Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Not in their name

One of the happiest events of the weekend - and I hope their win will not cause temporary satisfaction; these things are wrong in principle - was the Liverpool fans' demonstration against the club's ownership by unaccountable American plutocrats.

This was particularly gratifying because, all too often, we hear the apologists for football plutocracy justify it by saying that if it hadn't happened we would inevitably have had another Hillsborough, and that it has somehow been done in the name of those who died there, at Bradford and at Heysel. This is the same dangerous and misleading "either with us or against us" argument used by apologists for the Bush administration's foreign policy, and for so much else that is unjustifiable: those who lost their lives in those terrible events would probably have wanted the old-style, petit-bourgeois, provincial, small-scale capitalism which once controlled football clubs to be swept away, but in common with all other socialists (and that, considering their geographical and likely social background, is what the vast majority of those killed, at least in the two Yorkshire tragedies, almost certainly were) they certainly wouldn't have wanted it to be replaced with a grander-scale version of the same thing. They would instead have been infinitely more likely to want a true democratic ownership, controlled neither by aldermen nor by billionaires, with each citizen having a stake in what was theirs - everything the fanzine movement was calling for in the 1980s.

The idea that there are only two possible ways, dangerous squalor or ever-increasing elite control and inequality, is like the idea that the only two cultures in the world are Coca-Cola and Home Service (often trotted out by those who mock my concept of European pop) - a deeply depressing narrowing of the parameters of debate. If you were to tell those Liverpool fans who demonstrated at the weekend that control by plutocrats was justified in the name of the 96, you'd be viciously and scathingly condemned in no uncertain terms. As you should be. It's reassuring to know that not everyone has fallen for the myth that the new-style capitalists care about them any more than the old ones did.

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