Spectacle

Converts to global branding waiting for the torch relay circus in Stratford. July 2012

Converts to global branding waiting for the torch relay circus in Stratford. July 2012

 

“Capital has moved more and more to the production of commodities which have rapid turnover times which are ephemeral. In fact the production of new ways of thinking even then becomes significant. So we have actually people wanting to talk about – “we are in a new stage of capitalism called cognitive capitalism”. I don’t believe it at all. On the other hand when has capital not been cognitive…..

But nevertheless there is something there which is very significant which is the way in which capital is seeking out modes of consumption which have almost instantaneous turnover times which includes of course spectacle. Now spectacle has a great thing which is it has an instantaneous turnover. The only reason I don’t like to call it immaterial is because of the amount of material activity that goes into the creation of the spectacle is huge, and the mobilization that goes on. You can see there is competition over it…..

Just go back and look at the opening ceremonies of Olympic Games. A very good example. And by the way how many places have gone bankrupt after they have staged Olympic Games including of course Greece. This is part of the dynamic that we are in.”

David Harvey, from a presentation for his 2014 book, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

 

During the ceremonial lighting at Olympus in Greece, of the flame for London 2012, the flame goes out. May 2012

During the ceremonial lighting at Olympus in Greece, of the flame for London 2012, the flame goes out. May 2012

“As far as the relation between Olympism and religion is concerned, Coubertin, unlike many of his followers who try to conceal the true nature of modern Olympism, is crystal clear: “The first essential characteristic of ancient and of modern Olympism alike is that of being a religion.” Departing from Comte’s philosophy, Coubertin seeks to establish a new spiritual system which will correspond to the Social Darwinist and progressistic spirit of capitalism, “incorporate” all social (class) contradictions that prevent the development of capitalism and enable its limitless global expansion. It is the creation of a “dynamic religion” (Brundage) which, apart from being efficient in establishing “social peace” and introducing “control in heads” (Coubertin), is capable of “overcoming” the existing (static) religions (discarding their emancipatory heritage) since it is not limited by a certain way of life and by national cultures, but springs from a “dynamic”, universal and totalitarian spirit of capitalist globalism. Bearing in mind the spiritual sources of the Olympic idea, we can conclude that Olympism is a formulated, and by way of the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games, realized positive religion, which is “analogous to positive philosophy” (Prokop) and which should, in the Modern Age, play the part of traditional religion in the Middle Ages. Olympism becomes a spiritual firmament from which derives all “humanism” and which offers final answers to the crucial questions of human existence. Hence, to speak of Olympism means to glorify it. At the same time, Olympism erases the difference between religious and secular spheres: life itself becomes a service to the Olympic gods. Modern Olympism tends to be an indisputable spiritual power to which man serves not only through contemplation, meditation, prayers and kneeling, but, like in antiquity, through his regular agonistic activism. Life as a constant struggle between people, nations and races for a place under the sun – that is the essence of Olympic piety. In that sense, sport is an idealized form of the “true” life, while the Olympic Games are a symbolic incarnation of the spiritual and active unity of the world.”

See: Lubodrag Simonovic, Philosophy of Olympism

The distant glow from the Olympic stadium. 2012

The distant glow from the Olympic stadium. 2012