The Caption: A Poor Understanding



The caption " pic: Banksy. Silly fools, silly fools Got beaten by the bullies, the bullies who rule."

The image is beautiful and moving. The words below it miss the point of global capitalism, the state, and the place of football in it. With Germany winning the world cup, after beating Brazil 7-1, "silly fools" can only refer to the Brazilian people (and/or the young black kids who dream of making it as footballers) who made no decisions about this World Cup.

Jokes apart - and I have been making lots of them about phone calls and selling parts of Brazil for a victory - the Brazilian state 'invested' a lot in this world cup, but it wasn't for its people’s, it was for the sake of its economy (well, its global private and public investors), which will probably do even better after the games end.

Having watched her team win the World Cup today, Angela Merkel is staying in Brazil - and India's prime minister is coming - for the BRICS meeting this week. Of course, this can only be bad news for most Brazilians (and Indians and Chinese and Russians). Why? Well, just ask the Greeks, Italians, and the Portuguese and Spaniards ... Let's not forget, however, that Europe's relationship with the BRICS states is different than the one it has with those states at its 'margins'. In the present global economic playground Germany is a bully but so is the Brazilian state.

Not surprising Dilma Rousseff had an uncomfortable time before and during the World Cup. She entered Maracana after the game had started, due to fears of booing by the rich fools at the stadium. For the same reason Argentina's Christina Kirchner didn't even make it to Rio, even though (no, probably because) about 100,000 Argentines basically occupied Rio this weekend. Yes, most Brazilians and Argentines were full of hope at the beginning of the world cup, even though they knew that their teams have only one decent player. Tonight I saw sad faces painted white & blue on TV (and I am not talking about those at the stadium, the rich ones); like the sad green and yellow ones I saw after Holland's victory yesterday. They cried for their national teams but not for their nation-states, and for sure not for their states and governments. The security state here in this corner of the globe has been doing a really good job telling its people that the fantasy of the nation is over, done.

What about football? Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany and then 3-0 to Holland and all the Brazilian TV commentators can say - after cursing Felipao and the team - is that if we want to improve our football (progress?), to become competitive again, we have to be organised (order?) like Germany. (Any similarity to the banner on our flag is not mere coincidence). Sorry Hegel! There is no place for romanticism and idealism in the stage of global capital: positivism rules, in the classrooms and the football fields!!

Everyone else I heard/read from and talked to, after yesterday's defeat, was mainly concerned with: (a) how to live with our hermanos Argentinos teasing us (which would last forever) for the 7-1 defeat if they beat Germany today and (b) how to live with the (very short-lived) choice between cheering for Argentina, which is ... you know ... Argentina or for Germany, which ... you know ... beat us out of the final by 7-1. In sum, here at home it didn't take much for football (the game I grew up loving) to become again what is: a game, which is about winning and losing in the field: one in which every match is lived intensely as long as it lasts, and once it is over ... next?

More importantly, th'm "silly fools" were also attentive - gunshots and grenades are hard to ignore - to what was going on while the matches were played. No one, I am sure, missed how the security apparatus was working well and hard before and during the competition. On the day before the Brazil–Holland match, my father arrived in my neighbourhood and was met by the 'robocops' - heavily armed special police forces -, who were entering houses, without warrant, every house on the street (even empty ones using master key) where the barbershop he goes to is located looking for drug dealers. During the two-day operation they also used a humvee – which moves very fast my nephew Lucas tells me – which is the one used in Iraq. From what my nephew and my father tell me the scene could have been a reply of many we saw on TV unfolding in Iraq.

This unfortunate caption belies a poor understanding of how global capitalism plays on its grounds.