Friday, 29 June 2018

The World Cup, sport and the political Left and Right

The World Cup cultural and potical meanings and discourse... There is a cultural link and echo that is sounding around Europe. The World Cup a superficial level can be dismissed as a new opium of the people by the left and while others on the right could argue naively that it has nothing to do with any political discourse. Yet there is an interconnection and subconscious process that has political implications.

The chants of "God save the Queen" and "Rule Britannia" are not left wing songs..they imply rule; empire, and the threat of the foreigner.. and they are sung by the political right and are used as a subtext by the Far Right. The Union Jack is used in the same way by the same people. It us too late to be proud of it. We are twenty years into devolution and the UK is simply the English state creaking and breaking apart. The Nations of the UK the Welsh: the Scottish and others have their own identity now and their flags do not come with the legacy of Empire and of the political right. Yesterday I was lectures on social media about "our national team" .I replied it was not my team and was called xenophobic by xenophobes...and the sad thing was that they had no awareness that they were and knew not of the numerous nation's that are the people's of Brexit isle...
Sport was crucial in the 1950s allowing West Germany to recover after the horrors of 1939. In 1966 victory I the World Cup empowered Wilson and Labour to win a landslide election. But it was not the Football of the corporation's of the Premier League that is so powerful in promoting a right wing and nationalist agenda .

Sport is a socially transforming force in South America and footballers are progressive and socialist in outlook. Sport does not have to be the new opium of the people but here it often is and particular to the bluekippers. We heard the chants in 2016 after Brexit and before. However last night I loved the irony of an own goal leading to English defeat by Belgium as Theresa May negotiated Brexit.botb were of course own goals as both woke to reality.

The German defeat and ejection from the World Cup is an omen that says much about Mutti Merkel and the fall of her government. Sport offers social and political commentary as well as synchronicity. The rights denial of its political significance and the left's incomprehension of it as a possible force for progress must be challenged..

Over the last 35 years I have often heard the view that organised sport was the new "opium of the people" designed to keep the masses docile and to distract people away from the real issues. I thought of a very different tradition in South America, where the left organised on the terraces, where Che Guevera played Rugby and wrote a sports column in a newspaper, where the French Philoxpher Albert Camus was a keen footballer and a lover of the sun. While it is true that the corporation that is manchester United and other premier Lragie teams are essential corporations it is important for the left to contest the UKIPISATION of the working class.

I remember some ten years ago we in Swansea Green Party celebrated and congratulated Swansea on the erection of the statue of John Charles, the prominent sportsfigure of the area. I remember getting more positive comments about that one press story than any other story we had publushed that year. People congratulated the party on understanding the significance of John Charles. At the next Green Party meeting I was criticised by a former member of the party for daring to wade into such a minor issue. Some weeks ago I published a Green Dragon story on Welsh sporting success on a local party web site and got told off once more. I really think that sport is a blind spot for the Left and for Ecosocialists in general. Perhaps its because we were once the serious ones, who were useless at team games, or like me because my sight was lousy.....I dont know....perhaps we consider ourselves above it all. I do know those who celebrate great works of literature often forget that in Elizabethan England all classes and people attended the plays of Shajespeare and the like. Perhaps we experience a major disconnect between high culture and popular culture.?

Its no accident that Maradona has a tattoo of Che Guevera, its no accident that in the 1970's the far right recruited on the teraces of the football match.Organised sport would enable criticism by us to be made of the corporations that the premier league is, the facts that ma y ordinary people can no longer afford to watch Rugby or Football live, to expose the schemes of Rupert Murdoch and his ilk.I wonder if we could appreciate this.

Then there is the subtext that we could comment on. As an exile returning to Wales I had foregotten that Rugby was the sport of ordinary Welsh people, it England Rugby is the game of the Public Schools and the Old Grammar schools, of the English ruling class.Thats why its great to see England humiliated by a subject nation and a former colonial state.Its the return of the repressed, its a collapse of the corporate campaign of the English brand, tied to big business, the denial of the role of ordinary people in sport.

There is a major role for the left to be involved in sport it would enable us to ask questions on the role of sport in promoting notions of gender and sexuality and of power. Womens football and Rugby has far to go in acheiving parity with that of men. The obscene payments made to Premier League players illustrates inequality of income, the attitude to gay players is shocking paticularly in the Premier League.

We fail to understand Sport ion the left, yet fitness, health and self confidence is the key to empowerment and self realisation. Sport deserves to be an area the left can get its ideas across in. Change begins when popular culture is understood and sneered at. We need to grasp this point to began real engagement. Even the popular culture of the Big Brother house teaches us much about political power and group psychology. I make a plea for us to understand and act.
Some months ago we were in a taxi chatting about politics to the driver. His analysis was radical and left wing but he hated politicians. He wasclearly on the left but did not see it this way at all.Sport offers a way to reconnect, to learn the ─║anguage, to connect popular culture and high culture and to stop us all within the left appearing smug, condescending and to realise the smug condescending attitude we have comes from is our own individual psycholgy.....

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