One of the academic postulates that Gen-Xers like me grew up with was that in a post-Cold War world, we needed to engage the world, largely with trade, in order to secure the peace. This was the underlying rationale sold for globalization. Free trade supposedly creates free societies, and free societies don’t go to war with each other.
And no country is more of a symbol for globalization and its ills than China. China’s economic boom has come through the debauched exploitations of its workers and its natural environment. Over half of its population, the peasants—the ones you won’t see on NBC—live as sustenance farmers who live on the whim of their government.
For example, the rowing competitions in the Olympics were made possible by the exportation of water from farmers’ rice patties, and deposited in another stream, leaving the peasants with a virtual desert, and likely starvation in the wake.
In a world where billions of people live on less than $2 per day, China thought it fit to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars simply on the opening ceremony of the Olympics, which, despite the slow-motion genocide in Tibet, was well attended by foreign dignitaries, our own sloucher-in-chief included.
The Olympics were supposed to be sign of world-wide brotherhood. Instead, they have become a symbol of the world-wide chains of consumerism that link us and strain us under their yoke. The athletes are monomaniacal, bred, engineered, and manipulated since toddlerhood to excel at some event that merely pays homage to some ancient tradition. At least the basketball team has some element of “team” and some element of modern relevancy.
The same “engaging” that globalization in trade has wrought has produced the same kind of result: a scary caste of ubermensch striving to squash the mediocre. International competition and its mildly disgusting jingoism has been replaced with an even worse socially Darwinist ethic.
More cars? More possessions? More cookie cutter suburbia created by the word “Let there be Subprime mortgages”? All on the backs on the Chinese peasant, the American worker, the hopeless miserable distended African children, the victims of the proxy-genocide China funds in Darfur that gets even less attention than that in Tibet?
This is the world Gen X inherited. We traded in the nuclear nightmares of the bipolar political struggle between democracy and communism for the unipolar stranglehold of consumerism.
And the Beijing Olympics are a giant ostentatious and arrogant symbol of all of this. Not since the 1936 Winter and Summer games in Germany has a country with a more brutal human rights policy hosted the games; not even the Soviet Union with its evil police state was more repressive and demeaning to life than is today’s China; even the US’s murderous forays in Iraq pale in comparison.
So, I won’t watch. I won’t care, I won’t have anything to do with it. Not this time.