Marc Perelman pulls no punches in this succinct and searing broadside, assailing the ‘recent form of barbarism’ that is the global sporting event. Forget the Olympics and consider, under Perelman’s guidance, the ledger of inequities maintained by such supposedly harmless games.
They have provided a smokescreen for the forcible removal of ‘undesirables’; aided governments in the pursuit of racist agendas; affirmed the hypocrisy of drug-testing in an industry where doping is more an imperative than an aberration; and developed the pornographic hybrid that Perelman dubs ‘sporn’, a further twist in our corrupt obsession with the body.
Drawing examples from the modern history of the international sporting event, Perelman argues that today’s colosseums, upheld as examples of ‘health’, have become the steamroller for a decadent age fixated on competition, fame and elitism.
Paperback, 144 pages
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As neoliberal policies and monetary hegemony continue to dominate around the globe, protests for democracy and against the political elite are widespread. It is, yet again, kicking off everywhere.
With such an incredible history of grassroots protest in South America, it's no surprise that Brazilians and Chileans are the latest to take to the streets in mass demonstrations against corruption and their political leaders. In Brazil, what started out as a demonstration against bus and train fare increases turned into a much bigger protest about poor public services and the exorbitant cost of next year's World Cup. Meanwhile, in Chile's capital, mostly peaceful demonstrations erupted into battles with riot police as protesters demand education reform and wider distribution of Chile's wealth.
The following reading list from Verso suggests books to help us understand the multifaceted histories of uprising in Central and South America, as well as grasp the unfolding scenes of protest in recent weeks.
Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions
By Paul Mason
Originally published in 2012 to wide acclaim, this updated edition, Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere, includes coverage of the most recent events in the wave of revolt and revolution sweeping the planet.
BBC journalist and author Paul Mason combines the anecdotes gleaned through first-hand reportage with political, economic and historical analysis to tell the story of today’s networked revolution.
Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere not only addresses contemporary struggles, it provides insights into the future of global revolt.
Published by à l’encontre, 21 June 2013
By Michel Caillat and Marc Perelman
Most analysts have been able to understand and explain the genesis of the mass demonstrations that have taken place in Brazil in recent weeks. It was the rise in public transport fares that unleashed the nationwide wave of struggle, affecting all the major cities which must play host to the matches of the upcoming 2014 football World Cup. From this followed a whole cascade of demands concerning health, education, opposition to privatisation, opposition to repression, and generally standing up for public services, all of which have been put into question by the government of Dilma Rousseff and her friends in the Workers’ Party (PT). The ‘ocean of roses’ on which Lula thought he could navigate has transformed into a vast mass of thorns.
“The end of the history of culture manifests itself in two opposing forms: the project of culture’s self-transcendence within total history, and its preservation as a dead object for spectacular contemplation. The first tendency has linked its fate to social critique, the second to the defense of class power.” - Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
There was much to analyse in the Olympics opening ceremony, and many questions raised (the most obvious being ‘has someone spiked my drink?’). But the element that has drawn most debate has been the celebration of the NHS – a bizarre sequence of dancing nurses, children’s nightmares and a looming Lord Voldemort seen off by a squadron of Mary Poppinses.
It was instantly hailed by many on the left as a grand subversive gesture, one in the eye for Cameron and Boris and the rest, and a call to arms to defend the NHS.
At Lenin’s Tomb, Richard Seymour poured scorn on the spectacle as a rallying cry against the cuts:
Amid the general Sunday morning hangover, I hope those on the soft left who threw aside their probity for a saturnalian flag-fest are now in the mood to confess and repent. Lawks, Mary Poppins saving the NHS from Voldemort to the tune of Branson's money-spinner Tubular Bells! Let the Tories dare privatise the NHS now! (They're already doing it. They'll still be doing it on Monday. The fine nurses and doctors from Great Ormond Street Hospital danced in vain if this was supposed obstruct this determined class assault.).
But how genuinely subversive was the ceremony anyway? It may have had the Daily Mail and right-wing MPs and pundits frothing, but its content was obviously LOCOG-approved, and while Tory MP Aidan Burley called it “leftist crap”, it also had Boris Johnson crying “hot tears of patriotic pride”. Even the Nazi-impersonating MP Burley had to qualify his comments with “we all love the NHS”.