Cricket’s imperialist masters beaten
The defeat of the Australia’s cricketers in the Ashes series is a small step forward for the ideas of class struggle in Australia.
It shows that the products of Australian capitalism, in this case its cricket team, are not invincible. The braggadocio, the swagger, the nationalist and often racist superiority may disappear for a little while from Australian cricket culture and have ramifications for some sections of Australian society.
The Australian bourgeoisie commodified cricket in the 70s, when the Packer rebellion overthrew the ancien regime.
So although the game has major working class support (among boys and men, but not to any major extent women and girls), it is like all things, a creature of the society in which it prospers and grows.
In Australia that means the game and its working class players and supporters are but an adjunct for profit.
Entertainment produces no real economic value. It re-distributes the wealth workers create to one section of the bourgeoisie.
But cricket too embodies the values of the bourgeoisie and the reality of life for workers – competition between teams and countries and cooperation within teams.
In some contexts cricket can have a radical edge, as its development in the West Indies as the game of the oppressed shows. Contrast that with South Africa where it is the game of the privileged elite and major elements of the white working and managerial classes.
In Australia the likes of Ricky Ponting survive on the labour of the working class. Australia’s elite cricketers are middle class or petit bourgeois, with all the contradictions that contains.
They have a material interest in the continuation of the exploitative system and play an important role in the battle of ideas and acceptance by workers of the world as is.
Cricket spread across the globe as a consequence of the expansion of British capitalism.
In Australia it has become one embodiment of bourgeois propaganda about values – talk about sportsmanship,(it is always manship), phrases like it’s not cricket, and playing hard and playing fair, abound.
When the bourgeoisie use such phrases they mean the opposite in their cutthroat world of domestic and international competition, both economic and military.
The defeat of the team of the Australian bourgeoisie, if it is accompanied by a wider awakening to the exploitative nature of Australian capitalism (and all capitalism) will be a step forward for class struggle.
A small step I admit, but just another reminder that our bourgeoisie and their products are not invincible.
It is a lesson workers in the workplace could well learn.