Olympism and the Idea of Social Justice


Coubertin proclaims social injustice the supreme principle of his social theory, regarding the advocation of social justice as the worst heresy that prevents social progress. Coubertin: “How gladly would many ‘rich people’ accept the sacrifice that would help to banish poverty from this world; but, as we are well aware gentlemen, it is an utopia, and people who prevent their children from getting rich jeopardize their strength as well as their national existence, and it is useless to fight against the oldest and basic social law – the law of inequality. That is why we should not let ourselves be carried away, we should not accept any kind of cooperation. Socialism, whatever its colours might be, cannot bring any good.” (12) Coubertin also refers to Spencer’s view of the “communist doctrine”, published in the magazine “Le Figaro” from January 24, 1894 according to which communism is “a return to such a fight for existence as is found among savages”. (13) Coubertin uses it to show that the existence of the poor and the rich is inevitable: “A simultaneous existence of wealth and poverty in a city is such a universal and old phenomenon that has become normal to think of it as of an incurable desease, while the hatred that the poor have for the rich is not characteristic only of the present time”. (14) Coubertin goes as far in his defence of the order of injustice as to deny the man who views his social position from a moral aspect the right to be called “man”. (15)

“Resignation” of the oppressed as regards their social position is one of the basic aims of Coubertin’s “utilitarian pedagogy”. Here also Coubertin is akin to Comte. Marcuse: ” ‘Resignation’ is a keynote in Comte’s writings, deriving directly from assent to invariable social laws. ‘True resignation’, that is, a disposition to endure necessary evils steadfastly and without any hope of compensation therefore can result only from a profound feeling for the invariable laws that govern the variety of natural phenomena’. The ‘positive’  politics that Comte advocates would tend, he declares, ‘of its very nature to consolidate public order’, even as far as incurable political evils are concerned, by developing  a  ‘wise resignation’.”(16) Coubertin does not hide that one of the most important tasks of his Olympism is to make social injustice endurable for those deprived of their rights – offering them a “sports republic” in which they will learn to respect the order ruled by the stronger. Coubertin: “The thing which makes inequality hard to bear for those who are adversely affected by it is its tendency to perpetuate injustice. People revolt against it because it usually has the twofold characteristic of being permanent and unjustified. If it were transient and justified it would no longer arouse enmity. Now we may note that while in other fields it is almost impossible to create such conditions, in the republic of sport they arise of themselves.” (17) Not a fight against injustice, but a fight against any resistance to injustice and any strivings to eradicate it – this is the basic aim of Coubertin’s Olympic doctrine and practice. Instead of seeking to bring about changes in society, Coubertin seeks to bring about changes in people’s heads and convince them that injustice is “an inevitability against which it is useless to fight”. Coubertin’s doctrine rejects Bentham’s utilitarian philosophy which sees the basis of human behavior in psychological motives (to pursue pleasure and to avoid displeasure). Coubertin explicitly declares that the oppressed must get used to enduring the inevitable social injustice, while sport (physical drill) serves as a means for (self)disciplining and destroying any resistance to injustice. In addition, Bentham’s arguing for “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” is totally opposed to Coubertin’s doctrine. Like Huizinga’s medieval mosaic, Coubertin’s humanism has two faces: happiness of the rich, and suffering of the poor. The rich are born to get rich and be happy, while the poor are born to work and suffer. It is, according to Huizinga, the “divine” and, according to Coubertin, the “natural order”. However, it is not by taking pleasure in wealth that real happiness can be achieved, but through the fight for preserving the established order – which enables an unimpeded course of “progress”. For Coubertin, the indulgence of the rich in material wealth is one of the main causes for historical defeats that the “masses” inflicted on the rich “elite” in the form of revolutions. That is why personal benefits and privileges of the members of the ruling class are subordinated to the existential interest of the ruling order. The right to individual acquisition of wealth is a reward for performing the class (racial) duty which consists in colonial conquests and an efficient defense of order. In his “Un Programme” Coubertin writes: “The role of the young people today is excellently and concisely expressed in the convincing and patriotic words I borrowed from Mr. de Vorges: ‘New generations should turn to great aims. You, who educate your youth, should incite in it a will to fight for its position, to exert its influence. To be a good son, a good husband, a good father – it is enough for honest workers; for the classes which are said to be ruling – it is too little. They cannot be entitled to enjoying the honors and comforts of that position without accepting the duties it involves: they should live for the common good if they are serve France with zeal’.” (18)

Coubertin wants to weaken the role of the state seeing in it the power that restricts the dominance of the “elite” over the “masses”. He fears the possibility of the workers’ winning the elections and taking over the social institutions, turning them against the rich and the capitalist order, which, with the development of an organized proletarian movement, is becoming (according to Coubertin) ever more realistic. Boulongne writes about that: “This minimalist conception of the state, which is repeatedly advocated by the champions of liberalism and which is based on inequality between people and a legitimate power of the bourgeoisie, involves, on the one hand, the working class being reconciled to its submission, not to say to its slavery position, and, on the other hand, as a reward for its reconciliation, it involves a moral obligation of the wealthy elite to accept one ‘social duty’. According to Coubertin, yesterday, in feudal society, the aristocrat gave sacrifices by performing this duty, while in today’s society indifference to it is the cause of all crises. Coubertin holds that the sublime virtue of readiness to sacrifice should be paid again its due respect, and this virtue is not reduced only to merciful acts which eliminate various evils the moment they appear, but, on the contrary, it represents a prophylactic initiative thanks to which the workers do not sink into misery, desperation and revolt. ‘Le Play is to be credited – declares Coubertin – with announcing that social duty to a society which had forgotten it, or had consciously discarded it’. The youth, the hope of a bourgeois, masculine and victorious France, should be aware of that duty, and should ‘live passionately’. But, also, it is high time for the descendants of Mr. Pridome (‘The incarnation of a narrow-minded, self-complacent member of the bourgeois class prone to instructive manner of expression’) to realize that now, instead of their usual inclination toward a military of priestly calling, or for a life on an estate, are given the possibility of becoming managers of factories, without compromising their family reputations. Finally, managers and owners of factories should behave as workers’ patrons so that workers, appreciating the value of their care, would not have bad thoughts crossing their mind, and would not revolt against the existing state and natural law. As for the common share of profit, according to Coubertin, this ‘participation’ is so unrealizable and so dangerous that he, strictly following Le Play’s view, strongly condemns it.” (19) It is not the state that should insure “social peace”, but the totalitarian power of capitalists. The workers (as well as the woman and the “lower races”) do not have inalienable human and civil rights guarantied and protected by social institutions: the source of their “rights” is the “mercy” of their masters which they “deserve” by constant servile courting intended to improve their livelihood – without changing their slavery status. On the one hand, “mercy” is backed by the bourgeoisie brandishing its swords and, on the other hand, by sport as the “cheapest spiritual food” (Coubertin) for the working “masses” and is thus the chief tool of the bourgeoisie for workers’ depolitization (pacification) and social marginalization (ghettoization).

It is obvious that Coubertin seeks to deal with the social institutions that are based on the rules obligatory on all. Coubertin accepts only those institutions which are the exclusive means of the ruling “elite” for developing and preserving “natural” order and for creating the appropriate man and which do not restrict but affirm the limitless power of the ruling class. Direct control of the bourgeoisie over the working class is conditio sine qua non of “social peace” : “You cannot control institutions if you do not establish control in people’s heads first”. (20) – this is the “cathegorical imperative” of Coubertin’s political doctrine. Wishing to preserve social order and ”progress”, Coubertin tries to bring order into people’s heads by imposing a single (supreme) and indisputable way of thought. This is the basis of Olympism as “positive religion”. Its purpose is to support the (economic and political) power of the ruling “elite” and at the same time to suppress the (political) power of the working class. The class interest of the (West-European) bourgeois “elite” becomes the absolute, total and global political principle.

The Olympic doctrine “abolishes” dualism between the factual and the normative sphere. The source of all the rights and duties is a life logic founded on the ability of the stronger to oppress the weaker and on natural selection. Normative (customary, religious, moral, legal) boundaries must not prevent the “natural course of events”, since in that way they impede “progress” which is, otherwise, unstoppable. In Coubertin, as we have seen, there is no moral reasoning: decision-making is conditioned by a rigid logic of life that does not tolerate any moralizing or theorizing. In the human and civil rights Coubertin rightly sees the result of a class struggle, that is to say, the shackles that “masses” placed on the hands of the “strong” at the moment of their weakness. By Olympism the rich “elite” breaks those shackles and restors its unquestionable dominance. Coubertin is against the rules of the game that are obligatory on all: “might is right” is the source of the (self) willedness of the ruling class while class relations are its corrective agent.

Coubertin does not seek to establish a totalitarian dominance of the rich “elite” by means of repressive social institutions, but tries to create such social relations which are completely conditioned by the laws from the animal world and such a type of man who, with his character and conscious, corresponds to a “civilized beast”. Coubertin is delighted with Arnolds’ system of education because it legalized the “right” of stronger pupils to compel the weaker to serve them, introducing a far more efficient “order” than could have been achieved by a police surveillance on the part of the school authorities. Unlike the advocates of “legal state” and “democracy”, Coubertin does not argue for order in which people act in conformity with the given norms, i.e. for fear of sanctions, but for an order in which people act “on their own initiative”, learning from “circumstances” (Coubertin), which means that they follow the rules resulting from the struggle for survival. Hence sport, as the incarnation of Social Darwinism in a “pure” sense, represents the most important means for incorporating man into the spiritual orbit of capitalism. Instead of arguing for education and the creation of normative conscious, Coubertin argues for the creation of a positive character, through a mindless agonal physical activism and a masochistic bodily drill, to which a corresponding (positive) conscious will “spontaneously” be attached.

In his fight against the workers, Coubertin goes further than Comte, for in the end of the 19th century the workers’ movement, guided by the ideas of socialism, became a massive and organized political power capable not only of jeopardizing, through riots and strikes, the existing order but of coming to power by legal political means and creating a new social order. Coubertin is well aware of the fact that in the new conditions Thier’s methods offer slim chances of success. It is one thing to massacre the workers and their families on the squares of Paris, and quite another to drive the workers in mines and factories and force them to work for miserable wages. Coubertin fanatically believed that his “mission” was dealing once and for all with the libertarian struggle of people deprived of their rights, but his political conception contains pragmatism from which springs the spirit of negotiation – with “honest workers”, colonized peoples who accept the colonial yoke, and the woman, who renounces her right to freedom. For “others” Coubertin advocates Thier’s and Hitler’s methods. In order to preserve social peace and insure a stabile development of capitalism, Coubertin offers, instead of a “social contract”, a tacit “class agreement” (which comes down to an ultimatum of the bourgeoisie to workers) based on the principle do ut des, facio ut facias. This logic is best manifested in Coubertin’s remarks on Loubet’s words addressed to the Algerians: France will with “ever greater beneficence rewards the ever greater loyalty.” (21) “The mercy” of the rich is not based on Christian mercy since, according to Coubertin, homo homini lupus est, but on a need to “allay the anger” of the ever more numerous and politically conscious workers and prevent a “mass revolt”. (22) Coubertin discards also Comte’s demand that egoism be subordinated to altruism: “social duty”, which the rich “elite” should accept in the form of “mercy”, must not limit its greediness, for it presents the driving force of “progress”. At the same time, Coubertin accepts Comte’s demand that workers and women should exert moral influence on capitalists who will then have more understanding for their suffering. The highest form of workers’ “political” engagement is their courting the “elite”. The hypocrisy of Coubertin’s social theory has thus reached its climax.

Modern Olympism develops at the time of the organized workers’ movement which has an international character. The Olympic movement becomes a peculiar international of the parasitic classes and thus the means for dealing with proletarian internationalism. Modern Olympism is the spiritual banner of European capitalism which should bring together the ruling “elite” of the most powerful (West) European states in order to crush the libertarian workers’ movement once and for all and destroy both the anticolonial resistence of the “lower races” and the struggle for women’s emancipation. Marx “entrusted” the proletariat with the task of dealing once and for all with the class privileges and class society; Coubertin entrusted the bourgeoisie with the task of dealing once and for all with the libertarian struggle of the “working masses” (woman and colonized peoples), and hoped to give it a significant contribution: sport becomes the ideological fist of the rich “elite” for destroying the class conscious of the workers and irrevocably integrate them into the established order. Just as, according to Marx, the workers should use all the means in their fight against the bourgeoisie that can throw it from power as well as all the libertarian heritages of mankind that can contribute to the final liberation of man from tyranny, so Coubertin supports the ruthless struggle of the bourgeoisie with the revolutionary proletariat (among them Thier’s crushing in blood the Parisian proletariat after the fall of the Commune) and seeks to deal with the emancipatory heritage of mankind, using the ideas he thinks suitable for such a task. Coubertin’s ruthless Procrustean relation to everything he got hold of comes from his fanatical focusing on achieving his most important aim: the final historical victory of the rich “elite” over the working “masses”. This is the basis of the Olympic missionary work and the source of the feeling of “exceptionality” with which the “divine baron” was obviously overwhelmed. It can be said that Coubertin gave himself the same role that, according to him, Marx had in the libertarian struggle of the proletariat: he saw himself as the spiritual leader and the first strategist of the bourgeoisie in a crusade against the libertarian proletariat, emancipatory women’s movement and anticolonial struggle of the “coloured races”. Coubertin believed that Olympism was the means with which he could “bring back” history to the time when the aristocracy had absolute power over the working strata – by creating a positive character and erasing people’s historical (cultural, libertarian) conscious. Coubertin’s universal methodological concept is to distort the emancipatory possibilities of progress and use them to deal with the libertarian struggle of the oppressed. “Practical” Coubertin seeks to use everything he can in order to prevent a “rise of masses” and maintain the power of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie. He approaches capitalist society in the same way in which a doctor approches a patient: he is not a social engineer, but a specialist for social prophylactic. Departing from principle savoir pour prevoir, prevoir pour agir Coubertin seeks to make a diagnosis of the state of social organism and propose a suitable treatment (action). A typical example of his medical expertise is his engagement after the Russian and Munich Revolutions: in order to save the patient in agony, Coubertin asks the bourgeosie to open the “city high schools” for the proletarian youth in which sport would be banned (competition), but gymnastics would be allowed as the strongest social-medical remedy for pacifying the workers’ youth.

Modern Olympic idea is not only below the already reached level of human and civil rights, but is below the level established and demanded by the economic sphere of capitalism. Coubertin subordinates the economic logic of capitalism to the political logic – political stability of the ruling order is the primary existential interest of the bourgeoisie to which the economic structure of society is to be subordinated. Coubertin, like Comte, insists on “social duty” that the bourgeos, similarly to the feudal lord, is to accept when it comes to the “care” for workers intended to prevent the consequences of the doctrine laisser faire: unemployment and existential uncertainty of workers and in that context their struggle for social and political rights. Marcuse: “Comte held that the theory and practice of liberalism could not safeguard discipline. ‘The vain and irrational disposition to allow for only that degree of order that comes of itself ‘ (that is, that comes through the free play of economic forces) amounts to a ‘solemn resignation’ of social practice in the face of every real emergency in the social process.”(23) By fighting against the anarchy created by the market, Coubertin actually fights against the workers’ appearing on the market as a “free” labour force and trying, through trade unions and political fight, to realize their workers’, civil and human rights. Coubertin, like Le Play, advocates a patronizing form of capitalism, which is akin to “corporative” capitalism imposed by fascist in Italy and Germany, as well as to the capitalism favoured by the Catholic Church. Like Le Play, Coubertin argues for a system in which the laisser faire economy and “free labour” will be abolished and the workers will get the status of serfs in feudal society. Instead of feudal lords, new patrons appear in the form of “industrial patriarchs”. (24) Coubertin is close to Thomas Carlyle’s class considerations: “In all European countries, especially in England, a class of captains and commanders has already taken a form, in which we can easily discern the germ of a new, real and not imaginary aristocracy; those are the captains of industries, fortunately the very class that at these times is most needed. And, on the other hand, it is certain that we do not lack the people to be commanded; it is this sad class of our human brothers we have described as Hoch’s emancipated horses, who are reduced to vagrancyy and starving; and this is the class which has developed in all countries and is developing more and more in the ominous geometric progression and at an intimidating speed. From this we can unmistakably conclude that the organization of labour is a universal life task of the world.” (25)

Coubertin separated the production of wealth from its appropriation. According to him, it is not the producers of social goods who are entitled to appropriate the results of their labour, but those who have the power to take them. The source of all the rights, including the right of owning the means of production and the results of labour, springs from the “might is right”. “Natural right” of the stronger to exploit the “weaker” is the unquestionable basis of Coubertin’s “civilized” social order: the ability to exploit the workers is the climax of the bourgeois’ arete. For Coubertin, wealth is not created by human labour; material wealth as such is the basis and generator of further creation of wealth. It follows that the “bearers of progress” are those who possess wealth, and not those who create that wealth by their own labour. Coubertin “overlooked” the fact that without work – estates, mines, factories, gold and money do not have the value that is the essence of his (aristocratic and capitalistic) conception of “wealth”, so consequently there is no “progress”. Coubertin tries to create the impression that “providing labour” to workers is the act of the masters’ “mercy” (capitalists are called “employers”), and not the basic condition of their survival as a class and the basis of their wealth. Workers are not the creators of social values, they are beggars who are at the “mercy” of the rich and are thus a social burden. It is obvious that Coubertin tries to reduce the industrial workers to the Roman plebs, which means to a “mass” of parasites who beg their masters for “bread and circuses”. “The human race has always asked its rulers for amusement as well as a livelihood” declares Coubertin in his “Olympic Letters” from 1918. (26) So, it is the masters who “give bread to their workers” and therefore workers cannot claim any rights. This could be the only interpretation of Coubertin’s assertion that the “feudal lord made a sacrifice” because of his “care” for the serfs – the same serfs he mercilessly robbed and cruelly punished whenever they refused to pay him a tax. Where did Coubertin get the 500,000 golden French francs, and what “sacrifice” did he offer as an aristocrat for the peasants and workers? Coubertin reduced the workers to servants whose work for the rich provide the means of existence, which means that they do not even have the status of accomplices or assistants in the creation of social wealth. That is why Coubertin advocates totally incompatible views concerning the proposals to give the workers the right to share the profit. (27) To make the workers work and prevent them from realizing, by legal political struggle, their human, civil and workers’ rights – this is the basis of Coubertin’s political (Olympic) strategy. His “patronizing” attitude to the working “masses” moves within a square whose sides are the doctrines of Le Play, Carlyle, Thier and Hitler.

The struggle of the working “masses” against the looting order is illegitimate because it contradicts the existential logic of capitalist order. Coubertin himself declares that it is an “unjust” order but, as regards the interests of the ruling “elite”, which are identified with the interests of society, it is indisputable. Coubertin’s Olympic philosophy is, in More’s words, “a conspiracy of the rich who, allegedly for and on behalf of state interests, fight only for their personal interests”. (28) The ideology of socialism as such is not Coubertin’s chief enemy; Coubertin sees in it only one form in which the historical aspirations of the working “masses” to get rid of exploitation and tyranny appear. Coubertin actually opposes the idea that everybody should live on one’s own labour, which appears even in antiquity, and in the Modern Age is most clearly expressed in Rousseau’s “Emile”. “The one who eats in idleness what he did not earn himself, that man, that person, commits a theft, and the one who lives on a fixed income, who is paid by the state for his idle life, does not differ much, in my eyes, from a robber who lives at the expense of travelers.” (29) According to an analysis of the existing looting order, Rousseau formulates his ingenious “prediction”, which was soon to come true in the form of French Revolution, and during Coubertin’s Olympic life resonated in his head as the most horrible curse: “You rely on today’s social order disregarding the fact that it is exposed to inevitable revolutions and that it is impossible for you either to predict or to stop the one that can befall your children. (…) We are obviously approaching a crisis and a century of revolutions.” (30)

           Coubertin learned historical lessons very well and realized that the small ruling “elite” did not stand a chance in the open political conflict with the class organized, politically mature and libertarian proletariat. That is why he did not insist on spiritual exclusivity of the ruling class, which is characteristic of previous orders, but sought to involve the workers (as well as colonized peoples), by way of sport, into the spiritual orbit of the bourgeoisie and thus integrate them into the capitalist order. It is no accident that Olympism relies on sport, and not on the emancipatory forms of physical culture created on the wings of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and developed within the philathropic movement as a means for making the citizens conscious and for their organization and active participation. Sport is the embodiment of the Social Darwinist doctrine with which the ruling bourgeois “elite” sought to immortalize its dominant position and justify the creation of a global colonial order. It acquired its institutionalized form by the end of the 19th century, at the time when workers obtained both their free (leisure) time and the right to legally join the fight for power. Paul Hoch calls sport “the ideological police force” with which the bourgeoisie holds the workers in submission. That this definition is true can be seen from the endeavours of Kingsley, Maurice, Coubertin and other bourgeois “humanists” to use sport (especially after the Russian Revolution) for colonizing the workers’ leisure time and excluding them from political life. It is no accident that radical critics of sport point out that sport has become the “opium for the people”; while the ideologues of the “free world” claim that without sport the survival of capitalist society is unthinkable. (31) The same people who repeatedly claim that “sport has nothing to do with politics” turned sport into the most important political means for achieving the strategic ends of the ruling order. Trying to turn sport and repressive physical drill into a universal political means for realizing the strategic interests of capitalism, Coubertin offered a number of “solutions” which were not always compatible, but were at the same political level. For each situation an appropriate mechanism of action was invented. Having the sensibility of an experienced politician, Coubertin adapted his conception to the current political moment, which means to the current relation of powers between the ruling “elite” and the oppressed. In the beginning of his “épopée olympique”, floating on a wave of racism and colonialism, Coubertin sought to turn Olympism into a universal political means for militarizing the European (above all French) bourgeoisie and incite it to conquer the world by sword and fire. Later, Coubertin realized that his conception was not realistic and, departing from the colonial experience of England, discovered in sport an “intelligent and efficient means” for spiritual enslavement and pacification of “the lower races”. It is the main reason for Coubertin’s adopting the “pacifying” words of a Pennsylvanian bishop, pronounced in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, at a mass dedicated to the London Olympic Games: “It is important to take part at these Olympic Games, and not to win”. Coubertin applied this principle to the French and European proletariat: sport got a prophylactic role and became a means for workers’ depolitization and their eternal integration into the capitalist order – preserving their slavery status. This orientation was ever more present in Coubertin with the development of class struggle in Europe, especially after the Russian and Munich Revolutions. According to pragmatic Coubertin, “the right” of the oppressed to “compete” with their masters on the sports field is “the price that has to be paid” to allay their accumulated “rage” and make them accept the established order. It was a forced move in the conditions in which sheer force was not sufficient to efficiently suppress the libertarian struggle of the oppressed, so – an unavoidable evil. At the time of the great economic crisis and on the eve of the fascist coming to power in Germany, Coubertin abandoned the tactics of the “ideological bourgeoizing of the proletariat” (Reich) and returned to his original Olympic idea, namely, he returned to sport as a means for developing a racial conscious and for colonial expansion of the (West) “European race”, whose striking fist, now made of “Aryans”, involved the German people and not only the bourgeois youth: class elitism was “overcome” by racial elitism. Blinded by pompous manifestations of fascist power and their “efficiency” in suppressing the workers’ movement, Coubertin forgot the basic principles of “the sports republic” and enthusiastically accepted the role of a propagator of fascist Germany. The same happened with his support of the idea that the “Olimpiada Popular” be held in Barcelona. Not even a word of protest against the fascist revolt in Spain, started in Barcelona by their attacking the workers who, in July of 1936, came to participate at the workers’ Olympic Games from all corners of the world. Instead of texts dedicated to the “education” of the proletariat, Coubertin published in the Nazi papers the texts in which he advises the Nazi leaders how to use sport and physical exercises to create a “fine race of Aryans”. (32) Impressed by the way in which the Nazis dealt with the workers’ movement, Coubertin cast off the colourful robe of peaceful rhetoric, gave up his “merciful” and “kind” idea of offering sport to the workers (and colonized peoples) and showed his true face – the one that was delighted with Thier’s massacre of tens of thousands of Parisian workers and their families, as well as the face of a fanatic colonist with which he set off towards the Olympic heights. Once again, sport became a privilege of the ruling “elite”, with the authoritarian structure of IOC as the prototype of “efficient” power. In Nazi Germany and its “Olympism” Coubertin found the incarnation of his original Olympic ideals, while in the Nazis he saw the most devoted followers of his original Olympic idea – who are to “guard it from distortion”.

Political pragmatism of the aristocratic, racist and sexist Coubertin was the starting point and guiding principle on his road to the Olympic heights, and not “humanism” and “care for humankind”. The criterion for the “quality” of the Olympic doctrine is the space that Olympism (sport) covers in its dealing with the libertarian struggle of the oppressed, while the criterion for “success” is the efficiency with which it destroys the libertarian thought and libertarian movements. Coubertin is a fanatical partisan of capitalism, but also a political realist who does not have any moral “prejudices”. All the means that enable the survival of the existing order are allowed – and it is up to the political moment, which means to the class relations – which of them will be used. Coubertin’s political biography shows his readiness to accept all the forms of political practice of the bourgeoisie, from compromise to concentration camps and genocide, which at the given moment can enable the survival of the capitalist order and its expansion. Coubertin’s “épopée olympique” is in fact a crusade against the emancipatory heritage of modern society and its bearers, that is to say, an attempt to establish the same relations between the (new) rich and working “masses” that existed before the French Revolution. Coubertin never gave up the idea of restoring the most important element of ancien régime: the absolute domination of the rich “elite” over the working “masses”. His “struggle against socialism” and against Marx (with whose “ideas” Coubertin got acquainted through the “yellow press”), is but a mask hiding the struggle against the emancipatory heritage of civil society, including the emancipatory heritage of the Enlightenment. A ruthless struggle with libertarian movements and the idea of future, which involves overcoming the unjust social order, is a constant factor and the foundation of the authoritarian character of the Olympic doctrine and practice. This is the way that leads Coubertin from Adolph Thiers, the butcher of the Parisian proletariat, to Adolf Hitler, the butcher of the German and European proletariat. At the same time, it is a strand in thought connecting Comte’s positivism and fascist totalitarianism. Coubertin’s doctrine not only “foreshadows liberalism’s turn into authoritarianism”, like Comte’s “positivist programme of social reform” (33), but is a major contribution to the establishment of authoritarianism.

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