Casey on the Olympics
by Louis James, Editor, International
by Doug Casey:
So Doug, the queen of England parachuted
into the arena with James Bond to kick-start the Olympics. I'm
sure you must have some comments on the – literally – passing parade.
Well, you know I'm
no great fan of royalty. She's the leading representative of
a useless, repressive, corrupt, and anachronistic institution. PR
flacks are doing their best to rebrand her in an appealing way;
she's essentially a commodity. So part of my mind was hoping her
chute wouldn't open – even though I obviously wish no ill to an
Awww… C'mon, Doug. You know it was a stunt double.
[Laughs] Of course – somebody expendable. But skydiving isn't overly
dangerous; I have 59 jumps myself. Nonetheless, it's really beyond
me why mobs of people would want to go to the Olympics. They go
to a city that becomes – if it wasn't already – a prime target for
any bad boys out there who might want to make a terrorist point.
Much more dangerous than the presumed terrorists, however, is that
the British have turned the place into an armed, totalitarian police
state for the duration of the Olympics. The place is crawling with
soldiers, and the rooftops of buildings have been commandeered for
anti-aircraft fire and snipers.
and Leviathan, Doug. You know they'll never take down any
extra "temporary" cameras and "security" devices they installed.
Why spend more money decommissioning them when they can leave them
up and keep a tighter rein on their subjects?
Of course. And London is already wired with thousands of cameras
watching everything. But back to the Olympics. Rooms at such a time
must be near impossible to get and exorbitantly priced when they
can be had. I hate mob scenes.
But maybe the
most important reason for those concerned with the actual sports
is that you'll get a much better, closer view on your wide-screen
in the comfort of your home. You go through all the trouble and
expense of going, just to be there, only to find yourself sitting
behind a pillar – or missing the crucial point if you happen to
glance away at the wrong time. And in an auditorium it's quite hard
to hear the commentary.
So I really
don't see the point of going at all.
Where's your patriotism, Doug? Don't you want to go and cheer for
Ah, yes. My country is the best country in the world – because I
was born here. Patriotism is widely viewed as a virtue, but it's
actually no more than a romanticized view of nationalism. Rabid
patriots are just jingoists, as rational and dangerous as a bunch
of chimpanzees eyeing a neighboring band.
Of course everyone's country is the best – don't be so uptight with
your bourgeois logic.
But Doug, most people can't skip around the globe on a lark the
way you do. The vast majority of the people watching the Olympics
are doing so on TV and never would have even thought of actually
Okay then, let's look at the Olympics themselves. Back in 776 BC,
they first got started in Greece, individuals competed, representing
their different city-states. But in those days, every citizen knew
almost everyone else; the people living in those cities – which
were very small by modern standards – were related by extensive
family ties, shared cultural and linguistic bonds, shared philosophical
contexts, and more. So an individual from Athens could be considered
reasonably representative of his fellow Athenians, as would a Spartan.
Some kid-athlete from Detroit or San Diego or New York almost certainly
has little in common with me – certainly less than my friends scattered
around the world. He or she doesn't represent me, or America, for
that matter. Anyway, there no
longer is an America, only the US. And almost none of these
other nation-states today are truly "a people." They're cobbled
together hodgepodges of various mutually antagonistic racial, ethnic,
linguistic, and other classifications of people, resulting from
war and conquest. Most people in most countries today don't have
anything significant in common, except the name of the government
on their ID papers.
So the whole
idea of having individuals representing countries in sporting events
makes no sense at all today.
What has always startled me is the way the achievement of some individual
athlete is a source of pride to people who happen to be coerced
into paying taxes to the same government. A gold medalist's achievement
is that athlete's achievement, not Germany's, nor China's – and
certainly not that of other Germans or Chinese.
But many people
seem to have a strong need to be part of a tribe. Being a sports
fan gives people something to belong to, something they can feel
proud of when things go well, even if they had nothing to do with
it. Doesn't this supposed competition among nations have root in
the same psychology?
Well… you may be right. I guess my beef isn't really with people
who want to enjoy the Olympic spectacle, but with these nation-states
that have co-opted the event for political grandstanding.
China, with 1.3 billion people that can cull millions of athletes
for the best of the best, and you've got some small places like
Lichtenstein or Palau, with only a few thousands of people – it
doesn't mean a thing if China's athletes trounce the team from Tuvalu.
It seems to
me that the whole thing would be more wholesome and meaningful if
the Olympic organization were set up to enable any individual or
team from around the world to enter and compete against any other
from anywhere else in the world. That would bring people from around
the world together to root for the best, without stirring up jingoism
and dangerous national pride.
The thing is
that the Olympic games have become corrupt and outlived their original
useful purpose – like any human institution that grows old. The
current iteration of the Olympic games, in my opinion, really went
off the rails with the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It was the Nazis who
firmly established the precedent of hijacking the games to showcase
nationalistic propaganda. The British seem to have kept up that
sorry tradition with their opera on the NHS, the nationalized medical
system, with hundreds of patients and nurses on giant beds. Bizarre
and pointless, I thought.
I believe the
tradition of the competitors standing at attention while their national
flags wave and anthems play started in 1924 – but I think that's
inappropriate at any sporting event. I really don't know why I should
have to endure the national anthem of any gang of crooks calling
itself a government before any sporting event, and I disapprove
of standing up for any of them. And most of those anthems are about
as dissonant as rap music – with the notable exceptions of the EU's
Fourth Movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and France's
La Marseillaise. In the US, The Star Spangled Banner
only became the official US anthem in 1931, and it only became customary
to have it before games during WWII. But now, anywhere in the world
before a sporting event, there's always a national anthem. I don't
know what a national anthem has to do with sports.
I suppose that rules out the World Cup for you, then.
None of those sporting events that are supposedly between countries
make any sense to me. I mean, where there used to be a Soviet Union
fielding sports teams, now there're 15 countries fielding them.
There used to be a Czechoslovakia; now there're two countries to
cheer for – in the former Yugoslavia there are five. And in Germany,
there used to be two of each team to cheer for, and now there's
one. It's a completely meaningless way of grouping people, and counting
the achievements of people this way means even less. It makes no
sense for people to have any loyalty to these arbitrary lines drawn
I suppose some
might feel some bond of kinship for the people of a region they
inhabit who share a culture, language, history, and so forth. Or,
for that matter, if a corporation you work for decides to field
a team, it might make sense to root for your group… and groups of
people might come together for other reasons that bind them and
sponsor sports teams. I could see it making sense in many ways –
but the idea of nation-states co-opting this process and turning
it into a vehicle for political propaganda is just awful.
It turns the
objective of friendly competition and camaraderie on its head, substituting
ritualized warfare in its place and spreading international tension
Just look at
all the boycotts that have been conducted over the years – not just
the Americans in 1980 and the Soviets in 1984, but lots of other
countries in other years. It's shameful, because the athletes who
had the misfortune of holding the wrong passport were denied the
opportunity to compete because of some politician's whim. That alone
is an excellent reason the Olympics should be denationalized.
Okay… So what about college football or basketball tournaments?
Do you ever go to those to watch the athletes perform? They are
privately funded and organized and usually not political.
I’ve got no problem with them, although I have to admit that I'm
not big on cheering on teams. Unless the teams include people I
know and care about. I really got into polo,
as you know. I love to watch team sports just for the athleticism
– the poetry in motion – but I rarely really care who wins or loses…
unless I have money on the game. I mostly like watching the instant
replays and highlights in slow motion of any kind of athletic activity,
You don't feel a need to be there in person when opposing gangs
of gargantuan, semi-armored, hobnail-booted thugs break each other's
bones for possession of an inflated pig bladder?
[Laughs]. No, no. I really don't. As I said before, I dislike crowds
– most particularly violent ones.
But you grant that that's just your personal preference – nothing
wrong with those who get a thrill out of being there to be there?
To each his own. But that brings me to a whole other reason why
the Olympics as they are today should be abolished. Where does a
broke government, like the one in the UK, get off spending some
$30 billion putting on a sporting event that's got no chance of
breaking even? It's unethical in the extreme for over-indebted entities
to spend money they don't have on events they don't need, only to
stroke the egos of the politicians and bamboozle voters, while the
economy continues deteriorating under the dead weight of their hands.
that people who may have zero interest in a circus are forced to
pay for it.
Worse than Nero fiddling while Rome burned?
Yes; at least Nero didn't pretend to be doing it for the people's
Hm. Isn't Mitt Romney the guy who made a set of winter Olympic games
That's what they say. But even if a government isn't broke and could
make money on the games, it still has no business sponsoring sports
teams or getting into show business. It politicizes what should
be private endeavors and brings corruption and inefficiency to what
would otherwise be more dynamic and interesting sport-related businesses.
Why not have
governments sponsor absolutely everything? Next will be NASCAR and
As an aside, I have to say that I'm so unimpressed by Romney. I
really don't know where the Republicans find these hostile, angry,
old white men who do nothing but embarrass those who don't want
to vote for the Democrats.
Olympics should be run as a strictly private enterprise, completely
separate from and devoid of any government or nationalistic influence.
They should be run by whatever rules work best for attracting the
largest audiences and making the most money and open to any athlete
from anywhere who qualifies. That would end the unethical drain
on taxpayers, make for better sporting events, and enable athletes
to shine and prosper without having to kowtow to politicians.
But without government control, sports might not be fair… the horror!
That's another thing. This whole "level playing field" illusion
is ridiculous. There is no level playing field between China and
the Vatican City, when it comes to capacity to field a world-class
wrestling team. And this hysteria about keeping drugs out of sports
is a government-pushed idiocy that has nothing to do with creating
the best sporting events possible. If athletes can take performance-enhancing
drugs or other treatments to perform better, why shouldn't they?
Others can as well; and if they're dangerous, it's up to each athlete
to weigh the risks and benefits – that calculation becomes part
of the sports.
be leagues for purists, "natural" practitioners who don't use any
enhancements beyond hard work and, different "no-holds-barred" leagues
for those who want to see what maximum human potential might be.
There's nothing wrong with using drugs to enhance performance –
the problem comes from cheating. And cheating is cheating in any
field, whatever the accepted rules are.
I suppose there will be leagues in the future for people who were
"naturally conceived" and genetically
altered or optimized people.
Exactly. Already, different people from different places have access
to different training equipment, different amounts of time to train,
different levels of support, different kinds of medicine available
– there are all kinds of inequalities. A completely level playing
field is not an option. Drugs certainly are an option. Let there
be freedom of sports, and let people compete in accordance to whatever
rules they agree to, without interference by governments with irrelevant
agendas. Let a hundred flowers bloom.
That could lead to some pretty interesting sporting events…
It will. Actually, at La
Estancia de Cafayate, we're having a duodecathalon – a kind
of Renaissance-Man Olympics I designed. My idea is that the physical
nature of the sports you see in the Olympics is great – but combining
it with an intellectual element could make it better. Anyway, you
no longer throw a discus or a javelin in day-to-day modern life.
So, my duodecathalon will include chess, a quiz contest, poker,
and billiards, as well as an equestrian event, parcours, tennis,
golf, archery, skeet, and the 100-meter freestyle, among other things.
We're hoping to do a trial run of the first one in early November
at one of our semiannual events, and then make it into a regular
attraction. The idea is that it shows the spirit of the place and
showcases some of the things you can do there. Part of the spirit
of Estancia is the theme of Mens sana in corpore sano.
Very cool, Doug. I know you've wanted to do that for a long time,
but didn't know you've actually got it started. Will you compete?
[Chuckles] I'm afraid I've destroyed my body to a degree that will
prevent any inspiring athletic performances on my part, but I like
the idea of getting to be the emperor who gives the thumbs up or
down at the end.
[Laughs] I can just see you doing that! Well, while we're mentioning
world-class events, we should mention one that's much closer than
Cafayate for most people: our upcoming Navigating
the Political Economy Summit. It'll be September 7 – 9,
in Carlsbad, California, near San Diego.
Yes, it's always interesting to meet our readers at our summits,
and I have to say, David [Galland] has lined up some excellent speakers
I'm looking forward to it, too. But to wrap up on the Olympics,
as interesting as this conversation has been, I don't see any compelling
investment implications that can be acted upon before the revolution…
Not beyond its general implications as a sign of our times.
All right then, until next week.
We'll be in Lithuania. I'm really looking forward to teaching
with you again – see you there.
Great – me too!
Casey (send him mail)
a best-selling author and chairman of Casey
Research, LLC., publishers of Casey’s
© 2012 Casey
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