The cute cuddly face of the capitalist/communist one party state

The mascots for the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing. If the Olympics were not held in China -- or anywhere else, for that matter -- I wouldn't bat an eye. The Olympic superstructure is a corrupt, top heavy organization that hides behind the most banal rhetoric as it serves as a marketing vehicle for large multinational corporations.

From an competition standpoint, time and time again it has been proven that the drugs do work, doping makes the world of high level international athletic competition go round. Not to mention shameful mixing of 'amateur idealism' with the bloated excesses of professional basketball, hockey players and tennis & cycling professionals (to name just a few examples) appearing at the games -- I remember this shameful scene.

Combine these issues with grotesque, relentlessly personality-driven television coverage, and if the Olympics went away altogether, I would not complain.

The recent unrest in Tibet just highlights the vast differences between Olympic imagery and squalid political realities. When I was in Nepal we spent time in some towns (Marpha, Pokhara) with significant populations of Tibetan refugees, people who have been displaced since the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959, and (from what I was told) will never be eligible for Nepalese citizenship -- they are stateless people.

Just something to think about when the usual cast of celebrity journalists, politicians, captains of industry, professional athletes, etc. descend on Beijing this summer. And as usual if one pauses to think things through there is a certain amount of complicity here at home with a repressive situation abroad, how much of my purchases are of goods made in China? And the Chinese and American financial systems are now deeply intertwined, the Chinese have facilitated America's debt-financed economy for a long time now. The American government does not have much leverage.

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