Whose Games? Whose City? No Limos! No Logos! No Launchers! Neil Faulkner argues why we need to demonstrate against the Corporate Olympics
One month to go. One month until Cameron, Clegg, and Coe’s showcasing of class privilege, corporate power, and war-on-terror militarisation at the London 2012 Olympics. And one month to the Counter-Olympics Network demonstration on 28 July.
Let us recap the basic facts. A quarter of all tickets – rising to perhaps two-thirds for top events – have been given to Olympic bodies and corporate sponsors. That means, in effect, more than two million free tickets handed out to the rich.
To get the elite from their 5-star West End hotels to Olympic venues, part of the London road network is to be closed to regular traffic, creating fast lanes for them, congestion for the rest.
Presumably the rich will not be searched when they reach the venues – unlike the rest, who will pass through airport-type security designed to confiscate such ‘contraband’ as children’s packed lunches. The purpose? To force people to buy junk food and fizzy drinks inside the venues from corporate sponsors like Macdonald’s and Coca Cola.
The list of sponsors reads like a Who’s Who of corporate exploitation, pollution, and corruption. Some of it you could not make up. It is self-caricature. Like Macdonald’s parading itself as the London 2012 ‘official restaurant’ on the advertising hoardings that have just gone up around London. Or BP – of Deepwater Horizon fame – trumpeting its status as ‘sustainability partner’.
Perhaps most bizarre of all is the ATOS involvement. This is the company with the government contract to cut the benefits of disabled people and drive them into such despair that some have now committed suicide. ATOS is an official sponsor of – can you guess? – the Paralympic Games for disabled athletes.
None of this matters to the organisers. LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) is a secretive quango of millionaires, handpicked from the ranks of the political and business elite, wholly unrepresentative of society at large, wholly removed from any democratic accountability. For them, with their entire existence lived in a cocoon of wealth, corporate power is as normal as the air we breathe.
Sport is always political. Top-level sport always reflects the ruling social order. So London 2012 mirrors the dystopian neoliberal order created over the last 30 years. The most salient characteristics of this order are: the dominance of international banks and corporations; the privatisation and decline of public services; grotesque and ever-growing social inequality; an epidemic of bullying and stress in the workplace; and the militarisation of the state, with police violence at home, and imperialist war abroad. And on top of that, since the 2008 financial crash, we also now have levels of self-defeating austerity not seen since the 1930s.
Our rulers are inviting us to join them in a celebration of their system – their privilege, their power, their ideology. That is why the Counter Olympics Network has called a demonstration on the second day of the London 2012 Games. It is now supported by a wide range of organisations (see below).
Every London-based activist should build the demo over the next month and turn it into a mass protest against the rich and the corporations. Not least because we can use it as a stepping-stone in the build-up to the TUC anti-austerity demonstration on 20 October.
The Alternative Olympic Calendar
Saturday 30 June - Protest
No Missiles in Our Communities: don’t play games with our lives!
Assemble: 1pm, Wennington Green, Mile End Park, London E3
Called by Stop the Olympic Missiles
Tuesday 10 July - Public Talk
How Big Business Stole the Olympics
7pm, St Paul’s Church, St Stephens Road, London E3
Wednesday 11 July - Open Meeting
To plan for the Whose Games? Whose City? demonstration on 28 July
7pm, School of Oriental and African Studies, Bloomsbury
Saturday 28 July - Demonstration
Whose Games? Whose City? No Limos! No Logos! No Launchers! Demonstrate Against the Corporate Olympics
Assemble: 12 noon, Mile End Park, East London (nearest tube Mile End)
March to: Victoria Park for People’s Games For All
Supported by: ALARM, Athetes Against Dow Chemical’s Sponsorship, Badhoc, Blacklist Support Group, Bread and Circuses, Brent Trades Council, Coalition of Resistance, Counterfire, Defend the Right to Protest, Disabled People Against Cuts, Drop Dow Now, East London Against Arms Fairs, Games Monitor, G4S Campaign, Hackney Green Party, Hackney Trades Council, Hackney Woodcraft Folk, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Haringey Trades Council, Islington Trades Council, Jewish Socialist Group, Lewisham Stop the War, Lewisham Trades Council, London Green Party, Newham Monitoring Project, Netpol, Occupy London, Our Olympics, Save Leyton Marsh Campaign, Stop the Olympics Missiles, UK Tar Sands Network, Waltham Forest Trades Council, War on Want, and more.
Neil Faulkner is a freelance archaeologist and historian. He works as a writer, lecturer, excavator, and occasional broadcaster. His books include ‘A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics‘ and ‘A Marxist History of the World: from Neanderthals to Neoliberals‘.
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