[Marxism] Review of Wheen's 'Biography' of *Capital*

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 24 11:49:18 MDT 2006

Charles wrote:

>One wonders if by staying past its time of historical obsolescence,
>reaching its "night of the living dead" phase of imperialism,  politically
>eliminating the first nation of its socialist replacement , some of
>capitalism's postive features and liberating properties have turned into
>their opposites.

Charles might have a point, especially in light of Michael's concluding 

>Finally, in connection with its liberating potential, Marx held that
>capitalism demystified, rationalized, and secularized human culture
>and action, freeing the human mind from that "smallest compass" of
>superstition, idolatry, religious and political illusions, and,
>through its development of science and materialism, extended human
>mastery over nature and developed arts, faculties, and achievements in
>a world- historic sense.   Michael Hoover

Baseball's Rockies seek revival on two levels
Updated 6/1/2006 2:26 PM ET
By Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY

DENVER — No copies of Playboy or Penthouse are in the clubhouse of 
baseball's Colorado Rockies. There's not even a Maxim. The only reading 
materials are daily newspapers, sports and car magazines and the Bible.

Music filled with obscenities, wildly popular with youth today and in many 
other clubhouses, is not played. A player will curse occasionally but 
usually in hushed tones. Quotes from Scripture are posted in the weight 
room. Chapel service is packed on Sundays. Prayer and fellowship groups 
each Tuesday are well-attended. It's not unusual for the front office 
executives to pray together.

On the field, the Rockies are trying to make the playoffs for the first 
time in 11 seasons and only the second time in their 14-year history. 
Behind the scenes, they quietly have become an organization guided by 
Christianity — open to other religious beliefs but embracing a 
Christian-based code of conduct they believe will bring them focus and success.

 From ownership on down, it's an approach the Rockies are proud of — and 
something they are wary about publicizing. "We're nervous, to be honest 
with you," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd says. "It's the first time we 
ever talked about these issues publicly. The last thing we want to do is 
offend anyone because of our beliefs."

Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings says: "They do preach character and good 
living here. It's a must for them, and that starts from the very top. But 
we're not a military group. ... Nobody is going to push their beliefs on 
each other or make judgments. We do believe that if you do things right and 
live your life right, good things are going to happen."

The Rockies, at 27-24 entering Tuesday, are having their best season since 
1995 with a payroll of $44 million, the lowest in the National League's 
West Division. Their season ticketholders and fans are, for the most part, 
unaware of the significance the Rockies place on Christian values.

"I had no idea they were a Christian team. ... I would love for them to 
talk about their Christianity publicly," says Tim Boettcher, 42, a season 
ticketholder for 12 years and an elder at the Hosanna Lutheran Church in 
Littleton, Colo. "It makes sense because of the way they conduct 
themselves. You don't see the showboating and the trash talking. ... They 
look like a team and act like a team."

That's a departure from the team's recent past. Colorado has averaged 91 
losses the last five years, the legacy of costly personnel decisions that 
didn't pan out.

"We had to go to hell and back to know where the Holy Grail is. We went 
through a tough time and took a lot of arrows," says Rockies chairman and 
CEO Charlie Monfort, one of the original owners.

Monfort did, too. He says that after years of partying, including 18 
months' probation for driving while impaired, he became a Christian three 
years ago. It influenced how he wanted to run the club, he says.

"We started to go after character six or seven years ago, but we didn't 
follow that like we should have," he says. "I don't want to offend anyone, 
but I think character-wise we're stronger than anyone in baseball. 
Christians, and what they've endured, are some of the strongest people in 
baseball. I believe God sends signs, and we're seeing those."

The use of faith as a motivator and team-builder isn't unusual in sports.

A few minor league teams — particularly in the South — have held Faith 
Night promotions for churchgoing fans that have featured rock concerts and 
even sermons. It's common to see groups of professional football and 
basketball players in postgame prayer circles.

The Rockies' approach is unusual in that religious doctrine is a guide for 
running a franchise. The club's executives emphasize they are not 
intolerant of other views.

"We try to do the best job we can to get people with the right sense of 
moral values, but we certainly don't poll our players or our organization 
to find out who is Christian and who isn't," says O'Dowd, who says he has 
had prayer sessions on the telephone with club President Keli McGregor and 
manager Clint Hurdle. "I know some of the guys who are Christians, but I 
can't tell you who is and who isn't."

Is it possible that some Rockies are playing the role of good Christians 
just to stay in the team's good graces? Yes, former Rockies say.

"They have a great group of guys over there, but I've never been in a 
clubhouse where Christianity is the main purpose," says San Francisco 
Giants first baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney, a veteran of seven 
organizations who spent 2003 and 2004 with the Rockies. "You wonder if some 
people are going along with it just to keep their jobs.

"Look, I pray every day," Sweeney says. "I have faith. It's always been 
part of my life. But I don't want something forced on me. Do they really 
have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?"

Approach not for everyone

Other baseball executives say they appreciate the Rockies' new emphasis on 
good character but say they would never try to build a team of Christian 

"You don't hear about it so much with their players, but you hear about it 
with their front office," San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers 
says. "That's not us. ... We wouldn't do that. But who's to say they're 
wrong for doing that?"

The Rockies, who tied for the second-worst record in baseball last year at 
67-95, are on pace to finish with a franchise-record 86 wins. They have had 
at least a share of first place for 32 days and were in first as recently 
as May 21.

They have fine pitching, led by starters Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis and 
Jennings, and a bullpen anchored by Brian Fuentes is on target for the 
lowest earned run average in franchise history.

Their defense ranks third in the league. All-Star first baseman Todd 
Helton, the face of the organization, has been joined by rising outfield 
stars Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe.

"I'm very proud of the comeback they've made," says baseball Commissioner 
Bud Selig, adding he was unaware of the extent of the team's focus on 
religious values. "They have to do what they feel is right."

Helton, a regular at the team's chapel services, says: "There is a plan for 
everything. ... We have a lot of good people in here, people who care about 
each other. People who want to do what's right."

Hurdle, 48, who says he became a Christian three years ago, says of the 
team's devotion: "We're not going to hide it. We're not going to deny it. 
This is who we are."

While praising their players, Rockies executives make clear they believe 
God has had a hand in the team's improvement.

"You look at things that have happened to us this year," O'Dowd says. "You 
look at some of the moves we made and didn't make. You look at some of the 
games we're winning. Those aren't just a coincidence. God has definitely 
had a hand in this."

Arrest sparks change

By the time the sun rose Dec. 4, 2004, Rockies management had vowed the 
direction of the organization would change. Pitcher Denny Neagle had been 
charged with soliciting a prostitute, another embarrassment for a franchise 
that had not been competitive for years.

"God gave us a challenge right then and there," McGregor says. "You always 
say you want to do the right thing, but often in this business we warp our 
values and do less than what's the right thing."

Colorado released Neagle three days after his arrest — he joined the Tampa 
Bay Devil Rays but did not stick — and ended up paying $16 million of the 
$19 million owed him on his contract.

"It was an expensive, painful education," McGregor says.

Monfort says: "We had a great thing with the fans, making the playoffs in 
'95, selling out, and we just became arrogant. The honeymoon started 
waning, and we went into panic mode" by spending millions on free agent 
players who didn't pan out.

The Rockies say they welcome anyone regardless of religious beliefs. "We 
don't just go after Christian players," O'Dowd says. "That would be unfair 
to others. We go after players of character."

There have been exceptions. When the Rockies signed reliever Jose Mesa last 
December, they were aware of his 1996 rape charge, for which he was 
acquitted. O'Dowd, who knew Mesa, talked extensively to him and his agent 
before signing him. Mesa has appeared in the most games of any Rockies 
pitcher this season (27, with a 0-1 record and 3.52 ERA).

"Look, we don't want to come across as holier than thou. None of us are 
perfect," O'Dowd says. "But I just feel like if you have people with the 
right heart and their desires are with the right intent, what bad can come 
out of that?"

Monfort and McGregor have never shared their religious views at owners 
meetings, Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf says.

"It's interesting, but I had no idea. I don't think any of us do," says 
Reinsdorf, who, like Selig, is Jewish. "I do believe character is very 
important. But only to a point. Does this mean ... Babe Ruth (a Hall of 
Famer and notorious carouser) could never have played there?"

The Rockies' clean-living approach is reflected throughout the 
organization, including its minor league teams, Monfort says. "I don't want 
our 17-, 18-year-old kids to sign, leave mom and dad and be on the road for 
the first time and have to see and be part of" a typical clubhouse culture, 
he says.

Winning still important

Religion's role in baseball occasionally has created controversy, most 
recently in Washington.

The Washington Nationals suspended a volunteer chaplain and issued an 
apology last year after outfielder Ryan Church, a devout Christian, made 
public conversations he had with the chaplain about an ex-girlfriend who 
was Jewish. Church told The Washington Post he had asked Jon Moeller 
whether Jews were "doomed" because they "don't believe in Jesus." Church 
said Moeller "nodded, like, that's what it meant."

After Jewish community leaders complained, Church issued a statement 
saying, "I am not the type of person who would call into question the 
religious beliefs of others."

Helton echoes Rockies executives who say the team rejects intolerance. "I 
have never noticed anybody feeling uncomfortable here," he says. "We have 
good people here. ... Guys who stay out of trouble. Guys who go to Bible 
study every Tuesday. But it's still a baseball clubhouse."

Monfort says he realizes fans aren't going to flock to Coors Field to watch 
nice guys finish last. There still must be success on the field.

Colorado drew at least 3 million each of the first nine years of the 
franchise. But the Rockies haven't sold more than 2.7 million tickets in a 
season since 2001, and attendance fell to a franchise-low 1.9 million last 
year. They're on pace to draw 2 million this year.

"After the whole thing with Denny Neagle and contracts that didn't work 
out, they were the laughingstock on several different levels. It really 
left a bad taste for people," says Scot Minshall, 33, general manager of 
Jackson's Sports Rock bar, across the street from Coors Field. "Now there's 
actually something to cheer for."

As for whether the cheering will last, McGregor says, "Who knows where we 
go from here? The ability to handle success will be a big part of the 
story, too. There will be distractions. There will be things that can 
change people. But we truly do have something going on here. And (God's) 
using us in a powerful way."



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