The Great 2008 Olympics: The Russians stand up to the Empire
Aready one thing is clear: these will be the best Olympics since the quadrennial imperial charade was spoiled by protest in 1968.
The Mexican Olympics were quite similar to these: the only other time the games went into the "developing world." In neither case was the intent to demonstrate the openness of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to the world's majority class. In fact, the IOC, much like the UN and other international organizations, exists so as to promote Imperialism Lite: making those small and largely symbolic gestures to the third world while actively enforcing the imperialist's rule of law. As such, the IOC went to Mexico and China for no reason but to help build Capitalism. The games have less to do with athletic competition than with marketing, and the hope in China is that the Olympic sponsors can tap into the market potential of the world's most populous nation.
If the games had anything to do with nurturing democracy, they would probably be held somewhere in Latin America, now home to the world's only grassroots leaders. The old guard and their interests in Wall Street tried to push Evo Morales out of power in Bolivia, but he threw an overwhelming victory in a referendum right back in their face earlier this week. Meanwhile, Hugo Chavez has given the left something to be excited about for the first time since the hey-day of Castro's ability to make American presidents look like incompetent assholes.
But that was when it took someone of Castro's wit and intelligence to make an American president look like an incompetent asshole.
And so normally the front pages of the imperial press are spread with Olympic results these days, as the empire pats itself on the back for being the best at games they invented. But now the pictures of cute and beaming Americans with their little medals around their necks are shoved a few pages in, thanks to the Russians lifting the metaphorical middle finger at NATO for their refusal to recognize Georgia's persecution of the Russian majority in breakaway South Ossetia.
Michael Phelps is going after eight gold medals!? Who cares!! We got good ol' Russian hating to fill the pages of the New York Times with! The fascination in the West with discounting all Slavs as fools continues un-abated. The interim period between the Soviet Union's fall and today was largely filled by scapegoating of Serbs in the former Yugoslavia..
As Kosovo was granted "independence" earlier this year, you'd have a hard time deciphering in the mainstream press that this officially completed 17 years of forced ethnic cleansing of Kosovo by the NATO powers. Russia saw their Slavic brothers and sisters humiliated by the empire's "international organizations," which did their old favourite trick of giving a repressed minority land that isn't theirs, thus exacerbating an international conflict, likely setting in motion decades of diplomatic headache and potential war.
In fact, the current bloodshed is probably related to the decision to grant Kosovan independence. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev believes so in an analysis he published this week in the Washington Post. Russia has been repeatedly blind-sighted by the Bush administration and his European accomplices over the last 7 years. In addition to Kosovan independence and using Georgia as a pawn to gain leverage in Russia's backyard, the Bushies have been actively pursuing the return of Star Wars in Eastern Europe. Naturally, one would expect Russia to remind the West that it still is a force to be reckoned with.
Of course, Russian muscle has always been a convenient omission in American World history. High School students in the Land of the Free are errantly taught that their country was the great hero of World War II. No doubt the fantastic landing at Normandy was heroic and American aid in the war was probably crucial, but there can be no doubt that the Eastern front was where the bulk of the battle went on. Some 30 million Russians were vanquished by the war and the purges, compared to a few hundred thousand in the rising Empire. Americans killed more people with two bombs in Japan, if you count immediate and long term radiation deaths, than they lost in the overall war effort.
When you remind an American of this fact, they like to scream back at you about Stalin's Gulags. The point here is that they had it coming: that a country that doesn't know how to treat its own deserves a treacherous fate.
If this is the case, I must warn Americans to take notice that they have it coming! The two great Gulag states of the modern world are the United States and the current Olympic hosts in that order, if you measure by prison population per capita.
The current American Gulag is absolutely spiteful. All you need to know is "one in nine." If you know nine black adult males, chances are that one of them is currently sitting behind bars. The others are probably scrambling to pay bills and avoid foreclosure on their homes as the credit crunch, stagnant wages and the unravelling dollar combine to keep working America bound to a wretched routine of wage slavery. No surprise then that the most desperate might occasionally break into a car and steal a radio. You are living in the land of plenty and you have jack shit: violence and crime seem rational in such conditions.
Meanwhile, the best that the grassroots can think up is a candidate for president that goes babbling on about hope. What's all this about Obama being a good speaker!? This shows you how uneducated American society has become! You fling a bunch of impassioned bullshit at an American and they're in awe.
Martin Luther King Jr was a great speaker, Jesse Jackson is a skilled orator, and Malcolm X would get people nice and riled up. Obama is merely a mouthpiece for corporate America's trendy arm: those in the ruling elite that realize you should probably have some sex appeal to your presidential candidate if you want to guarantee popular mandate. He embodies all things that were once progressive but have since been conquered by the market: ethnic diversity, an embrace of hip-hop, a youthful image, and, of course, the Hope Trademark.
In the footsteps of the flame, Obama went touring through Europe, if you can call it that. He actually went to grandstand in Berlin a la Kennedy: putting down anyone whoever questioned the American model of "democracy." His campaign refused to let Berliners show up with signs in hand, meaning that democracy was forbidden at the very moment that he was touting it. In fact, Berliners don't need some politician from the states to come over and tell them how things function in the free world: they were at the centre of the grand cleavage of 20th century Western discourse while Obama was safely tucked away in the halls of Columbia and Harvard University.
After Berlin, he was off to Paris, where he briefly kissed Sarko's ass and went out of his way to diss the centre-left Socialist Party, despite marked effort by Socialist leaders to schedule a meeting with the Democratic hopeful. You figure that the candidate of the more leftward party in the states might meet with his counterpart party in France, right? No!! His campaign is about hope and change, not trivial old notions like the 35 hour work week, the right to strike and all that garbage! Get with it, yo!
Just when Obama was reinforcing the idea that there is just one Way, and any criticism of the Way is dated, the Russians, as they often have through the last 100 years, remind the world that there is always more than just one Way. In fact, I can't see any reason to think that there aren't infinite ways, as long as humans are allowed to be imaginative and free.
With the "Fall of Communism" came the vacuuming up of the once existent Other Way. China and Russia, the two prominent Communist powers of yesteryear, were swallowed up by the imperial behemoth in two separate ways. The Chinese demonstrated their subservience to American power by financing the American debt and, resultantly, American war and munitions. The Russians, meanwhile, allowed the markets to come storming in, transforming Moscow into the billionaire's capital of the world, whilst leaving the rest of the country in relative economic and social ruin. China quickly became the poster boy of the American dream, and this Olympics is meant to culminate years of pulling the Asian power into the American Imperial apparatus.
Russia, on the other hand, seems still intent on spoiling the party. How does one spoil an American party? One does what is logically in your best interest!
While the U.S. continues to zero in on a final deal with Poland regarding Star Wars in Eastern Europe, the Russians remind the U.S. that it is still capable of standing up for itself. The Imperial press has blamed this aggression on the Russians, except for a brief segment on FoxNews where a 12 year old came to tell the truth. The reality is that the Russians are upholding their international legal right to defend their nationals in a disputed territory that were illegally bombarded by Georgian military power.
During these great Olympic games, we should all take a lesson from the Russians and stand up for our best interests. For the working majority, this means universal health care, the right to strike and collective bargain, generous vacation benefits for all, just pensions for all, decent housing for all, and an immediate end to the wretched American Gulag.
I've heard enough about "hope"! It's time we start talking about action!
Matt Reichel recently worked on Denis Kucinich's US presidential campaign.