Football Has Got Too Big For Its Fancy Coloured Boots, Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 14/8/2014

 

A reasonable article by Kettle that even has the courage to mention old Charlie Marx and the notion of ‘false consciousness’. Well done Mr Kettle. And his summation of Premier League football is right on the button. Kettle writes; ‘The charge sheet against modern football is not difficult to draw up. Too much money. Too many mercenaries. Too little motivation. Too few roots. Not enough skill or nurture. No moral compass.’ That’s about as comprehensive a summation as is required. Whole books have been written providing statistics and anecdotes to flesh out the argument and to compare and contrast with a so called golden age of community based clubs. But Kettle doesn’t do that. Instead he makes comparisons with other sports which he imagines are somehow more wholesome. On this I think he is mistaken. All professional sport is now contaminated, to a greater or lesser degree, with the social ills that Kettle’s list so accurately describes. Doping, cheating and corruption are endemic across the board. And why wouldn’t they be. Sport, like all cultural aspects of modern life, merely reflects the wider economic world. If Kettle had really read his Marx, he would be quoting this equally profound premise and building his article around it.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 August 2014 12:11 )

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Desert Storm, Grant Wahl, Time Magazine, 4/8/14

Despite the obvious US corporate nature of Time Magazine, there is a half decent article on Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup preparations. I say half decent, because it is the things that aren’t discussed rather than the things that are, that is the real problem here. Wahl does a good enough job of outlining the three main issues associated with Qatar’s controversial bid. Firstly there are the allegations of corruption and kickbacks connected with the original bid. Despite whatever the FIFA ‘ethics committee’ might come up with, there is almost certainly some meat to these claims. Secondly, Qatar is a damn hot country at the best of times and holding a football tournament in the middle of summer certainly cannot be considered suitable either for players or spectators. A move to the winter months may mitigate against this absurdity but it will be resisted by the powerful European leagues and their corporate sponsors. Thirdly, and most importantly, Wahl gives further oxygen to the damning claims of slave labour conditions under which the imported workers building the huge infrastructure projects are being forced to work under. Over 1000 workers have already died on the Qatar construction sites associated with the Qatar World Cup and that figure is certain to rise dramatically by the time the first kick is taken in 2022. Having fairly outlined these three issues, Wahl correctly reports on the Qatari response; that the criticisms are driven by European racism and anti-Islamic bias. But Wahl, not wanting to upset his US corporate employees, offers no real discussion around this Qatari response.   He should because this is the really interesting bit.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 August 2014 12:11 )

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Jon Snow, Channel Four News.

I’ve stopped watching Channel Four News. Childish perhaps, given that it’s probably the best TV news service available in Britain, but I’m just too narked to watch it any more. The tipping point was Jon Snow’s interview this week with a Hamas spokesman. It was a blatant travesty of journalism. Whatever Snow’s or the viewers’ opinion of Hamas might be, if you are going to invite the man to give his organisation’s viewpoint, then at least give him the courtesy of giving it uninterrupted. Instead he and we were treated to a pointless haranguing by Snow every time the Hamas spokesman attempted to talk. Now I’m all for aggressive journalism, a keystone of any would be democracy, but this tipped way over the bounds of aggressive interviewing. It was nothing short of John Snow trying to foist his opinions onto and over that of Hamas. And in any respect, Snow was surely pursuing the wrong question.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 August 2014 12:12 )

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Socialist Worker Party Implodes: No Laughing Matter

If you don’t have a particular predilection for plucky little left-wing groups, even the larger of them, you might allow yourself a quiet chuckle when reading of the inner party difficulties currently being experienced within the SWP. (New Statesman 10/5/14). But it’s no laughing matter. Because every time a  progressive party, group, faction or tendency implodes, it raises the desperately critical question of just what sort of organisation, if any, is required to shift mankind from a system of private ownership to one of  social ownership. A grim statistic issued recently from one of the leading NGO’s claimed that the wealthiest 1300 billionaires held 96% of the world’s wealth while the remaining seven billion of us are left to scratch around for a share of the remaining 4%.  Or, in the words of the Occupy Movement, the one percent have seized control of the world’s wealth at the expense of the ninety nine percent. Whichever way you wish to phrase it, these are truly shocking statistics. If ever there were need for some form of revolutionary organisation it surely must be now. But the perennial question: what sort of organisation is required?   

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 May 2014 16:43 )

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What are the key defining moments in Britain’s imperial decline? The massive Lend Lease debts incurred during the Second World War, and still being paid to the USA some seventy years later. The rapid loss of colonies after the war, with India, the jewel in the crown, being the most significant. Then came the Suez debacle. After Suez came the collapse of the pound and the humiliating need for an IMF bailout. And the final nail in the imperial coffin, the selling off of Britain’s assets to the highest bidder. The takeover of the privatised British Steel by the Indian Tata Steel Group was a particularly painful historical irony for British capital to swallow. China has now been drafted in to finance and build the next generation of nuclear power stations. And the list of once mighty British companies that grew rich on the spoils of empire that are now in foreign hands grows by the day. Last year it was Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury’s.This year it is shaping up to be Pfizer’s takeover of British pharmaceuticals company, AstraZeneca. How the mighty have fallen.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 May 2014 15:24 )

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