Olympism  and  Paternalism


In order to deal with the human and civil rights won by man in modern society, Coubertin abolishes the citizen as a constituent part of society, substituting him with family and race (nation). In this way he abolishes civil society and reduces it to an abstract collectivity whose survival and development is conditioned by the effects of natural laws, and which represents a continuous development of the animal world. Actually, Coubertin abolishes society as a human community and reduces it to an animal (biological) community, a peculiar “civilized” herd.

On the basis of his “naturalistic” conception, Coubertin proclaimes the patriarchal family, in which women and children are subjected to the indisputable authority of pater familias, the “basic cell of society”. (31) The family appears as the primary form of social structuring which immediately and spontaneously originates from the state of nature and thus represents the foundation of social organizing. The family hierarchy is founded on biological-reproductive roles and on the “right of might” as the foundation of social formation. The family is not only the biological cell of society, but first and foremost a “natural” and therefore indisputable foundation of a hierarchical and authoritarian structuring of society. The family creates and developes a sense of “cooperation”, which is the basic assumption of sociality, that is to say, of a “social consensus”. Comte says on that: “Undoubtedly, no natural economy deserves more admiration than this happy spontaneous subordination which, having also constituted the human family, becomes then the necessary type of a reasonable social coordination”. (32) It is therefore no accident that women’s struggle for emancipation is for Coubertin the worst of crimes: the disintegration of the patriarchal family involves the destruction of the authoritarian foundation (derived from the natural order) of capitalist society, and that means the destruction of the hierarchy of power on which the social order is founded. Defending the family as a “sacred institution”, Coubertin attacks the ideas of the “equality of sexes”, and of marriage as a “free community”, calling them the most “subversive of theories” that propound a system of relationships not only contrary to logic, but also to the “order of things”. (33)

According to her “natural” position within the family, Coubertan proclaims the woman a physically and intellectually “inferior” being, who is thus the symbol of “weakness”. He strongly condemns the participation of women at the Olympic Games. In his view, public sports competitions in which women take part “assume something monstruous”. (34) In his message to the participants of the IX Olympics, held in Amsterdam in 1928, Coubertin categorically states: “As to the admission of women to the Games, I remain strongly against it. It was against my will that they were admitted to a growing number of competitions.” (35) In his interview for the German Radio in August of 1935, dedicated to the Nazi Olympics of 1936, Coubertin says: “It follows from what I have said that the true Olympic hero is in my view the adult male individual.” (36) Speaking about the Olympic winners, Coubertin repeats: “The only true hero, as I have always repeated, is an adult male. So, it is neither a female nor team sports.” (37) Reducing collective competitions to “secondary” sports, Coubertin concludes: “Women could also take part here if it is judged necessary. I personally do not approve of the participation of women in public competitions, which is not to say that they must abstain from practicing a great number of sports, provided they do not make a public spectacle of themselves. In the Olympic Games, as in the contests of former times, their primary role should be to crown the victors.” (38) In Coubertin’s doctrine sport is the bulwark of a primitive and ruthless sexism, and Olympism is its “humanistic” flag.

During his whole “Olympic” life Coubertin fanatically fought against women’s human and civil rights, as well as against their participation in public life. Coubertin uses offensive names for women who fight for equality and reduces them to “feminists”. He goes as far as to deny them the capability of making reasonable decisions: “A woman who is guided by reason rather then by emotions is not only abnormal, she is monstruous” – says Coubertin, the “great humanist”. (39) He declares the home to be the place of the woman’s “freedom” (“home economy”), reducing it to a particular geto. The basic aim in girls’ upbringing is their physical and spiritual preparation for motherhood, for caring about children and pater familias, and for doing the housework.

Coubertin has crippled man most by depriving him of the ability and right to love and be loved. True friendship between people is impossible. The wife’s “love” for her husband is reduced to a masochistic submission to his authority. The same applies to the relationship between father and children. The relationship of a pater familias to his wife and children is determened by his role of the economic pillar and support of the family, as well as by the nature of family as the foundation of the hierarchical structuring of social power: pater familias is the basic barrier of the authoritarian constitution of society. The relations between people are determined by the nature of the ruling order and the roles people play in it. Since it is not man who is a constitutive part of society, but the race and family, the roles and, accordingly, obligations that people have as members of a race and gender, represent the basis and the framework of their relations. Pater familias does not treat his wife as a human being, nor does he cherish love for her. Sexual relations between men and women are determined by the nature of their biological (reproductive) functions, and correspond to the relations between males and females. What distinguishes people from animals is the fact that, as members of a race (nation), they have a “social duty” to ensure the biological reproduction of the race, the woman being reduced to the tool for racial reproduction, or a peculiar racial (national) incubator. The duty of a husband is to inseminate his wife and support the family, while the duty of a wife is to give birth to children and raise them. Marriage is not the community of emancipated human beings, but an institutionalized bondage of reproductive organs united by duty to a nation (race). Love motives and erotic temptations are excluded from a sexual relationship. The woman is not entitled to sexual satisfaction in marriage, particularly not outside marriage, and she turns the sexual need into the love for children. On the other hand, not only is pater familias entitled to sexual satisfaction outside marriage, but the wife has to accept his “adventures” (40) “with tears in her eyes” and, like a trained dog, play up to him by “always being on her proper place”. (41)

It is amasing how easily the bourgeois interpretors of Coubertin’s work pass over his utterly humiliating relationship towards women. Thus, Boulongne says that Coubertin was an “incorrigible misogynist”, only to proclaim him a little further a “great humanist”. (42) Considering the fact that Coubertin reduced the “coloured peoples” to “lower races”, and European workers to “masses” of primitives, it means that in Coubertin’s “great heart” there was place only for the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie and, of course,  the Nazis. It is to them that Coubertin entrusted a special Olympic mission to be carried out after his death: to take his heart out of his corpse and bury it in ancient Olympia. The Nazis did not let him down: they accomplished the given task skillfuly and enthusiastically.

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