Progressives Sneer As Soccer Becomes a ‘World Festival of Nationalism’

World Cup
Getty Images/Guiseppe Cacace

American progressives use the World Cup soccer tournament for multiculturalist virtue-signaling, as an opportunity for them to sneer at the lowbrow Middle America who ignore an international sport that drives the rest of the world bonkers.

But foreign soccer fans don’t care what American globalists think. For them, the World Cup is actually a festival of anti-progressive nationalism and tribal solidarity. Steve Sailer called it in 2014:

Every four years during the World Cup, white American liberals project their status strivings onto soccer and their convoluted ethnic resentments onto traditional American sports. Even though the World Cup embodies nationalist chauvinism at its most frenzied, liberal whites in this country [choose to] see it as a repudiation of patriotic Americans.

Sailer likes to needle the left about soccer every few years, from mocking their refusal to acknowledge the demographics of top players to laughing about how quickly the alleged multicultural triumph of the French team in 1998 collapsed at the hands of far less diverse teams in subsequent years.

One amusing aspect of the sneering is that progressives insist that soccer teaches progressive political and social lesson to Americans. One globalist at the Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor, wrote

At a time when populists champion a nationalist future, the World Cup can deliver a snapshot of a world at ease in its pluralism. ‘The success of this festival of nations relies a great deal on energies that cross borders and remove people from their national roots,’ Kanishk wrote. ‘It suggests that there is actually a false dichotomy between ‘globalism’ and ‘nativism.’ In both soccer and life, it is perfectly possible to be a proud representative of your nation while being helplessly, incurably global.’

However, those efforts fall flat because World Cup champions come from a fairly small group of nations, not from Africa or Asia. Moreover, victory among the prominent teams is highly randomized by the nature of both the game and the World Cup rules — multicultural England was defeated by tiny non-multicultural Croatia, for example. This leaves American lefties inventing inferences from a tournament that doesn’t really support such analysis.

There’s also no evidence that the World Cup is anything other than a “World Festival of Nationalism,” as Sailer dubbed it.

Sports fans tend to be somewhat tribal. It’s part of the fun, and it’s consistent with simple human nature, especially male nature. At their best, sports provide a safe way to indulge the tribal instinct. It’s fun and healthy to become absurdly over-invested in the success of the home team, provided everyone understands that it’s absurd. Sure, the tribalism can get serious and lead to violence, even deadly violence. Soccer seems especially prone to this, perhaps because it’s so popular around the world — including places where exuberant people are just looking for an excuse to make a weekend cocktail of alcohol and theatrical aggression before they report back to work on Monday.

Sports culture is organically tribal, a culture built naturally from the ground up by generations of fans — and that makes it a natural enemy of the postgraduate class who think they should be in charge because they are so smart. 

That is also why left-wingers in the United States are working so hard to subvert or destroy American football by transforming it from a classical festival of speed, muscle, and testosterone. And instead, turning it into a theater of their social-justice grievances and political correctness, devoid of any taint with patriotism, respect for the military, and other nationalist flourishes.

If football is destroyed in the process… well, that’s a secondary objective the left is happy to inflict. 

Football and soccer are inherently populist, which is another reason the cognitive elite dislikes them and wishes to subvert them. Professional sports is a pitiless judge of the physical ideal because the fans love winners and achievers, not just the players and teams they’re supposed to like. The roads to victory in the World Cup or Super Bowl have nothing to do with “social justice,” so the political elite has no role in the play in the game, no chances to share in the civic applause, and no way to assuage its jealousy except by politicizing the games.  

This same is true of beauty contests, is also why there is a concerted effort to minimize the role of the physical ideal in beauty contests, to make it more “inclusive” — meaning easier for political activists to manipulate, control and redefine so that political activists can be judged beautiful too.

Totalitarian politics are at war with every aspect of human nature, from the concept of biological sex to the simple observation that people like to organize themselves into families, tribes, and nations. The goal is to ensure that political activists get a share of everything — including non-political sports and beauty contests.

This grab for power is presented as a quest for total personal freedom, but it’s actually quite the opposite because it transfers power from ordinary people up to their supposed leaders in the postgraduate progressive class. 

If stripped of their power to organize their community, ideals, and civic life as they prefer, ordinary people will be turned into worker bees, endlessly following the rules set by their SAT-superiors. 

Nationalism is a major stumbling block to that quest. As sports fans demonstrate, nationalism flows from the natural human tribal instinct, coupled with the very sensible suspicion that authority becomes less responsive to individual need as it grows larger. People feel connected to family, community, and nation in a way they will never feel toward larger, more abstract organizations. Given half a chance – and a few pints of a relaxing adult beverage – they’ll instantly fall back in love with their school, their hometown, and their country.

The jury is still out on whether generations of expensive ideological indoctrination can reprogram human beings to find their identity in the vast, cold labyrinth of the state instead of the warm hearth of family or fiery passion for their nation. So it is heartening to see how quickly the conditioning is thrown off in the cheap seats of a stadium, even when multiculturalism’s supposedly favorite game is played on the field.


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