Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The following came to Molly's attention via the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). It originates with a new coalition, the No Games Toronto group.
Sunday and Monday: Stop The Bid for the Pan Am Games:‏
The money budgeted to be spent on the Pan Am Games in Toronto could repair every unit in TCHC, raise social assistance rates for everyone in the province and have money left over for other important social spending. In addition to being a waste of money, the City will use the games as an excuse to speed up gentrification and socially cleanse our neighborhoods. Vancouver has seen the displacement and/or criminalization of thousands of poor people because of the Olympics. We will fight to make sure the same doesn't happen here!
OCAP is calling on our members and supporters to join in this coalition action against the games.
*No Games Toronto - Stop the bid for the 2015 Games!*
*Pan Am Sports Organization (PASO) coming to town to decide on bid*
*Sunday, August 30th
11 a.m. to evening
No Games Flying Squad Bus
we will visit a few of the venues
Meet 11 a.m. @ APUS
100 Devonshire Place (across from the Uof T Varsity Stadium)
*RALLY to stop the Games!
*Monday August 31, 11:00 a.m.
100 Devonshire Place
across from the Uof T Varsity Stadium
Call out to the community to join us at the APUS office, the site of the $50million Pan Am venue that will displace the part-time union. We will have speakers, free food and information on why we need to resist the bid! The estimated cost for the Pan-Am games in Toronto is already set at $2.4 billion.
Yet, the most vulnerable and marginalized people are told that there isn’t enough money to assist them. All, three levels of government and the U of T have pledged either tens, or hundreds of millions into the Pan-Am Games. Meanwhile, there are more urgent priorities like public housing, keeping our schools and pools open and affordable post-secondary education.
This year, while planning for two Olympic Size sports facilities, costing upwards of $220 million for the Pan Am games, the University of Toronto raised tuition across the board. In addition, they introduced an unprecedented Flat Fee that will increase tuition for part-time students as much as 66%. One venue, the Centre for High Performance Sport, will displace the Uof T part-time student union.
If these plans go ahead, students will be expected to pay additional levies for both venues. Twice in the past, the people of Toronto have been successful in preventing the Olympics from coming to town (i.e. 1996 and 2008 games). We stopped it then and we can do it again! Mega-Sporting events wreak havoc on their host cities, displacing marginalized people, shutting down sectors of the city, bankrupting small businesses, demanding a large police presence, and in the end leave the city billions in debt. We only need to look to Vancouver, which is scheduled to host the 2010 Olympic Games.
What was originally supposed to cost only $660 million is now projected at $6 billion. With six months before the games begin there are already massive violations of civil liberties and homelessness has substantially increased.
When the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) comes to town there will be a two-day marathon of wining, dining, and showing off, where officials from all three levels of government will attempt to impress the five-member evaluation committee to secure Toronto’s 2015 Pan-Am bid.
No Games Toronto,a coalition of community activists, plan to show our opposition on the 30thand 31st by letting PASO know their games are not welcome here. Join our rally
Monday 31st at 11 a.m.
100 Devonshire Place
and the flying squad No Pan Am Games
Bus - Sunday Aug 30th, 11 a.m. to evening (the bus leaves from same location).
Send PASO the message that Toronto has more relevant priorities than Mega-Sporting events. *More information:
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
10 Britain St.
Toronto, ON
M5A 1R6
I really have to speak up here to make my own position clear. To begin with let me say that I am in total agreement with any opposition to statist spectacles such as the Olympics or the Pan-Am Games. That goes without saying. At the same time I am not a leftist with a crude knee jerk reaction against any and all sport. I have a great suspicion that much of the opposition to the Olympics and the Pan-Am Games comes from a subculture that I am not only not part of but that I know is engaging in behavior that is good for building the subculture but lousy for attaining the presumed goals. Personally I think that athletic contests are actually a worthy enterprise while many leftist activities are not. Let's go further. My father was boxing champion of Québec in his weight class. Was he wrong to go for this title ? As for myself I am a champion of nothing. I did, however, once break the four minute mile. Nothing short of a miracle to anyone who knows Molly and her actual stature. Mind you my lungs burned for two weeks. Will power versus reality. Some years later at Olympia in Greece I actually booted up and down the traditional course (without timing it). I cannot express how good it felt. If I would suggest anything to do before you die this would be one of the things. God knows how Olympia looks after the recent 2007 fires, but it was beauty incarnate when we were there.
Life is short. I've recently been reminded of this once more. In this brief transit from oblivion to oblivion taking pleasure whenever you can is not a vice. It should actually be a commandment. Quite frankly I often cringe at the statements of my leftist confreres about certain things. Sport happens to be one of these cringe-inducing subjects. Once more, the spectacles of nationalism involved in such things as the Olympics or the Pan-Am Games are repulsive, and their holding is a waste of money. what alchemy is it presumed that money spent on such games will automatically rebound to the benefit of the poor if it is not spent on such spectacles. This is not quibbling. I don't think it should be spent-period. But I seriously doubt that any such monies saved would ever be spent for the direct advantage of the poor.
Should such monies actually be diverted to so-called "social spending" there is a "hard question" that will eventually have to be faced by anarchists, if not by the average leftist who would see no problem. Is there a "trickle down" economy such that every dollar thrown at a social service bureaucracy and that part of the ruling class and the working class whose product is social control will benefit the actual so-called "clients". If so by what percentage. Is one dollar of social spending equal to 1 dollar of benefit, nothing, 10 cents or 50 cents of benefit to the poor ? How much in each case. At what point do you say "no". Some things are easy. So-called psychotherapy or "counselling" (the new bureaucrateze for the the dollar store version) is obviously worthless and a simple con. Most things, however, are much more complex.
All of this gets back to the idea of celebrations, of deliberate waste of resources that produce "public joy" as something that is actually worth supporting and having. To my great shame it is a semi-Marxist social democrat who has written the best book on why we should appreciate such "useless" celebrations. Barbara Ehrenreich's 'Dancing in the Street' is, to my mind, the best corrective to leftist (and anarchist) puritanism that I have ever seen. The problem with so-called "anarchist" correctives is that they are usually far more moralistic, arrogant and pseudo-elitist (see primitivism and post leftism) that that which they criticize. But how should I know ? I have never tried to claim some great differentiation from the "great unwashed". My own small life is enough for me, and I have no other ambitions.
Celebrations ! Athletics ! As I said I think that they are a worthy ambition for a noble human. Way back when this would not have seemed such an outré opinion. In 1936 left wing parties and unions, led by the Spanish CNT, proposed to hold a 'People's Olympiad' in Barcelona from July 19th to July 26th. This was to be in opposition to the Berlin Olympics of 1936, the "fascist Olympics". The proposal, where Germany and Italy were to be represented by exile athletic groups, was overtaken by events ie the Spanish Revolution which began on July 17 1936. This Olympiada Popular would also have featured competitions in chess, folkdancing, music and theatre, mirroring, in a way, the ancient Olympiads.
All that Molly can ask to those who pretend to the name of anarchism today is "what is wrong with this" ? Do we aspire to the grey "equality" of the liberal/leftist vision where competition and excellence in every field except manipulation !!!!!! and lies!!!!! is condemned and punished ? Or are we wise enough to put our politics beyond pop-psychology and the bureaucracies that it supports and see what people actually are and want.
Sigh!!!! Never again will I run the course at Olympia unless I am sure that I am dying. If I was I'd probably try to run the run that ended at Marathon, and I'd be happy to die in its course like the original runner did. But I hear that the land developers have committed arson that threatens Marathon this year. So sad.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Molly, you hit on a pet peeve of mine. The overeducated, middle class leftist who look down on anyone who enjoys a good soccer match or, worse, a good UFC bout. And I say this because in my experience this line definitely breaks down along class/education lines. Most working class activists I've met love a good sports show. I'm a soccer fanatic and I go crazy for hockey too. The rest of yous, join the great unwashed. It's a good time and you know, it might come in handy when you're out there organizing people.

But, yeah let's not lose sight of the bigger point here. Down with the PanAms and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Capitalism has mostly ruined what is good and holy about sport.

Toronto Tourism said...

We should support the games. The 2015 Pan American Games will bring 10,000 athletes and officials to Ontario, along with 250,000 tourists. The Games will trigger 15,000 new jobs in the province, primarily in construction, tourism and event support.