If Karl Marx Played Soccer

I’m taking two classes this semester: the first is the core seminar for geography, and the other is Space, Place and Capitalism, aka “the Marx Course”. Prof. Das is really, really excited about Marx – and has on more than one occasion described Marx as his hero. It’s actually pretty awesome to see someone as worked up about their material as Prof. Das is.

So I was thinking this morning as I went over my readings just before class, what if Karl Marx played soccer? The funny thing is there is tons of stuff out there, some of it dating back 100 years from communists or unionists complaining about soccer as an opiate of the masses and how it keeps them from seeing how they are being exploited. Even recently, some Marxists have written about soccer and its ability to distract society. Luckily some of them realized the best way to talk to the proletariat was to form a football club. And this is I think where Marx would come in.

Oh sure there is rank commercialization of soccer, particularly at its highest level, but that is not the only way of organizing a team. One of the biggest clubs in the world FC Barcelona is organized around a grassroots model where each voting share helps to determine the direction of the organization. (Any coincidence that it plays in the old stronghold of the old anti-Franco Spanish Republicanists?) For the Brits, they’ve got AFC Wimbledon – fans who put together their own team when Wimbledon FC moved to MK Dons. And there are many others. What I’m trying to say is that in these cases, the consumers (okay not the producers) control the means of production. I think Marx would be okay with that. But now lets put him on the pitch.

I don’t think Marx would work well in goal or defense, too much of what I’ve read suggests that he was very critical of everything in capitalist society, that suggests an attacking mentality, so perhaps he would work as a striker. Having had to read large chunks of Capital 1 now, I’d have to object to his pace: there is always a build up in his attacks, but he does use his head a lot, so depending on his height he’d need a large number of through balls and some good finishing as I don’t think he’d be looking for break attacks. That slow build up of his and his insistence on social relations would probably make him better suited for passing than actually shooting (maybe we can put Lenin or Trotsky as strikers, but that is another blog). And since the foundations of materialism and communism originate from him perhaps we can think of him as the general on the field – making the passes and focusing the attack against capitalism. I think he’d fit quite well in the ticky-tacky Barcelona passing game.

Of course then I found this. And Marx was right.