In Praise of Conflict

15 06 2011


Don’t reach across the aisle. Don’t partner with management. Don’t release a joint statement. Fight it out. That isn’t just an unfortunate way to make progress, in fact is the only way. Adversarial processes can be painful, stressful, and even destructive; but they are the only actual way to make change. It isn’t that one side is wholly wrong, that one side is wholly right. But there are conflicting, even mutually exclusive, goals between classes in society. Since individuals and their institutions will act in self-interest to impede the others’ goals, only actual conflict can achieve their goals.

Conflict is an actual engagement between parties in opposition. Two parties making opposing statements on a street corner aren’t in conflict in the way that two people making arguments in court are in conflict, because there is not going to be material change in position that results. Similarly, the individual act of voting, particularly in large-scale elections, is not an act of conflict because for the vast majority of voters the material change is de minimis. The degree of disagreement is a factor, too; the closer together the two sides, the less conflict involved.

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Will International Competitions Become Anachronisms?

22 06 2010

Following up on the previous post about sports and nationalism, I decided to take a look at some of the rosters for the best teams in the World Cup, looking at the two best teams in each group, with a focus on the “developing” nations.

Not surprisingly, these rosters are heavy with players who live and play in different countries–often different continents. Not only this, but you could show a direct correlation between the best players and the wealth of the nation in which they’re playing. Association football in its day-to-day form is organized around the capital in the game, not nation-states.

Nearly half of Mexico’s team plays in Europe, and two-thirds of Uruguay’s. None of Slovenia’s players play in Slovenia (contrast with Germany, where every single player plays in Germany). Only two of Serbia’s players play in Serbia (and they’re both back benchers). Half of Paraguay’s team plays in Europe, 20 of Brazil’s 23 the same, and just over half of Chile’s team the same. Many of these players (and more and more in recent years) left their home country in their teens and became a part of the popular culture (not to mention the upper class) of another country within a handful of years. To what degree these individual players are really “representing” the nation is questionable, isn’t it?