A Libertarian View of the Olympics

A Libertarian View of the Olympics

by Dan Clore

Here's one libertarian's view of the Olympics:

Summary: Nation-states force taxpayers to pay for a meaningless spectacle in which governments “promote peace” by trying to prove their superiority over each other, pitting their chosen champions against each other at totally arbitrary activities.

Practically nothing about the Olympics will strike a libertarian as positive.

The nation-states involved force taxpayers to fund this silly spectacle. Now, many individuals may well enjoy watching the Olympics as a welcome respite from more important things like, say, keeping informed about politics and the world, working at productive activities, engaging in activism of whatever kind, or finally — living their own lives. But why can't they pay for it themselves? Why should anyone else have to pay for it for them?

Most of the “sports” in the Olympics are totally arbitrary activities. It is beyond reason to determine why anyone should care which of the national champions involved perform better at them. A few of them do have æsthetic value, such as ice-skating, but even these have many arbitrary rules imposed on them.

The athletes who compete in these “sports” must sacrifice their right to privacy and subject themselves to invasive drug tests that not only test for dangerous performance-enhancing substances such as caffeine, but for recreational drugs like marijuana. The former could possibly be justified on grounds of fairness (as many athletes might not wish to endanger their health in order to perform better), but the latter is completely senseless.

At least these athletes have voluntarily chosen to sacrifice their rights. As Naomi Klein has documented (I'll try to insert links later), the totalitarian government of China has violated the rights of countless numbers of its citizens in order to better put on this ridiculous spectacle. They have displaced countless Chinese citizens from their homes and ratcheted up security-state measures.

As if to heighten the absurdity of the spectacle, the Chinese government imposed computer-generated graphics over the opening ceremony and had a pretty girl lip-synch a song sung by another girl. Guy Debord would be proud.

Finally, the ostensible purpose of this ludicrous spectacle is to “promote peace” internationally. Just how having nation-states pit their champions against each other in the attempt to prove their superiority might meet this goal is an open question.

What if all of these governments got together and, instead of competing at some completely arbitrary activity, tried to do something productive that required cooperation rather than competition? What if the citizens of the world got together, bypassing their governments, and did this themselves?

The Olympics suck.


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