a few hours a day'. The website says the deal will mean 'local people can look forward to seeing Paralympic swimmers train and children of all abilities will receive coaching from top international athletes' and Hackney will receive various pieces of 'Olympic and Paralympic memorabilia' for its London 2012 archive.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 30/05/2012 - 21:11.
Now it's the turn of Loughborough University and Leicestershire Constabulary to get up the nose of the British Olympic Association! It's already being charged £750,000 to use the facilities at Loughborough for Team GB but it is now facing a further charge of £1million for security.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 29/02/2012 - 15:47.
Perhaps that fragile 'Legacy' shifts quicker than the underground aquifers round here: Some of the new cricket pitches (and what remains of the wildflower meadow) might want digging up for new flood protection (to protect the posh in those 'new neighbourhoods' downriver)?
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Fri, 17/02/2012 - 13:37.
The Pudding Mill White Elephant just won't lie down. It now transpires that the anonymous complainant to the EU Commission was Steve Lawrence, the man commissioned by Stratford Development Partnership more than a decade ago to carry out a feasibility study for the Olympics.
He told Sky:
"I still believe that it is unrealistic to predicate the legacy use on athletics. It can only work with a football use in the stadium.
"I believe if we construct a centre for athletics on the land where the warm-up track will be and then allow the stadium to be converted for football-only use, possibly with joint tenancy for West Ham and Leyton Orient, now Spurs have withdrawn from the process, I think we have a project where everyone can win."
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Thu, 16/02/2012 - 20:11.
A story of what happens when the Olympics comes to town. The Olympic Games and the attendant juggernaut of its needs will threaten an area rich in history and loved by its community and visitors from the rest of London. Hackney has its own unique qualities, a wealth of community projects and a history of great significance and symmetry with today and the prescience for the behemoth of the Olympics, steadily rolling into view.
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Wed, 08/02/2012 - 21:43.
Fantastic news for the Irons, though perhaps no better as yet for the Os. (West Ham to be the 'winter tenant'?)
Olympic Stadium deal with West Ham collapses
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Tue, 11/10/2011 - 06:40.
Athletes are a shambolic lot, they can't walk in a straight line, they wander around, waste time and generally dawdle instead of getting on with the parade! I have to say this wasn't how I viewed athletes. But apparently this is the opinion of the IOC. Blame is being placed on them, possibly rather unfairly, for holding things up during opening ceremonies. In Beijing the ceremony was regarded as an endurance test with athletes on their feet for up to seven hours. A 'source' said "We are seeking ways to force the athletes in the parade of nations to march in a much more orderly fashion, unlike the last few Games when they spread out and wasted time."
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Fri, 07/10/2011 - 22:19.
"They just want to get us in prison for the Olympics" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCeMJPiBtiw must-watch film of young Bow residents
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Mon, 26/09/2011 - 10:03.