Friday, August 08, 2008
Not since 1936 has a police state hosted an Olympics amid such international hype. Still espousing 'communism', the Beijing regime that brought you the Massacre at Tiananmen Square is easily bought off, at least temporarily, by makers of sneakers and other shameless exploiters of labor and humanity. The world has not seen extravagance on this scale since another tyrant --Adolph Hitler --tried to exploit the Olympics to put a smiley face on Nazism.
This [People's Republic of China] is a dictatorship we aid every day – through our government, corporations, and choices at the tillOver the next three weeks, we will watch a slick propaganda parade of Chinese "sporting heroes". But we will not see China's true heroes in the glittering stadiums of Beijing – because they are in prison, or they have "disappeared." If you are indiscreet enough to ask after them, you will be instantly smeared as "anti-Chinese".But what are these critics saying? Liu Shaokun is a young teacher in Sichuan Province. He watched his pupils die in the earthquake because their school was built using cheap substandard materials, by corrupt officials who pocketed the change. He took photographs to prove it and posted them on the internet. So he has been seized and indefinitely imprisoned without trial. Is he anti-Chinese?Chen Guangcheng is a blind self-taught lawyer who exposed the government's policy of forcibly sterilising disabled Chinese women. So he has been jailed for four years. Is he anti-Chinese? Jiang Yanyong is a doctor who exposed the government's attempt to cover up the SARS outbreak, saving tens of thousands of Chinese lives. So he is under indefinite house arrest after a lengthy "re-education". Is he anti-Chinese? --Johann Hari: Don't let the Games blind us to the plight of China's workersBack in 1936, the US missed a chance to strike an early blow against Nazism: it rejected a proposed boycott of Hitler's 1936 Olympics. Instead, the games most certainly left Hitler encouraged to accelerate his policies of expansion, aggressive war, and genocide. We must ask ourselves what might be the longer term consequences of our trumpeting the spectacle in Beijing.
It is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarianism communism -- central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance -- harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism. Some call it "authoritarian capitalism," others "market Stalinism," personally I prefer "McCommunism."Big companies from Adidas to UPS have partnered with a so-called 'communist regime' to divvy up profits from a global spectacular! The salivating is undisguised and public. McCommunism is cute --but the old fashioned word for it, the word that Benito Mussolini would have used, is fascism, Likewise, by the time the Olympics were planned in Germany, Hitler had already agreed to divvy up war booty with the likes of I.G. Farben, Thyssen, Krupp, et al. For two weeks in August 1936, Adolf Hitler's Nazi 'Third Reich' put a smiley face on tyranny. For Der Fuhrer, as well as the fascist regime in Beijing, the Olympics was and remains pure PR. Hitler soft pedaled its antisemitism, plans to conquer Poland, France and England. Hitler would exploit the games to dazzle foreign journalists and visitors. He would use the games to project false images of peace and tolerance. It was all smoke and mirrors. After the games, Hitler declared Jews to be "enemies of the state". He accelerated policies of expansion, acquisition and aggressive war. His 'efforts' culminated in World War II and, eventually, the Holocaust.
...Through extraordinary feats of authoritarian governing, the Chinese state has built stunning new stadiums, highways and railways -- all in record time. It has razed whole neighborhoods, lined the streets with trees and flowers and, thanks to an "anti-spitting" campaign, cleaned the sidewalks of saliva. The Communist Party of China even tried to turn the muddy skies blue by ordering heavy industry to cease production for a month -- a sort of government-mandated general strike.--Naomi Klein, The Olympics: Unveiling Police State 2.0
Chinese corporations financed by US hedge funds, as well as some of American's most powerful corporations -- Cisco, General Electric, Honeywell, Google -- have been working hand in glove with the Chinese government to make this moment possible: networking the closed circuit cameras that peer from every other lamp pole, building the "Great Firewall" that allows for remote internet monitoring, and designing those self-censoring search engines.--Naomi Klein, The Olympics: Unveiling Police State 2.0There is another side to the sponsorship gravy train.
This year's Olympics have been hyped as a blockbuster for marketers, a chance to ride the wave of Chinese national pride that may translate into billions of dollars in sales of Adidas sneakers, McDonald's Big Macs, or General Electric wind turbines.But Beijing 2008 is likely to go down as the high-water mark of the Olympic sponsorship program. While the Games offer unique attractions to sponsors, multinationals are already looking more critically at whether the payback will be worth it for future Games.--Sponsors walking away from the OlympicsIt will take much more than a corporate logo to erase the indelible image of Tiannamen Square.
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