An Opiate of the Masses: March Madness becomes Marx Madness

Bounce soccer makes me sad. I mean, basketball makes me sad. But I’m not going to begrudge someone watching or cheering for a particular sport. We all have our preferences. The only thing I’ll really get twisted about is when people claim driving around in a circle is sport (NASCAR) or that something that can be done stoned, in your pajamas, and listening to your iPod is a sport (snowboarding).

Mostly, I loathe college sports. There’s nothing redeeming about the NCAA. Few people dare admit this, fewer still in the media. I love John Oliver but I’d rather see him do twenty minutes exploring the unapologetic sexual assault that the NCAA condones and fosters than grouse about pay.

All this ignores the fact that NCAA shouldn’t even exist. It does exactly zero good for athletes, students, faculty, and higher education. It’s an organization that fleeces the public and can do so because it sells them soma.

So with that in mind, let’s re-appropriate March Madness. The good people over at Marx Madness have done just that with their parody bracket of Marxist thinkers, activists, and politicians.

The Round of 32 is over. It’s time fore The Socialist Sixteen.

So here are my picks:

The West

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Angela Davis v David Harvey

Both of these thinkers have had a strong tournament so far. Angela Davis’s defeat of Gilles Deleuze may have surprised some but really Deleuze peaked in the mid-1990s. Harvey on the other hand has great fundamentals, which what allowed him to scrape by Frankfurt School icon Max Horkheimer.

My pick: Angela Davis 

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Che Guevara v Mao

This is probably one of the most popular match-ups in the tournament. Two huge names that have done some horrible, horrible things but have coasted into the hearts and minds of Western culture via their cults of personality. Simple fact is, Che is cute but Mao brought a billion people to heel.

My pick: Mao

Leon Trotsky v Frederic Jameson

This is going to be one of my favorite match-ups. I’ve got Trotsky going all the way to the Final. But first he has to get by the literary postmodern marxism of Jameson. It’ll be tough.

My pick: Leon Trotsky

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Walter Benjamin v Rosa Luxemburg

Neither Benjamin nor Luxemburg have had a tough tournament so far. While most would probably bet on the languid, silky theoretical moves of Benjamin, I have to believe the Luxemburg’s pragmatism will win the day.

My pick: Rosa Luxemburg

The East

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Friedrich Engels v Theodore Adorno

Engels didn’t have to face too difficult of competition to get to the Socialist Sixteen. Adorno on the other hand had to deal with Felix Gauttari in what must have been one of the most tiresome conversations of “Ah, yes, but…” & “So what you’re really saying is…” ever.

My pick: Theodore Adorno

Guy Debord v Gyorgy Lukacs

There is no way Guy ‘The Situation’ Debord trumps grim reificiation of Lukacs.

My pick: Gyorgy Lukacs

Vladimir Lenin v Subcomandante Marcos

The classic David versus Goliath face-off. Or, not, given that religion masks the abuses of power and corruption that is the capitalist state. Subcomandante Marcos is scrappy but is rarely able to see out a game, whereas Lenin is perhaps the most successful Marxist in all of history. That said, Subcomandante Marcos did upset Stuart Hall in the previous round so this has the makings of a major Cinderella story.

My pick: Lenin

Louis Althusser v Antonio Gramsci

For me, this is going to be the best match-up in the East. The disciplined possession of structuralism going up against the deadly counter-attack of hegemony. Woof, forget about it. Although this is probably the intellectually sexiest showdown, I’ve found that betting on Italians will always lead to disappointment. I’ve Althusser making it though to the Final

My pick: Louis Althusser

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