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June 16, 2010

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Trimegistus

Expressions like "Duped" or "False Consciousness" are code words for "My ideas are total bunk and everyone sees it already."

rjmadden

"Yes, that must be why the working man still hasn't recognised radical socialism as the glorious thing it is."

Football, widescreen TV, the internet, dishwashers, leisure, art, travel, plenty of food...

It's all just STANDING IN THE WAY OF UTOPIA. :D

Anna

I can't believe you've written about football twice in just over a week. Is there something you're not telling us?

David

I’m pushing the envelope. Thrilling, isn’t it?

Anna

"Football, widescreen TV, the internet, dishwashers, leisure, art, travel, plenty of food... It's all just STANDING IN THE WAY OF UTOPIA."

If only people would stop doing stuff they enjoy...

witwoud

I wonder what type of 'ceremony and symbolism' Eagleton would prefer to football. Mass rallies? Statues of the glorious leader? The two-minute hate?

rjmadden

Best reader's comment so far:

"I thought Terry Eagleton was dead?"

David

“I thought Terry Eagleton was dead?”

There’s always a chance his self-regard will fall on him.

carbon based lifeform

No, THIS is the best reader's comment so far:

"In an inexplicable act of savagery yesterday, an elderly man, understood to be Terry Eagleton, was kicked to death on the terraces of his local football ground. Nobody among the large group of shop assistants and car mechanics who are helping the police with their enquiries could remember exactly what happened as they appeared top be under the influence of some kind of drug. One of them said, "I dunno, I just sort of saw red.""

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/15/football-socialism-crack-cocaine-people?showallcomments=true#CommentKey:728f1a76-0b76-4af7-9477-8466beca0158

SG

"to distract the populace from political injustice"

Socialism IS political injustice.

David

Anna,

“If only people would stop doing stuff they enjoy...”

Yes, it’s just no fun when the proles would rather play football than play at revolution. Still, there’s always Mick’s idea:

“Better surely, in the spirit of Brecht, to abolish the ignorant and gullible working class, who have over the last hundred or so years shown such a discreditable lack of enthusiasm for the radical ideas of their intellectual betters: people like Terry here, for whom Rambo is a 19th Century French poet.”

http://mickhartley.typepad.com/blog/2010/06/terry-est-un-wankeur.html

Anna

Ba-dum. Tissshh.

Spiny Norman

"The worker does not exist so that he could have fun. The aim of society is for mankind to be put to the test through work, for the betterment of the collective Society. A Socialist regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Socialism. There is no humor in Socialism. There is no fun in Socialism. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious."

-- paraphrased Terry Eagleton (with apologies - snork - to the Ayatollah Khomeini).

WTP

"...people for whom Rimbaud is a cinematic strongman..." Hahaha!...um, actually I don't get it...probably because I'm an American and don't get football or much of anything, really...This Rimbaugh...is he anything like Al Gore?

Spiny Norman

"No finer way of resolving the problems of capitalism has been dreamed up, bar socialism."

Nevermind the 100 million odd dead. Eggs broken, omelettes, etc...

Karen M

'False consciousness' is how sad old Marxists explain away why people don't want what sad old Marxists say they SHOULD want.

Anna

"sad old Marxists"

There's another kind?

Spiny Norman

The bitter and angry kind?

David

“‘False consciousness’ is how sad old Marxists explain away why people don’t want what sad old Marxists say they SHOULD want.”

It’s remarkable how that old hustle still crops up regularly, even now. Not long ago, we were graced by the presence of Sandwichman, who described other commenters as consumerist “drones” and “willing slaves suckled on the teat of TV adverts.” No amount of evidence would alter his belief that he and only he could see What Was Really Going On: “Join us when you awaken from your dream,” said our egalitarian mystic.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2010/02/comedy-economics.html

And that’s the thing. The kind of people who invoke “false consciousness” (whether by name or not) tend to be impervious to correction, even on points of fact. The claim of false consciousness requires no proof and, more importantly, it always flatters the proponent. They, unlike we, are blessed with second sight and the Kingdom shall be theirs.

Perhaps the self-flattery is why it persists.

Anna

Sandwichman: "Well, open your eyes or go to Hell. I don't care."

Oh wow. I forgot about that one.

dicentra

"Most car mechanics and shop assistants feel shut out by high culture."

Yes, Terry. They stand outside the opera house, weeping silently for the unjust society that just won't let them hear even a snatch of a sublime aria from an overdressed, corpulent soprano or tenor. They languish outside the Tate, hoping for a glimpse of the newest, transgressive manifestation of genius they can never hope to fully comprehend.

POOR SOULS! If only if only if only they were permitted to listen to a symphony, they'd surely cast off their declassé procupation with hooligan sports, vulgar music, and lawn ornaments.

Anna

"and lawn ornaments."

:D

A. Prole

Dear Professor Eagleton,

Thanks to evil capitalism I can buy some opera for a tenner.

Another Steve

Years ago, some left-wing dope attending Sheffield University wrote a scathing criticism of the working class being deflected from the real issues of the Socialist Ideal by the fact that the World Snooker finals were being held at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre. With as much ignorant pomp as the writer could manage (I believe it was a she-lefty who got her pen out) she wrote something along the lines of: "What the working man needs at the Crucible is more politically aware plays, not a Billiards championship!"

Needless to say the working man disagreed and attended his 'Billiards' in far greater numbers than going to listen to any sloppy effort at re-educashun by lefty-clods.

So no surprise that when it comes to what we really need, footy offends too!

bobchild

"No finer way of resolving the problems of capitalism has been dreamed up, bar socialism"

Ignoring the football bit, that's a hell of a whopper. One suspects Eagleton's the sort who believes every failed socialist country so far hasn't been "real socialsim" (socialists being, of course, entitled to endless do-overs because they care so gosh darn much about the working class)

Ian F4

North Korea's goal against Brazil has done more to raise respect for the country than 50 years of socialist utopia.

TBA

Relevant link:

In Somalia, Muslim militants have banned people from watching the World Cup because it would "distract them from pursuing holy jihad." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/10307512.stm)

Not the same cause, but methinks Eagleton would see this glass as half full.

flyguy

What's the matter with Kansas soccer fans?

David Gillies

So Eagleton want to outlaw pan et circenses, unless it's artisanal Ciabatta at ten quid a loaf and a transgendered mime troupe from Uzbekistan. He's like the bastard offspring of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Pol Pot. If someone chinned him, is there a jury in the land that would convict?

dw

Couldn't Eagleton make the same argument about anything lots of people get excited about?

"The internet is distracting the populace from political injustice. We need radical change!"

David

“The internet is distracting the populace from political injustice. We need radical change!”

Well, quite. But I wouldn’t say Eagleton is making an argument. It’s just a series of tendentious claims and leftwing student boilerplate. He doesn’t even mention what kind of “radical change” he has in mind, or why it should appeal to football enthusiasts. And given Eagleton’s own cartoon politics, the “radical change” he bangs on about (but never specifies) could well be much more unjust and objectionable than anything he bitches about.

But Eagleton is happy to say extraordinarily stupid things as if they were devastatingly clever. For instance, he claimed, “Multiculturalism... is a threat [to “power”] because the kind of political state we have depends upon a tight cultural consensus in order to implant its materially divisive policies.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/02/terry_eagleton_.html

This is typical of a piece that’s packed with absurd assumptions. None of the claims he makes in the piece linked above are supported with evidence and we don’t even get a specific illustration of what it is he means. It’s presumptuous, self-referential guff. Eagleton repeatedly uses the word “power” as if it were an evil entity in its own right and had no connection whatsoever with the preferences of other people - say, those who disagree with Professor Terry Eagleton. It’s almost comical.

And let’s not forget the good professor saw fit to compare suicide bombing with “avant-garde theatre” or a “Dadaist happening.”

http://www.mynews.in/News/dailyimage/news/pakistan_450x300.jpg

And gosh, how edgy is that?

rjmadden

"Football: A Dear Friend to Capitalism"...

http://mreugenides.blogspot.com/2010/06/faking-il-ness.html

Nigel Knucklehead, Brighton, MA

Hello Mr. Thompson,

I am constantly dazzled by the fact that these people want radical change. Do they mean they want the total collapse of commerce? Do they mean they want to lose all mod cons? Do they want to change so that the people of Earth look to them for leadership?

I hear this cry for radicl change but to what will we change? Anarchy, an actual impossibility due to the vagaries of mankind? Communism, which has never worked for the same reason that anarchy is rendered impotent? Dictatorship, which is demonstrated time and again to be cruel and self serving for the dictator?

I think the radical change meme is merely a way for the effete intellectuals to gain power...certainly they could not gain that power if their nefarious plans and schemes were ever exposed to the light of day (and the voters' minds).

Thanks,

Nigel

John Meredith

"Modern societies deny men and women the experience of solidarity, which football provides to the point of collective delirium."

Um ... but football is an ASPECT of modern society. So this is self-contradictory. Modern society, by his own admission, supplies men and women the experience of solidarity to the point of collective delerium. He just prefers that they do it another way. Perhaps through cricket? No. Rugby then? Same sort of thing. Rock concerts? God forbid. Opera? Elitist! Political marching and protest? Banned by Bliar and his fascist henchmen!!!!

Scott

Forgive my not knowing: Is the very soul of Utopia a condition in which everyone is miserable? I can recall when the world thought it was Christianity that wanted to purge society of pleasure.

David

John,

“Um ... but football is an ASPECT of modern society. So this is self-contradictory. Modern society, by his own admission, supplies men and women the experience of solidarity to the point of collective delirium.”

I don’t think Eagleton’s quite grasped what it is he’s saying. Maybe he got lost in his own smug assumptions. It seems to me that societies like our own – market-based societies - offer any number of opportunities for shared experience, perhaps more than ever before.

sackcloth and ashes

The masses have always been a disappointment to people like Eagleton. That's why they tend to die in large numbers when 'socialist' utopias are created.

Rob

Heard from the stands:

The literary critic's a wanker
The literary critic's a wanker

etc

sackcloth and ashes

Terry Eagleton, whatever you may write,
You are a twat and you're full of shite,
But you'll keep on scribling and pushing your luck,
Even though no one cares, no one gives a fuck.

(To the tune of 'Lord of the Dance').

Craig Mc

"And that’s the thing. The kind of people who invoke “false consciousness” (whether by name or not) tend to be impervious to correction, even on points of fact. The claim of false consciousness requires no proof and, more importantly, it always flatters the proponent. They, unlike we, are blessed with second sight and the Kingdom shall be theirs."

But then, they're suffering from "false, false consciousness". Two can play at this game.

svh

Thank you Prof Eagleton. I now understand why football is popular and Marxism isn't.

David

I quite like these from Gagdad Bob:

“Leftism is the opiate of the tenured.”

And,

“Without sports, [boys] might try to exert power and dominance in inappropriate ways such as left wing politics.”

http://onecosmos.blogspot.com/2010/06/forgotten-words-and-realities-to-which.html?showComment=1276736884491#c7138044256407539331

TDK

Why isolate football? Let's ban anything and everything that makes life pleasurable until we reach such utter misery that the perfect society will spontaneously spring up.

That must be the plan in Somalia
http://www.smh.com.au/world-cup-2010/world-cup-news/football-fans-executed-for-watching-world-cup-20100615-ybrj.html

merc

"Along with television, [football] is the supreme solution to that age-old dilemma of our political masters: what should we do with them when they’re not working?"

Eagleton, of course, fancies himself and his socialist buddies taking over the position of "political masters" so he can dictate that the proles should be forced to not play football. Oh, the irony.

David

TDK,

“Why isolate football? Let’s ban anything and everything that makes life pleasurable until we reach such utter misery that the perfect society will spontaneously spring up.”

It’s not clear, at least not to me, whether Eagleton is being ironic here or is just confused. Given his history of stupid (or “provocative”) statements, it’s very hard to care either way. What’s strange, though, is how often the same kind of assumptions crop up elsewhere.

For instance, Eagleton says, “Modern societies deny men and women the experience of solidarity.” He offers no evidence for his claim and then promptly contradicts himself. Okay, that’s standard Eagleton. But then I found several supposedly critical responses that make the same mistakes with the same peculiar confidence. One Canadian writer (and, yes, Guardian reader) skips past all the inconsistencies and student boilerplate and somehow gets to this: “I agree with all of this... Few societies have fragmented their populations into such atomized and lonely units as those in western capitalism.”

It’s the most extraordinary bollocks. As with Eagleton, no evidence is offered, not one illustration of the mass isolation that’s allegedly caused – uniquely and terribly – by “western capitalism.” I mean, who exactly are these people talking about? Themselves? Their neighbours? Anyone they know? These declarations of mass misery and thwarted “solidarity” are remarkably non-specific. And if life in the freest, richest societies on Earth is really so awful – and awful on such a massive scale – you’d think convincing evidence would be easy to come by.

sackcloth and ashes

David, maybe statements such as these are an admission by Eagleton et al that they have no mates.

simplius

And all that in a magazine that has its own http://www.guardian.co.uk/football pages?

WTP

"And if life in the freest, richest societies on Earth is really so awful – and awful on such a massive scale – you’d think convincing evidence would be easy to come by."

To hell with arguing evidence, you'd think they'd all pick up and move to North Korea...or at least Venezuela...or serve as replacement citizens in Cuba? I'd even buy these people a one-way ticket if they would surrender their passports and promise to never come back...well the American ones anyway. You've got your hands full over there.

Rich Rostrom

Sez David: "its egalitarian superiors"?

Isn't that an oxymoronic construction? They can't be both "superior" and "egalitarian".

Sez Eagleton: "Most car mechanics and shop assistants feel shut out by high culture."

As Tom Wolfe has written, the very point of "high culture" for the last 100 years or so has been to shut out the non-elite. Appreciation of "high culture" is primarily a means of demonstrating that one is not "bourgeois" (or worse).

In a sort of Ouroborish way, the outright Communist societies saw that,
and repudiated modern "high art" for "socialist realism".

Spiny Norman

"And if life in the freest, richest societies on Earth is really so awful – and awful on such a massive scale – you’d think convincing evidence would be easy to come by."

They see it everywhere they look - EVERYWHERE - because they are projecting their own inadequacies and jealousies on everyone else. I mean, how could anyone not feel the same way they do?

David

Rich,

“Isn’t that an oxymoronic construction? They can’t be both ‘superior’ and ‘egalitarian’.”

In my experience, the more egalitarian a person says he is, the more superior he wishes to be. Egalitarian sentiment is, and generally has been, a license to exert power over others. Much as a professed disdain for inequality is a way to signal one’s own moral, intellectual and social superiority.

You’ll find the attitude on show repeatedly in the archives. For instance, the Observer’s Kevin McKenna displayed his egalitarian credentials by calling for a ban on private education. Therefore he, or his ideological proxy, must be in a position of power over others to stop all those evil people who work hard, save like mad and pay for their kids’ tuition.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2010/01/a-great-big-socialist-heart-.html

Or the socialist actress Arabella Weir, who deceived Guardian readers about her own education in order to display her egalitarian piety as a “good, responsible citizen.” So egalitarian is Ms Weir, she seems to view children not as ends in themselves but as instruments for the advancement of a socialist worldview. Clever children in particular should be sacrificed on the Altar of Society, because that would be “responsible” and “fair.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/09/the-greater-goo.html

Or the Guardian columnist Zoe Williams, who proudly announced her egalitarian vindictiveness by imagining scenarios in which parents could be humiliated and punished for trying to do the best for their own children. (And who did so while carefully omitting any mention her own, rather comfortable educational background.)

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/05/stiff-competition.html

Or George Monbiot, who flies around the world promoting a book telling the rest of us we shouldn’t fly at all because it’s akin to “child abuse,” and who wants to arrest people he only *hopes* have committed a crime. Or David Suzuki, who thinks other people shouldn’t have houses as big as his own spacious estates. Or Polly Toynbee who regularly calls for an end to the wrong kind of people earning as much as she does. Or Karen Armstrong, whose sense of “fairness” allows her to transcend mere facts - for the greater good, of course. Or Jonathan Holmes, who expects to be subsidised by the taxpayer because he’s so terribly radical and leftwing. Or the late Barbara “Baroness” Castle, Labour’s “Red Queen,” who railed against private health care and denounced it as “immoral” and “obscene,” something to be banned. And whose adamance evaporated when her own son needed medical treatment and was discreetly admitted to a private hospital under an assumed name.

I could of course go on...

Update: see new post here:

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2010/06/overlords.html

M. Simon

"Modern societies deny men and women the experience of solidarity, which football provides to the point of collective delirium."

The USA counter version Chicago style:

You are taking your life in your hands by wearing a Cubs shirt to Sox Park.

Rich Rostrom

M. Simon: "The USA counter version Chicago style:

You are taking your life in your hands by wearing a Cubs shirt to Sox Park."

I hope this is a joke, because as a Sox fan of 40 years standing, I deny this. An "out" Cubs fan at Sox Park may get viciously mocked, but that's all.

I see fans in visiting-term jerseys all the time. (The Cubs are in the other league, so they don't visit. Except since interleague play came in, they visit one three-game set a season.)

Hazy Dave

As ever, thanks for reading the Guardian, so I don't have to.

virgil xenophon

Shorter Eagleton: "It's 6am. Time for everyone out for volleyball practice--the better for group solidarity." "Shirkers will be punished."

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