Capitalism can strike in the day and in the night
Tuesday 14 September 2004 by Trevor
With everyone (in South Africa) happy that South Africa won the 2010 World Cup soccer bid (you should have seen the hysteria on the day of the announcement!) perhaps its time to read this article warning against supporting your national team so much that you end up where the capitalists want you - in their pocket!
Capitalism can attack in the day and in the night
Sometimes, it is very easy to see that capitalism is like a disease that eats every part of our body. When you see starving people outside a shop filled with food – you can see the disease of capitalism. When you know that there is work to do and you have to suffer in unemployment, you can see the disease of capitalism. When you must listen to a sick child coughing and you know that there is medicine which you can not afford – then you can see the disease of capitalism. When you see taxis driving empty past old people who must walk to get their pensions because they can’t pay for the taxi – all of these times you can see the disease. But when it is time to fight the disease, you must know also the ways in which it hides and still attacks you.
Every day the bosses are coming with programmes to teach you: ”Our firm must come first. We must be the best. That way, we will all benefit.” It sounds a good idea. Under the laws of capitalism, it can even sometimes be true. If there is a big profit, sometimes there are more wage increases. But look what happens. When the profit starts to go down, the bosses will come with the same message. “Our firm must come first. Today we are only coming second, or third, or twentieth.” And what is their plan according to that same message? It is to cut wages, make workers work harder, put up prices and retrench. If we listen to the message the first time, we are cutting our own throats for them when the trouble comes. And look again. Maybe the place you work is coming first. Maybe it is making the biggest profits and the bosses are even giving a bonus. But what does that mean for your brother and sister around the corner? Just because you are coming first, where they work is coming second or third or last. So what does it mean when you maybe get a pay increase? They will come to you tomorrow or next month and beg you to help them – because their pay is cut, or they are on short-time, or they are retrenched.
It is the same thing when they say: “Our country must come first.” It sounds like a good idea. And under the laws of capitalism, it can sometimes be true that some people will benefit. But what does it mean? It means that when we are not coming first the bosses will come to you and say: “now you must work harder, accept less pay, give up your pay increase; go on short-time, accept retrenchments – because there are workers in another country who can produce more for less.”
So maybe you can see that with the bosses. Maybe you are used to thinking: “whenever they come with sweet tea, we must look for the poison.” But look at the way the same thing happens with sport. Today, sport is business. In the time of slavery, a slave-owner could buy or sell a human being. In the time of sport for money, it is the same thing. Even someone who has made millions from soccer does not own themselves. They have been sold to a football company. The rich ones have got enough money just to walk away. But there are youth every year who sign up with the company because the company can see the profit for the future. Those youth can not just walk away. If they signed and they walk away, they can end up in court.
At the end of the year that football company will look in the league to see how many points it got and where it came in the league. You can celebrate if your team came first, or high in the league, or won something. But you must know the truth about professional sport. That same company will look in the bank to see how much money it made and whether it is more profitable than another company.
And what makes a team the best? You can think it is skill and talent. But this is just part of the story. It is also money. Listen to the sports administrators: “To compete, we must have the best facilities. We must have the best trainers. We must buy the best players. We must make sure that no-one else can get them.” And the only way to do this is through money. So they look for sponsors. Again, you can think is a good idea. But what is happening. You must love the sponsor of your team – when that sponsor is the exploiter of your brother and sister. You must love them because they give a million Rand to your team when they are retrenching workers and saying its because they have not got enough money.
And what has happened to sport? It has been swallowed by the message: “We must be the best”. Not everyone can be the best. Not everyone can spend enough to be the best. But everyone is supposed to have a decent life. Everyone is supposed to have the chance to relax and enjoy themselves. Sport is good and healthy whether you are the best or not the best. But the message of competition is hiding the message of a decent life for all.
That is why we are warning you: you must be able to see how the disease works in the day and the night. The next time you are singing or crying because your team did not come first, remember the disease of competition. If we open the door to it at one place, we are cutting our throats at another place.
By Socialist Group