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Bread and circuses

Steve Redgrave writes in the Telegraph (which may be inaccessible to overseas readers unless you delete the Telegraph cookie):

The 29 gold medals – not to mention the dozens of silvers and bronzes – won by Team GB not only defined the most spectacular year of sport I can remember, but completely overhauled how we are perceived as a nation.

Really? Who is this ‘we’ I wonder? I perceived Britain as a regulatory statist nation circling the drain with a smug grin on its collective and in-need-of-a-punch-in-its-Steven Fry face before the Olympics… and the preposterous and expensive spectacle has just reinforced that view.

Indeed the much trumpeted ‘success’ of the games just tries to stuff the economic damage they caused down the memory hole. But hey, in the final self congratulatory event, the establishment got to praise that ‘envy of the world’ that so few other nations seem to envy enough to emulate, the NHS, so no… the Olympics just reinforced my less than flattering view of Britain rather than ‘completely overhauling’ it.

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10 comments to Bread and circuses

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    Nobody outside the UK even noticed how many gold medals the British team won. That’s how it works.

  • Regional

    Boganstan got it it’s arse kicked so the Meeja toned down the jingoism a lot.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    Yes, Regional is right. The Australians noticed. Whether the British noticed that the Australians noticed is less certain, however.

  • James Strong

    1)Featuring the NHS in the opening ceremony has nothing to do with the success of the athletes.

    2)When analyising the Olympics, whether the economy suffered or benefitted from the Olympics only matters if you think economic prosperity is of dominating importance. I don’t think that.

    3) The successes of individual athletes, and the successes of teams where individuals have come together by mutual voluntary consent, should surely be inspiring to anyone of libertarian tendencies.

    4)The success of the athletes, brought about by talent allied to ambition and very hard work, might inspire ambition and application in other fields.

    5)The Olympics substantially increased the gaiety of the nation. If you weren’t aware of that then I wonder how narrow you kept your social interaction at that time.

  • Simon Jester

    @James Strong:

    1) …but has everything to do with how the Olympics have been reported and presented.

    2) Are you independently wealthy, by any chance?

    3) Is it purely mutual voluntary consent that was instrumental in this “triumph”, or did the coercive power of the state have some part to play? If the former, why had there been so little success (relatively) in previous years?

    4) …or might “inspire” individuals who might have achieved more in other fields, to waste their lives in competitive sport.

    5) “The Olympics substantially increased the gaiety of the nation.” So would putting MDMA in the drinking supply.

  • 3) The successes of individual athletes, and the successes of teams where individuals have come together by mutual voluntary consent, should surely be inspiring to anyone of libertarian tendencies.

    Except I was forced to help pay for the damn thing.

    4)The success of the athletes, brought about by talent allied to ambition and very hard work, might inspire ambition and application in other fields.

    Yes, it will encourage people to seek geting others to provide state subsidies for their ambition and very hard work no doubt.

    5)The Olympics substantially increased the gaiety of the nation. If you weren’t aware of that then I wonder how narrow you kept your social interaction at that time.

    …Which was why I called the article ‘Bread and Circuses’. The state run love-fest of nationalism was indeed designed to “increase the gaiety of the nation”. I just resent being required to contribute to something that interested me not at all. But of course such events are not ineffective as state propaganda and many people as a result felt better about ‘Britain’ as a result. I like to think my affections canot be purchased in such a manner however.

  • James

    “I perceived Britain as a regulatory statist nation circling the drain with a smug grin on its collective and in-need-of-a-punch-in-its-Steven Fry face”

    Great quote… think 2013 could be the year of the punch in the face though. The next great sterling crisis is overdue.

  • James Strong,

    3) The successes of individual athletes, and the successes of teams where individuals have come together by mutual voluntary consent, should surely be inspiring to anyone of libertarian tendencies.

    Eh?

    Do you know how you win Olympic medals? Let me explain:-

    Unlike sports like football, cricket or tennis, there is no spectator or sponsor value in Olympic sports like rowing or modern pentathlon. Where Wayne Rooney can train because people will pay to watch him, no-one much will pay to see Olympic sports. So, athletes have to do it in their spare time.

    Well, that is unless their government step in and give them some sort of grant or fake job which means that they can train full-time. This then gives that athlete a massive advantage over those from other countries that don’t. That’s why we’re winning lots of medals. Not in the way that India does well at cricket (by having millions of kids playing it), but by picking obscure sports that hardly anyone is interested in and throwing money at them.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, we didn’t even win many medals in anything that anyone cares about (like the 100m). Because, you see, those are hard to win. So, the Lottery doesn’t fund those – it funds sports that no-one is interested in, like women’s boxing and that then improves the medal table.

  • People are not interested in women’s boxing? What has the world come to.

  • Rob

    Imagine you have a neighbour who is £250,000 in debt on various credit cards and loans, and is currently running a £12,000 annual overdraft. He spends £10,000 on a massive party to “make himself feel better”. Would you admire him or think “idiot”?