Society of the spectacle

'The state stages these dramas not only to impress foreign powers, but also to dazzle its own subjects into submission.' (Editorial, PN 2549) Oh come off it! We are not that easily bought off. Besides, I loved the Olympics and took out a subscription to Peace News after it finished. Will you be saying the same about the Paralympics?

Also: in your listings section at the back of the paper you carry a listing for a group in Manchester that have an email address that is victory_intifada. Isn't an intifada a violent uprising?

No gods, no masters

I have decided not to renew my subscription for two reasons:

1) There is a fair amount of theoretical discussion and underlying principles are usually clear in reports. This is excellent. But it is 'old hat': it is a 're-hash' of what we (ie my generation) were saying and doing in the 1950s and 1960s.

Does each generation have to re-learn from the beginning what its parents and grandparents taught it? (I expect we were repeating the ideas of those who lived through the First World War.)

2) Every now and then, the peace movement acquires a 'god'. In the 1940s, it was Gandhi; in the '60s, Russell; etc. Now PN has taken up the latest god, George Lakey.

Well, I don't worship gods, I believe in equality of respect. Not only are there no 'goodies' and 'baddies', but also no 'heroes' and 'followers'.

So I'm not renewing my subscription. I will, however, send some money because PN is actually doing very good work.

Bravo Virginia!

What a fine piece by Virginia Moffatt (PN 2549) about the London Olympic Games. Most PN readers, I'd guess, had ambivalent feelings about the London Games – me included – but at heart they proved to be a celebration of 'The Family of Man' in all its forms.

I was a child during the 1948 games and followed them avidly on the wireless (radio).

In my memory the undoubted star was the Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen who won four gold medals and whose performance – unlike the disgraced US track star Marion Jones who won five gold medals at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 – remains unsullied.

However, the unasked question in all the coverage I listened to and watched was this: why was it necessary to stage the Olympic Games in order to regenerate an area of East London? It could have/should have happened anyway. What was lacking was political will and social solidarity.

Fanny at Wembley 1948
down the years
she runs and jumps
never a Flying Dutchman just
a truly Golden Girl
forever young forever first
she is the one
I remember most

As Virginia Moffatt observes, sport can, at its best, transcend and make us feel, and behave, better.

Even if this transcendence doesn't last beyond the Olympics, better then than not at all.