Hobgoblin Journal


The Hobgoblin - 8 (Online) 2006

Hobgoblin World Cup

By Ian MacDonald

The 2006 World Cup reflected some progressive change and exposed further mind numbing hypocrisy and good reasons why capitalism need to be got rid of and a society of liberation put in its place. I will also mention the football!!

On a positive note, it is good that the slogan of the World Cup, “Make A Friend,“ seemed to have an influence, given the mindless thuggery seen in previous expeditions by English football supporters. Seriously though, this had nothing to do with it. It is more the case that there is now more internationalism between fans, because it is in international capitalism’s interest for this to be so. This “internationalism” is due to the fact that it is easier for fans to travel and secondly that they are now not treated as barbarians by the particular states, but rather as consumers. The German and English Police’s joint efforts was in the main a tactical success but also symptomatic of a general shift in global capitalism.

As Marxists we are not against football fans getting on together, this is positive and should be used positively in term of building international anti-racist campaigns and also making links with East European and other International teams the basis of solidarity and support for Asylum Seekers and anti-capitalist struggles per se. Concretely the above example also exposes the redundancy of political positions in some sectors of the Left that argue for getting out of Europe. This does not mean that I as a Marxist think that the European Union is progressive, but calling for a return to an isolated English capitalist fiefdom is hardly progressive either, and is based on pure economism.

What about the football then! Well, the England team displayed a dialectical relationship at work. On the one hand they were a team of extremely talented individuals, but on the other could not as a team even equal the sum of their parts, rather than being qualitatively more than the sum. The team played square and left the luckness Rooney floundering with no support as the sole hope for England up front. No wonder he lost it! Beckham was an anchronism to a by gone age, trying sadly to do a “Cry God for Harry and St George, “ He fooled no one. In essence the team played old-fashioned football and did not play this at all well. What is more they knew it!!

The reason for this historically goes back to when Alf Ramsay resigned. The English Establishment have always thought that a conservative, cautious management was the order of the day and certainly did not want flamboyance, an element of risk and creativity, to be the way forward for English football. In this sense Erickson was an international clone of Don Revie, who took the money and ran as well! This innate conservatism was the reason Brian Clough never got the job in the seventies. He was not a Marxist, but he opposed racism and hit football supporters that invaded his pitch! He was a flamboyant and creative human being. Since this decision not to appoint Clough, English football has been stuck in the same boring mould. I would give McClaren a year at most!!

And on to Zidane ! I think that Zidane, following in the wake of Eric Cantona, who quite rightly assaulted a known racist years ago, showed humanity by spontaneously assaulting his Italian opposite number, after being verbally provoked. I am being serious. Compare the Press’s unanimous howling about how shameful it was, when at the same time, hundreds are being slaughtered in Iraq for the most inhumane of reasons, the protection of American Capitalist hegemony in the region. Yet Zidane acts as a human being and is vilified for it.

Marx talked in Capital about human relations taking on the, “form of a relation between things.” The above example reflects the fact that under capitalism, where acting inhumanely is seen as normal human behaviour, acting as a human being with passion, is castigated with mind numbing hypocrisy.

5 August 2006