FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Let the Muddle Begin

by BINOY KAMPMARK

It has begun.  Oscar-winning Danny Boyle is one of the artistic gatekeepers who was commissioned to deal with the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, and was given £27m to do it.  There was Mary Poppins, the Red Arrows, there was the Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, decked in yellow jersey in front of the Olympic bell.  There was historical context thrown in, idiosyncratic twists and turns.  If people find hope and happiness in such saccharine nonsense, well and good.  There was certainly some bafflement to be had.

The occasion provides a stupefacient, annulling the senses.  If the fireworks show is good, then everything else will go swimmingly.  “What the Olympics have, in their formal, cyclical way,” wrote a clearly moved James Lawton (Independent, Jul 28), “is renewal, a wiping-away of the past and a huge investment not so much in the future but the moment.”  Criticism is muted, even neutered – one “had to be a brave and resilient polemicist last night” to ignore being caught up in that moment.

Then come the almost moronic comparisons – the pissing contest is all de rigueur when it comes to Olympic openings.  Did, for instance, Beijing do it better?  “Watching these open ceremonies,” tweeted Slate’s Matt Yglesias, “fairly confident that China will bury the west.”  Police states must have all the fun at sporting ceremonies.  Marina Warner of the Guardian was thrilled by the “brilliantly irrational night” – and its indigestibility for foreign palettes.  A true muddle of a scene.

Then there was Mitt Romney’s London visit, one that went hopelessly wrong for the US presidential contender.  His own summations of London’s Olympic effort were negative, something that immediately placed his own record regarding the 2002 Winter Games in Utah in the spotlight. Let’s ignore, shall we, the corruption endemic to that event, and the papering over received from federal funding.

Or rather, let’s not.  Former rival Rick Santorum in February remaindered us that, “One of the things he talks about most is how he heroically showed up on the scene and bailed out and resolved the problems of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.”  He did so by “heroically [bailing] out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake Games in an earmark.”  An unimpressed Prime Minister David Cameron took his rapier out:   “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympics Games in the middle of nowhere.”  Rupert Murdoch’s UK Sun also jointed the criticism – this was “Mitt the Twit” talking.

So, matters are already proving entertaining for London 2012.  Where there is rhetoric on fairness in sport, an actuality of corruption is bound to take precedence.  The ‘peoples games’ is all too often a short hand expression for ‘orgy of the elite’, playground for the terminally cashed.  Be it the sportsmen and women who fight it out on the pitches or the Olympic Committee members who move about their anointed cities like an intergalactic parasite consuming all before them, we know each Olympics when we see it.  London has seen the unfortunate construction and allocation of road lanes dubbed “Zil” lanes (or Game Lanes) – if Stalin’s vehicles could have special access in the proletarian paradise, so can Olympic officials and their various impedimenta.

The introduction of those lanes has been particularly disrupting for motorists.  One can be fined £130 for making unauthorised use of them, and a mass revolt by drivers should be encouraged.  (So far, one item of resistance has been documented – a taxi driver taking the plunge off the Tower Bridge in protest against the exclusivity of those lanes.)  In any case, given that space is at a premium in London’s transport infrastructure, such a move is something the city can ill afford.  On Wednesday, this became all too apparent with the eight-mile clog-up on the M4 motorway.

Transport for London, that Orwellian overseer of a system they scant understand, have been pleased by the compliance of Londoners.  Riots are not imminent – yet.  “Compliance among drivers have been high” (Independent, Jul 25).  There was less compliance on the part of those providing the new cable car system, valued at £45m.  More than 30 cars, equipped with 60 passengers, were suspended 300 ft above Thames on Wednesday.  Emirates Air Line – the geniuses behind it – had some explaining to do.

If not on the roads, then on the Tube – the London transport system will be moving into a well-earned paralysis.  For the duration of this month, there will be regular announcements of delays on every single line of the network.  Globally, the Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith, and City Lines, shall be made more famous than they already are.  Yes, the games have well and truly begun.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians to the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
Rivera Sun
Accountability: An Abandoned American Value
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
Robert Koehler
The Heart of Order
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail