Brazil: Workers Struggle Trumps Sports Spectacle
by James PetrasF
or decades social critics have bemoaned the influence of sports and entertainment spectacles in ‘distracting’ workers from struggling for their class interests. According to these analysts, ‘class consciousness’ was replaced by ‘mass’ consciousness.
They argued that atomized individuals, manipulated by the mass media, were converted into passive consumers who identified with millionaire sports heroes, soap opera protagonists and film celebrities.
The culmination of this ‘mystification’ – mass distraction –were the ‘world championships’ watched by billions around the world and sponsored and financed by billionaire corporations: the World Series (baseball), the World Cup (soccer/futbol), and the Super Bowl (American football).
Today, Brazil is the living refutation of this line of cultural-political analysis. Brazilians have been described as ‘football crazy’. Its teams have won the most number of World Cups. Its players are coveted by the owners of the most important teams in Europe. Its fans are said to “live and die with football” . . . Or so we are told.
Yet it is in Brazil where the biggest protests in the history of the World Cup have taken place.
Created on Sunday, 01 June 2014 15:54
Written by Tom Engelhardt
Our Words Are Our Weapons: The Feminist Battle of the Story in the Wake of the Isla Vista Massacre
by Rebecca Solnit
t was a key match in the World Cup of Ideas. The teams vied furiously for the ball. The all-star feminist team tried repeatedly to kick it through the goalposts marked Widespread Social Problems, while the opposing team, staffed by the mainstream media and mainstream dudes, was intent on getting it into the usual net called Isolated Event.
To keep the ball out of his net, the mainstream's goalie shouted “mental illness” again and again. That “ball,” of course, was the meaning of the massacre of students in Isla Vista, California, by one of their peers.
All weekend the struggle to define his acts raged. Voices in the mainstream insisted he was mentally ill, as though that settled it, as though the world were divided into two countries called Sane and Crazy that share neither border crossings nor a culture.
Mental illness is, however, more often a matter of degree, not kind, and a great many people who suffer it are gentle and compassionate. And by many measures, including injustice, insatiable greed, and ecological destruction, madness, like meanness, is central to our society, not simply at its edges.