I was never much of a football fan. My father took me to a couple of games in the days when crowds were reliably civilised. I occasionally watch big matches on telly.
I also find it depressing how the Sporty Tigers of world soccer shape aggressive young men into something that suits the ruling class. British football (soccer) was mostly working class, but also under the control of the rich. And the rich certainly see how it can be useful to them.
During the row over a super-league, I found it odd that clubs owned by big investors were heavily in debt. More financial games?
Financial trickery isn’t a failure of the system: it is the system. The theorists of the New Right dream of Imaginary Capitalism – a system that never has existed and probably never will. Even if Thatcher and Reagan were sincere about restoring pre-1914 capitalism, they have not done so. We still have the Mixed Economy system that began with Roosevelt’s New Deal, and was called Keynesianism to sell it in Britain and the wider world. And which the left allowed to drop out of the dictionary of politics, insisting on lumping it all as capitalism.
What exists is a ‘Feed-the-Rich’ variant of the Mixed Economy. Abstract notions of Free Markets are ignored when the selfish interests of the rich are at stake.
The West’s system of ‘Wealth Creation’ is worse now than it was before the 1980s. China is relevant because the ‘restored capitalism’ of China has always been Mixed Economy. It flourishes because it is much less of a ‘Feed-the-Rich’ system.
For big-money football, someone who’s taken a deeper interest should write up details of all that’s wrong. Football’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ trying to make a Super-League with permanent members has already provoked interesting comments:
“The core misjudgment was less the misreading of the fans than making the proposal too nakedly self-serving. We supporters may have a win but we should not delude ourselves. We remain the phytoplankton of the footballing food chain.
“Indeed, the English football fan is one of the most deluded and over-sentimentalised creatures in modern life…
“It speaks volumes of the soppiness that mushes the brains of soccer fans that they were even surprised by the indifference of owners for whom this is an entirely transactional business. The same is as true of the Premier League. Football’s existing rulers may have played the fan card, but their thoughts were to their own structures and futures. This was more a clash of cartels than a David vs Goliath victory…
“What makes football different is the aspect of self-identity that keeps us paying, however bad things are. For a big team, this means taking the fans for granted is normally a safe bet. Many top-tier teams have, via rising ticket prices, already replaced working-class fans with a more affluent cohort, and are happy to replace them again with a global TV audience, most of whom will never visit the ground”
People closer to the game than I tell me that the working class are still there, and do not merit the Financial Times’spatronising attitude. But they are probably right about the finance.
Having lost interest in English clubs until I found myself living right next to one in Peterborough, I was surprised to find that something called the ‘First Division’ was now the third tier:
“On 20th February 1992, clubs in the First Division of the Football League formalised their plans to launch a breakaway competition by creating the Premier League.
“While the new tier retains promotion from and relegation to the lower levels, its member clubs gain full control of their earning potential, sharing income almost equally among themselves but limiting their commitments to the rest of the Football League. With the TV rights market warming up, it changes the picture of British and international sport forever.”
The game is constantly changing:
“The struggle poses questions about football’s nature: is it a business like any other, or something more? With billions of euros of television rights and sponsorship money at stake and many clubs owned by investors demanding a return, top-level football clearly is big business. Today’s clash reflects its evolution from community-based sport into an arm of the global entertainment industry. Yet TV revenues generated by the big clubs help to support an extensive ecosystem of more minor teams.
“As a business, football also relies for its audience on passion, suspense and unpredictability. True, a handful of clubs are now dominant in most countries. But the ‘pyramid’ structure of the game in Europe allows even the smallest teams to break through to the top ranks — including European competitions — or win trophies through giant-killing exploits. Outside the top few, other clubs rise and fall with time.”
And Germany has top-level football without big outside investors:
“Without knowing the intricacies, most football fans will be aware that German clubs are not owned by companies or individuals, which is why there are no American billionaires, Russian oligarchs or Gulf states involved… The clubs are often, though not entirely correctly, referred to as “fan-owned”, which is widely interpreted as one of the key reasons why the Bundesliga is by far the most fan-friendly of the bigger leagues.”
Sad to say, most football fans would hate the idea of state control or new laws. Some have an hysterical fear of it. They are unlikely to learn better. And so the sleezy deal may come back in a few months in a less absurd form.
Now the old fellow’s been decently buried and mourned, I’ll speak a few truths that the mainstream media left out.
They complained a little about the BBC forbidding other people’s pleasures when the news came. I never watch stuff about royals, but I’m told that normal programs were pulled and replaced by rubbish. Banal remarks by people who mostly had no more liking for the man than I had, but wanted to preen before a large audience.
“Viewers switched off their TVs in droves after broadcasters aired blanket coverage of Philip’s death, audience figures revealed on Saturday. Along with the removal of shows including EastEnders, Gardeners’ World and the final of MasterChef, BBC Four was taken off air and replaced with a notice urging viewers to switch to BBC One. It had been due to show the England women’s football team play France in an international friendly.”
As with Poppy Day, a media blitz has been met with massive indifference. Selfishness has been spread from the 1980s, to help the rich get a vastly inflated share of the national wealth. But in the real world, you cannot easily control howselfish and asocial views spread in your own society.
Prince Phillip’s tactless remarks were recalled. But I always suspected him of saying what many of his generation no longer felt it safe to say. He could not be sacked. Queen Elizabeth personally chose this unexpected candidate for the breeding of more royals, because of her sincere love for him.
Unwise love, in my view.
Born into a dysfunctional family, he created another one, no doubt very much against his intentions. He sent Prince Charles to a fancy school called Gordonstoun, since he had done well there. But I recall from when Charles’s marriage broke down that he had a bad time there. A foreign prince was one thing: forgiven for being foreign because he was a prince, and personally impressive. The heir to the throne was another matter: friendship looked like sycophancy. So the next generation were sent to Eton, a school founded by one of the last of the Plantagenet dynasty.
I never bothered with details, but he has to be at fault for the Royal Family messing up their relations with Princess Dianna, who was an unexpected hit.
Of his other children, Andrew and Anne are both divorced. Three failures from four kids.
As some have noted, he was not ethnically Greek. The failure of the Hapsburgs to turn Germany into an authentic kingdom meant that the families of a collection of petty rulers known as Princes were judged fit to marry into royal lines. His ancestors were imposed on the Greeks when Britain helped free them from the decaying Ottoman Empire. And this Greek monarchy, at one time doing a good job, became a Menace to Society in the 1960s. Were deservedly kicked out in the 1970s. And may have been remembered by the restored King of Spain when he himself faced a right-wing coup in 1981.
Prince Phillip came from a separate branch: his father went into exile after being blamed for Greece’s disastrous defeat when it tried to grab huge chunks of Anatolia, most of them ethnically Turkish.
A bad pedigree. We may not keep the monarchy for long, once the dignified and well-meaning Queen Elizabeth finally dies.
Elsewhere in Europe, monarchs have moved closer to ordinary people. They are accepted as having a useful role as ceremonial heads of state. Here, they’ve been a source of scandal. A centre for snobbish views that most of the society rejects.
Of course that’s nothing compared to what monarchs were like when they actually ruled. Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry 2nd of England and previously wife of the King of France, once signed a letter ‘Eleanor, by the Wrath of God, Queen of the English’. Most members of her family were at one time or another at war with some of the others. She outlived four of her five sons and it was only Bad King John who carried on her bloodline.
Interestingly, aggressive rulers quite often have several sons but very few grandchildren. No one can be sure whether Alexander the Great encouraged the murder of his father, but various quarrels killed off most of the descendants of Phillip of Macedon. And on the female side, the notorious Catherine de’ Medici had four grown sons from nine pregnancies: three were successively King of France, but none left behind any grandchildren for her. Of three grown daughters, two were married away from France and let her gene-line continue.
It is wicked to suppress elected representatives in Hong Kong whose main concern was to show distaste for being part of China. But virtuous to seek to suppress elected representatives in Donbas and Crimea who reacted to an illegal seizure of power in Kiev. They were alarmed at Ukrainian politicians making a hero of a man who began and ended World War Two fighting for Hitler, even if he fought both Hitler and Stalin for a futile middling period.
Russian ‘aggression’ protected people who really should have been moved back to Russia when the Soviet Union broke up. Soviet Ukraine was defined with a view to keeping it attached, so the east included more Russian-speakers than speakers of Ukrainian. But for the first few years, there were real efforts at co-existence. Only with Western ‘help’ and the organisation of the two Orange Revolutions did it become a deep split.
Western media mostly avoid the matter. You get occasional evidence that at least some journalists are well aware of the real situation:
“‘My take is that it’s about deterrence,’ says Andrei Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council. He points out Kyiv’s own recent reinforcements in eastern Ukraine and argues that Russia’s actions are to avert any move to retake areas controlled by Russian-backed militants.” (BBC Online.)
Do people recall how Croats armed and trained by the West evicted all Serbs from majority-Serb regions within Tito’s definition of Croatia? The Croat government was another that made heroes of wartime leaders who backed Hitler, in this case from beginning to end. Mass killers of Serbs and Jews, but this was excluded from the story fed to the Western public.
Putin may have saved East Ukraine from invasion:
“Nor was it clear what point Mr Putin was trying to make with this colossal show of force. His goal may be to intimidate Ukraine’s leaders into making concessions, such as formal autonomy for the Donbas. Or he may be preparing for future aggression.” (The Economist).
Would Putin want those parts of Soviet-defined Ukraine where anti-Russian feeling dominates? They are much poorer than Russia, after a string of dishonest and incompetent leaders ever since ‘liberation’.
With the West retreating from New Right values, it is crucial to the prestige of the ruling elite to avoid admitting that Thatcher and Reagan were a disaster. They slowed wealth-creation. Rewarded the rich with a larger slice of a ‘cake’: a cake that would have been larger if the successful Mixed Economy of the 1950s and 1960s had not been rejected after its 1970s crisis.
Half-arsed attempts to restore the pre-1914 version of capitalism have failed. They lost Russia in the 1990s, when the Russian economy shrank and was looted. They alienated most Chinese. Xi’s policy of trimming the capitalist side of their Mixed Economy is popular.
All of this has to be covered up. Spreading fear of Russia and China is a counter.
‘Friends’ have been encourage to take stands that make the West look good but were bad for those ‘friends’. Hong Kong against China, which I knew was doomed. Ukraine against Russia.
Has Mr Navalny realised that he’s viewed as expendable? The latest news is that he’s given up on a hunger strike that Russia’s rulers viewed with huge indifference.
I’ve asked elsewhere how China’s policy in Xinjiang can be genocide, when even the most extreme critics have not suggested there have been mass killings. But it seems no one in the British Parliament bothered to question it.
Yet it is also ‘virtuous’ to say that the possibility of an impartial judgement will be evaded.
Sounding off about Chinese or Russian wickedness is done to defend the unfair privileges of the West’s elite. Nothing done by China or Russia will make much difference to highly profitable trade and investment.
Don’t mention that most of the world’s Islamic states have backed China’s stand on Xinjiang. Most have been accused of being much harsher to their own separatists and Islamic extremists.
Don’t mention that all of the evidence comes from people who’ve devoted their lives to ripping away part of China as an independent East Turkistan.
And on no account ask whether the British Empire committed genocide to win the Boer War.
I posted the matter to the high-grade question-and-answer site Quora. I was unsurprised when most replies said no.
The internment of Boers in Concentration Camps made the term globally familiar. Many women and children died there: mostly Afrikaner but also some Black Africans. It was much worse than Spanish repression in Cuba, which just put barbed wire around people’s existing homes.
It’s disputed whether Hitler mentioned the death of Armenians as evidence that Nazi killings would get forgotten after a few years. It was certainly not more than once. But the Nazis used the term ‘Concentration Camp’ to deny a big difference between themselves and the British Empire. And before the war, most of those sent there survived the hardships there.
But when has truth got in the way of power politics?
President Biden has officially endorsed the genocide label for Armenians killed in 1915. What’s never mentioned is what many Armenians had been doing in 1914:
“An estimated 20,000 Armenians engaged in armed activity behind the Ottoman lines in early 1915, rising to 50,000 at the height of the insurrection, while about 200,000 Armenians were to fight with the Russians. In the winter of 1914/15 the Armenians played a crucial part in the Sarikamis disaster when an entire Ottoman army of 80,000 was lost. Around 100,000 Moslem civilians were killed by Armenian insurgents before June 1915, when the relocation policy was instituted.”
Armenians claimed a Greater Armenia that included many areas with a non-Armenian majority. Had history gone otherwise, would it have been like Israel clearing large regions of Arabs?
A majority of the British ruling class in 1914 wanted a war that would break Germany as a global competitor. This needed Tsarist Russia, but their main war aim was to retake Constantinople from the Ottomans. So though the war started with the Ottomans neutral, they ‘somehow’ became enemies. Armenians had long been encouraged to be hostile to their Muslim neighbours, with little thought of what it might mean for them.
The minority of Afghans who cherish Western values are also victims of the Western elite’s global folly. The USA could have got a sympathetic government, if they had pumped in aid after the Soviet withdrawal. They might have encouraged a coalition that included Afghan Communists, the most serious modernisers. But New Right ‘wisdom’ led them to neglect Afghanistan. Power passed to corrupt and brutal warlords. The Taliban were a reaction to that.
After 9/11, the New Right ignored a Taliban offer to arrest al-Qaeda if the USA could prove their guilt using their version of Islamic Law. They asked to be instantly obeyed. Took control. And went on to break the Westernising Baathist regime in Iraq, in the belief they could turn Iraq into a model Capitalist Democracy.
Of course it’s not worked.
The book and film Last Exit To Brooklyn is a nice example of why it’s unworkable. US culture is decaying from what was once serious Christianity. So you see Feral Humans living pointless violent lives. A huge motorway sign overshadows them and gives the book its name.
Why should anyone new to it wish to live like that?
Taliban at least view their own lives as meaningful and virtuous.
Britain and the USA suffered far more than was necessary, because New Right ideas made governments slow to act. Quick to relax too soon, causing a second wave.
Worse is happening in India. Also in Brazil, run by a fool who thinks you can get macho with a virus.
For the entire pandemic, the top ten with deaths adjusted for population size are Czechia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Italy, UK, Peru, Brazil, the USA and Poland.
*Old newsnotes at the magazine website.
 This comes from a late-1960s BBC comedy series called Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width, which was about a small tailoring business. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Never_Mind_the_Quality,_Feel_the_Width
 https://www.quora.com/q/pwgwxusqvnzzrlzm/Hong-Kong-Committing-Suicide, blog from August 2019