I can see it in the happy faces of our dear lefty bloggers and news anchors: the strong performance by China, challenging the US in the medal count (and so far surpassing it nicely in the gold medal count) means the success of the socialist system against the mean spirited American capitalism.
I wonder if these people know who they are cheering for.
This is part of a bigger analysis of what the Olympics really mean today. When you compare systems so different, what do you get? Let’s say China’s performance is superior in every sense – just like the former USSR was in the majority of Olympic Games it played against the US during the cold war – what does that mean?
Are we saying that the performance of these slave athletes is the proof of a better system? How do you measure the fact that, in the US, an athlete chooses to train and persevere while in Communist countries they are forced to do so? How do you count for how these people actually live during and after their careers?
The idea of global Olympics is really only worth it when all competing countries are free. I understand the theory that in allowing China to host the games we can hope for a spark of openness and democracy (like the 88 Games in Korea) but there is also the risk of the Berlin effect to be concerned about. The difference here is that, not only China wants to brag the old superior race card; they want to propagandize their system so it can continue to exist.
When one looks around the media coverage of the games, it is fair to be afraid that they are succeeding.