Thoughts on Argentina's Conjunctures :: Recuperating Work, Recovering Life (2005-2007)

Friday, June 30, 2006

¡Chau, Argentina, y gracias por la alegria de tu futbol!

I think -- my biasness notwithstanding -- that this Argentinean side was one of the best I've seen in a long time, and arguably the best side in this World Cup (certainly the most fun to watch). Regardless of how Argentina left the World Cup -- they gotta get rid of those penalty shots -- thank you Argentina. Thank you for giving us, for a brief two and a half weeks, so much happiness.

And, to remind us of how beautifully they played the beautiful game, here are video highlights of one of the best games from a single team that I have ever seen, and it's been judged the best game of the tournament by many, if not one of the best performances from a single team in a very long time: Argentina's 6-0 romp of Serbia-Montenegro.

Video highlights of the goals, as broadcasted in Argentina: Argentina/Serbia-Montenegro, World Cup, Germany, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Request for Documentation: Zanon recovered factory movement seeks work written about them


The Zanon recovered factory has created a database to document and share the many theses that have been written on their work. If you have written about Zanon, please contact: and

Monday, June 19, 2006

Radio documentary inspired by Eduardo Murúa's visit to Canada (May 28 - June 4, 2006)

My compañer@ from the University of Alberta, Rhiannon Edwards, put together this radio documentary for CJSR shortly after Eduardo Murúa's (the president of Argentina's National Movement of Recovered Enterprises) trip to Toronto a few weeks back. (Listen to the documentary.) Interviewer, producer, editor - Rhiannon Edwards. Featured in the piece - Eduardo Murúa; my Boston/New York militant compañer@, Michael Gould-Wartovsky; me.

More transcripts and information on Murúa's trip to follow shortly on this blog.

For a synopsis of his June 3rd public conversation with United Steelworkers of Canada researcher, Jorge García-Orgales, see the Toronto School of Creativity and Inquiry website annoncement: Recovery, Recreation.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I'll cry for Argentina!

Argentina's 6-0 dance over Serbia-Montenegro today was a gorgeous display of inspired futbol. If one wants to see one of the most beautiful displays of futbol I've ever seen, and you haven't watched it live yet, check out the countless replays of this game that will inevitably be shown for a long time to come, especially the now famous second goal where Argentina passes the ball 24 times leading to a Saviola pass to Crespo at the top of the eighteen yard box, who back heals it to Cambiassso and...GOOOOAAAALLLL!!! Tevez's and Messi's goals were also memorable. Together with Maradona's dribbling past 7 English players to score on his own during the 1986 World Cup (I was present at that game, actually), the second goal was amongst the best goals I've witnessed. The entire match was, for Argentina, pure magic! If you end up watching the game, keep your eye on Lionel Messi after he comes on with 15 minutes left. And Carlos Tevez's astoundingly cunning goal, too. They've proclaimed Messi the "new Maradona", and Maradona agrees. And Messi's only 18! Even Maradona never scored a goal in a WC match at that age.

Felicitaciones a todos mis compañeros Argentinos. ¡Gracias a la selección por darnos tanta alegria!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Monty Python's "Match of Philosophers"

In keeping with the festivities in Germany, here's Monty Python's "Match of Philosophers", the Greeks vs. the Germans! It's totally brilliant! Confucius as ref! Too funny! And here's the whole sketch , the Greeks vs. the Germans + Beckenbauer (How did he get in?): "The Greeks vs. The Germans". Where does it take place, in Munich's "Olympic Stadium", of course! Other great lineups would be the Objectivists against the Subjectivists? Maybe Phenomenology vs. Psychoanalysis? What about "The Mind" team vs. "The Body" team? Or, as Andrew Feenberg suggested to me, the Tragics vs. the Comics.

Notice how it's the Greeks that are moving around and passing the ball while the Germans -- Hegel, Schopenhauer, et al, merely stand around and contemplate. Hmm. Those frickn' German idealists! Only ever thinking about the "will" and never doing anything "willful". After all, it is the Greeks who worked out notions like "becoming", "is" and "ought", and "the good game" in the preparatory practice sessions. Get it through your thick skulls, Deutchmensch, one "ought" to score more goals than the other team in football, not contemplate the "synthesis" of a victory solely within the thinking subject (damn, Hegel, he has too much influence on these guys, doesn't he know that a true synthesis is impossible, the Spirit is of no use in football). In socccer, the "good game" is realized when you win the game by scoring more goals. Socrates gets it! Or, take a page from Aristotle's philiosophy of football production, G men! Run, Germans, run! Although it seems that the Germans did get a set of concretely fresh legs when Marx comes on as a last minute substitute with his rousing cry to the rest of the team: "soccer players of the world, unite!" But, alas, it seems even Marx is a bit lethargic long term, with his pot belly, chronic cigar smoking, and all, to him victory ultimately seems to lie in some future revolutionary goal. Also, notice how Nietzche's performance is also promising, although nobody seems to be getting his position. Maybe we'll finally understand decades later what FN's play making meant in this match...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

¡Vamos Argentina!

I was at the 1986 World Cup, aged 16, in Mexico City, when Argentina, captained by Diego Maradona at the pinacle of his career, won the Mundial. That afternoon in July, in the hot sun of the Azteca stadium, I witnessed with 120,00 other fans, sheer magic!

And, while a critique of the corporatization and commodification of the game is definitely in order (see previous post), one can't deny the beauty, the magesty, and the passion that also engulfs the "beautiful game." To all of those fans of futbol out there, I say godspead to you and your squad a this World Cup. Immerse yourself in the community that it fosters, get to know other cultures while you watch the games, and embrace the passion of futbol with others!

As for me, it's "¡Dale Argentina!" all the way.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Critiquing the "beautiful game": A contradictory affair with me, I admit

For a minute there I was anticipating another "commercialized," "false consciousness," "opiate of the masses" kind of critique: Mike Black's "A Socialist Guide to the World Cup". Though warranted critiques of the beautiful game all, the dimensions to the reality of futbol in the lives of millions of people around the world is multi-layered and complex. The Guardian piece, written by an ex-footballer Torontonian, is an interesting alternative pseudo-critical view adding further dimensions to the "culture industry" critique, although his points remain too on-the-surface, methinks, hardly a "socialist" critique. While and interesting piece, it still says nothing about the coproratization of the game over the past 50 years.

Important to remember, I think, is that professional soccer, taking root in the 1930s in Europe and South America after being an amateur sport until then, doesn't hit the stratosphere of commercial hype until perhaps the early-80s with the signing of Maradona to Barcelona from Boca Juniors for the at-the-time astronomical figure of $5 million US in 1982. Actually, if my memory serves correctly, players got shit wages until the full-on commodification of players and the corporate take-over of the game by sponsors in the early-to-mid 80s. I don't recall, for example, there being corporate logos on club jerseys until '83 or '84 (remember Arsenal's JVC logo?). And, if you'll notice in the WC games, corporate logos are still taboo on national team jerseys (save the jersey makers' logos, i,e Nike, Puma, Adidas, etc), although there's no denying that corporations fund national teams up the ying-yang (check out their practice gear, Coca-Cola and co. are all over those jerseys).

Also, it's important to remember that in most of the world's professional leagues, futbol players are paid "average" incomes. In Canada, for eg, if pro-players make $10,000-30,000 a year as part of the APSL they're doing well. Another important point to think through from Black article: Many of the world's great players, at least in South America, Africa, and Asia, come from humble beginnings and playing football is in many cases their only way out of shantytowns and poverty (for males, of course). On the one hand, one can't deny that shantytowns in many cases foster great players because, I think, with the paucity of educational opportunities and with the deep structural barriers that enclose these communities, football is in many cases their only outlet for play and hope. On the other hand, one also can't deny the "usefulness" of these spaces for "producing" soccer greats and team "journeymen" that the big clubs feed on. This is something that professional teams in Brazil and Argentina, for example, know and capitalize on all too well. Shantytowns become cheap development factories for big teams' lusts for the next big name. It's not unheard of for three-piece suited officials from the great South American teams such as Nacional of Uruguay, Flamenco and Corinthians of Brazil, and River Plate and Boca Juniors of Argentina, to scout shantytowns looking for the future Peles, Ronaldinhos, and Maradonas amongst the 10-12 year olds playing in make-shift pitches often with rag balls, all the while doing nothing for the communities from which these players are "saved" from, save the fantasy and identitarian imaginary that being a "fan of Boca" fosters. In turn, the South American clubs further develop the players and they (the clubs) in turn become development factories for richer European clubs. In Spain and Italy right now, for eg, there are 500 Argentine players playing in each of their professional leagues! It's a sad state of affairs marring the beautiful game.

Ah, now I'm becoming that critical cynic. Apologies. Anyway, I hope I'm not ruining the WC for us. Having said all this, nobody can totally commodify the passion for the "beautiful game" felt by the fan or player who participates for the sheer joy of it: get a ball, an open patch of land, and at least four people, and you are part of the euphoria, contradictions and all. Or, just go to Cafe Diplomatico on College St. in Toronto and see folks from myriad backgrounds coming together and conversing over 22 lads on the screen pushing a leather ball back and forth. Sweetness!

Oh, and to add to the Black piece, we can't forget the famous "Football War" between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969: .