Colin Powell as Bonapartist

Bruce Buchan bruceb at
Mon Feb 5 14:51:28 MST 1996

I would like to reply to a recent comment on this topic: "Is Adorno correct,
I wonder? Is professional sports just a capitalist plot to keep the masses
dumbed down? Maybe there's something to this."

I am sure Adorno was right, but only insofar as any organised activity in a
capitalist regime serves a repressive or conformist function.  But this
would include such things as music, art, education, architecture, etc., as
well as sport.  But if we simply accepted this as a brute fact of life in
capitalist society, we should all become rather pessimistic about the
prospects for change. The fact is that while many of these activities serve
the purposes of 'the system', they contain elements which do not.  I am
reminded of Adorno's critique of jazz music and his consequent celebration
of the Western classical tradition, which seemed ignorant of the roots of
jazz in the political and socio-economic oppression of black Americans.
Though it seems trite to say it, jazz was a more unrestrained, dynamic,
unconventional, and revolutionary force than Western classical music.

Similarly, many types of sports had their origins in working class
communities, e.g. soccer and Australian rules football, and maintain a
strong working class character today, dspite the intrusion of big money
interests.  Sport is neither identical to nor coextensive with capitalism,
most sporting competitions pre-date the capitalist era, and in
pre-capitalist times served to bind communities together.  Some sports have
also been used to serve revolutionary purposes, such as the German and
Allied soldiers playing soccer between the trenches in WW1.  

Of course none of this denies that sport has been used to the advantage of
the capitalist system, but so have most other activities.  As with these
other activities, those interested in revolution or social change should
identify the elements within them which are conducive to encouraging and
sustaining sentiments critical of the current system.  


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